Spotlight Story

04 May 2022

Janelle Hartley: Advocating for Digital Equity in Latino Communities

Category: Spotlight Story

“It’s important to make sure that the Latino voice is heard so that we are not left behind,” said Hartley. “We don’t think our voice is strong enough, and that’s wrong.”

Janelle Hartley was born in Querétaro, Mexico and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was 10 years old. During her early career years, she learned how to use her cultural and ethnic background to support and serve communities of color.

In 2021, Hartley began working as Municipal Engagement Partner for Verizon, Global Network & Technology. Her job consists of looking at all the innovative infrastructure, like wireless technology, and ensuring these are deployed in communities that need them. These infrastructures, whether its power supplies buildings or roads, connect communities to the digital world. Hartley works with local government officials to ensure that infrastructure is built in places that could help solve technological problems and close the ‘digital divide’.

“When we talk about the digital divide, we're talking about the communities that have that technology and communities that lack access to that technology.”

During the pandemic, communities of color were left in limbo as the rest of the world became more involved with technology. While some were working from home, or going to school online, others did not have the same opportunities due to poverty and lack of access. Her role allows her to educate the community and equip them with the resources necessary to succeed in a society where technology is used daily. As the community grows, new technological advances might threaten the jobs and therefore, lives of people who are not prepared or that are hesitant to adapt to new technology.

“On the community as a whole, it has huge implications because what happens is that with everything going digital, we need to start making sure that we are training enough people that can support that new technology,” said Hartley. “How do we make sure people are not left behind with those high-end tech jobs?”

Hartley became involved with Hispanic Access before joining Verizon, when she was working at Southern California Edison, a public utility company. Through this position, Hartley worked with communities on environmental issues, climate change, clean energy, and electric transportation. Her mission was to ensure communities were receiving the resources needed to live sustainably. Hartley’s mission as a professional aligned with Hispanic Access’ objectives.

“I started to see the work that they did and started to see how they involve faith-based communities.”

Her leadership experience at Southern California Edison, Hispanic Access Foundation, and Verizon, have helped her identify the gaps between communities of color and achieve digital equity. Breaking down complex information and making it accessible to the community, creates a culture of advocacy that not only improves digital interactions, but informs community members about what is going on around them.

Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and working with leaders like Janelle Hartley, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation

About Us

Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

Phone: (202) 640-4342

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