New tech advisors appointed

Chris Alejano, Heather Lewis, and Mark DeLoura have been named to Seattle’s Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB). Joneil Sampana was also re-appointed to a second two-year term.

The 10-member board, appointed by the Mayor and City Council, helps guide City strategies and investments in information and communications technology.  They advise Seattle’s information technology department, the Mayor and Council on a range of issues, including broadband, digital equity, mobile and web based services for, privacy and technology, social media, open data, online public engagement, the Seattle Channel, and cable TV franchise agreements. Board members make recommendations for the Technology Matching Fund grants.  


ChrisChristopher Alejano has served as the Director of Education for the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) since 2009, enabling technology education for youth of color. He manages support for their Academy, STEM by TAFTeacher Institute and School Transformation, and Martinez Fellowship. Christopher previously served as a higher education policy adviser in Governor Gregoire’s administration and as a research analyst for the Washington State House of Representatives Early Learning and Children Services Committee, after years working as a kindergarten teacher.


Heather LewisHeather Lewis currently serves as the vice-chair of CTAB’s E-government Committee. She works as an Innovation Officer at CoMotion at the University of Washington, and was also a co-founder of Biokick. Heather worked on white papers on cryptocurrencies, and municipal fiber at the UW Law School Technology Law and Public Policy Clinic. She has volunteer experience with the YWCA as a Board Fellow and in assisting with education at the Refugee Women’s Alliance (REWA). She is also a committee member at Social Venture Partners.


Mark DeLouraMark DeLoura recently moved back to Seattle after two years as Senior Adviser for Digital Media in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he focused on computer science education, diversity in the tech industry, and utilizing games for education. This included work on Code for America-style initiatives, hackathons and game jams. He is a  UW Computer Science graduate, and subsequently spent more than 20 years building technology in the game industry, starting as a software engineer and growing to lead about 300 engineers across 10 locations worldwide.


joneil custodioJoneil Sampana is currently the Chair of the E-government Committee and past Vice-Chair of CTAB. He led the development of the Washington State Data Visualization Internship Program, a partnership with State of Washington Office of CIO, WTIA, Microsoft, Socrata, Tableau, and four universities. Joneil is a resident of southeast Seattle (District 2) and a Business Program Manager at Microsoft.

Comcast cable franchise agreement approved

SPIN Network teaching Lao Women's Association students at Comcast cable modem recipient Filipino Community in Seattle

SPIN Network teaching Lao Women’s Association students at Comcast cable modem recipient Filipino Community in Seattle

On December 17, 2015, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to approve the renewal of Comcast’s cable-television franchise agreement. The 10-year agreement between Comcast and the City of Seattle includes significant benefits intended to improve Internet access in Seattle.

“The approval of this revised and improved franchise agreement reflects my administration’s commitment to digital equity, with more residents gaining access to discounted Internet service and resources to further close the digital divide,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We are a city known for our technology and innovation, yet even in our connected city, digital opportunity is lacking for far too many. The benefits included in this agreement will have a meaningful impact on digital equity in Seattle, helping new populations gain access to the Internet and learn the skills necessary to be part of our digital society.”

The vote follows efforts by Mayor Murray and City Councilmember Bruce Harrell to get Comcast to increase its commitment to digital equity in Seattle, and ensure that any benefit commitments by Comcast were made in a legally enforceable manner.

“We demand the best customer service for our residents,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology committee. “We focused on expanding low-income discounts and ensuring all residents get the best service.”

“In addition to providing cable television service to Seattle residents, the revised agreement includes many important community benefits, including discounted Internet service to low-income seniors, a $500,000 digital equity grant, and a partnership to provide devices such as laptop computers for housing-insecure youth,” said Michael Mattmiller, the City’s Chief Technology Officer.

