DURHAM – MCNC, the non-profit operator of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), today hosted more than 200 technology, government, and business leaders (virtually and in-person) for its signature event – MCNC Community Day – at the Durham Convention Center.
Formerly NCREN Community Day, the annual event was put on hold last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s theme was Facilitate Connections. Accelerate Actions. Drive Innovation. The format featured keynotes, breakout sessions, and panel discussions covering a variety of technology topics such as digital equity and inclusion, broadband for health care, cybersecurity, education, and building successful digital economies.
Highlights included keynote presentations from Shayla Rexrode, education solution architect at Lenovo, and education thought leader Rich Henderson, former Lenovo director driving global education strategy and solutions. A featured panel on the topic of Education Disruption – the Positive Side of COVID, included North Carolina Community Colleges System President Thomas Stith, III, Dr. A. Hope Williams, President of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, and Dr. Kimberly van Noort, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer of UNC System. This discussion was moderated by Capital Tonight Anchor Tim Boyum at Spectrum News 1.
One of the key moments of the day actually kicked-off the event with Meta presents Network Moments – a virtual event showcasing the collaboration and co-investments in new high-speed, scalable broadband connectivity made by MCNC and Meta (formerly Facebook) over the past year to help close the digital divide in western North Carolina counties of Rutherford, Burke, Caldwell, Wilkes, and Surry. This important work continues to ensure communities in this part of the state have affordable broadband in education, health care, community colleges, charter schools, treatment facilities, and government offices.
MCNC closed the day with their MCNC Community Awards, which recognize individuals and stakeholders for their outstanding work, dedication, and understanding of how technology and broadband can grow educational opportunity, local economies, and innovation for all citizens in North Carolina.
Curtis Wynn, President and CEO at Roanoke Electric Cooperative, was acknowledged with the 2021 Robyn Render Endeavor Award, celebrating his distinguished service and commitment to the mission of MCNC. N.C. Secretary of Commerce Machelle Baker Sanders was honored with the 2021 Empower Award, recognizing her as a new member of the MCNC Community who has made an immediate impact. And new in 2021, the Innovation Award, which highlights, promotes, and celebrates excellence in innovation and collaborative technology-based projects and initiatives that positively impact the MCNC Community. Ray Zeisz, Director of the Technology Infrastructure Lab at The Friday Institute, received this inaugural award.