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Connecting California, Pt. I –– The Digital Divide: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 

Thursday, August 6, 2020
9:00am - 10:30am PDT
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Amongst its far-reaching effects, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 illuminated another as-yet-unsolved plague on American society: the yawning economic and educational chasm perpetuated by the “digital divide.” Put differently: many of our greatest problems, while newly exacerbated by COVID-19, can be traced to the same root cause--digital inequity. When schools began shuttering mid-spring, many of us learned for the first time that millions of households lack Internet connectivity, as well as devices for online schooling and work. With each passing day, the likelihood that our 2020-2021 academic year will take place at least partially online is increasing. The “digital divide” -- once a topic relegated to select circles of corporate social responsibility, creative device refurbishment, educational punditry and philanthropic experimentation -- is now top of mind for business leaders, educators, lawmakers and philanthropists alike.

Connecting California attendees will hear insights from business leaders, digital equity practitioners, Internet service providers, philanthropic investors and policymakers—all representing different facets of the complex landscape around building equitable solutions to the digital divide at national, state and local levels. Join us for an in-depth analysis of digital (in)equity—its history, related policies, cross-sectoral priorities, and emerging and proven solutions.

Our inaugural event will explore the history of the digital divide in the United States and across California. The Senior Policy Advisor on Higher Education to Governor Gavin Newsom, Lande Ajose, will provide an up-to-date context for our conversation. Our speakers, each a subject matter expert or experienced practitioner in digital equity, will provide context for strategies that public, private and philanthropic partners have developed.



Lande Ajose

Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

Dr. Lande Ajose is the Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education for Governor Gavin Newsom. She is responsible for developing and shaping the Governor’s higher education policy agenda, which is focused on protecting college affordability, preserving college access, and increasing system efficiency in order to meet the state’s need for a skilled and educated workforce.  Prior to this appointment, she served as executive director of California Competes, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project that develops and advocates on behalf of policies to equitably boost California’s postsecondary degree attainment.  Her experience in higher education spans college admissions at Vassar College, education and workforce development funding at the James Irvine Foundation, and research and evaluation at MDRC, where she managed a comprehensive evaluation of the Achieving the Dream Initiative. An ardent advocate for college affordability, in 2014 she was appointed to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) by Governor Jerry Brown and served as chair for two years until her resignation in May 2019.  She has served on boards of the Institute of College Access and Success (TICAS), the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and, until her appointment to the Governor’s office, she was a WASC Senior College and University Commissioner. She currently serves on the advisory committee for the Higher Education Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California. A graduate of Occidental College, she earned her master’s degree from the School of Public Affairs at UCLA and holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Occidental College.

Ernesto Falcon

Senior Legislative Counsel, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Ernesto Falcon is Senior Legislative Counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation with a primary focus on intellectual property, open Internet issues, broadband access, and competition policy. He represents EFF’s advocacy, on behalf of its members and all consumers, for a free and open Internet before state legislatures and Congress. Ernesto’s work includes pushing the state of California to pass the strongest net neutrality law in the country in response to federal repeal efforts, as well as leading EFF's research and advocacy to promote universally available, affordable, and competitive fiber broadband networks.

Devon Miner

State Network Manager, National Skills Coalition

Devon is a State Network Manager with National Skills Coalition (NSC). In his role, Devon supports the development and promotion of a network of state coalitions working to advance policies that support industry engagement, skills equity, public accountability and job-driven investment. Devon collaborates with his NSC colleagues to provide customized technical assistance to state coalitions, particularly western states, toward policy impacts.

As a California resident, Devon co-leads the Skills for California Network which is a statewide network of organizations advancing workforce development policies that remove systemic barriers and promote an inclusive economy for all Californians.

Angela Siefer

Executive Director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance

Angela Siefer is the Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. Angela has been working in the field we now call digital inclusion since 1997. From physically setting up computer labs in underserved areas and managing local digital inclusion programs to consulting for the US. Department of Commerce and testifying before Congress, Angela develops national strategies and solutions from the ground up. In 2015, Angela helped found the National Digital Inclusion Alliance,  a unified voice for home broadband access, public broadband access, personal devices and local technology training and support programs. Government Technology Magazine named Angela one of their Top 25 Doers, Dreams, and Drivers of 2019.

Presented in partnership with:


No cost to participate

Who May Attend
Current SCG, NCG, and SDG members and eligible non-members

SCG members: Register online
NCG & SDG members: Register online
Non-members: Register online.
If you have additional questions regarding these sessions, please contact us at [email protected]

Accommodations for People with Disabilities
If you have a disability and require accommodation in order to fully participate in this activity, please contact our programs team at [email protected] or (213) 680-8866. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs.

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