Built to Last event flyerBuilt to Last: Leveraging Federal Investments for Digital Equity

November 14, 15, and 16, 2023

As U.S. states and territories prepare to receive and deploy a $65 billion federal investment in American broadband infrastructure and digital equity to ensure internet access for all, how can communities prioritize funds to build models for digital equity that serve their long-term needs How might we begin to envision and talk about what the outcomes of this historic funding will look like now, with a focus on building for the future? This three-part convening, hosted jointly by the Centri Tech Foundation, the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, and the Digital Equity Research Center at the Metropolitan New York Library Council will bring together emerging and longtime digital equity leaders and practitioners and a diverse set of stakeholders to discuss forward-looking approaches to sustainable broadband adoption and digital equity.

You can learn more about opportunities to sponsor the series here or by contacting bquon@metro.org. 

Session 1: Learning From the Past

Tuesday November 14, 2023 from 4:00pm to 5:15pm
See a recording of Session 1 here

The current funding through IIJA is not the first time the federal government has provided significant investments to support local digital equity ecosystems. But it is the largest investment in this field to date. In this first of three sessions in our Built to Last series, we hear from veterans in the digital equity field who have led successful efforts in years past and are continuing their work today.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the historical context for the current digital equity movement
  • Learn how three communities have built robust and lasting digital equity ecosystems
  • Recognize a variety of ways communities might leverage funding for long-term solutions


  • Marta Urquilla, President, Centri Tech Foundation


  • Juliet Fink Yates, Broadband and Digital Inclusion Manager, Office of Innovation & Technology, City of Philadelphia
  • Monique Tate, Co-Director, Community Tech NY
  • Greta Byrum, Principal, Broadband and Digital Equity, HR&A Advisors

Closing Speaker:

  • Dr. Karen Mossberger, Frank and June Sackton Professor, School of Public Affairs, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University 

About Our Speakers:

Marta Urquilla is President of Centri Tech Foundation, a mission-driven organization focused on leveraging digital technologies to advance social and economic outcomes. She has over 25 years’ experience managing programs and leading results-oriented policy approaches to improve lives. Before joining Centri Tech, Marta was Chief Program Officer at Education Design Lab, directing the creation of new education models toward the future of work. Previously, she was Deputy Director at the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University, where she led efforts to build the next generation of leaders and approaches to scale social change. Under President Obama, Marta served as Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation and as Senior Advisor for Social Innovation at the Corporation for National and Community Service, where she built and implemented the first Social Innovation Fund in the U.S. Government, a model adopted across federal agencies.

Juliet Fink Yates has been working to address digital equity since 2001 when she was managing a small ISP for 10,000 low-income Philadelphians without Internet access for the Critical Path Internet Project. For many years, she worked as the Chief Learning Officer at Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers at the intersection of adult education, technology, and healthcare. In 2010, she wrote, in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia, the broadband stimulus grant that brought $5.4 million to low-income communities to set up computer labs, which became known as KEYSPOTS, in 77 locations, reached out to cultivate the key partners involved in that grant, and helped to design the program’s structure, overseeing a team that managed 28 of those KEYSPOTS. She was a founder of the Technology Learning Collaborative, Philadelphia’s first professional development organization dedicated to digital literacy providers and advocates and was a member of the City of Philadelphia’s Digital Literacy Alliance until she joined the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology as the first Digital Inclusion Fellow. 

Monique Tate is a Director for Community Tech New York, educating Community Wireless Network advocates & enthusiasts across the country; in addition to lecturing in Canada and Germany. She began work in this field in 2011 and continues implementing broadband sharing in Detroit & NY. She has introduced thousands to Community Technology and recruited & educated hundreds in Digital Stewardship, Community Leadership, Community Networks, and Digital Justice Coalition building. Monique is Co-Chair of the City of Detroit GO DATA Advisory Commission!
In 2016 - 2020, she deployed and managed the largest community network in Detroit, for the Equitable Internet Initiative, with nine relay sites, three Solar Powered WIFI & Charging Stations, and activated the first Detroit public park (Bennett Playground) with WIFI, serving thousands. This community network is still growing today!!