The 10-year agreement between Comcast and the City of Seattle includes significant benefits intended to improve digital equity and access to information in Seattle. Benefits of the agreement include:

  • 600 free cable modem Internet connections to non-profit organizations serving Seattle residents, valued at approximately $10 million. These connections help increase digital equity by increasing the number of sites where the public can access the Internet.
  • Approximately $8 million to support public, education, and government television cable channels, including the Emmy Award-winning Seattle Channel.
  • Free cable television service to government and school facilities, valued at more than $2 million.
  • Discounted basic cable television service for low-income households.
  • Discounted Internet access through the Comcast Internet Essentials program for low-income seniors and households with a child enrolled in the free or reduced price school lunch program.
  • $500,000 in funding to support the City’s digital equity initiatives, with grants of $100,000 per year for five years.
  • A new partnership between the City and Comcast through which housing-insecure youth will be able to obtain devices, such as laptop computers, for accessing the Internet.

“I am thrilled to know we have leaders willing and ready to fight for digital equity in our City. CTAB heard from Seattle residents that providing affordable access for seniors and youth is a priority,” said Amy Hirotaka, chair of CTAB. “With this new Comcast franchise agreement, we can tell our community that we heard them, fought for them, and delivered. CTAB and the Broadband committee should be proud of the work done throughout this process.

Nourisha Wells, the outgoing chair of the City of Seattle’s Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB) noted the revised Comcast agreement is a step forward for the community. “Seattle is such a technologically advanced city it is easy to overlook the digital disparities in certain communities. This new Comcast agreement places our commitment to digital equity front and center and increases the ability of our seniors, youth, and low-income residents to benefit from, and help drive technical innovations for years to come.”

The approved Comcast franchise agreement will take effect on Jan. 21, 2016 and last a decade.

– See more at:

Seattle tech advisory board elects 2015 officers

At the November meeting of the City of Seattle Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB), the members elected Amy Hirotaka as Board Chair and Jose Vasquez to be the Vice Chair for 2016. The Board and City staff thanked the 2015 Chair Nourisha Wells and Vice Chair Joneil Sampana for their dedicated service over the past year. Both will be continuing to work with committees in 2016.

CTAB is also recruiting for three positions to start in 2016.  Please send your letter of interest and resume to, by December 4.

Read more about the board members and the work that they do here:


Seeking Tech Advisory Board Members

Help guide Seattle’s digital future.

The City of Seattle is looking for volunteers to join the Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB). We welcome diversity. You do not need to be a techie to care about Seattle’s digital future. The 10-member board and its committees help guide city strategies and investments in information and communication technology.  We are currently looking to fill at least 3 positions. This a great experience and a chance to learn a lot about government, information and communication technology, new trends and new tech…and help make a difference. Learn more about the positions.

Applications are being accepted through December 4th, 2015.  Apply by sending a letter of interest and resume in either Word or PDF to  Must live or work in the City of Seattle.  For questions or more information, email or call Vicky Yuki at 206-233-7877.

Washington State’s virtual Data Visualization Internship launches

Washington state government agencies and local software companies have joined together in a public-private partnership to create an innovative virtual Data Visualization Internship program for seven college and grad students and recent grads from across the state. To the organizers’ knowledge, this is the first internship to ever take place virtually. Bringing together industry, government, and education is what we do at WTIA and we got to organize the kickoff event for this summer internship program on June 23 at Tableau Software. After the kickoff, the interns toured Microsoft and Socrata, which are two of the software partners in this internship. Check out the photos from the event here.

Each student team will be matched with a mentor from a government agency and a data visualization software company. Will Saunders, senior program manager for Washington State’s Chief Information Officer, said the program is “using student time and cool software to produce a better visualization of what’s going on.”

Participating government agencies include the state departments of Employment Security, Labor and Industries, Early Learning, Ecology and Financial Management. Private companies were mainly chosen based on suggestions from agencies, and companies that either have prior contact with the state or interesting tools. Software companies participating include Live Stories, Tableau, Socrata, and Microsoft. Students at Washington schools were introduced to this program and encouraged to apply. Interns come from all over the state, including University of Washington, Gonzaga University, and Washington State University.

Joneil Sampana, Community Technology Advisory Board member for the City of Seattle and Public Sector Program Manager at Microsoft, described this program as a collective effort made possible by government, non-profit, university and corporate leaders. “I’m amazed at how quickly we were able to come together and mobilize our resources to provide this meaningful work-based learning project. Students and Agency leaders will work to develop compelling data-rich stories on important legislative issues. We are using 21st century technologies in our government to engage our next generation of leaders! We are creating a space for our government leaders, eager students, and data analytics mentors to collaborate and learn from each other.”

