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Digital Inclusion Thought Leadership Forum 2022

Hosted by Geeks Without Frontiers

2-Day Online Event

on Zoom

Thursday, October 6 (Open to the Public)

Friday, October 7 (N50 Partners Only)

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About the Event:

The N50 Project is an official affiliate of NDIA (National Digital Inclusion Alliance) and is participating in NDIA's Digital Inclusion Week, which is an annual week of awareness, recognition, and celebration. We are one of many organizations and individuals across the country hosting special events and campaigns to promote digital equity in their communities and we are proud to share a special 2-day Thought Leadership Forum on Digital Inclusion.

Thought Leadership Forum Agenda (Times in PST)

DAY 1: Thursday, October 6 - Open to the Public

“Digital Equity” and “Inclusion” are easy to say, but hard to do. Centering the lived experience is essential in making substantive change. Solutions that work at scale begin with the experience of one. As opportunities for digital-equity projects escalate, what are key considerations when planning for partner-driven impact and why does it matter?

Speakers: Nekkia Becerra, Educational Strategist, Dell Technologies; Nichole Aguirre, Director of Virtual Education and Innovation, Texas Education Agency

Hosted by Dr. Erin Bown-Anderson, Director of Community Innovation, Geeks Without Frontier & N50 Project Team

8:50am-9:00am      Welcome & Opening of the Thought Leadership Forum

This session will provide a digital-inclusion case study that draws upon local community perspectives from tribes in the Eastern Sierra Nevada region. From tribal leadership to anchor institutions, and from IT support to a community school teacher, members of the Paiute and Shoshone tribes will discuss key considerations for stakeholders at every level of the digital-inclusion ecosystem.

Speakers: Jesse Archer, NumuNetworks; Phil Fowler, President, Nu Communications; Janet Hansen, Chairperson, Lone Pine Paiute Shoshone Tribe; Andrew Brickweg, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Etheric Networks

Moderator: Travis Heneveld, Director of Connectivity Solutions, Geeks Without Frontiers & N50 Project Team

Speakers: Paul Holland, Managing Director and VC-in-Residence, Mach 49

Moderator: David Hartshorn, CEO, Geeks Without Frontiers & Board Advisor Member, N50

10:30am-10:45am  Wellness & Feedback Break

The resources required to achieve digital inclusivity are as varied as the communities for which they are intended: Multilateral funding, private and programmatic assets, disposable income, in-kind systems, services and subject-matter expertise, government subsidies, and more. Drawing on lessons learned from a project in the Zambian village of Luumbo, this session will explore how resources can be leveraged to address digital-inclusivity challenges for marginalized communities… sustainably.

Speakers: Ian McFadyen, CEO, Mwabu; James Phiri, CEO, Virtual Doctors; Prakash Advani, Co-Founder & CEO, picoNETS

Moderator: David Hartshorn, CEO, Geeks Without Frontiers & Board Advisor Member, N50

Sustainability strategies for off-grid digital inclusion have traditionally been few and far between. This roundtable will explore the best (and worst) practices where digital stakeholders have been pushing the envelope to reach new “customers” at the edge. Can innovative strategies enable Digital Inclusion that is high impact and durable? These front-line experts will provide answers.  

Speakers: Evan Buck, Business Development + Strategy, Prepaid Internet, Viasat; Patrick Schultz, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Vanu; Innocent Tshilombo, Founder and Managing Director, Kakuma Ventures

Moderators: Michael Potter & John Morris, Executive Directors & Co-Founders , Geeks Without Frontiers & N50 Project Team

1:45pm                   Day 1 Forum Closes

Due to the recent natural disasters across the globe, the relevance and importance of considering digital inclusion through a disaster resilience and responsiveness lens is paramount. During this discussion, speakers will engage in conversation around current issues impacting Pakistan, Puerto Rico and other hurricane affected regions in the US.All attendees will be able to participate in this open-forum discussion on digital inclusion and how to drive sustainability in community and much more.

Speakers: Jose Luis Rodriguez, CPR; Ali Ahktar, Head of Business Unit, Telecoms & Defense, Supernet, Limited; Joe Simmons, Director of Tech Innovations, Geeks Without Frontiers & N50 Project Team

Moderator: David Hartshorn, CEO, Geeks Without Frontiers & Board Advisor Member, N50


DAY 2: Friday, October 7 - N50 Partners ONLY

7:50am                   Forum Opens

8:00am-8:15am      Welcome & Opening of N50 Partner Forum

8:15am-9:15am      Fireside Chat: From Concept to Reality


Project designs that drive adoption of digital solutions are a prerequisite for digital inclusion. Business cases that will close are another. This session will draw upon the experience of edge practitioners to reveal what factors are being taken into account to stand up new projects that are not only digitally inclusive, but that are scalable.

Speakers: Jim Stritzinger, Director, South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, South Carolina Broadband Office; Genaro Cruz, Managing Partner & Founder, Tenolli; Lene Sjørslev Schulze, Head of Business Development, Bluetown

Moderators: David Hartshorn, CEO, Geeks Without Frontiers & Board Advisor Member, N50; John Morris, Executive Director & Co-Founder , Geeks Without Frontiers & N50 Project Team

Speakers:  Dr. Keisha King, Senior National Education Administrator, T-Mobile

Moderator: Kevin Schwartz, Executive Director N50 Project

10:15am-10:30am  Wellness & Feedback Break

Many or most N50 Partners either have digital programs of their own or are supporting others’ programs… or both. Many of these programs – whether they are focused on education, health, agriculture, or other digital-inclusion opportunities – have strong synergies with one another but operate separately. An increasing number of Partners are exploring N50 strategies that incorporate complementary programs. Attend this session to learn how N50 is serving as a platform that enables order-of-magnitude improvements in impact and scale through community hubs, cooperatives, classroom redesign, and much more.

Speakers: Kim Boutwell, Product Manager, Dell; Shashi Mariputtana, Sr. Director, 5G and Edge Acceleration, Intel; Bob Olwig, VP Business Development, World Wide Technology

Moderators: David Hartshorn, CEO, Geeks Without Frontiers & Board Advisor Member, N50; Kevin Schwartz, Executive Director N50 Project


A successful education approach is almost always a leading indicator in digital inclusion and adoption efforts that succeed. N50 Partners have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to approaches and solutions that make the biggest impact from an educational perspective.   From device innovations, instructional foundations, to workforce development education leaders will share perspectives to drive digital equity and inclusion. 

Speakers: Amos Fodchuk, President & Founder, Advanced Learning Partnerships; Soraya Fouladi, CEO, Jara

Moderator: Dr. Erin Bown-Anderson, Director of Community Innovation, Geeks Without Frontier & N50 Project Team

Billions of dollars of investment are being driven by ratings of corporate Environmental, Social and Governance performance. Monitoring and Evaluation of private-sector projects has become the norm in order to demonstrate real impact. Where does digital inclusion fit in the ESG calculus and what are the implications for N50 and for its Partners as they plan to prove their worth to the capital markets?

Speakers: Dr. Tanya Murphy, Director of Impact, Geeks Without Frontiers; Linda C. Samuels, Associate Professor and author of Infrastructural Optimism, Washington University, St. Louis; Aya Kiy-Morroco, Associate Director, ESG, Cognizant

Moderator: Dr. Erin Bown-Anderson, Director of Community Innovation, Geeks Without Frontier & N50 Project Team

1:15pm                  Day 2 Forum Closes

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