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Joshua Edmonds Departing as Detroit Digital Inclusion Lead

Edmonds, who was one of the first digital inclusion directors for a municipal government anywhere in the United States, is taking a position as CEO of DigitalC, a Cleveland-based nonprofit that works on digital equity.

The Detroit skyline at sunset or sunrise.
Detroit, Mich.
Detroit Digital Inclusion Director Joshua Edmonds is departing the city to head up a nonprofit organization that also works in the digital equity space.

Edmonds announced Monday that he has taken a position as CEO of DigitalC, a Cleveland-based nonprofit focused on getting people connected to high-speed, affordable Internet. Edmonds is slated to start in that new role on Nov. 1.

He started with the city in December 2018, and was named Detroit’s director of digital inclusion in January 2019, making him one of the first people in the country to head up digital equity work within a municipal government. He also departs as one of the most experienced and longest-tenured full-time digital inclusion staffers in any American city hall.
Joshua Edmonds
Joshua Edmonds
Detroit's digital inclusion work will be carried forward by Detroit CIO Art Thompson, as well as Operations Director for Connect 313 Autumn Evans, and the city’s new digital equity manager, Oscar Chapa. The city is launching a nationwide search for Edmonds’ replacement.

“I also want to add that Detroit, on the digital equity front, is well ahead of other cities,” Edmonds wrote in an email announcing his departure. “We have an effective community engagement strategy with Connect 313, a plan for infrastructure, and three years of committed ARPA funding that will begin flowing to communities this fall and early next year (please continue to check for those RFPs!). Detroit is well positioned for future success. I’m excited to see how leadership takes this work to the next level.”

Edmonds was particularly instrumental in helping Detroit respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the virus broke out, many cities were forced to scramble to get unserved residents connected to the Internet, especially school children who needed a connection at home to participate in online education.

Support for this work poured in from the private sector, but many cities did not have digital inclusion staffers to take calls, facilitate connections and quickly build solutions. Detroit was a notable exception. Within about 30 days of the pandemic shutting life down, Detroit had a $23 million private investment in place to help connect roughly 51,000 students there to online learning.

Edmonds was named one of Government Technology’s Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in 2021, an annual distinction this publication awards to the most influential people in state and local government technology.