For the last three decades, the City of Portland’s Community Technology team has been an active member of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA). Team members have attended the annual national conference and participated in various committees throughout the years. This relationship is important as it enables our city government to be at the forefront of the national discussion around telecommunications strategies.
In October, our Digital Equity Strategic Initiatives Division Manager, Rebecca Gibbons, was appointed to the NATOA Board of Directors and has selected to co-chair NATOA’s Broadband and Digital Equity Committee. The board of directors works closely to gain and represent the insights of NATOA members, as well as key volunteers, to advance initiatives that best align with the current and emerging needs of various local governments.
NATOA is a membership organization with a nationwide network of individuals, cities, towns, and counties working in all arenas of local government telecommunications. Committed to diversity and inclusion as principles that enrich its members, communities, and society, NATAO focuses on member growth and leadership through education, connection, and federal advocacy.
NATOA’s mission is to support and serve the communications interests and needs of local governments. As a professional association made up of individuals and organizations, it is responsible for advising those responsible for communications policies and services in local governments throughout the country.
As co-chair of the Community Broadband and Digital Equity Committee, Rebecca will help the team explore innovative strategies, broadband adoption initiatives, digital literacy programs, broadband projects and more. This work can serve as forward-thinking models for communities throughout the country. The committee also provides expertise, leadership and guidance to the board, in order to best direct and advise NATOA membership on community broadband and digital equity-related policy and strategies. It’s four initiatives are:
Inform NATOA members of key developments in community broadband and digital equity.
Engage more NATOA members in the committee.
Conduct Community Broadband and Digital Equity Awards nomination and selection process.
Identify practical annual conference and e-NATOA topics for practitioners.
Rebecca brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the board and committee, stemming from over 20 years of experiences as a Program Coordinator, Broadband and Digital Equity Program Manager, and now Digital Equity Strategic Initiatives Manager for Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission and BPS’s Community Technology team. She has worked on and led the development, coordination, and implementation of numerous programs and initiatives related to closing the digital equity gap and increasing access to broadband services. Over the last year she has worked with the Community Technology Team to utilize ARPA funding to purchase more than 3,000 devices, collaborating with local organizations to distribute them and provide digital literacy training to those in need throughout Portland and Multnomah County.
“NATOA has been important for us as a resource because of the large professional network of policy and legal advisors and experts around broadband, cable and right-of-way management,” says Gibbons. “As tech has converged on our communities and society over the last 20 years, federal policy hasn’t caught up yet. This is a way for us to have our finger on the pulse of the different technology-related policies, while having conversations with other jurisdictions around the country who are faced with these similar challenges.”