The pandemic revealed major gaps in basic educational needs such as WiFi and device accessibility for our adult learners who are often already dealing with major barriers to achieving their education and employment goals. COABE is committed to working with legislators, foundations, and the business community to illuminate the needs of the local programs and adult learners, and our Digital Equity Campaign will help local programs do just that!

Access facts, data sheets, and additional campaign information.

Digital Equity Campaign Survey Findings Resources

Digital Change Agents

Stand out and be recognized for your work! If you are actively engaged in Digital Equity discussions, working across multiple agencies and planning groups to ensure adult education is visible and funded, we invite you to apply to participate as a national Digital Change Agent.

Applicants will have the opportunity to share their work, join an adult educational community of practice for Digital Change Makers, and may apply for an incentive grant to showcase their work which includes a cash value of $1,500 plus expenses paid to COABE 2024 in Nashville, TN!

Position Description Apply Now Digital Change Agent Bios

Digital Equity Task Force

Michael Matos – scaleLit / COABE Chair, Illinois

Michael Matos is the Education Technology Director for scaleLit and manages the Illinois Digital Learning Lab (IDLL). He is currently the COABE Region 3 Representative and Technology Chair and serves on the IACEA Board as Senior Director of Region 1. He previously held several roles in adult education, including Senior Director of Adult Education, Employment and Training; Director, Adult Education and Data; Computer Lab Director/Coordinator/Teacher; and ESL/ABE/ASE Teacher. Earlier in his career, he was a high school teacher in Chicago, teaching CAD, Information Technology, Art, and Business classes. Michael is passionate about helping adults gain the skills they need to improve their lives, and is committed to using technology to scale up educational opportunities and make them more accessible to all.


Kristin Hempel – EASTCONN / COABE Board Member, Connecticut

An educator for over 20 years, Kristin Hempel has been a passionate adult education administrator and advocate in CT for the past 7 years. Previously, she was an elementary principal in NY and a teacher and high school administrator in RI. She graduated from Swarthmore College, received her MA in Educational Psychology from Vermont College, and completed her principal residency program at Northeastern University in Boston. Her mission has been to support and inspire students to be lifelong learners and engaged, inquisitive, and compassionate citizens. She found her “sweet spot” in the world of Adult Education, where helping individual students achieve their goals will change the future for their whole family and our community. Currently she is the Associate Director for a regional adult education program known for innovation and for substantial workforce partnerships. An active executive board member of the Connecticut Association for Adult and Continuing Education (CAACE), Kristin has chaired the Professional Development Task Force for six years, and represented CAACE at COABE’s Capitol Hill Days and National Skills Coalition’s Skills Summit. Nationally, Kristin is a CT representative to the New England Literacy Resource Center (NELRC) Advisory Board, a member of NELRC’s XPrize Leadership Team now the mLearning Leadership Team, and has been a member of COABE’s Advocacy & Public Policy Committee. Kristin is the Region 1 Representative for COABE.


Jacqueline Aguilera – Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy, Texas

Jackie Aguilera’s adult education career spans more than 3 decades. Highlights include partnering with Boston based Doorways to Dreams to pilot financial edutainment online games for low income families and helping Houston’s local employers provide equitable access to company mobility through the English@Work program. In addition to leading  a Houston Tier 3 team win in the 2019 Xprize Adult Literacy Apps competition, she coordinated Houston’s participation in the 2022 Xprize Rapid Reskilling competition.  Jackie completed the COABE State Advocates for Adult Education Fellowship in 2022 and is now an alumni and advocacy mentor. She served in an advisory capacity with the Environmental Defense Fund and Texas Southern University to implement an environmental literacy certification component to its green jobs training and employment program. She also worked with US Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia’s office to introduce legislation regarding  equitable language options for financial information provided across the nation. Most recently, Jackie was invited to join the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)  Digital Equity Leaders Network (DELN). Her service as Project Manager with the Mayor’s Office for Adult Literacy in Houston, TX, has contributed to the office’s local and national  impact that includes programs, initiatives, and presentations regarding digital equity and inclusion, fin tech and personal finance education, telehealth and telemedicine. As a trainer and consultant,  Jackie candidly shares lessons learned and experiences dashed with a sense of humor and is an powerful advocate for adult literacy innovation that transforms and evolves the field for the greater success of all.  


Carmine Stewart – Seeds of Literacy / Aspire Consulting and Educational Services, Ohio

Carmine is the Vice President of Programming at Seeds of Literacy in Cleveland, Ohio, the President and CEO of Aspire Consulting and Educational Services. Carmine has been conducting professional development workshops for adult literacy instructors since 2007. In 2008 she began pursuing a PhD in Urban Education from Cleveland State University. Carmine earned her doctorate in August 2012, after defending her dissertation, Teacher Preparation and Professional Development in Adult Literacy Education.


Nell Eckersley – NYC Support and Technical Assistance Center at the Literacy Assistance Center, New York

Nell Eckersley is the Director of Digital Equity Projects & Senior Advisor for the New York City Support and Technical Assistance Center (STAC) at the Literacy Assistance Center. Nell has been working on ways to integrate digital literacy skills into adult education ever since she developed a project on how to teach basic computer skills in a classroom without computers in 2001. Nell’s current work on digital literacy and adult education includes being a member of the US Adult Digital Learning Advisory Group for the Ed Tech Center at World Ed, a Subject Matter Expert for the DRAW project, a technology advisor for the CILIA-T project, and a resource developer for the LINCS. Her particular areas of interest are strengthening digital literacy skills for adult education practitioners and students, integrating technology into the adult education classroom via mobile devices, and digital inclusion for all.


Anthony Burik – Outreach and Technical Assistance Network, California

Anthony Burik is a Coordinator with the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN), a California state leadership project that focuses on support for and the effective application of technology in adult education. He coordinates a variety of distance learning projects with OTAN. Prior to joining OTAN, Anthony was the ESL and Citizenship Coordinator for an adult education program in the San Francisco Bay Area. He previously worked as an ESL teacher, Distance Learning teacher, EL Civics Project Leader, and GED test administrator managing the PearsonVUE testing center. Finally, Anthony has been active in a statewide professional development association for ESL K–adult professionals at the local and state levels. He currently serves on its Board of Directors as President.


Jennifer Wiggington – Indiana Association for Adult and Continuing Education, Indiana

Jenn Wigginton has been the Indiana Association for Adult and Continuing Education (IAACE) executive director for almost five years. Wigginton graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor of Science in communications. She has over 25 years of communications and organizational management experience. She has served on the Indiana Literacy Association, IAACE, and Workforce Development Board. Wigginton has presented on social media, literacy components, and life skills at the IAACE and COABE conferences. She believes that building relationships is a key ingredient to life. She earned her Distinguished Toastmaster award in Toastmasters International in June 2020.


Sharon Bonney – Coalition on Adult Basic Education

Sharon Bonney began her career with COABE as a part-time administrator in 2009, moving up in the organization as she showed an unparalleled commitment to the field of adult education. Sharon has helped advance the organization on a number of fronts, including managing efforts to move it from a 1,300-member group in 2009 to 35,000+ active members in 2022. She was the guiding force behind designing and implementing a new national conference model; developing new state, national and workforce partnerships with more than 100 organizations; rebranding the COABE research journal and a related research-to-practice initiative; and designing all new professional development offerings, including webinars that engage have engaged more than 50,000 members. Bonney spearheaded the development of the internationally acclaimed, six-time award-winning Educate and Elevate public awareness campaign, which brought much-needed visibility to the value of adult education and prompted more than 250,000 contacts with legislators at the local, state and federal levels. These efforts staved off $200 million in funding cuts and added an $108 million increase in funding for adult education. In addition, Bonney has scaled a national two time award winning campaign, Move Ahead with Adult Ed, to increase enrollments in local adult education programs that were hard hit by the pandemic, and has diversified and increased revenue streams for the organization, and envisioned, designed, and implemented many new and innovative strategies for the organization.

Digital Equity Champions for All Learners: Preparing Adult Education Leaders for Upcoming Digital Equity Opportunities

In 2024, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will announce new programs to help eligible entities pursue activities to advance digital equity in their communities. Therefore, several organizations – the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, National Association of State Directors of Adult Education, Coalition for Adult Basic Education (COABE), World Education, National Skills Coalition, National Coalition for Literacy, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, and Association of Community College Trustees – are collaborating to help prepare the adult education sector for this unique opportunity.

This upcoming webinar series and free workshop invites adult education leaders at the state, local, and institution levels to build their awareness of the relevant policy context and learn why this issue is important to their stakeholders. To further support adult education leaders in seeing themselves as a critical component of this national focus on digital equity, the 2-part webinar series will feature experts to showcase diverse “possibility models” of successful and replicable strategies from around the country. Finally, the webinar series will prepare participants for a digital equity workshop to be held during the COABE National Conference, where you will have an opportunity to develop/refine ideas, learn from peers, and develop critical relationships with other leaders in your states/regions.

Part 1: Wednesday, January 31, 2024 | 2-3 p.m. (ET)  |  WATCH REPLAY
Presenters: Ji Soo Song, Ashly Winkle, Sammy Lowdermilk, Dawn Hannah, Catalina Gonzalez, Shirley Doan, Sharon Bonney

Part 2: Wednesday, February 28, 2024 | 2-3 p.m. (ET)  |  WATCH REPLAY
Presenters: Ji Soo Song, Dr. Charles “Monty” Rossel, Dr. Cris Fanning, Luis Quiñones, Markevis Gideon, Skye Downing, Catalina Gonzalez, Shirley Doan, Sharon Bonney

Preconference Workshop: Sunday, March 17, 2024 | 12:30 p.m – 3:30 p.m (Central) WATCH REPLAY
(virtual or in-person during the COABE National Conference, in-person capacity is limited to 150 people on a first come first serve basis)
Presenters: Ji Soo Song, Shaketta Thomas, Priyanka Sharma, Bayo Adetunji, Shauna Edson, Christa Vinson, Sarah Wheeler, Eric Kotin, Sharon Bonney

Digital Inclusion Week 2023

National Digital Inclusion Week (DIW) is an annual week of awareness, recognition, and celebration. View the Digital Inclusion Week archives.