The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council confers awards at its conferences every year to recognize and celebrate leading communications practitioners, advocates, and scholars. Thanks to tireless efforts by an increasing number of notable advocates across the country, the list of worthy recipients keeps growing. This year, MMTC created two new awards to recognize advocates and trailblazers in new media: the Champion of Digital Equality Award and the Digital Media Pioneer for Social Justice Award.
The Champion of Digital Equality Award was presented to Tanya Lombard, the Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs at AT&T. Lombard frequently advises leaders at the highest levels of government, business, national, civic, and professional organizations. With AT&T, she develops strategic communications to promote the company’s messaging to minority communities and other special markets.
Lombard received the award in honor of her visionary, farsighted understanding of the telecommunications needs of the African American community, and her dedication to working in partnership with community stakeholders to seek universal broadband access, adoption, and informed use.
The Digital Pioneer for Social Justice Award was presented to two very deserving individuals: Dennis Leoni, President and CEO of Mirador Entertainment, and Issa Rae, writer, producer, and director of the Web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.
Leoni has over 25 years of experience as a writer, producer, director, and marketer of television series and movies. Frustrated with the lack of positive Hispanic images and stories on television, Leoni has created many pilots and feature film scripts for major studios, networks, and advocacy organizations. His newest, Los Americans, highlights the complex struggles of a Mexican American family and is featured on One Economy’s Public Internet Channel, pic.tv.
Issa Rae, who graduated from Stanford University and studied film at the New York Film Academy and UCLA, has produced music videos, shorts, and the popular Awkward Black Girl Web series, among others. MMTC recognized Rae specifically for offering up positive images – and only positive images – of African Americans and for driving broadband adoption with the Awkward Black Girl series.
As Broadband and Social Justice has frequently stressed, universal access to broadband is a vital need in today’s society. Numerous studies have shown that one of the main factors keeping African Americans and Hispanics from adopting broadband is a lack of culturally relevant content.
Thanks to the work of content creators like Issa Rae and Dennis Leoni, and corporate partners like Tanya Lombard and AT&T, African Americans and Hispanics have more reasons than ever to subscribe to broadband service.
MMTC is proud to honor them all with its first ever Champion of Digital Equality and Digital Media Pioneer for Social Justice Awards.
Marcella Gadson is the Editor in Chief of the Broadband and Social Justice Blog and Director of Communications at the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC).