IEI Welcomes New Policy and Program Manager Samantha Graham
The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University is excited to welcome Samantha Graham to the team as a Policy and Program Manager. Samantha will focus her efforts on the BAND-NC program, supporting digital inclusion across North Carolina. She brings years of experience in community engagement, most recently as the Innovative Engagement Program Manager for the Office of Outreach and Engagement at NC State University.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to IEI.
A: I have worked at NC State University for the past eight years; six of those as the program manager for the Office of Outreach and Engagement and two with Industry Expansion Solutions as a strategic project manager. Through those roles, I worked closely with IEI and am so grateful that an opportunity arose to join the team! Prior to joining NC State, I was the community outreach coordinator for NC Broadband at the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the North Carolina Rural Center. My broadband and digital inclusion background made for a natural fit to help guide IEI’s BAND-NC program.
Q: What interests you about working at IEI?
A: I am so excited to work on the BAND-NC program, but am also looking forward to supporting the many other IEI programs, such as the upcoming forum on Talent First Economics and its focus on underrepresented workers. I like that the work at IEI is always evolving to match what the state needs and that I will always be learning from my colleagues and our community partners.
Q: You’ll be leading the BAND-NC program, IEI’s digital inclusion initiative. Why do you believe this program is important for our state?
A: The pandemic sharply revealed digital inequity across the state, but it has also revealed opportunities for smart planning and partnerships. Our goal of a digital inclusion plan in every county is more attainable than ever, and through those plans we can ensure that every North Carolinian has access to high-speed, affordable internet, an appropriate device, such as a tablet or laptop, and the skills and knowledge to use the internet and device for education, work, telehealth and other services.
Q: What do you believe is the biggest emerging issue facing our state?
A: I do think digital inclusion is one of the largest issues facing North Carolina, and it goes hand-in-hand with helping to address the high levels of growth occurring across the state. North Carolina is a popular place to live and that has ripple effects to our cost of living. Having the opportunity and capacity to participate in online education and economic opportunities will help all North Carolina residents.
Q: What kinds of things do you like to do for fun?
A: We are so fortunate to be a half-day drive (or less!) to the mountains or coast. I have three young children and we love to visit apple orchards in my hometown of Hendersonville, snowboard at Beech Mountain, or build sandcastles and swim at Atlantic Beach. When not traveling, we like to visit the State Farmer’s Market or one of the amazing parks or playgrounds available to us in the Triangle.
Q: Is there anything else you want us to know about you?
A: I am a North Carolina native and love living here. I feel honored to serve the state through my role at IEI and can’t wait to get started!