Deb Socia Receives Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Award

Deb Socia has been working on equity for others in a variety of ways throughout her career and so it was no surprise to us that she received this year’s Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Award. Deb received the award on April 18th in Cleveland at Net Inclusion 2018.

Before serving as Executive Director of Next Century Cities, Deb spent three decades working in education as both a teacher and school administrator. While working in the Boston Public Schools, she acted as founding principal of the one-to-one laptop initiative at Lilla G. Frederick Middle School, an award winning school. Her continuing efforts in digital equity included a role as Executive Director of the Tech Goes Home program, also in Boston, that connected students, parents, and schools to technology resources.

We Love Deb

We’ve spent many hours working with Deb in her capacity at Next Century Cities. Her ability to bring local communities together to share victories and voice common concerns make her ideal for this role. She’s able to see a broad spectrum of issues related to digital inclusion that influence local communities’ ability to improve economic development, enhance public education, and improve their quality of life. Her personable leadership qualities at Next Century Cities and throughout her career inspire trust and confidence.

It’s no surprise that Deb has received a long list of other awards, including the Community Broadband Hero Award from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), the Pathfinder Award from MassCUE, “Leadership and Vision” from CRSTE, Frederick Community Advocate Award, and an NTENny award. Be sure to check out this profile of Deb from Motherboard; she won a Humans of the Year award in 2017.

Adrienne B. Furniss, Executive Director of the Benton Foundation, presented the award to Deb at Net Inclusion 2018 in Cleveland. The event is organized by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and brings together advocates, policymakers, ISPs, academics, and practitioners to discuss digital equity. Attendees and presenters talk about ways to improve digital inclusion, relevant research, and a range of other relevant topics.

When she presented the award to Deb, Adrienne quoted one of the people who nominated her:

In every role she takes on, in every fight she champions, and in every community she serves, she is first and foremost an educator. What does that mean? She is a revolutionary, a passionate advocate - to her absolute core, she has devoted her life to ensuring that the next generation will have more opportunities than previous ones… It means that she loves her work, that she tackles challenges with unbridled passion… That she empowers, believes in, and changes the lives of individuals and their families. That she takes what’s at her disposal to diminish isolation, build bridges, improve quality of life, and foster agency and resilience within communities. That she is an unsung hero, and one unquestionably deserving of recognition.

We agree 100 percent and want to say well done, Deb!