The last couple of years have been transformational for the digital inclusion space. As jobs, schools, government services, social gatherings, and everyday tasks moved online, a recognition emerged that digital access and skills are critical in our society. In addition, there is increasing momentum to acknowledge affordable, reliable broadband as a human right.
We saw more organizations and individuals becoming digital equity champions, affirming that we need government support in the sector. Some major victories were also won on both the local and federal levels in getting government recognition and support around digital access. Many organizations learned or reaffirmed that digital inclusion needs to be a part of our missions, no matter our day-to-day work.
Our seventh cohort of fellows led and contributed to digital inclusion efforts in myriad ways. They spoke on panels, organized events, and made immense progress in taking many of their organization's programs and adapting them to an online context. For some, this also meant convincing their organizations and partners that digital inclusion hadn’t traditionally been part of their work, but it was time to hop on that wagon. They accomplished some incredible feats, including supporting food bank clients in gaining digital skills and ensuring that formerly incarcerated individuals have the skills they need to survive in a digital world. I look forward to sharing more of their successes in the spotlights, which we’ll publish this fall.
As we welcome our eighth cohort, I’m eager for them to follow in the footsteps of the incredible leaders we’ve supported over the last year. Our eighth cohort includes 17 fellows from around the country: California, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Utah. They hail from various institutions, including a housing agency, city government, multiple libraries, workforce development, and several digital inclusion organizations. Their backgrounds and experiences are equally diverse, from a Nigerian immigrant to several first-generation Americans, a student currently pursuing a Master in Public Administration, and a fellow returning for a second year in the program. What unites this diverse group of individuals is a commitment to providing access and skills training so communities can be empowered to navigate the digital world.
Over the next year, these fellows will be learning and challenging themselves to become digital inclusion experts who will transform their communities. I'll support these emerging leaders in building robust digital literacy programming such as:
- Teaching seniors how to use hot spots.
- Helping parents communicate with their children’s teachers.
- Guide immigrants and refugees in navigating local services.
As we continue to learn to live with COVID and folks talk about "returning to normal," I want to ensure that we retain all of the lessons we’ve learned about the importance of digital inclusion and continue to pursue digital equity for all. I'm confident that our 2022 cohort of Digital Inclusion Fellows and their passion for creating a more equitable and digitally empowered world will lead us in this direction.
The fellowship is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors: Google Fiber, the Cleveland Foundation, Digitunity, CENTII, and the Alliant Credit Union Foundation. A special thank you goes out to our founding sponsor, Google Fiber. The Digital Inclusion Fellowship was conceived and launched in partnership with Google Fiber in 2015.
Senior Program Manager, The Aspen Institute
I'm passionate about embracing technology to achieve transformative social change. I believe that solutions to some of the world's biggest challenges can be found in grassroots communities from Chile to Kenya and that technology is the megaphone for their voice and agency.Before NTEN, I was the Digital Action Campaigns Manager for World Pulse, where I developed international initiatives to deliver grassroots women leaders' testimonies and visions to decision-makers and influential forums. I've been back in the Pacific Northwest for almost a decade after seven years spent working in Latin America, where I managed international cooperation programs in areas ranging from poverty alleviation to social entrepreneurship. A native of Ukraine, I speak Russian, English, Spanish, and um pouquinho de português and have a B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Pitzer College and an M.A. in International Studies from the University of Chile.Outside of office hours, you're most likely to find me hiking with my rescue pup Atlas, discovering new brews (of the caffeinated kind!), and packing my backpack for my next adventure.