Presentation of Charles Benton Digital Equity Award to Emy Tseng

Net Inclusion 2017
May 17, 2017
(as prepared for delivery)

I am so honored today to present the second annual Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Award. Charles’ life was a testament to the principle that real change is the result of sustained effort. He saw in communications a tool that can and should be employed to make communities better, to help people thrive, and to improve our democracy. He was a consistent champion for digital inclusion and the idea that every member of a community should have affordable access, and the required skills, to make use of the latest communications technologies.

From MIT to the Ford Foundation; from Zero Divide to the City and County of San Francisco; from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband USA to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, Emy Tseng’s work embodies a “sustained commitment to digital inclusion programs, practices, and policy work.”

Practitioner, policy leader, researcher, funder, program partner: these are the varied roles Emy has played. Her impact stretches from the San Francisco Bay area, throughout the United States, and to many countries abroad.

Near and dear to my heart is Emy’s service to the nation through the Broadband Opportunities Technology Program (BTOP). Emy was a key contributor, overseeing a $114 million grant portfolio to Public Computing Centers (PCC) and Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) projects. Throughout the life of BTOP, Emy was a committed partner on grant implementation, particularly with urban local governments and K-12 education programs. She documented the quantitative and qualitative results of those grants and worked to ensure that the lessons were captured and shared.

As Digital Inclusion Director for the City and County of San Francisco, Emy authored one of the best citywide digital inclusion programs, making a huge contribution to the field by demonstrating that cities have a vested interest in digital equity. The plan and programs that she launched in San Francisco promoted PC ownership, Internet access, and digital skills. These initiatives focused on underserved and vulnerable communities, offering multi-lingual programs, and ensuring programs were accessible to people with disabilities. Throughout her career, Emy has focused on inclusive innovation – how marginalized communities adopt, adapt and shape technology for their own goals.

Collaboration is a common theme in Emy’s career. She’s a connector, facilitating the exchange of ideas across the field, and working to advance innovative, holistic planning. Passionately committed to ending digital divides and to building capacity, Emy believes that we will all do more, faster, and better if we work together.

Please join me in honoring and celebrating the 2017 Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion, Emy Tseng.

By Adrianne B. Furniss.