Digital Inclusion in Texas: A Conference and Colloquium

Digital Inclusion in Texas: Speaker Biographies

Digital Inclusion in Texas: Speaker Biographies

John Bertot, University of Maryland
John Bertot is Professor and co-director of the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC) in the University of Maryland College Park iSchool. He also serves as director of the MLS program, a position he began in July 2011.

Laura Breeden, NTIA
Laura Breeden joined NTIA in May 2009 to lead the public computing and sustainable broadband adoption components of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), a $4.7 billion competitive grant program that is part of the Recovery Act. Under her leadership, BTOP has awarded more than $452 million for projects to make 21st century computer and Internet services more available, affordable, and useful. More than $250 million of these funds support “sustainable broadband adoption” projects in low-income urban and rural areas throughout the US. Since 1983, Ms. Breeden has worked in the public, private and non-profit sectors to advance the use of modern digital communications for the public good. Ms. Breeden holds a B.A. in Urban Studies and Education from Oberlin College.

Juanita Budd, Austin Free-Net
Juanita Budd is executive director of Austin Free-Net (AFN), a nonprofit technology pioneer that provides innovative free broadband access and training for Austin residents. Prior to joining AFN, Ms. Budd was the chief operations officer and vice president of Program Pathways for the Girl Scouts of Central Texas. There she implemented the strategic vision and leadership for the direct delivery of services and programs to girls and adult volunteers through the management of the membership, program, outreach, and volunteer services operating units. In this role, Ms. Budd managed more than 85 staff members in five locations across 46 Texas counties.

Patricia Fraga, Austin Public Library
Patrica Fraga served as Marketing Manager for the Austin Public Library for over eight years. She currently works on citywide initiatives towards community engagement, as Marketing Manager for the City of Austin.

Kenneth Flamm, UT Austin
Kenneth Flamm has been Professor and Dean Rusk Chair in International Affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, since the fall of 1998. He had previously been at the Brookings Institution since 1995 as a Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies program, a position he also held from 1987 to 1993. From 1993 to 1995, Flamm served as Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Economic Security), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Special Assistant to the Under Secretary (Dual Use Technology Policy and International Programs), then as Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Dual Use Technology Policy) and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Economic Security). He was awarded the Department’s Distinguished Public Service Medal by the Secretary of Defense. Dr. Flamm is the author of numerous articles and books on the dynamics of international competition in high technology industries. Among the latter are 21st Century Innovat on Systems for Japan and the United States: Lessons from a Decade of Change (ed., with S. Nagaoka, M. Kondo, and C. Wessner, 2009), Mismanaged Trade? Strategic Policy and the Semiconductor Industry (1996), Changing the Rules: Technological Change, International Competition, and Regulation in Communications (ed., with Robert Crandell, 1989), Creating the Computer (1988), and Targeting the Computer (1987). Read more

Ricardo Gomez, University of Washington
Ricardo Gomez is Assistant Professor and Chair of the Information & Society Center at University of Washington's Information School. He specializes in the social impacts of communication technologies, especially in community development settings. He is also interested in qualitative research methods, and in group facilitation and process design. He seeks creative ways to communicate complex ideas and research results in everyday language. He has worked with private, public and non-profit sectors around the world, with a particular focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. Before joining the University of Washington he worked with Microsoft Community Affairs, and with the International Development Research Center in Canada. He holds an MA from Université du Québec à Montréal (1992) and a Ph.D. from Cornell University (1997).

Rondella Hawkins, City of Austin
Rondella Hawkins is the Telecommunications & Regulatory Affairs Officer for the City of Austin. Her office is responsible for developing and managing the City's Community Technology Initiative, which consists of programs to provide access and technology literacy training so citizens have the necessary skills to participate in an emerging digital society. She coordinated the City’s application to Google for their Fiber to Communities project and Google announced on April 9, 2013 that Austin was their second deployment city. Her office also provides support to the Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission, a citizen advisory body to the City Council. She advises the City Council on legislative and policy issues related to broadband communications, maintaining local authority and digital inclusion. Her office also administers the public access television management contract and coordinates with other public, educational, and government (PEG) channels. Her office has direct responsibility for regulatory matters including oversight of electric and natural gas utility providers as well as telecommunications and wireless communications providers. Rondella has over 23 years of experience working in local government. She serves as Vice President of the Texas Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (TATOA). Rondella is a former Board member of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) and was selected as NATOA’s “2010 Member of the Year”.

