The thread throughout my career over the past twenty years, beginning as a young scholar in graduate school at Emerson College and proceeding shortly thereafter as a community media and technology practitioner at Cambridge Community Television, has been a focus on equity in access to information and communication technology (ICT) particularly for vulnerable populations. This passion has persisted as a beating drum that has helped move me and my family from Boston to Illinois to Oklahoma and back to Boston during these past twelve years. I am grateful for the privilege that I’ve had during this time to complete a doctoral program, gain tenure at an academic institution, and have the choice and opportunity to pursue an alternative pathway.
This week, I am starting off on this new path as the Senior Director of Research and Scholarship at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. While I’m sad to leave so many amazing colleagues at Simmons University, I am quickly realizing how perfect this new opportunity is for me. I’m also incredibly overwhelmed by all of the support I’ve received from friends and colleagues, as well as others online who I’ve not yet had the privilege to meet.
In this new role, I will be overseeing Benton’s research initiatives and invited fellows and their projects. I look forward to working to recruit a cohort of fellows that reflect the diversity and passion that exists in the fields of digital equity research, advocacy, and practice. I also look forward to continuing my work to better understand, document, and highlight the digital equity ecosystems that exist in communities across the U.S. The purpose will be to help guide and further inform research, policy, and practice to support social and racial justice in communities both with and without access to ICTs.
I am also looking forward to moving the Community Informatics Lab to the Benton Institute, which will continue to be a home for our work to better understand and co-design community responses to local information challenges. As local, state, and federal support and coordination builds to promote digital equity nationwide, it will be even more critical to document the challenges and opportunities facing digital equity ecosystems now into the future.
I am grateful to Benton’s Executive Director, Adrianne Benton Furniss, the Board of Directors, and Trustees for this amazing opportunity and honor.