Microsoft GM to Discuss Tech for Rural Connectivity, Accessibility, Sustainability 3/28 at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Online

Let's Connect To Change The World

“Technology can be a powerful tool in helping create change and improve people’s lives,” Shelley McKinley, Microsoft

Shelley McKinley, Microsoft GM

Shelley McKinley, Microsoft

Shelley McKinley, General Manager of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft, will discuss this fundamental belief and its application for the future on Mar. 28, 3 – 4 p.m. (CST), at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management. Her presentation entitled, “Let’s Connect The World To Change The World,” is hosted by the Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska. It is free, and students, faculty, staff and the public are encouraged to attend in the Kauffman Academic Center, Great Hall.

Connectivity and overall access to technology are critical areas of need for rural economic development, health care access, education and more. As Microsoft works to build a better future, McKinley will share how her company is connecting people within and beyond rural areas, so everyone has access to the opportunities that technology provides. She will deep dive into the use of technology, such as artificial intelligence, to create environmental sustainability, connect 1 billion people around the world with disabilities and prepare the workforce of the future.

“The Rural Futures Institute continues to connect rural communities and our University community to bring our conversations to the leading-edge of possibility,” said Connie Reimers-Hild, RFI Associate Executive Director and Chief Futurist. “Exponential changes in technology require evolution in leadership, strategy and mindset. The way we view the world shapes what we see and what we think is possible. Increasing our awareness about the use of current and future technologies with companies like Microsoft will help us create new possibilities for rural communities.”

McKinley assumed her role as GM for Technology and Corporate Responsibility in September 2017. Throughout her 10-year career at Microsoft, she has served as Associate General Counsel, based in Amsterdam, where she led all corporate, external and legal affairs work for the company’s European subsidiaries. She has also been responsible for the legal work for Microsoft’s hardware products, manufacturing and supply chain, as well as the Xbox games publishing business and Microsoft Learning.

Microsoft has recently placed special importance on rural broadband throughout the U.S. 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.

VistaBeam CEO Matt Larsen from Scottsbluff, Neb., will welcome attendees to the presentation. Larsen, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln graduate, launched Vistabeam in 2004 to provide broadband access into unserved and underserved areas in Western Nebraska. Vistabeam serves some of the most rural and sparsely populated parts of Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming with wireless and fiber broadband connectivity.

“Companies like mine have been working for years with minimal outside support to deliver broadband to rural communities,” Larsen said. “We are very excited to have Microsoft getting involved in this space and their Airband initiative, digital skills training and technology licensing of TV white space technology will move the needle toward far better broadband services in rural areas.”

Event details and live stream at

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About the Microsoft Technology and Corporate Responsibility Group
The Microsoft technology and corporate responsibility group delivers on Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more by driving the digital transformation and readiness of high impact organizations including universities, cities and political campaigns, and through leadership and innovation of technology in the high impact areas of human rights, accessibility, environmental sustainability and broadband access.

About the Rural Futures Institute
The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at the University of Nebraska leverages the talents and research-based expertise from across the NU system on behalf of rural communities in Nebraska, the U.S. and around the world. Through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, RFI encourages bold and futuristic approaches to address rural issues and opportunities. It works collaboratively with education, business, community, non-profit, government and foundation partners to empower rural communities and their leaders.

About Vistabeam
Vistabeam has deployed fiber and wireless broadband systems covering approximately 40,000 square miles across Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska. Vistabeam was named WISPA Operator of the Year for 2010. Vistabeam CEO, Matt Larsen, is one of the founders of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association. He also serves on the Broadband Infrastructure Technology Advisory Group and has been a speaker at WISPCON, ISPCON, EC-Expo, FCC Wireless Broadband Access Task Force, The Broadband Expo, WISPAPALOOZA, WISPAMERICA and the Tom Osborne Leadership Conference.

Media Contact
Katelyn Ideus
Director of Communications
Rural Futures Institute
C: (402) 695-5886

Media are welcome to attend the 3/28 presentation, and media availability will immediately follow. There is also media availability 3/29, 9 – 10 a.m. (CST). Contact Katelyn Ideus to schedule.