Greta Byrum is an urban planner specializing in broadband technologies and tech policy, equity, governance through program design and collaborative action research. She serves as Principal for the Broadband and Digital Equity Principal at HR&A Advisors, and is an Opportunity Fund Fellow with the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society with a focus on digital safety and security in the context of the Digital Equity Act. Previous to her work with HR&A and Benton, Greta built the Resilient Communities program at New America, an initiative bringing storm-ready mesh networks to five environmental justice communities in NYC; she founded Community Tech NY, a non-profit organization bringing technical assistance and community organizing support to communities in New York, Detroit, and rural Tennesee; and she also co-founded the Digital Equity Laboratory at the New School and stood up the Just Tech program at the Social Science Research Council. Greta lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley.

Dr. Karen Mossberger is Frank and June Sackton Professor in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University, and director of the Center on Technology, Data and Society. She researches digital inequality, digital government, and the impacts of technology use in communities.  She is author or co-author of 7 books, including “Choosing the Future:  Technology and Opportunity in Communities” (Mossberger, Tolbert and LaCombe, Oxford University Press, 2021), which was honored with the 2022 Goldsmith Book Prize for best academic book by the Shorenstein Center, Harvard University. She has conducted research on digital inclusion for the City of Chicago, Cuyahoga County, OH, Phoenix Housing Department, and City of Tempe, and her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation, among others.  Her center has partnered with the Marconi Society to offer an online Digital Inclusion Leadership Certificate for states, local governments, Tribes, and nonprofits through ASU. 


Session 2: Seizing the Moment

Wednesday November 15, 2023 from 4:00pm to 5:15pm
See a recording of Session 2 here

As every state and territory prepares for five years of federal funding through the IIJA, current initiatives are underway in local communities that are centering equity and justice in their digital equity initiatives. In the second of three sessions in our Built to Last series, we hear from groups that are rising up to the challenge to ensure expanded digital access results in equitable opportunities, and addressing  barriers within their local and statewide contexts, such as efforts to push back against embracing digital equity and social justice in their work with marginalized communities.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understanding Current Initiatives: Participants will gain insight into the ongoing community-based digital equity initiatives in various states and territories. They will learn about the strategies, programs, and projects that are actively addressing digital inequities and focusing on equity and justice.
  • Navigating Challenges: Participants will explore the challenges and obstacles faced by groups striving to promote digital equity and social justice in their work with marginalized communities. They will learn about strategies and tactics used to overcome political resistance and pushback, gaining insights into effective advocacy and engagement.
  • Building Inclusive Digital Equity Initiatives: By hearing from diverse voices and experiences, attendees will be equipped with knowledge and inspiration to develop more inclusive and justice-centered digital equity initiatives in their own communities or organizations.

Keynote Speaker:

  • Angela Thi Bennet, Digital Equity Director, National Telecommunications and Information Administration 


  • Lauren Moore, New York State Librarian


  • Jordana Barton-Garcia, Senior Fellow, Connect Humanity
  • Juan Muro Jr., Executive Director, Free Geek
  • H. Rose Trostle, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

About Our Speakers:

Angela Thi Bennet directs the allocation of the $2.75 billion Digital Equity Program and help develop guidelines for states to strategically utilize these funds to have a transformative impact in their communities. Angela said of her new role, “As my ability to serve scales to the national level, I remain steadfastly committed to amplifying marginalized voices, empowering local communities to drive solutions, and creating shared standards of metrics to inform interventions and create accountability.”

Throughout her career, Angela has focused on community work and improving the quality of life in her Cleveland and greater Ohio communities. Her vast community and public sector experience include leading East Cleveland’s department of community and economic development, serving as Superintendent of a community school in Cleveland, and the Ohio State Board of Education. In her previous work at a community-based internet service provider, she was instrumental in growing the customer base and helping more than 1,500 individuals benefit from affordable digital access during the height of the pandemic. Angela is an advocate and ambassador for equity and inclusion, using her network and voice to elicit social change.

Lauren Moore is New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries at the New York State Education Department.  In that role, she oversees the Division of Library Development, the Regent Joseph E. Bowman, Jr. Research Library, and the New York State Talking Book and Braille Library.  She has served in various leadership positions at public libraries and library systems throughout her career, including the  Executive Director of the Pioneer Library System where she led the development of 42 small and rural libraries in Ontario, Wayne, Wyoming and Livingston Counties by coordinating shared services. Ms. Moore has also served in leadership positions for various library professional organizations as well as for local, regional, statewide service groups, including the New York State Complete Count Commission. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the School, Healthy, & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB).   Ms. Moore earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Rutgers University.

