Connecting California: Solving the Digital Divide
The Power of Advocacy: How Nonprofits Are Shaping Broadband Policy In California
Wednesday, March 9, 2022 | 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. PST
Register for the event.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, suddenly all nonprofits became digital equity nonprofits. Whether they focused on education, civic engagement, or healthcare, community-based organizations across the country found themselves pivoting toward tackling the digital divide seemingly overnight. They witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by the youth, families, and communities they serve as everyone quarantined and shifted to a new, virtual, normal. Ever resilient, these leaders and trusted advocates have not only grappled with the nuances of this complex and multifaceted issue, but they also led the charge to shape public policy that will ensure that their communities never again are redlined, excluded, and forgotten.

Join the Michelson 20MM Foundation and our partners for “The Power of Advocacy: How Nonprofits Are Shaping Broadband Policy In California,” the first installment in 2022 of our Connecting California: Solving the Digital Divide series. 

Speakers include: 

2nd District, Santa Clara County

Supervisor Cindy ChavezSupervisor Cindy Chavez represents more than a half million people in East, Central, and South San Jose. Regionally she serves on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board of Directors and the CalTrain board, playing a leadership role in the electrification of Caltrain and planning for high- speed rail. She is also a commissioner representing Santa Clara County on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and serves on the Valley Transportation Authority Board of Directors.

Statewide, Governor Gavin Newsom just appointed Supervisor Chavez to the California Board of State and Community Corrections. She is responsible for most of the affordable housing in Santa Clara County after being the architect of the $950-million affordable housing bond passed by voters in 2016. Her policies include getting COVID-19 vaccines for all Santa Clara County residents; improved services for physically and sexually abused children under one roof at the new Children’s Advocacy Center; more comprehensive help and resources for our foster youth; expansive, structural changes to digital and broadband services for Santa Clara County’s school children in disadvantaged areas; and health care for all children.

Supervisor Chavez is running for Mayor of San Jose in 2022.

Vice President of Public Policy and Civic Engagement, California Community Foundation

Efrain-EscobedoEfrain Escobedo is recognized statewide as a leading executive strategist dedicated to increasing the civic engagement of historically underserved and marginalized communities. For nearly two decades, he has worked within the philanthropic, government, and nonprofit sectors. 

Presently, Efrain serves as Vice President of Public Policy and Civic Engagement at the California Community Foundation (CCF). Before joining CCF, Efrain held leadership positions at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. There he led three divisions essential to advancing the mission and strategic initiatives of the department, and spearheaded historic projects like the Voting Systems Assessment Project, which modernized the County’s voting systems. Efrain also held management positions at NALEO Educational Fund, where he played a key leadership role as the Senior Director of Civic Engagement in the historic Ya Es Hora campaign, which helped to naturalize more than one million immigrants in the U.S. and contributed to historic Latino voter turnout in 2008. 

Senior Director, Policy, Advocacy and Communications, Great Public Schools Now

AnaTeresaDahanHeadshot_20220126With two decades of experience in Los Angeles local government, education, non-profit management and politics, Ana Teresa Dahan is the Senior Director of Advocacy, Policy and Community Engagement at Great Public Schools Now.

She has worked at all levels of management at the Los Angeles Unified School District and was responsible for implementation of Proposition 39 and the Public School Choice Resolution. Ana was also a founding staff member of the California Charter Schools Association. In 2014, she was a pivotal member of the campaign that elected City of Los Angeles Council President Nury Martinez. She previously served as Mayor Garcetti’s sole appointee on the City of Los Angeles Ethics Commission. Ana Teresa has also served on the City of Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women and 2021 LAUSD Redistricting Commission.

Executive Director, Communities in Schools of Los Angeles

Elmer RElmer Roldan joined Communities In Schools of Los Angeles (CISLA) in November 2019, bringing 23 years of youth and community organizing experience and marking a new era of leadership at CISLA. In his role, Mr. Roldan is responsible for overseeing the implementation of CISLA’s strategic direction and annual goals, collaborating with CIS national and the CISLA board to ensure CISLA’s success, raising the annual operating budget, managing organization-wide budget, finances, and external relationships and partnerships. 

Mr. Roldan most recently served as Director of Civic Engagement in the Office of the Superintendent at LAUSD, and he brings experience from United Way of Greater Los Angeles, where he served as an Education Program Officer before being promoted to Director of Education, Programs, and Policy. His experience also includes Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition (where he worked to improve outcomes for boys and young men-of-color by advocating for positive alternatives to punitive school discipline and reducing criminalization in communities of color), Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (where he served as Senior Advisor to the CEO) and Community Coalition (where he dedicated 12 years to the South LA community as a Youth Organizer, Fundraising Manager and Director of Education Programs). 

Director of Race and Equity Policy, The Utility Reform Network (TURN)

Gabriela SandovalGabriela Sandoval serves as Director of Race and Equity Policy for TURN, The Utility Reform Network, where she works with community-based organizations throughout the state—with a focus on communities struggling to make ends meet and communities of color—to build coalitions to improve broadband equity and access, increase energy equity and security and to protect consumer privacy. 

Before joining TURN, Gabriela was Research Director at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, a national “think-and-do tank” in Oakland, where the focus of her work was the Closing the Racial Wealth Gap Initiative. Previously, Gabriela was a faculty member of the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She also served as the academic coordinator for the first professional midwifery school in Mexico. 

Economic Development Director, City Heights Community Development Corporation

Alexis VillanuevaAlexis is a graduate of San Diego State University with majors in Social Work and Chicana/o Studies. She practiced social work for 10 years, working with children and families. Most of her time was dedicated to adolescence in foster care. After working within the workforce development system, her attention shifted to developing career opportunities for underserved communities and business development. She currently serves as Director of Economic Development with City Heights Community Development Corporation. She oversees initiatives that are focused on micro-enterprise business development, recovery and resiliency efforts, and policies that directly impacts communities that are economically redlined or oppressed. She also leads a team of business advisors that help entrepreneurs in City Heights, a predominantly immigrant and refugee community, carry on their dreams of starting a business.

Special Thanks to Our Foundation Partners

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If you missed our Connecting California events, you can find the recordings on our #ConnectingCA YouTube playlist.

Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon and inventor Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson. The Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to supporting and investing in leading organizations, technologies, and initiatives that seek to transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to a meaningful career. Learn more at