IGF-USA 2021 Session
100% Online: How to close the Internet access gap once and for all
Wednesday, July 14
2:45 – 4:00 PM EDT
The COVID-19 pandemic made clear just how important Internet connectivity is for daily life—from jobs to healthcare to education. And while the Internet helped make life during the pandemic more bearable, millions of Americans, and billions of people around the world, didn’t have access and remain offline today. So how do we close this gap once and for all? And what lessons can policymakers learn from different countries’ approaches to bridging the digital divide?
Executive Director, Alliance for Affordable Internet
An expert in the confluence of development and communications policy, Sonia has over 25 years of diverse international experience in a career spanning both the private and not-for-profit sectors. As a policy advisor, Sonia has led numerous digital policy and development projects in several countries and with international organizations, such as the World Bank, UNDP, UN Women, and for private sector companies, from mobile operators to industry associations.
Sonia’s work has included ICT policy and regulatory advice and analysis, strategic industry planning, national ICT/broadband policy development, and the creation of new policy and regulatory frameworks to address issues around competition, cost-based pricing, spectrum management, infrastructure development and universal access strategy. Sonia is an avid advocate for gender equality in development, and has worked extensively to promote gender analysis and awareness in the ICT planning and policy process, as well as an understanding of the importance of digital inclusion for development.
As a thought leader and expert, Sonia was recognized by apolitico as as one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government in 2019, and is a frequent speaker at international, regional and national events, including at the World Economic Forum, Stockholm Internet Forum, Transform Africa, Mobile World Congress, Internet Governance Forums, the Latin American Telecommunications Congress, several ITU and EU-Commission events, among others. She also serves/ed as a member and expert in a number of Committees, including DFID’s Digital Access Panel for Africa, the ITU-UN Women EQUALS Partnership, The World Economic Forum’s Future of the Internet Initiative, the Broadband Commission Working Group on the Gender Digital Divide, the Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy (ACICIP) Subcommittee of the US State Department on ICT4D, the IEEE Connectivity Coalition Steering Committee, and the EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force. Sonia is an independent Board Director with KaiOS Technologies and an affiliate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.
Sonia has worked in over 40 countries around the globe, and assumed her current role in July 2013, having previously been Director of Research & Consulting at Pyramid Research. She is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English, and holds a Masters in Public Policy from Tufts University and a BA/BS in Economics and Business Finance from the University of Massachusetts.
Professor of Economics, Duke University
Michelle P. Connolly is Professor of the Practice in the Economics Department at Duke University. She was the Economics Director of Duke in New York: Financial Markets and Institutions Program for 2007-2009 and the Director of EcoTeach for several years. She served as one of two Arts & Sciences faculty members of the Duke Alumni Association Board from 2012-2016. Professor Connolly currently serves as the Director of the Honors Program in Economics.
In 2011, Professor Connolly won the Howard D. Johnson Trinity College Teaching Prize and was named among the top five percent of Duke University Undergraduate Instructors in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2017. Professor Connolly previously served as Chief Economist of the Federal Communications Commission in 2006-2007 and 2008-2009, and as an Economist for the International Research Function for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 1996 to 1997. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Yale University in 1990, and went on to earn her M.A. and M.Phil in economics. Professor Connolly received her Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1996.
Professor Connolly’s research and teaching focus specifically on international trade, telecommunications policy, media policy, education, growth, and development. She has received funding for her research from the National Science Foundation, the Duke Arts and Sciences Research Council Grants, the Spencer Grant, and the Teagle Grant.
Professor Connolly has published in numerous journals, including the American Economic Review, the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, the Journal of Development Economics, the Journal of Economic History, the Journal of Economic Growth, the Review of Industrial Organization, and Current Issues in Economics and Finance.
In 2011, Professor Connolly testified before Congress and participated in a White House panel on Spectrum Issues. She has been presenting her work at university seminars and international conferences since 1996. Some of her appearances were at the ACLP Advanced Communications 2009 Summit, where she was a panelist and moderator, at the conference on “Wireless Technologies: Enabling Innovation and Economic Growth”, where she served as a keynote panelist, and at the Martin H. Crego Lecture in Economics, an all college Lecture at Vassar College. In 2013 Professor Connolly was awarded a National Science Foundation Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace Grant, “Dollars for Hertz: Making Trustworthy Spectrum Sharing Technically and Economically Viable.”
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, National Urban League
Donald “Don” Cravins, Jr. joined the National Urban League in 2021 as EVP and COO. In this capacity, he is responsible for working with President Morial to set and maintain goals, monitor work, and evaluate results to ensure departmental and organizational objectives and operating requirements are met and are in line with the needs and mission of NUL. Don also leads NUL’s corporate diversity, equity and inclusivity initiatives and assists with NUL’s strong functioning of and relationships with Urban League affiliates and the NUL Board of Directors.
Don brings a wealth of experience from both the public and private sectors. Prior to joining NUL, Don served as Vice President of Policy and External Affairs at Charter Communications. Don’s other past experiences include serving as Senior Vice President of Policy for the National Urban League, Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and a member of the Louisiana State Legislature. A graduate of Louisiana State University and the Southern University Law Center, Don is also a Major in the Army National Guard.
Digital Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, Multnomah County Library
Alonso V. Melendez is Mexican-American originally from the Southwest, and has lived in Oregon for over 30 years now. He has worked in Social Services for approximately 10 years, focusing on equity and inclusion, community engagement, and has provided computer workshops since the early 2000’s. He was hired at Multnomah County Library in 2016, and is currently serving as the library’s Digital Equity & Inclusion Coordinator. Melendez studied Sociology at Portland State University.
Host & Moderator
Senior Vice President, Internet Growth, Internet Society
Jane Coffin is responsible for the Internet Society’s Internet Growth project teams. The Internet Growth project teams are focused on Community Networks, Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) & interconnection, peering, and community development, and a new critical project on measuring the health of the Internet. Her work also focuses on access and development strategy, where she and other ISOC colleagues and partners focus on coordination of collaborative strategies for expanding Internet infrastructure, access, and related capacities in emerging economies with partners.
Prior to joining ISOC, Jane worked on Internet and telecommunications policy issues for the Office of International Affairs at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration – U.S. Department of Commerce. She was an activeparticipant in Internet discussions in the ITU, OAS-CITEL, and OECD, working closely with the five regional Internet registries (RIRs) and other Internet technical community stakeholders. She was very involved in policy discussions on open Internet standards and issues related to BGP, IPv4, IPv6, and MPLS. While at NTIA, Jane was an advocate for the deployment of Internet exchange points (IXPs) to increase international Internet connectivity (IIC), and was an ITU-T SG-3 IIC co-Rapporteur and an IIC coordinator in CITEL’s PCC.I. She was Vice-Chair of the Federal IPv6 Task Force, and a Vice-Chair of the ITU Council Child Online Protection Working Group.
From 2002-2006, she served as Chief of Party, and Deputy Chief of Party on two separate USAID projects in Moldova and Armenia. Jane worked closely with regulators, policy-makers, senior officials and parliamentarians, Internet service providers, and stakeholders on regulatory strengthening, market access and competition, and liberalization and privatization activities in Moldova and Armenia.
Jane worked for AT&T as a Director of International Affairs/Government Affairs, where she worked on international telecommunications issues, including VOIP, ENUM, and ICAIS, and was a Rapporteur in ITU-D Study Group 1 for universal access/universal service in rural and remote areas.
She holds a BA in Classics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, attended the College Year in Athens program in Athens, Greece, and was an American Field Service (AFS) exchange student in Falun, Sweden (1985-86).
Jane is based in Reston, United States.