Jordana Barton-Garcia has been an educator, a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) leader, a community development banker, a Federal Reserve researcher/practitioner, a philanthropy executive, and a technologist. She is now Senior Fellow with Connect Humanity.Jordana serves on the Statewide Working Group (SWG) of the Texas Broadband Development Office and is co-leading the South Texas-Rio Grande Valley Broadband and Digital Equity Plan that includes infrastructure expansion, digital workforce development, telehealth, and the South Tx Small Business Broadband Fund. In 2018, she received the “Federal Policy Champion Award” from the Coalition for Local Internet Choice and the “Community Broadband Hero Award” from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. In 2020, she was named, “Salud Hero” (health hero) by Salud America, a program of UT Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and was inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame. 

Prior to his time in the nonprofit world, Juan Muro, Jr. worked at Starbucks as an Operations and Training Store Manager leading teams and helping to develop talent from within the organization. Juan has put those skills to use at Free Geek and has been working to make the organization better since his arrival in 2018, where he now serves as the Executive Director. At Free Geek he has brought operational excellence, ability to build great teams and a people centric lens to delivering impact. Growing up in the poor neighborhoods of Escondido, California, Juan and his family had little access to resources, especially technology. Juan received his first laptop through a scholarship after entering the foster care system. At Free Geek Juan is able to break down barriers and enable access for others. Free Geek is a digital equity organization in Portland, Oregon. Our mission is to sustainably reuse technology, enable digital access and provide education to enable a community that empowers people to realize their potential.

H. Rose Trostle is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. They have a Master's in Urban and Environmental Planning from Arizona State University and a B.A. in Political Science and Classical Languages from Macalester College. At Arizona State University, Trostle focused on Indigenous Planning: their final applied project was for the Office of Navajo Government Development. Between degree programs, Trostle also worked on the Community Broadband Networks team as a researcher from 2015 to 2018. Trostle is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota, and they are especially interested in infrastructure issues and community development in rural areas.


Session 3: Embracing the Future

Thursday, November 16, 2023 from 4:00pm to 5:15pm
See a recording of Session 3 here

In this third and final webinar in our Built to Last series, we hear from emerging champions of digital equity who are adapting tools and strategies to help shape and inspire the future of digital equity work beyond this current investment of federal funding. We also share the ways frameworks and principles like the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society's Visions of Digital Equity principles, the Digital Equity Research Center at METRO’s Digital Equity Ecosystems Measurement Framework, and the Centri Tech Foundation’s Digital Advancement Principles can be used to build an inclusive digital economy and strong futures for communities.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about the work of emerging digital equity leaders
  • Understand different frameworks for moving digital equity work forward
  • Identify ways to apply lessons learned in state and local Digital Equity Plans

Keynote Speaker:

  • Pamela Price, Deputy Director for The Balm In Gilead, Chief Technical Officer for Women in Reality FilmTV, Inc (WIRF Media), and President, From the Bottom Up Foundation 
    Dr. Fallon Wilson, originally announced as keynote speaker, is unable to attend


  • Kate Rivera, Executive Director, Technology Learning Collaborative 


  • Reyda Taylor, Strategic Advisor, Travis County (Texas), supporting the Broadband and Digital Equity Program
  • Brittany Woods-Orrison, Broadband Specialist, Alaska Public Interest Research Group
  • Lidia Flores, Early Childhood Program Manager, Long Beach Forward  
  • Matt Rantanen, Vice President Tribal Broadband, GoldenStateNet and Director of Technology, Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association and Tribal Digital Village

About Our Speakers:

Pamela Price currently serves as the Deputy Director for The Balm In Gilead managing the various faith- and community-based initiatives of the organization. In addition to her role as Deputy Director, she also serves as the Chief Technical Officer for Women in Reality Film TV, Inc (WIRF Media) and President of From the Bottom Up Foundation based in Atlanta, GA.

