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Nicol Turner-Lee, Ph.D.
Fellow - Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation
Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee is a fellow in the program’s Center for Technology Innovation and a contributor to TechTank. She comes to Brookings from the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), a national non-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media, telecommunications, and broadband industries, where she served as vice president and chief research and policy officer. In this role, she led the design and implementation of their research, policy, and advocacy agendas. Her most recent White Papers at MMTC included, “A Lifeline to High-Speed Internet Access: An Economic Analysis of Administrative Costs and the Impact on Consumers” (March 2016), “Guarding Against Data Discrimination in the Internet of Everything” (September 2015), “Refocusing Broadband Policy: The New Opportunity Agenda for People of Color” (November 2013).
Prior to joining MMTC, Dr. Turner-Lee was vice president and the first director of the Media and Technology Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the nation’s leading think tank on issues related to African Americans and other people of color. In this role, she led the technology research agenda that was focused on advancing digital equity and inclusion for historically disadvantaged populations. Her most notable work was her development of the first national minority broadband adoption study in 2009 that was later cited in the congressionally mandated Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan. Her other publications there included, “Minorities, Mobile Broadband, and the Management of Chronic Diseases” (April 2012), co-authored with Dr. Brian Smedley and Joseph Miller; “Place Matters: The Debate over Broadband Availability” (2011); and, “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Age” (2010) which was published by the Federal Communications Commission Law Journal.
In addition to these and other publications, Dr. Turner-Lee has been cited in the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Communications Daily, Multichannel News, Washington Informer, among other print and online publications. She is also a widely sought expert and speaker on issues related to communications policies in media and at conferences, and she has testified before Congress. Dr. Turner-Lee was a two-time Digital Research Program Scholar as part of Time Warner Cable’s Cable Research Program in Communications and recipient of countless recognitions, including the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rainbow PUSH Coalition (2015) and one of the Most Inspiring Women in Media from the Alliance of Women in Media (2014).
At the Center for Technology Innovation, Dr. Turner-Lee researches public policy designed to enable equitable access to technology across the U.S. and to harness its power to create change in communities across the world. Dr. Turner-Lee’s research also explores global and domestic broadband deployment, regulatory, and internet governance issues. She is also an expert on the intersection of race, wealth, and technology within the context of civic engagement, criminal justice, and economic development.
Dr. Turner-Lee graduated from Colgate University magna cum laude and has a M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University. She also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Dr. Turner-Lee is a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology at Arizona State University. She also serves on the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy (ACICIP). In her free time, Dr. Turner-Lee is active on the boards of various nonprofit organizations, including the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC), the Washington Literacy Center, and STEM4US, which is committed to advancing diversity in the technology fields.