Federal Government Initiatives to Close the Digital Divide

Problem Statement

The digital divide in America means that as many as 75 million Americans have limited or no access to the Internet. This puts them at a tremendous disadvantage to obtain a quality education, connect with loved ones, and gain meaningful employment.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Digital Nation reports show that, in 2015, 33 million American households didn’t access the Internet at home. This puts them at a tremendous disadvantage to obtain a quality education, connect with loved ones, and gain meaningful employment.

Learn about progress being made at the federal level to bring broadband to the nation, promote digital inclusion and coordinate efforts amongst federal agencies. Topics will include the Connectivity Initiative from NTIA’s BroadbandUSA program, Housing and Urban Development’s ConnectHome program, and efforts underway at the Institute of Museum and Library Services to help libraries and museums bridge the gap in communities across the country. These agencies are all members of the federal Broadband Interagency Working Group, and their programs are working to accelerate broadband adoption and provide affordable access to low-income families, minorities, and seniors across the nation.

Karen Hanson
Manager, Partnerships and Interagency Affairs
Karen Hanson is Director of Partnerships and Interagency Affairs for the BroadbandUSA initiative within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Karen is responsible for BroadbandUSA’s federal interagency coordination efforts, and serves as lead staff on the Broadband Interagency Working Group, co-chaired by NTIA (previously known as the Broadband Opportunity Council). Karen’s background includes experience in the nonprofit, philanthropic, and private sectors. Prior to joining NTIA, Karen worked in California as a management consultant focused on the software industry and at ZeroDivide, a foundation dedicated to promoting broadband adoption within underserved communities in California. Karen also worked as an Education Policy Analyst with the National Council of La Raza. Karen received a B.A. from Duke University in Public Policy Studies and an MBA from the University of Southern California.

Laura Spining
U.S. Department of Commerce
Director of Products

Dina Lehmann-Kim
Program Coordinator
Dina Lehmann-Kim came to HUD as a Presidential Management Fellow in 1998 to work specifically on the Neighborhood Networks initiative, HUD's first effort aimed at bridging the digital divide. Since that time, Dina has worked on various digital inclusion efforts, including HUD's newest effort, ConnectHome. She holds a M.A. in International Development from American University and a B.A. in French from Wellesley College.

James Neal
Institute of Museum and Library Services
Senior Program Officer
James Neal is a Senior Program Officer with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in Washington, DC. His portfolio includes digital inclusion, open education resources, broadband access, and accessibility with a focus on youth services in public libraries. James is originally from Columbia, SC and currently lives in Greenbelt, MD. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and a MLS graduate of the University of Maryland.