About Asha Dornfest

Photo credit: Karen Walrond

Hi, I’m Asha. I live in Portland, Oregon with my family. I’ve been a writer for over 20 years. Longer, if you count the stories I scribbled on binder paper as a kid.

The 1970s

My first published work was a poem in Children’s Digest when I was eight years old. I still remember how it felt to see my name in the newsprint pages of a real magazine. It was the first time I thought of myself as a writer.

The 1980s

High school. Big hair. College. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a Sociology degree (that will become relevant later).

The 1990s

Several years into work life and marriage, something big happened: the Web.

My husband and I taught ourselves HTML and started a Web design company (the second of its kind listed on Yahoo!). I wrote several how-to books about Web publishing. One of these books was Microsoft FrontPage For Dummies. It sold thousands of copies and went into multiple editions, making me a professional writer, after all.

The 2000s

My husband went on to work a tech companies, and I continued to work at home and write. In 2005, my oldest kid was in kindergarten and my youngest was a toddler. I struggled as a new parent, and none of the parenting books I read helped me feel better.

By then, another big thing had happened: blogs.

I figured I couldn’t be the only one struggling as a new parent. So in December 2005, I launched the Parent Hacks blog to swap “worked for me” tips with other parents and talk about what was really going on.

Parent Hacks took off, and it kicked off a 10+ year journey with the smartest, most generous community of parents on the Internet. My readers and cohort of fellow bloggers were wise, funny, encouraging, and kind. I no longer felt alone.

My writing career was transformed from a solitary job into a vibrant, dynamic conversation. Parent Hacks readers showed me something I’d always hoped was true: most people are helpful and generous when given the opportunity.

The 2010s

Few of us early bloggers realized we had unwittingly kicked off a revolution in media and publishing. But soon enough, companies caught on and stars were born! Money was made! “Influencer” became a job title!

My work with Parent Hacks opened doors to video programming, media appearances, professional partnerships, public speaking, international travel, and political engagement. It introduced me to new friends across the country. And it brought me back to writing books.

I joined my dear friend Christine Koh to co-author Minimalist Parenting (Bibliomotion, 2013) to share “trust yourself and keep it simple” parenting philosophy we’d both come to in our different ways.

I wrote Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life With Kids (Workman Publishing, 2016) to honor the Parent Hacks community and the parenting blog community as a whole. This curated, illustrated collection will always remind me of the magic of those ten years of goodness on the Internet.

Christine and I now co-host a weekly podcast called Edit Your Life, about making room for the awesome in your life.

2016

In 2016, I took an unexpected turn toward civic engagement and grassroots political organizing. The 2016 US Presidential election results filled me with alarm — for the safety of my kids (all our kids) and the health and integrity of US democracy. On November 9, 2016, in a Tampa, Florida hotel lobby at the end of my PARENT HACKS book tour (and with no political experience), I started a Facebook group as a place to gather local friends so we could educate ourselves. We wanted to learn how to get involved in the political process to make our voices heard.

Within weeks, the group grew to over 7000 Portlanders and became one of the early outposts in what grew into a nationwide movement. I led this group (eventually named Persisters PDX) for two years, organizing meetings and events, encouraging participation, and building community. Together with other local groups, we made phone calls, wrote letters and postcards, attended town halls and rallies, and got out the vote. 

Thanks to the work of people like us, a “blue wave” swept through the 2018 election ushering a Democratic majority into the US House of Representatives. And once again, I found myself surrounded by a remarkable community of new friends and community leaders.

2020 and beyond

With a nationwide movement well-established, I left online community-building behind in search of a more sustainable model for democratic participation. A small group of friends and I formed a Democracy Club — like a book club, but for democracy. We’ve been meeting and taking action ever since, and we have fun doing it. 

We’ve written a guide, How to Start a Democracy Club, so anyone can start a Democracy Club. I also wrote an opinion piece about Democracy Club which was published in The Oregonian.

My kids are now (almost) grown. My nest is (almost) empty. The pandemic has changed everything, as did the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

I believe, more than ever, in the power of collective impact. 

Each of us has a voice, and it’s our right, responsibility and remarkable gift to use it to create a more just and peaceful world.

How to Contact Me

The best way to keep in touch is to subscribe to my newsletter. I read all replies!

You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter at @ashadornfest.

Speaking at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon in 2015. Photo credit: Armosa Studios

Book-related press and publicity

For Parent Hacks, email publicityinfo@workman.com

For Minimalist Parenting, email edityourlifeshow@gmail.com

Speaking

For speaking engagements, contact Carol Schneider at the Workman Speakers Bureau, speakersbureau@workman.com

Sponsors

Christine and I work with sponsors on our podcast, Edit Your Life. Email edityourlifeshow@gmail.com for details and our current rate sheet.

Review requests and guest posts

I do not accept product pitches, press releases or guest posts.

What to read next 

 

Thank you for visiting. I’m glad you’re here. 

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MY BOOKS

PARENT HACKS
Genius shortcuts and workarounds for parents.

MINIMALIST PARENTING
Enjoy family life more by doing less.

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