South Seattle’s “Nigerian Nightmare” Looking to Smash Glass Ceiling

South Seattle’s “Nigerian Nightmare” Looking to Smash Glass Ceiling

By Amber Campbell

South Seattle attorney and entrepreneur Christi Muoneke is so passionate about women achieving their full career potential and breaking through the proverbial glass ceiling that her friends jokingly refer to her as the “Nigerian Nightmare.”

The nickname comes from former Kansas City Chiefs football star, Nigerian-American Christian Emeka Okoye who was known for his powerful running style and ability to break tackles.

“Aside from the Big Bang, I’m not aware of any precedent in history where the status quo has disrupted itself,” she says. “I love the quotes from Gandhi and Mandela about being the change we want to see in the world. I strive to do what I can in my little corner, to aspire to those ideals.”

Christi spent more than two decades as a corporate attorney and technology entrepreneur, seven years with her own successful law-firm (formerly based in Columbia City) and now co-owner of a fledgling education technology start-up.

But she’s not all business. Christi is also very involved in the community. She’s served on the boards of the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, Technology Access Foundation, Big Sisters of King County, Hack the CD and many others. She currently serves on the board of SEEDArts.

“Christi is the kind of friend who makes you think deeply and laugh hard,” says her friend Christine King. “She is a smart woman with a strong will and the type of opinion you want to listen to and consider thoughtfully. She is a good thought partner who can help you clarify your own thinking on subjects. She never seems to run out of ideas and energy.”

This week, Christi was kind enough to answer a few questions for GO: South Seattle’s People in Your Neighborhood column, a space dedicated to highlighting the unsung heroes of the southeast Seattle community.

Name:
Christi Muoneke

Neighborhood:
Mt. Baker

How long in Seattle’s south-end?
23 years

Where from originally?
Enugu, Nigeria

Day job:
Technology lawyer and co-founder of ed-tech start-up.

What do you like most about your day job?
I’m a big believer in the power of education to transform lives and think technology can be a great enabling tool. So it’s perfect for me to be working at the intersection of both things.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My kids and the promise of a new day.

Why do you volunteer?
Because I think I can make a difference.

What are you passionate about?
Technology and education.

What are your hobbies?
I love old buildings and I enjoy traveling and learning about new cultures. I can’t wait to visit Cuba once we’re able to do so!

Tell us about your family:
I have a wonderful husband and two very active boys ages 9 and 12.

Who inspires you?
So many folks do. My kids, my parents. Nelson Mandela. Michelle Obama, I really dig her. People who are givers and working hard in every community to make the world a better place, in whatever ways big and small.

What was the last thing you read?
“Onaedo: The Blacksmith’s Daughter” by Ngozi Achebe, who lives in the Seattle area. And “Americanah” by Chimamanda Adichie.

Tell us something about you that not many people know:
I left my country as a refugee at the age of five during the Nigeria-Biafra War and lived in Cork, Ireland for several years. Talk about culture shock, but it turned out to be a transformative experience.

What’s your most favorite thing about the Rainier Valley?
The people.

What’s your least favorite thing about the Rainier Valley?
The people.

Where is your favorite place to go in the Rainier Valley?
The Jus Bar, of course. And Geraldine’s.

If there was one thing you could change about the Rainier Valley, what would it be?
I would like to see the City loosen its grip on the social engineering of South Seattle. I would love to see the Rainier Valley capitalize on its vibrant diversity without the preconceptions about what that development should be.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Watching my kids graduate and move out of the house so I can move to Cuba.

What is your greatest fear?
Not making a difference.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I can hang onto a grudge for a long time. I’m not as forgiving of myself and others as I’d like to be.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Humble bragging. Not really, but I love that word and had to throw it in somewhere…

What is your current state of mind?
Expectant exhilaration.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Raising two wonderful and respectful boys.

What is your most treasured possession?
A powder compact that I received 30 years from a dear family member who has since passed on. I still use a little bit of it every day.

If you could live anywhere besides the Rainier Valley, where would it be?
Cuba.

What traits do you most value in your friends?
The usual. Fun, interesting, genuine.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Precious Ramotswe in “Number One Ladies Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall. And Crazy Eyes from “Orange is the New Black.”

Who is your hero in real life?
Nelson Mandela.

What is it that you most dislike?
Fake people and bad drivers.

Photo/Christi Muoneke

 

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