Gavin H. Logan, the Tech and Telecom Fellow for the National Urban League, has a unique opportunity to work with government, the tech industry and other civil rights organizations to ensure women and communities of color enjoy the economic and social impacts of technological advancements. Logan, who holds a B.A. in political science from Brown University and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law says, “I do this through advocating for policies that will advance this effort and by building partnerships that will create opportunities for participation in the telecom space.”
Here, Logan shares the impact of telecom and offers advice to college students.
What is the biggest difference in working for the government and working for the National Urban League?
The biggest difference in working for the government and working for the National Urban League is the scope of the constituency I serve. As a local government official, my priorities and responsibilities were ultimately to the residents of the District. In my capacity with the National Urban League, however, that scope is much greater. Not only must I work in the best interest of the 88 Urban League affiliates, but I also must be the voice of the millions of women and people of color who have been left out of this country’s innovation and advancements. This means that I have to be much more sensitive to the many nuances and implications that policies have on people who are not always similarly situated.
How has your past professional experience prepared you for your current position?
My past professional experience has prepared me for my current position by providing a foundation for how policies often are implemented and effect everyday individuals. As a local regulator, I have had the experience of working directly with other officials and the telecom community to connect the community. I have first-hand knowledge of the challenges to connecting individuals, as well as the strengths and areas for growth. This “real-life” experience gives me a unique perspective in policy discussions, because I am able to speak directly to what some of the realities for Americans are, versus what we expect them to be.
How does the world of telecom impact the people?
Telecom impacts every facet of our lives. It is how we maintain close ties to loved ones, share ideas, do our banking, sign up for health insurance, and so much more. Telecom has given voice to pockets of our society who once believed themselves voiceless; it has created the space for greater public discourse, and created new opportunities where they have not always existed.
How are minorities being groomed to work in the telecom industry?
It is not clear that, as a group, minorities are being groomed to work in the telecom industry. Part of the National Urban League’s mission is to see that this changes. We hope to do this by creating job opportunities in the telecom space, including apprenticeships and other programs, creating great emphasis for STEM programming in our schools and after school programs, and, most importantly, working with the private sector to get their commitment to focusing on diversity in all levels of their companies.
In your role with the National Urban League, what is it that you want to accomplish to feel successful?
If I can help the National Urban League create a real pathway for women and minorities to enter and be successful in telecom, and be one of the more reliable and strong civil rights voices in telecom, then I believe I will have been successful.
What advice would you give college students who seek to work in telecom?
Young college students seeking to work in telecom should understand that there are many ways to do so. While I certainly encourage them to get involved in coding and programming, there are many other areas within telecom that require young and innovative minds. I would note, however, that this discussion needs to happen before students even reach college. Middle school and high school students need to be prepared for entry into the tech sector and encouraged to do so, as well.
Where do you see your career in the next five years?
In the next five years, I hope to continue to be involved in shaping the tech sector, perhaps working for a tech/telecom company directly. I also plan to continue to use my opportunities to create pathways for minorities to enter into the tech and telecom spaces.