Two-thirds of the students come from Eastern Washington and only two are from the University of Washington.  Based on a new model, this virtual internship is designed to have everything done remotely from wherever the hired interns and involved companies are located. The virtual nature makes it easier for students who have other work and family obligations to participate. Washington companies saw the need for a low impact way to get student interacting with government differently.

One of the interns, Alexandra Tester, a recent Gonzaga University graduate, said, “I applied to this program because it offers an amazing learning opportunity in an area that I do not have much experience or knowledge in. I feel as though it will teach me skills that will be applicable and useful in my future work experiences. I currently work for Gonzaga University, so being able to intern from Spokane would not have been possible without the virtual aspect of the program and willingness of the mentors to remain involved through technology. I hope to gain a knowledge in an area that I have not been involved with previously and explore new opportunities.”

The interns will meet again on September 15 at an exhibition at WTIA’s Full ConTech.

Hey cities, why not neighbors that share broadband?

The National League of Cities blog features a call for municipal broadband programs and policies to increase affordability by enabling greater sharing of Internet service. The proposal is written by two longtime community technology experts, Angela Siefer, adjunct fellow at the Pell Center at Salve Regina University and Bill Callahan, director of Connect Your Community.

Seattle Tech Advisory Board selects new officers, committees

At the December meeting of the City of Seattle Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board, the members elected Nourisha Wells as Board Chair and Joneil Custodio to be the Vice Chair for 2015. The Board and City staff thanked the 2014 Chair Ben Krokower and 1st Vice Chair Dana Lewis. Both will be continuing to work with committees in 2015. The Board also thanked retiring members Rob Dolin, Brian Hsi, Stacey Wedlake and Daniel Hoang for their valuable service to the residents of Seattle.  Read more about the new and current members here:

The Board members also selected committees they will serve on in 2015 and initial committee chairs:

e-Government: Nourisha Wells (chair), Joneil Custodio, Jose Vasquez
Digital Inclusion: Ben Krokower (Chair), Joneil Custodio, Jose Vasquez, Dana Lewis, and Sarah Trowbridge
Broadband & Cable: Sarah Trowbridge (Chair), Beryl Fernandes, past members Brian Hsi and Daniel Hoang
Privacy: Beryl Fernandes (Chair), Ben Krokower, and Nourisha Wells

Follow CTTAB and the exciting work they do here:


Tech Board welcomes newest advisors

Carmen RahmCarmen Rahm is the Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of Technology at Seattle Public Schools (SPS). Carmen’s appointment to CTTAB provides a valuable link to Seattle Schools’ programs, strengthening our strategic coordination on technology access and literacy for families with children. He brings tremendous skills and experience in IT strategic planning and governance, and knowledge about large public technology systems. Carmen has a strong commitment to digital equity, has been attending CTTAB meetings since joining SPS, and has already presented our technology adoption report to others at Seattle Schools. His participation on CTTAB and with DoIT will be of tremendous benefit to both the Seattle School District and the City. Carmen has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from South Dakota State University (1981), a Masters of Business Administration from City University of Seattle (1988), and a Certificate of Public Administration from the Indiana University/Purdue University (IUPU).


Jose M. Vasquez understands the community’s needs for public access to technology and also what it takes to provide access.  He previJose Vasquezously ran Video Mar LLC, a small technology support business and Internet cafe in South Park, providing affordable computer access, computer repairs and also technical support for local small businesses. Jose is very passionate about his community and will always work to make sure that under-represented communities have a voice.  Jose  grew up in South Park, one of Seattle’s most unique and diverse neighborhoods, and has a strong interest in digital equity and is interested in helping improve the City’s effectiveness in bringing resources to the community. He is fully bilingual in English and Spanish and is an up and coming leader in the local Latino community. Jose is currently the Director of Programs for the Latino Community Fund of Washington, so he will bring valuable experience in community needs assessment, community outreach, grant making and grant management, along with his strong passion for technology.