Recordings of the Connecting California Events are available
on our #ConnectingCA2020 YouTube playlist

Connecting California, Pt. 2
Stronger Together: The Role of Cross-Sector Partnerships in Digital Equity
Thursday, September 17th, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. PDT

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 divides,” across access to a device, high speed internet, and digital literacy. 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 divides” — once topics 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, philanthropic investors and policymakers—all representing different facets of the complex landscape around building equitable solutions to the digital divides 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.

“Stronger Together: The Role of Cross-Sector Partnerships in Digital Equity” will take place on September 17th and focus on deepening our understanding of how effective public-private partnerships can be designed and implemented to excellence, specifically at the local and regional levels. Subject matter experts from government, industry and philanthropy will share case studies of proven models and solutions implemented both in-state and around the country. 

On August 6th, we launched Connecting California with a conversation titled The Digital Divide: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. That program focused on building a foundation for in-depth understanding of national, state and local contexts and precedents in digital (in)equity, and introducing attendees to ongoing initiatives combatting the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on our country and society. If you were unable to attend this first event, please find more details including a recording here


What: Stronger Together: The Role of Cross-Sector Partnerships in Digital Equity

When: Thursday September 17th, 9am-10:30am PT

Where: Zoom 

Who: Some of the brightest minds in our nation’s public, private and philanthropic sectors.
Speakers to Include:

Senator Lena A. Gonzalez
California State Senate, 33rd District

Lena GonzalezSenator Lena A. Gonzalez was elected to the State Senate to represent the 33rd District in June of 2019. Growing up in a working-class family where her father was a truck driver and her mother worked in aerospace, Senator Gonzalez learned the value of hard work and dedication.

Prior to being elected to the Senate, Gonzalez served on the Long Beach City Council from 2014-2019. On the Council, Gonzalez tackled issues such as banning the use of expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) in local restaurants, creating over 200 new parking spaces, protecting local businesses through increased access to contracts and bids, and ensuring the City of Long Beach took steps to combat and address homelessness.

Gonzalez also worked in the private sector for Microsoft, leading civic engagement investments for the Los Angeles region. Her focus was on expanding diversity and inclusion in the tech sector by providing grants to non-profit organizations and digital skills programs for underserved communities, to include: unemployed adults seeking job training and creating career pathways for youth, especially supporting young girls of color in STEM.

In the Senate, Gonzalez prioritizes creating economic opportunity for all families and children in SD 33. Gonzalez wants to create jobs, promote quality education, address the crisis in affordable housing and homelessness, protect our environment and attract innovation to SD 33. Senator Gonzalez sits on the Senate Health Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Transportation Committee and the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. She is Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ports & Goods Movement and Chair of the Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response.


Jennie Huang Bennett
Chief Financial Officer, City of Chicago

Jennie BennettJennie Bennett serves as the City of Chicago’s Chief Financial Officer. Previously the Chief Financial Officer for Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Ms. Bennett has extensive experience in managing financial turnarounds, driving cost efficiencies, managing large complex capital structures, developing governmental budgets, generating revenues through creative solutions, and finding paths toward financial stability. Bennett has a wide range of both public sector and private sector experience. She helped lead CPS through significant financial difficulties, which have now been relieved through new, fairer educational funding. She also served as CPS’s acting Chief Internal Auditor from 2018-2019 and Treasurer from 2012-16. Prior to CPS, Bennett spent over a decade as a senior investment banker in municipal securities, managing post-recovery financing needs for New York after 9/11 and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, large water and wastewater acquisitions as well as various types of municipal financings.


