Wednesday, November 15th 2023 from 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Session 2: Seizing the Moment
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Juan Muro, Jr. Prior to his time in the nonprofit world, Juan 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.