Finding the Forgotten: How Marginalized Citizens Can Grow Your Community

Date: November 28
Time: 11:00am EST to 12:00pm EST
Cost: Free to attend


Citizens who live on the margins of society have moved front-and-center in the concerns of municipal and county leaders – because their problems have become the cities’ problems. The pandemic triggered a surge in violence and made visible the unemployed and unhoused who have long lived among us.

But people living on the margins also represent opportunity, as many Intelligent Communities have discovered. With the connectivity, devices and skills that are the road to opportunity, they have a chance to climb out of poverty and contribute to the community’s future.

In this webinar, we hear from community and organization leaders about initiatives that offer individuals and their community a path to greater prosperity.

Speakers include:

Karisa Tashjian
Director of Programs

Karisa Tashjian currently serves as the Director of Programs for Digitunity, a nonprofit organization working to make owning a computer possible for everyone. For nearly 40 years, Digitunity and its predecessor organization, National Cristina Foundation, have been advancing digital equity through device ownership. In her role, Karisa helps to create cohesive, integrated solutions that drive progress toward digital equity. Her vision extends to identifying opportunities, designing innovative programs, leading projects, and producing publications aimed at empowering digital inclusion practitioners at local, regional, and national levels.

Before joining Digitunity, Karisa served as the Director of Education at Providence (RI) Public Library for 17 years. In this role, she provided strategic leadership to the library's educational, workforce development and technology initiatives.

Karisa earned a Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree from George Washington University, where she specialized in Secondary Education, Social Studies, and English as a Second Language and Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree from Clark University. She serves as board member of the Library Board of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Regional Adult Learning.

Duane Powell
Chief Information Officer
City of Hilliard, Ohio, USA

Duane Powell has served as Chief Information Officer for the City of Hilliard, Ohio, since 2019. In this role, he leads the Information Technology Department and plays a vital role in leveraging technology to support the City’s economic development initiatives. Powell has managed the development of Hilliard’s 30-mile, $4 million HiFiO project, a carrier-neutral, City-owned fiber optic network that is expanding broadband service provider options for businesses, schools, and residential customers.

Powell also has been instrumental in creating a partnership with Hilliard-based Converge Technologies to develop Hilliard City Lab. This public-private partnership allows the City to support the development and growth of entrepreneurial high-tech companies by providing access to resources such as the City’s smart infrastructure, real-time data analytics, innovation grants, and help in identifying other funding sources.

Powell came to the City of Hilliard with an extensive background in information technology and project management. He held multiple positions with AT&T between 1995 and 2019, including Senior Product Development Engineer with AT&T Labs in Dallas and AT&T Network Operations in New Jersey. He has a master’s degree in Information and Computer Science from Ball State University and bachelor’s degree in business and organizational communication from Otterbein University.

Kim Emch
Founder and Executive Director

It’s been a long time in the making, but Kim Emch believes that every job she has ever had has led to the founding of Festa. Kim majored in economics in college with a minor in public speaking, she worked with youth at the YMCA, received professional business experience at The Huntington National Bank, and served her church community. It might seem like a random string of events, but on March 11th, 2007, Kim, a Hilliard resident, started Festa (formerly “Serving Our Neighbors” SON) as a faith-based non-profit ministry that helps families in her community take steps out of poverty.

Among Festa’s programs is a 3-Generation Family ESL Program. Festa directs the Hilliard Free Summer Lunch Camp Program, which provides lunches to underprivileged children during the months when they are not in school and don’t receive a lunch. The Kids Club is another program developed by Kim and FESTA that helps the youth of Hilliard. This after-school program provides tutoring and homework help for students who may not have the additional support they need. Festa also connects families to resources and educational programs to help them with their heavy loads. Kim’s inspiration has come from the people she calls “The Great 1’s.” These are people throughout history who were leading normal lives until they passionately motivated people to join them in fighting for a cause. She believes everyone has it in their heart to be outstanding. “You don’t have to be special to make a difference in this world.”

Robert Bell
Intelligent Community Forum

Robert Bell is co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, where he heads its research, analysis and content development activities. He directs the multi-stage analysis of communities for the annual Intelligent Community Awards program and authors the in-depth profiles of the Top Seven Intelligent Communities that are core to ICF's mission. Robert developed and leads the Intelligent Community Master Class and Community Accelerator programs, as well as ICF's advisory services for communities, and is a frequent speaker at municipal and telecom events.

November 28, 2023 at 11:00am - 12:30pm | Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Online Webinar
Matthew Owen ·

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