Joshua Edmonds
Director of Digital Inclusion, City of Detroit

Joshua EdmondsJoshua Edmonds is the City of Detroit’s inaugural Director of Digital Inclusion and a Poverty Solutions Fellow at the University of Michigan. Joshua is responsible for developing a sustainable digital inclusion strategy to bridge Detroit’s digital divide. Joshua’s work intersects with public policy, telecommunications and public-private partnership building. While at the City, Joshua has testified in front of Congress on the matter of digital equity, hosted Detroit’s first Digital Inclusion Summit, and most recently, helped raise $23 million to provide every public school student with broadband and computers. Prior to his current role, Joshua served as a Digital Innovation Fellow at The Cleveland Foundation where he leveraged philanthropic and corporate funding to help address Cleveland, Ohio’s digital divide. Joshua also worked on President Obama’s ConnectHome initiative at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority.


Jeanne Holm
Chief Data Officer and Senior Technology Advisor to the Mayor, City of Los Angeles

Jeanne Holm HeadshotJeanne is the Chief Data Officer and Senior Technology Advisor to the Mayor at the City of Los Angeles, helping 4,000,000 people and 500,000 businesses get access to and use data for innovation, equity, health and safety. She connects public-private partners for innovations ranging from digital equity to 5G. She has led the delivery of online services, 311, public television and digital media, and ShakeAlertLA. She founded the Data Science Federation partnering universities and cities to create innovative solutions such as using artificial intelligence for traffic safety and machine learning to improve air quality. She was formerly the Evangelist for open data for the White House under President Obama, the leader for Africa open data for the World Bank, and the Chief Knowledge Architect at NASA. She is a Distinguished Instructor at UCLA, a Trustee of Claremont Graduate University, a Fellow of the United Nations International Academy of Astronautics, on the Global Leadership Board for Time’s Up, and an advisor to the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network. She leads a startup that promotes equity, education, and social justice through technology and education programs for innovators throughout the world.


Seth Hubbert
Executive Director, Tech Exchange

Seth HubbertSeth Hubbert is the Executive Director of Tech Exchange, a Bay Area nonprofit that provides equitable technology access to underserved communities through refurbishing donated computers and providing digital skills training.  During his 6 years at Tech Exchange, Seth has led the growth of the organization by a factor of 5x, while serving 25,000 families with home access support.  Before joining Tech Exchange, Seth served as an educator for 10 years. Beginning in the classroom as a Teach for America Physics and Chemistry teacher in New York City, Seth developed a passion for how technology can support and enhance student learning.  Through subsequent Director of Technology roles, he has led the vision and implementation of blended learning, integrated coding, 1-to-1 student device access, and design technology programs. He’s served on the Technology, Innovation and Design committee for the European Council of International Schools and has instructed university courses on STEM curriculum for new teachers. Seth has a B.S. in Physics from Whitworth University and a M.S. in Education from Pace University.


Jordan Sun
Chief Innovation Officer, City of San Jose

Jordan SunJordan Sun is the Chief Innovation Officer for the City of San Jose.  Jordan brings deep, cross-sector global experience in innovation, technology, government, and healthcare to work on behalf of the residents of San José.  Prior to joining the city, Jordan was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan as the Chief Operating Officer for the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan Technology Team with the U.S. Army.  Before deploying to Afghanistan, Jordan was with Siemens Healthineers as Director of Venture Development and CEO of an incubated digital health startup focused on workforce productivity and reducing burnout.  He also held commercial leadership roles in healthcare for a Bay Area, Foxconn-backed robotic radiosurgery startup and a Taiwanese publicly-traded medical technology company in Shanghai, China.  Jordan started his professional career in Foreign Exchange Sales & Trading with a leading Japanese investment bank based in New York City.  He then served as a diplomat in the U.S. Department of State with an overseas tour in Taiwan focusing on foreign policy and technology.  He was also assigned to Japan as a U.S. Army Foreign Affairs Officer and is a two-time volunteer of the war in Afghanistan.  Jordan received a B.S. from New York University (NYU) and attended Yale University’s School of Management. He is an advisor with UCSF Innovation Ventures (Catalyst), a startup mentor with First Round Capital’s Fast Track Program, a former mentor at Plug and Play, and commercialization fellow with Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research.

Special Thanks to Our Foundation Partners:

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