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Wendy Lazarus: Advocate for Children, Pioneer Among Women

Editor’s note: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are profiling the women at Connected Nation. From leadership roles to internship positions, these women are using their skills and experiences at every level of the organization to fulfill our mission to expand broadband access, adoption, and use to all people.

Lazarus Headshot With Glasses 200x300(March 28, 2019) - Wendy Lazarus is the kind of person who makes you feel at ease the moment you meet her. She is warm, intelligent, and has a way of listening that gives you the impression she really wants to know what you have to say.

That’s probably because she really does care about others, and she’s spent a lifetime demonstrating just that by working to help families and communities. The majority of her work has been focused on advocating for and improving the lives of children.

That now includes serving on the board of directors for Connected Nation (CN), a nonprofit working toward innovative solutions to expanding broadband access, adoption, and use to all people.

“I’ve come to view technology as really an equity issue, and I’ve come to see that it has the potential to actually equalize the playing field,” said Lazarus. “But if we don’t use it properly and if we’re not really mindful about extending it to underserved communities, it has the potential to be just the opposite. It can truly drive the wedge deeper between the haves and the have nots.”

"Wendy’s tenacity to get to the bottom of things brings great balance to the board, and I am sure this trait supports building great children-oriented programs,” said Jay Elliot, CN board member and founder and CEO of iMedGo.

Lazarus is the founder of the Kids Impact Initiative, which “develops and promotes strategies to support and strengthen the child advocacy field as a whole.” She is also a senior fellow with UCLA Healthier Children Families & Communities, the founder and now senior advisor for the Children’s Partnership, and served as the Children’s Defense Fund’s first director of health in Washington, D.C.

"Wendy has been a major force in nonprofits for many years to help provide benefits and opportunities to disadvantaged children,” said John Davies, CN board member and former vice president for the Intel Corporation’s World Ahead division. “She was a founding member of ‘Children's Partnership,’ which helps fund and encourage policies to provide health care and dental care to children in California. She currently serves on and influences several U.S. nonprofit organizations, which makes a valuable difference to so many children's lives."

“To learn of leadership and service, one should simply take note of Wendy Lazarus’ example and impact,” said Mark McElroy, CN board member. “In founding the Children’s Network to provide for the basic wellness needs of children, she modeled for us how to care for the least among us. By adopting as her own the mission of Connected Nation, she is helping secure a place and time where everyone belongs.​"

Throughout the years, and while working with a variety of organizations and programs, she has helped secure improved health care, child support, access to information technologies, and other vital resources for hundreds of thousands of children and families.

Not only is Lazarus an advocate for children, but she’s also broken barriers for women. She graduated from Yale University in the school’s first class of women graduates and received her master's degree of science in public health from the University of North Carolina.

“As one of our most tenured directors, Connected Nation has been fortunate to have a leader and pioneer like Wendy to help guide our mission over the last decade,” said Tom Ferree, chairman and CEO of Connected Nation. “During this same time, I have experienced firsthand her grace and insight, which have proved invaluable in my development as a nonprofit professional and more importantly, in my development as a more mindful human being. Indeed, the body of work that her career represents is truly a source of deep inspiration for the many individuals and organizations that have had the good fortune of her association.”

Lazarus says she’s excited about Connected Nation’s mission to bring broadband to all people—emphasizing just how important it can be throughout a person’s life.

“Without access, students starting as early as elementary school can’t do their homework properly,” Lazarus said. “More and more colleges are accepting applications online only…and it just continues throughout their life. Certainly the jobs that have the most growth potential, that most allow you to support a family are increasingly jobs that require technology skills.”

Wendy Lazarus shares why she believes access to technology is critical to helping children to succeed in this short video: 

Related Links:
Celebrating Women’s History Month with a Tech Twist: Hedy Lamarr – Actress and Inventor

Meet more of the Women of Connected Nation: 

Bernie Bogle, Chief Financial Officer

Lindsay Conrad, Director of Public Policy

Maddie Garnett, Human Resources and Special Projects Coordinator

Heather Gate, Director of Digital Inclusion

Ashley Hitt, Director, GIS Services

Gina Lindsey, Executive Assistant to the Chairman & CEO