Catch Up With Chuck Episode 20 Creating The Future For Rural with Microsoft GM Shelley McKinley


Mar. 30, 2018

In this episode, Chuck is joined by Shelley McKinley, General Manager of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft. The Rural Futures Institute hosted McKinley Wednesday, Mar. 28, through Friday, Mar. 30, to share ideas on rural connectivity, accessibility and sustainability.

Microsoft has placed special importance on rural area connectivity as well as artificial intelligence for inclusion. It is currently partnering with telecommunications companies through its Rural Airband Initiative to bring broadband connectivity to 2 million people in rural America by 2022, hoping to serve as a catalyst to help eliminate the rural broadband gap for the 23.4 million Americans living in rural communities who lack access to the economic, educational and health opportunities the internet provides.

The Rural Futures Institute’s big hairy audacious goal is a thriving high-touch, high-tech future for rural Nebraska and the Great Plains by 2040. As Microsoft works to build a better future, McKinley shared how her company is connecting people within and beyond rural areas, so everyone has access to the opportunities that technology provides. She believes it is important to move forward with technology without leaving people behind.

“The future is a multi-stakeholder discussion. There’s no one company or one person or one institution or one community that can do it alone.”

-Shelley McKinley


Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. McKinley believes it is important to visit communities and go into the field to better understand the people they serve.

Perhaps one of the best parts of McKinley’s visit to Nebraska was the opportunity to meet and engage with University of Nebraska students. “You have an amazing group of creative, innovative, motivated, passionate students here, and I frankly have no concerns about their ability to be successful,” she said. She believes it is important to invest in youth and help the leaders of the future.

The Rural Futures Institute believes in people’s capacity to shape their own futures, as well as the dependence on collaboration and respect for the development of our complex future. McKinley agrees that the future requires an exchange of ideas and shared learning. She is excited about this new relationship between Microsoft and the Rural Futures Institute and looks forward to a continued collaboration between the two.


Catch Up With Chuck is Facebook Live series with Rural Futures Institute Founding Executive Director Chuck Schroeder. Airing most Thursdays at 11:15 a.m. (CST) on RFI’s Facebook Page, Chuck uses this time to discuss critical rural topics and the latest about RFI while answering viewers’ questions. Stay in touch with Catch Up With Chuck and the Rural Futures Institute through Facebook and Twitter. We will be back soon with another episode looking at rural people and places, success stories, innovators, thinkers and doers who are making rural communities a legitimate best choice for worthwhile living.