Leila was a moral anchor, and also just wicked good fun - I loved
every minute I got to spend with her in person, and on long phone
calls from around the world. We met about six years ago relating to
projects we were each involved with in Kenya. Leila's biggest project
was building Samasource, a service which employed thousands of
workers in Nairobi and elsewhere to do AI training for large tech
The last time I visited her office in Nairobi was in April
2019. One room had a series of images taken from a car with self
driving capabilities. The Kenyans marked on the screen for which
things the car should avoid hitting. Obviously this did not take
place in real-time but was instead having humans teach the AI.
Samasource developed a custom software platform for managing these
workers on any type of assignment.
In my last meeting with Leila, she asked about a new woman that I
was dating - Leila had only two questions - was she educated, and,
do you have good banter?
Leila wrote the book
Give Work, Reversing
Poverty One Job At A Time. In our last meeting, we spoke about
what her next book might be about.
Leila told me that she is interested in people who overcame great
obstacles as children, but then went on to become compassionate
leaders of social justice work. Leila believed there was a
connection - that those who could survive and thrive past obstacles
would often become adults that had compassion for others, and who
had the drive to get things done. I am now working to setup some Leila
Janah scholarship funds for people we think fit this description. The
first such scholarship will be at Boston Latin School, and we're
also now looking into doing one at Harvard (her alma mater),
Stanford (which did a case study on her), UMASS
Boston, and maybe the University of Nairobi.
October 9, 1982 - January 24, 2020