Innovative Solutions for Digital Inclusion
The digital divide remains a significant challenge in the U.S. For example, those living in rural communities in the U.S. today have more than 1-in-4 chance of lacking access to fixed high-speed broadband at home, compared to Americans in urban areas that have a 1-in-50 probability of the same. The IGF-USA community continues to seek to bridge this “digital divide” – the gap between those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not.
While digital opportunity is not distributed equally in the United States, communities across the country have developed innovative solutions to bring those online who may have otherwise been left behind. This panel will explore creative and effective solutions for broadband access and digital literacy, and will offer suggestions and next steps for those looking to implement their own digital inclusion efforts.
Nilmini Rubin is a vice president at TetraTech. She leads engineering and consulting projects to increase energy and internet access in developing countries. Previously, Nilmini served as the Senior Advisor for Global Economic Competitiveness at the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee where she directed technology, trade, finance and energy policy. On behalf of Chairman Royce, Nilmini spearheaded passage by the House of Representatives the Digital Global Access Policy Act of 2016 to promote internet access in developing countries. She drove unanimous passage of a law to increase access to electricity in Africa that serves as the framework for the United States’ Power Africa initiative. Prior to this position, she advocated on cybersecurity policy for the Information Technology Industry Council, led international economics policy for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and served as the Director for International Finance at the National Security Council of the White House.
Nilmini’s work has been highlighted in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Politico, Yahoo! and numerous international publications. She was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, a “40 Under 40” Leader in International Development by Devex, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was featured on HGTV’s “Curb Appeal” and appeared briefly on Netflix’s “House of Cards”. Nilmini is the mother of three young girls and co-wrote a book with her oldest daughter entitled “How Carrots Became Orange.”
Claude Aiken is the President & CEO of WISPA, the association representing thousands of companies dedicated to closing the digital divide through fixed wireless broadband. He was named a Rising Star in Wireless by FierceWireless in 2018.
Claude joined WISPA after nearly a decade at the Federal Communications Commission. There he served as an advisor to both Chairman Wheeler and Commissioner Clyburn. He joined the Commission through the Attorney Honors program, he held critical leadership positions in the Wireline Bureau and Office of General Counsel, as well key staff attorney roles throughout the Commission.
Prior to joining the FCC, he was a John Marshall Harlan Scholar at New York Law School, where he graduated with a specialization in information and technology law. Claude also holds a degree in English from Grove City College.
As Deputy Chief of Staff, Majestic leads the Peduto administration's focus on opportunity for all residents of the City of Pittsburgh in regard to Education, Workforce Development, Safe & Healthy Communities and Digital Inclusion. Additionally, he leads the administration’s engagement with national organizations regarding equity and inclusion strategies. Prior to serving as Deputy Chief of Staff, Majestic was the Deputy Chief of Neighborhood Empowerment where he coordinated the administration’s neighborhood equity efforts through community driven development and affordable housing initiatives. Before joining the Mayor’s office, Majestic served as the Director of External Affairs & Membership Engagement at Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group (PCRG), a membership organization for Community Development Corporations, Community-Based Organizations, and related nonprofits throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. Majestic also served as the Director of Community Engagement & Strategy at A+ Schools, an education advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for Black & Brown children in Pittsburgh Public Schools, and a legislative aide to Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo focusing on community development, education & sustainability issues.
Dan has been involved with Tech Goes Home since 2002 and on staff since the summer of 2010. After spending several years as a Legislative Aide to a U.S. Congressman in Washington, DC, he returned to Boston as the Technology Director at Fenway High School. In 2006, he was hired by the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Dorchester to help implement the largest middle school 1:1 laptop initiative in New England. In 2010, Dan joined TGH as Program Director and became Co-Executive Director in 2014. In the time that Dan has been involved with TGH, the organization has gone from serving more than 1,000 people per year to now graduating than 5,000 learners in 2018. Nothing is more important to Dan than his two adorable little girls (and the Sox winning the WS in 2004).
Mariel is the CEO of MuralNet, coordinating deployments, partnerships and policy advocacy efforts. She has taken part in every aspect of builds from applying for licenses and funding to staging and mounting equipment. As an engineer, educator and researcher, she has pushed innovation in STEM classrooms through project-based service learning for over a decade. Her work in online math curriculum proved how important access to Internet resources are for content as well as mindsets. Because of this, Mariel strives to make the Internet accessible for all students. Prior to her work in education, she designed and tested medical devices to treat strokes, recyclable replacements for polyurethane and more efficient methods of producing photo-chemicals at scale.
Mariel earned two degrees in engineering at UC Berkeley and a Master’s at Stanford in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education.