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Next Century Cities Releases Inaugural Yearbook Announcing Change Maker Award Recipients

View a pdf of this press release here.

Contact: Brittany-Rae Gregory





Washington D.C. (December 21, 2020) – Today Next Century Cities released the 2020 Year in Review, a first-of-its-kind yearbook-style summary of the organization’s impact, accomplishments, and collaborations during the calendar year. In addition to staff reflections and outlooks plans for 2021, the publication showcases recipients of the inaugural Next Century Cities Change Maker Awards in addition to Local Leaders Making a Difference.

Mayors Making Strides with Broadband 

Mayor Andy Berke – Chattanooga, Tennessee 

Mayor Jim Coppinger – Hamilton County, Tennessee 

Mayor Trey Mendez  – Brownsville, Texas 

Mayor Wade Troxell – Fort Collins, Colorado

The Community Advocacy Award 

Winner: Nathaniel Watkins – Garrett County, Maryland 

Honorable Mention: Irv Thomae – Norwich, Vermont

The Community Activism Award 

Winner: Joshua Edmonds – Detroit, Michigan

Honorable Mention: Kim Maxwell, Ph.D. – Norfolk, Connecticut 

The Digital Equity Award 

Winner: Monica Gasparetto – Broward County, Florida 

The Digital Inclusion Award 

Winner: Candelaria Mendoza – San Antonio, Texas 

The Innovation Award 

Winner: Becky Lehman – Holland, Michigan 

The State Champion Award 

Winner: Barbara Fuller – Washtenaw County, Michigan 

Winner: Ben Fineman – Washtenaw County, Michigan 

Winner: Roberta Willis – Connecticut

The Mission Award 

Winner: Rondella Hawkins – Austin, Texas 

Winner: Aldona Valicenti – Lexington, Kentucky 

Leaders Making a Difference 

Catherine Tkachyk – Cuyahoga County, Ohio 

Steven Buck – Sanford, Maine 

David Williams – Ponca City, Oklahoma 

Kathryn Greiner – Condon, Oregon 

Nishal Mohan – San Diego, California 

Dorothy Baunach – Cleveland, Ohio

Robin Roy – Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Executive Director, Francella Ochillo, remarked on the publication’s significance

“In a year that forced so many communities to double down on support for broadband access and adoption, Next Century Cities set new benchmarks for success. Our yearbook documents the many ways in which we helped to advance universal connectivity goals and highlights our collaborations with local officials. Stitched in between the tributes to local leadership is an underlying story of how NCC made an indelible mark on policymaking this year.

“We are also thrilled to announce the Change Maker Awardees who inspire our work. They have created new success models for data collection, policy proposals, partnerships, and community engagement strategies, largely in underserved communities. We encourage officials at all three levels of government, private sector partners, and public interest allies to collaborate with them on connectivity solutions.

“In 2021, NCC will continue to elevate community-level perspectives. Local governments are working tirelessly to provide affordable and reliable high-speed connectivity for residents. They need strategic and long-term investments, namely from Congress, that reflect the enormity of the digital divide. The $7 billion for broadband in the latest COVID-19 relief package is the first of many critical steps.”

The digital version of the publication can be accessed here and via the Next Century Cities website. Change Maker Award recipients, profiled local officials, and Next Century Cities member municipalities will also receive hardcopies of the publication. 



Next Century Cities is a non-profit organization of over 200 communities, founded to support communities and their elected leaders. Our membership includes mayors and other officials who are working to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable internet access. For more information, visit www.nextcenturycities.org .

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