Interview with Annika
Annika Lewis - Executive Director of the Eco Association

I am honored to have the opportunity to introduce you to our readers and ask questions that interest our community members

  • Would you tell a little about yourself, your profession and hobbies that give you strength and energy and are a source of inspiration for you?
    Absolutely. To start, I’m very excited to be joining full-time next week in my new role as Executive Director of the Eco Association. I’m so energized by what I’ve seen from the Ecommunity already and can’t wait to build together.

    Prior to joining Eco, I worked in various areas within finance – most recently in Web3 with a focus on grants, and earlier in venture capital, corporate banking, and consumer credit.

    As for hobbies, I’m super active and love anything outdoors – bonus points if it’s on a mountain or the ocean. I’m also a pretty big board game nerd and love social deduction games, in particular.
  • I am very happy to see more and more strong and successful women in Ecommunity and in the crypto industry in general. Can you tell us your story of getting to know the crypto industry? When did you first hear about the Eco and why did you decide to become a part of it?
    I first started reading about crypto in 2016, but my journey started in earnest in 2020.

    Coronavirus had just hit, and I was working as a venture capital investor at the time. During the market panic that ensued, I sought to evaluate different asset classes and it dawned on me that I didn’t have a strong opinion on whether or not I believed Bitcoin to be “digital gold” like many were saying it might be, so I started trying to understand it more deeply. I soon discovered Ethereum and saw crypto’s aspirations to become something much bigger than just payment rails – and I fell in love with both the technology and the community in Web3.

    As for Eco – I first heard about the project in early 2022 when I met Diana Brown, who is now Eco, Inc.’s Head of People. Diana previously worked at a Fortune 500 bank that I’d spent a number of years at as well. Throughout the year I learned more about Eco, its vision, and the Trustee role – and I was eager to get involved. The rest is history.
  • You do very important work as a member of the board of trustees and have been introduced to the Ecommunity as its Executive Director. You've worked in finance for over 10 years. Why are you so passionate about this field?
    Finance is such a broad field and is one that has always piqued my curiosity. There are many pockets to it – and, it’s highly reactive to the world around it so there’s always something new happening.

    My passion nowadays stems from the culmination of all my prior experiences, and the deep conviction that the global financial system has much to be improved upon. In my view, we now have the tools we need to enact a new and improved system – the tools being digital infrastructure and blockchain technology – and we should do just that.
  • As part of a board of trustees that includes many experienced and talented professionals with different perspectives on monetary policy, do you find it difficult to come to a consensus within this group? What challenges do you face as a trustee? What do you value most about this work?
    In any situation when you have 20+ people trying to coordinate, there are certainly challenges, but I’ve found my fellow trustees to be an exceptional group to work with so far. It’s an intellectually curious bunch from different backgrounds, and we have much to learn from one another.

    I think a big challenge this year will be around how we coordinate and self-manage as a group. We’ve assembled, we’re now voting in monetary policy on-chain every two weeks – but how do we, as a group, continue to iterate on our own processes? There’s lots of work ahead.
  • You've run a grant program at Gitcoin and have a lot of experience with project funding.
    What do you think is the foundation for building a strong community? What kinds of grants would you like to see implemented first?
    I think the foundation for building a strong community is a shared purpose. People coalesce around others who share a similar vision. This is why I’m so excited about Eco as a project – there is a bold shared vision, and an already-active community rallied around it.

    As for grants, a first goal of mine is to make it simple and transparent to prospective builders on how to request and obtain funding. I expect that, at the Association, we’ll get a more established RFP process up-and-running for specific things the Association would like to see get built, and that we’ll also help shepherd the process for community-led ideas. I’m excited by what I’ve seen so far on the builder front and am eager to scale the Association’s efforts in grant-making this year.
  • Some community members will be submitting proposals for funding for the first time. What would you advise members to focus on when submitting proposals? What is the most important aspect when considering proposals for funding?
    I’ll revert back to my VC days and put my venture hat on to give the same advice I gave to founders when pitching their companies: be super clear on the value your project delivers – and quantify that value wherever possible, even if it’s an estimate.

    Ultimately, what’s important is articulating the impact we can expect the project to have on the Eco-system at large.
  • Is it difficult for you to make the decision to deny grants? And how do you motivate those participants who have to face rejection of their ideas for one reason or another?
    It’s always difficult to deny funding of any sort – people are putting themselves out there to create something that they fundamentally believe needs to exist in the world.

    My advice here would be: don’t give up. ask around for specific feedback, learn from it, and try again.
  • Having experience in another community and getting to know Eco better, is there anything you would like to add or change in the Eco system in general and in the Ecommunity in particular?
    The biggest thing I’m excited about is working with the community to boldly bring ECO, the currency, to the world.

    Since its launch last fall, we’re now starting to see ECO being used for transactions at a very small experimental scale (like with the very fun EcoGeneration art auction!) – and I hope to ideate with the community to run lots more test cases that can bring this monetary experiment to more and more people.
  • It takes a lot of work and a certain level of knowledge to be successful. Do you see a tendency for people participating in crypto projects to expect instant riches with minimal level of involvement? What do you think about this?
    Yes, there’s certainly been a ‘get rich quick’ vibe in parts of crypto (especially during bull market times!) – but I’m very much a believer in the phrase that “nothing worthwhile comes easy”.

    Personally, I’m here in the crypto industry because I see the potential for this technology to change the world – and I want to help shape that change. I know many others in the Ecommunity feel the same way.
  • There are so many amazing, so completely different people in the Ecommunity from all over the world, and each of us has our own view of the world and our own dreams, big and small goals.

    Is there something that you dream about? What would be cause you to say:
    - "Yeah, I did it and now I'm totally happy!"
    I don’t know that there’s one singular thing I could do in life that would cause me to hang up my hat and be completely satisfied; I’m a continual learner and I tend to want to push myself to do more.

    That said, I’m here because I believe there’s a very real opportunity to bring about a new financial system that better serves the needs of the individual. If, in the next few decades, we’re successful at bringing such a system to the world and I can play a part in that, I can certainly say I’d be pretty happy.
  • At the end of every interview, we always ask our guest to leave important thoughts for our readers. What would you like to say for those reading this interview?
    We have the privilege of being alive at a fascinating time in history and the next fifty years are likely to bring about change of much greater magnitude than the past fifty.

    Life is short – initiate the change you wish to see in the world, whatever that may be. Make your mark.
  • Lilishka#8053
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