Kari Gray is an enthusiastic digital equity champion.
For more than two decades, she has been fighting for everyone in the Bay Area to have equal access to the internet. Prior to joining CTN, she led a national campaign supporting municipal wireless networks, served as a digital equity advocate on a former San Francisco mayor’s advisory council, and organized free community technology resource fairs in San Francisco and throughout California. It was at one of these resource fairs that she met Kami Griffiths, CTN’s executive director.
Now, after joining CTN’s team as the digital literacy program director in November 2021, Kari hopes to help the organization reach its full potential so that it can bring digital tools and skills to as many people as possible.
“I see digital literacy as a tool for equity,” she says. “Without access to technology, inequities only grow bigger.”
In her role, Kari has been institutionalizing procedures and processes to set CTN up for more success in the future. Yet what makes Kari truly invaluable is her commitment to the work. “It’s inspiring when our team steps outside of their daily tasks to see the bigger purpose of what we’re doing and how everything fits into our overarching goals surrounding equity” she says.
In explaining her passion for bridging the digital divide, Kari explains, “Many people want to learn how to use technology but face barriers. Yet people’s lives can change in one day with an email address.”
Throughout her work, she has seen firsthand the importance of digital access and literacy. Many parents whom she has helped, she recalls, had been offline due to inaccessibility, having to “rely on their children to tell them where key services, such as food banks, were located.” She also tells the story of once helping a family that, despite living in a van, had a laptop, thereby enabling their children “to have access to many of the same resources as other students.”
Going forward, Kari thinks the future is bright. “Ten or fifteen years ago, we had to convince people that the internet was useful. Now almost everyone sees it as essential.” She hopes CTN can continue both providing direct services and capacity building for other organizations. “We hope to inspire [our partners] as they serve their communities. … We want to create an ecosystem of digital navigators.”
When asked how her time has been thus far at CTN, she beams. “This might be one of the best groups of humans I’ve ever worked with,” she says.
We are honored to have her on board.