Denise Hendlmyer, Texas State Library
Denise manages the Texas State Library and Archive Commission's Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)- Public Computer Center project, Technology Expertise, Access and Learning for all Texans (TEAL). She oversees the $7.9 million federal grant award and works with thirty eight sub-recipient libraries to upgrade public computing and technology training offerings at more than one hundred and fifty computer centers across the state. Denise brings passion and years of experience from the non-profit sector to her current position. Most recently, she wrote and managed grants for the Girl Scout of Central Texas as a Development Executive. She studied Anthropology and Archaeology at Vassar College and earned a Master of Arts in History with a certificate in Historical Administration from Northeastern University in 2006.

John Horrigan, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
John Horrigan is Vice President and Director of the Media and Technology Institute, which was founded in 2008 and its mission is to study how emerging communications technologies can become avenues of advancement for the disadvantaged. Before joining the Joint Center, Horrigan was Vice President for Policy and Research at TechNet, where he developed research characterizing the job impacts of mobile applications and written reports on progress on broadband adoption since the delivery of the National Broadband Plan and workforce development issues. Prior to joining TechNet, Horrigan was part of FCC Chairman Genachowski’s leadership team tasked with developing the National Broadband Plan (NBP). In that capacity, he developed research agenda for the “Inclusion” portion of the NBP. He also designed and conducted the FCC’s first national survey on broadband adoption and usage. The survey findings were highlighted in the NBP’s first working paper, "Broadband Adoption and Use in America." Prior to joining the FCC, Mr. Horrigan was Associate Director, Research, with the Pew Internet & American Life Project for nine years, where he studied the online behavior of broadband internet users, mobile internet users, and consumers of other leading edge information technology.

Alan Inouye, ALA Office for Information Technology Policy
Alan S. Inouye is the Director of the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) at the American Library Association (ALA). OITP, based in Washington, D.C., focuses on national public policy and national initiatives for ALA. Previously, Alan was the Coordinator of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee in the Executive Office of the President, and a Study Director at the National Academy of Science’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board. Alan completed his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. Further information about Alan and OITP is available at

Jerry Kurtyka, City of El Paso
Jerry Kurtyka is the grant project manager for the Virtual Village, a community-wide workforce training and technological infrastructure improvement initiative organized and led by the El Paso Public Library. With funding from the Broadband Technology and Opportunities Program, it provides free computer training from basic to advanced skills and computer based training and support for job skills improvement, continuing education, small business development and personal growth.

Laura Morrison, Austin City Council
Laura Morrison was elected to serve as an Austin City Council Member in June of 2008 and re-elected in 2011. On the Council Laura has been a leader for open government and with a professional background in engineering brings an element of sophistication to technology and analytic issues. Additionally, she is a champion on the Council for sustaining neighborhood character, protecting the environment, promoting affordable housing, supporting local businesses and improving public health/social services.
Council Member Morrison serves on several City Council committees:

  • Emerging Technology and Telecommunications Committee, Chair
  • Audit and Finance Committee
  • Comprehensive Planning and Transportation Committee
  • Public Health and Human Services Committee

In addition, she represents the City on the Greater Austin Chamber Technology Partnership Board, the Community Action Network Board of Director and the City of Austin/Austin Independent School District (AISD)/County Joint Subcommittee. Prior to taking office, Laura was engaged in many civic arenas. She served as President of the Austin Neighborhoods Council (ANC) which provided an opportunity to get to know Austinites all across the city and to become familiar with a broad range of issues. Under her leadership, ANC neighborhood membership doubled to include over 80 neighborhood associations across the city. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; a Master’s degree in Mathematics from the University of California, San Diego; and a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.

