Parry Aftab's Personal Story
Many legal and advisory experts as just that - legal and advisory experts. But if you want to know why Parry Aftab is just "Parry" to millions online, you need to look beyond her CV, degrees, media and awards. You need to understand why she works 20 hour-days, sometimes 6-7 days a work and sleeps in hotel rooms 300 nights a year. You need to understand the story of the little girl she saw being raped online. For many of you, this story may be too frightening, to horrid to read or view further. Just understand that she had an epiphany moment, something that changed her life forever. That is why she does what she does. The interview lays out her history and the history of her child safety work online. The video of her luncheon speech for IEEE in India tells her story in her own words. Further below, hear what her daughter had to say, when she wrote her essay about her mom for her college application process.
Parry Aftab addresses IEEE as its luncheon speaker in Delhi India. She tells her story and talks about her dream for protecting women and children online in India.
Who Is The Most Influential Person In My Life? by Taylor Caprio (Parry's daughter)
There have been many powerful and praiseworthy influences throughout my life, but, irrefutably, my mother is the most successful and creative woman that I have ever met and has inspired me the most.
My mother returned to school (after having left school initially to support my father's education), receiving her 4-year college degree in a total of less than two calendar years. She did this with two children; I was 2 years old when she graduated and my brother was 6.
Named her college valedictorian, as well as commencement speaker, I looked on with amazement as my mother received six standing ovations from over 15,000 graduates and their guests. She had spoken on diversity. Having returned to Hunter College, the only college she could afford, she was asked to speak at commencement. She was also warned to remember "who she would be speaking to." The professor directing her speech topic was implying that the other students were not in my mother's class, academically or socially.
Rising above the subtle prejudice, my mother sought to prove precisely why the school was atypical, and better for its atypical diversity. Gathering data from the school, she researched how many languages were spoken by the students, how many countries were represented by the student body, the age range and the non-school obligations of students who were also parents, and part-time or full-time employees and not merely the recipients of a college education served on a silver platter. That was the topic of the speech, and why she received six standing ovations at the packed Felt Forum.
Her course load, of 36 credit hours per semester, was balanced with raising the two of us. She did this by studying during the middle of the night, so as not to encroach further into our time together. Often, I attended classes with her. Parked under the lecture hall tables with my lunch box filled with crayons and my "assignments," I graduated with her, from college to law school. The lecture hall tables changed and I didn't fit as well, but my mother's devotion to us and learning how to help us find a better life together didn't.
She was as successful in law school as she had been in college, and was sought after by the largest law firms on Wall Street. Giving up her dream to open her own practice, she took the job which paid her the most, sacrificing her evenings and weekends. Working often late into the night, she would stop at the all-night supermarket to buy milk for the morning, and would always be there to carpool us to school, even if she hadn't slept the night before.
Finally, seeing its toll on the family, she left Wall Street and started her own firm. Dedicating herself to spending more time with us, while at the same time needing to build her own firm, she began coming home for dinner and using the late night hours to communicate with other lawyers online and on the Internet. It wasn't easy, she didn't even know how to turn on a computer and still hunts and pecks her way around a keyboard.
Others quickly recognized her limitless energy and enthusiasm. Her emphasis on inclusion of everyone, as evidenced by her commencement speech, made her a special voice on the net. My mother would volunteer her time to help others with legal questions and problems online, and was soon selected to Host the Legal Discussions boards on America Online. (She later was selected to Host Court TV's Legal Helpline, Law Talk for the Women's Network and the Home Office Computing legal seminars, all in a volunteer capacity.) The Internet was her medium and the millions of people around the world were her audience.
Her firm grew. Based upon her vision of balancing quality law practice with her family, she learned to leverage her talents with technology. Soon, having created the first national virtual law firm and bringing members into the network from around the world, she was sought after as a cyberlaw expert to speak on cyberlaw and Internet issues. She never sacrificed her dream of bringing other women with her, though, and made sure that her law firm's web page (with over 10,000 visitors monthly from around the world in 1996) contained an entire section devoted to women helping women, where other female owned businesses can network with each other.
My mother has become a leader in her field, and has created a network of like-minded lawyers and women across the country and, in some cases, across the world. She has gone on to represent governments, while still remembering her individual clients. Somehow, she also found time to bake cookies once in awhile. Never taking herself too seriously, she has taught me that you can have it all. As a woman, I know I can have an exciting fulfilling career and a family...it just takes imagination, creativity, a sense of humor and unlimited energy. It won't be easy, but she showed me how.
The story behind this video shot at a Marine Base in Yuma several years ago when Parry Aftab was invited by the Base Commander to work with their kids...Parry interviewed several kids and young teens without briefing them. After 45 minutes, you can see how much they learned. It doesn't take much, just including them in the conversation.