Dr. Zodelia Williams is smiling at the camera. She has very short, dark brown hair and is wearing a black and pink sleeveless blouse.

Dr. Zodelia Williams, DSW, LMSW: Founder/Executive Director 3 d’s aftercare inc

The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Dr. Zodelia Williams to discuss the role of women in innovation. Get involved at She Innovates Global.

#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?

Dr. Zodelia Williams: Debunking the myth that teen parents cannot be successful. The 3 D’s Teen Parent That Rocks app is a creative and practical way to empower and affirm our young parents, beyond our hotline. [It provides] constant contact with their mentors, resources at their fingertips, and a safe space to chat with other parents worldwide.

#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?

ZW: I knew that this app was a breakthrough once I understood that it was cyclical in nature.  It’s simple but effective in reaching the masses, and forming a new community of support.  Teen parents would be able to join a national chat group to network with other teen parents; offering one another support and creating a larger footprint. This, in turn, develops a new class of people/parents world-wide. Teen parent communities will be able to start their local branch and become accredited, therefore gaining access to the resources we are providing. They can then be listed in the app, and upon sign in, they would select their local chapter. They would have our guidance and public resources within the app, with the benefit of having their own community—physically and digitally.

#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?

ZW: The app was costly. Formulating exactly what needed to be presented on the app took lots of hours of thinking and revamping.

#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?

ZW: I am inspired by the strangers that were a rainbow in my cloud when I struggled as a young, single, immigrant mom.

#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?

ZW: That your circumstances do not define you. You and your children may start out as a negative statistic, and end up changing the world.

#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?

ZW: To pay homage to all the women that paved the way and were not recognized, and so that there could be equality and equal pay for the women and young women coming behind us.

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Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.