James Prieger, Pepperdine University
James E. Prieger is Associate Professor of Public Policy at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy.  He is an economist specializing in regulatory economics, industrial organization, and applied econometrics.  Dr. Prieger recently spent a year as Senior Economist with the Federal Communications Commission, advising on broadband and telecom merger policy.  He has written numerous articles for scholarly journals on broadband deployment and the digital divide, the impact of telecommunications regulation on innovation, taxation of telecommunications providers, universal service policy in telecommunications, and other topics.  He has consulted for major telecommunications companies on regulatory issues and presented at panels convened by the FCC. He received his BA (Magna Cum Laude) from Yale University and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.  He previously taught at the University of California, Davis (1999-2006), and will be teaching at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley next fall.  The complete C.V. of Prof. James Prieger is available at

Will Reed, Texas Connects Coalition
Dr. William S. Reed has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Technology For All since 1998 after helping to found the organization in 1997. As the representative of the lead fiscal agent of the $9.58 million grant from the Department of Commerce, Dr. Reed is the Managing Director of the Texas Connects Coalition Project. In addition to his ongoing leadership of TFA, Dr. Reed is a member of the Technology Infrastructure Task Force of the Greater Houston Partnership. As a noted expert in the field of technology, training and infrastructure, Dr. Reed has served as an alternate member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Consumer Advisory Committee and as a member of the FCC Working Group on Rural and Under-Served Populations. Dr. Reed has written several journal articles on community technology and serves on several local nonprofit boards.

Jay Schwarz, Federal Communications Commission
Jay Schwarz is an Industry Economist with the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, Industry Analysis Division, where he provides economic analysis related to the Bureau’s policy making. Since joining the FCC, he has worked extensively on Universal Service Fund reforms and efforts to increase broadband adoption. Jay Schwartz holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. and M.Eng. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University. At the university level, he has taught a variety of economics, statistics, and engineering courses. 

Amit Schejter, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Pennsylvania State University
Amit M. Schejter is associate professor of communication studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and at Penn State University where he also serves as co-director of the Institute for Information Policy. His research, teaching and service integrate a comprehensive approach to communication policy and its application to the everyday challenges created by the unequal distribution of resources and the silencing of the public's voice. His studies, which critique the radio, television, cable, Internet, mobile phones, and digitization policies in Israel, the United States, Korea, the European Union, and across wide international comparative settings, have been widely published in communications and law journals and in edited books, and have been cited in congressional and Knesset hearings. Schejter teaches courses on telecommunications regulation, media law, the media and information industries, comparative media systems and media activism and dedicates much of his time to promote and sustain a dialog between academia and the media advocacy community.

Don Shirley, Connected Texas
Don Shirley is the executive director of Connected Texas, where he leads the initiative’s continuing statewide effort. Under the guidance of the Texas Department of Agriculture, Shirley oversees the management and administrative aspects of the initiative, as well as supports the design and implementation of a statewide broadband deployment strategy. The plan includes partners from both the public and private sectors, all working together on local and regional technology planning, technical assistance, and ultimately, increased broadband adoption and digital literacy in all corners of the state. Shirley was previously a field operations manager and executive director of the Connect Ohio program. Prior to joining Connect Ohio, Shirley served as director of strategic alliances for Spinvox, a London-based technology solution provider; served as director of product marketing and next generation services for Powernet Global Communications; and was senior product manager, business marketing, for Cincinnati Bell. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in business administration from The Citadel in Charleston, SC.

Sharon Strover, UT Austin
Dr. Sharon Strover is the Philip G. Warner Regents Professor in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin where she teaches communications and telecommunications courses and directs the Telecommunications and Information Policy Institute. Her research investigates the relationship between economic outcomes, policy, and investments in digital media programs; social media; the digital divide; rural broadband deployment; e-government; and market structure and policy issues for international audio-visual industries. She has worked with several international, national, and regional government agencies on telecommunication policy matters and has published books, articles, and chapters on subjects related to technology. She recently stepped down from chairing the Department of Radio-TV-Film in order to work on a national broadband infrastructure program with the federal government in Washington, D.C. Strover received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her graduate degrees from Stanford University.

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