Mrs. Price holds a B.S. in Public Health and has more than 20 years of experience working with national and government agencies to develop and implement multi-faceted programs to meet the societal and cultural needs of women and under-served communities. As an exemplary leader with an innovative mindset, Pamela provides strategic direction and support to multi-sector organizations in the areas of project design, implementation and evaluation, to strengthen their overall efficiency and capacity to deliver impactful & sustainable programs and services. She is a representative member of national committees, coalitions, and advisory boards, and excels in working with both public and private sector institutions. Mrs. Price is a national speaker, advocate & educator, routinely participating in briefings, webinars, and conferences on issues ranging from mental health to genetic counseling to digital equity and workforce development.She has served as a member of the U.S. Army Nurse Corp and has excelled in both government and non-governmental agencies providing leadership and guidance on program management, quality improvement, and project development. Mrs. Price is adept at leveraging national, state, and local partnerships with leaders in pharmaceutical, academic, entertainment, financial and educational industries to create, pilot, and scale programs that improve the quality of life for our most vulnerable communities and future generations.

Kate Rivera is the Executive Director of the Technology Learning Collaborative in Philadelphia and serves as the principal consultant of Kate Rivera Solutions. The Technology Learning Collaborative (TLC) is a digital equity coalition in Philadelphia, and it has a mission to advance the digital literacy, access, and inclusion dialogue by fostering professional collaboration, training, and networking among organizations and institutions dedicated to advancing these domains. Kate Rivera is also an independent consultant who offers support to nonprofits and other mission-driven organizations in areas such as project management, program and strategic planning, grant writing, and more. Her areas of expertise encompass digital inclusion, youth workforce development, and civic engagement.

Reyda Taylor is a Strategic Advisor at Travis County, supporting the Broadband and Digital Equity Program. Reyda first began working with Travis County in 2022, as a Fuse Corps Executive Fellow. Prior to her work supporting Travis County, Reyda led and co-led data ecosystem and participatory evaluation initiatives, as the Senior Consultant for Data and Evaluation at Mission Capital, in Austin, TX. Reyda particularly loves the entrepreneurism of new initiatives, founding her own business PKE Insights, co-founding Capacity Catalyst, and co-founding the Texas Applied Anthropology Summit. For over ten years in the nonprofit and technology sectors, Reyda has been building and scaling innovative, collaborative research and data initiatives. Reyda is passionate about equity and knowledge-sharing and is on a mission to make research and evaluation more accessible and adaptable. Reyda has a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Florida and a BA in Psychology from Ouachita Baptist University. 

Brittany Woods-Orrison is a Koyukon Dené woman from Dleł Taaneets, an Alaskan village along the Yukon River. She grew up on her ancestral homelands learning how to harvest traditional foods and being taught her culture. Brittany attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska, then continued her student-athlete career at Menlo College. Brittany traveled around the Western United States learning about the lands, the waters, and the Indigenous stewards for a couple of years before returning home to Alaska to be the broadband specialist for Alaska Public Interest Research Group and Native Movement. Brittany now works on digital equity, cultural revitalization, food sovereignty, reconnecting to the land, and deep community building.

Lidia Flores is the Early Childhood Program Manager at Long Beach Forward. Having begun community college with the goal of becoming a veterinarian and later learning about Child Development and Elementary School Teaching, Lidia has acquired a background in various helping professions. As a graduate of Cal State Long Beach with a major in Human Development, Lidia applies their passion of helping to their work with the Long Beach community. Lidia works directly with Long Beach parents of young children and plays a significant role in managing and guiding projects and activities within the Best Start Central Long Beach (BSCLB) network. 

Matthew R. Rantanen has been the director of technology for the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association (SCTCA) and the director of SCTCA’s Tribal Digital Village initiative for 21 years, designing and deploying networking that supports the tribal communities of Southern California. A lineal descendent of Cree (First Nations, Canada), Finnish, and Norwegian ancestry, Rantanen has been described by his peers as a “cyber warrior for tribal community networking” and is considered an expert on community and tribal networking. Rantanen helps SCTCA’s 25 member tribes with technology development and strategy.

Rantanen was appointed co-chair of the Technology and Telecom Subcommittee of the National Congress of American Indians. In this role, he works with tribes to draft telecom policy and promote better opportunities for tribes within the federal government. He also serves on the advisory board of Arizona State University’s American Indian Policy Institute.


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