An Unforgettable Journey with SHLB in San Diego!

Blogs,

Author: Saskya Cabral

On June 26, 2024, our entire six-person SHLB team landed at the San Diego airport, ready for an adventure like no other.

We met with board member Cindy Altick Aden, a driving force behind our efforts to strengthen connections with American Indian Tribes and enhance broadband connectivity.

Adam Geisler, President and COO of Tribal Ready, an SHLB board member, and our gracious host picked us up from the airport. Little did we know that he’s not only a broadband expert but also a first responder and an opera singer!

Over dinner, the SHLB staff reconnected, sharing stories and laughter after too long apart. The next day, our journey began with Adam leading us to the All Tribes American Indian Charter School at the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians.

The school’s visionary director, Michelle Parada, built the school from 7 students to over 120 students today. She transformed learning by integrating technology and hands-on experiences. “All Tribes” means the school is open to all tribal and non-tribal students.

Other SHLB Board members, Ty Beauchamp and Luis Wong joined us at this public school where Adam started his teaching career many years before. The school leaders’ commitment to education, healing, and community upliftment left us in awe.

Our exploration continued at the Indian Health Council, Inc., where CEO Orvin Hanson guided us through mental health programs, skateboarding art, a dental clinic, and a robust discussion of cybersecurity measures. The Council’s history was born from collaboration among nine sovereign Tribal governments.

At the Connected Learning Center, high-speed connectivity took center stage. Led by Education Manager Jason Marks, the center provides free access to computers and a variety of digital resources for the community. The students’ once-hidden artwork now graces the walls and inspires everyone who visits.

We also learned that AT&T provided much-needed fiber connectivity to the school, the health center, and the learning center.

Our final stop was Adam Geisler’s warm home, where we were welcomed by his loving family. We ate delicious tacos and Indian Fry Bread while Adam shared insights into the life of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians. Their resilience, entrepreneurship, and deep connection to the land moved us profoundly. 

We were joined at dinner by tribal council leadership: Steve Cope, Chair of the San Pasqual Band Of Mission Indians, and Erica M. Pinto, Chair of the California Tribal Chairpersons’ Association and Chair of the Jamul Indian Village of California.

These conversations will hopefully plant seeds that bloom as expanded policy interest areas for SHLB. Closing the digital divide means working together to find creative solutions like those modeled in these incredible communities.

A heartfelt thank you to our generous sponsors, Tribal Ready, PBC and Calix, for making this transformative journey possible!

Read our magazine, where we detail a more in-depth summary of this incredible experience.