Recent gains in broadband adoption have narrowed the “digital divide” in Los Angeles, but public investment will be critical to ensure that these gains are sustained and that underserved communities are “future-proofed” for the evolution of connectivity. As numerous public, private, and non-profit entities are poised to bring new “last mile” connectivity opportunities to underserved communities in the coming years, the City is working to construct permanent, publicly-owned “middle and last-middle” broadband infrastructure to support these new investments. The FUSE Executive Fellow will work with the City to build its organizational capacity to carry out a cross-agency business plan to responsibly and sustainably build and manage this public infrastructure for the benefit of these communities and the City as a whole.
ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP
FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.
When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.
Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.
The City of Los Angeles has identified the digital divide and a lack of home high-speed internet access as a pressing issue for the health, wellbeing, education and economic prospects of many Angelinos, with disproportionate impacts in high poverty communities and among people of color. The City has leveraged $10 million in federal grant funds, and is seeking additional funding, to harness its existing street lighting infrastructure and Right-of-Way to build fiber conduits and install “dark” fiber within several underserved communities. The City’s Bureau of Street Lighting (BSL) is also coordinating with other area agencies, including the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the state of California, and other local agencies, many of which also have funding for home broadband service.
Continuing into 2023 and beyond, BSL will be constructing more of this infrastructure with the aim of making it quicker, less-expensive, and more sustainable for commercial internet service providers, nonprofit entities and government agencies to provide free and/or affordable high speed broadband service in low-adoption communities. However, the operation and management of this infrastructure is a new role for the Bureau and for the City, and will require new shared-use and leasing agreements, network and deployment planning, operational capacity building, and personnel development tasks. BSL has engaged a consultant to develop a high-level business plan, but the Bureau and the City does not currently have organizational capability — people, systems or governance — to carry out that business plan.
The City of Los Angeles will partner with FUSE Corp to develop the organizational capacity required to execute a municipal connectivity infrastructure business plan. The FUSE Executive Fellow will work closely with decision makers at the BSL, the City and other government agencies, to develop the roles, systems and governance required for this business plan. The Executive Fellow will require an ability to marry operational and management perspectives with high level policy goals. The successful Executive Fellow will establish a foundation for the City to ensure equitable home broadband for all Angelinos.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.
The goal of this project is to ensure the City can build on its valuable assets and authorities to support equitable, sustainable broadband access and holistic community connectivity. To do that, the Executive Fellow will lead efforts to develop the organizational capacity the BSL needs to carry out a business plan that maximizes the value of public communications infrastructure for underserved communities. The fellow will collaborate with the consulting firm hired to develop the business plan and help to finalize the recommendations.
The project will involve meeting with and understanding the needs, challenges and resources that numerous stakeholders — including the BSL, other City departments, other local government agencies, the private sector, nonprofit organizations and community — will bring together. A key stakeholder will be BSL Senior Engineer Fabian E. Cheng. The agencies involved have different levels of financial resources, technical skills and community access, as well as agency-specific goals. LAUSD, for example, is focused on educational access for children and young adults, while the City’s Library Department has a broad mandate that includes senior citizens, a significantly underserved population.
The Executive Fellow will need to consider the timelines, funding sources and operational responsibilities of various entities, and develop job descriptions, roles, systems and governance bodies to ensure ongoing, sustainable collaboration between BSL, partner agencies, the private sector and nonprofits. The Fellow will also need to understand best practices for equitable digital access, to ensure that all required activities and resources beyond just infrastructure are deployed as part of the business plan. This could include marketing and community engagement efforts, the use of digital navigators, and ongoing systems to measure and track progress against the business plan over time.
Key deliverables will include:
FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.