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Annual National Summit to Increase Social Connections

Annual National Summit to Increase Social Connections  

Commit to Connect and engAGED hosted the annual National Summit to Increase Social Connections on May 14 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM ET and May 15 from 1:00 to 3:30 PM ET. This year, speakers and attendees explored how to leverage technology to advance social connections for older adults and people with disabilities.  

The summit brought together local, state, and national leaders from across sectors working to address social isolation and loneliness.  

Sessions highlighted innovative programs, resources, and tools to: 

  • increase the capacity of the aging and disability networks to promote social connections; 
  • increase awareness and availability of programs, services, interventions increasing social connection; and 
  • leverage technology to increase social connection. 

The recordings of the summit and the two-day agenda can be found below. To view the PowerPoint slides from both days see Day One Slides and Day Two Slides. Find out more about speakers at the summit by checking out the Speaker Profiles.

Day 1 Agenda: May 14, 1:00-4:00pm ET

1:00 pm ET Welcome, Housekeeping and Purpose Setting

  • Lori Gerhard, Director of the Office of Interagency Innovation, Administration for Community Living (ACL)  
  • Sandy Markwood, Chief Executive Officer, USAging

1:10 pm ET A Video Message from the Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy  

  • Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States 

1:15 pm ET Keynote: Future of Technology and Social Engagement

This session will explore innovations in technology and impact on social connection and engagement. After brief framing from ACL, The John A. Hartford Foundation will share national recommendations for promoting social connections. ACL will then moderate a panel conversation between speakers on how to leverage technology for social connection of older adults and people with disabilities.  

  • Moderator: Kelly Cronin, Deputy Administrator, Center for Innovation and Partnership, ACL 
  • Rani Snyder, Vice President, Program, The John A. Hartford Foundation 
  • Steve Ewell, Executive Director, Consumer Technology Association Foundation 
  • Eddie Garcia, Founder and Board Chair, Foundation for Social Connection

2:00 pm ET Nationwide Network of Champions and Additional Resources from Commit to Connect and engAGED

Commit to Connect and engAGED will spotlight resources and tools to support your organization’s social connection work, including the Commit to Connect Nationwide Network of Champions.  

  • Katie Clark, Policy Analyst, Office of Interagency Innovation, ACL 
  • Meredith Hanley, Program Director, USAging 

2:15 pm ET Break

2:30 pm ET Program Spotlight: National Telecommunications and Information Administration

During this program spotlight, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will highlight the Digital Equity Act and how communities can work with state broadband offices to reach older adults and people with disabilities.  

  • Angela Bennett, Digital Equity Director, National Telecommunications and Information Administration  

3:00 pm ET Panel: Social Engagement and Assistive Technology

This panel will focus on partnerships between Assistive Technology (AT) and the education sector to increase social engagement. Panelists will discuss how AT can help overcome barriers to engagement and help people with disabilities thrive, share examples of partnerships between AT and education to change culture and increase access to AT, and highlight ways organizations can access and connect consumers to AT.  

  • Moderator: Lori Gerhard, Director of the Office of Interagency Innovation, ACL  
  • Glenna Wright-Gallo, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, U.S. Department of Education 
  • Dawn Merth-Johnson, Education Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Health Services  
  • Laura Plummer, Statewide Assistive Technology Program Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Health Services 
  • Laura Talmus, Executive Director and Co-founder, Beyond Differences 

3:55 pm ET Wrap Up and Next Day Preview

  • Meredith Hanley, Program Director, USAging 
  • Katie Clark, Policy Analyst, Office of Interagency Innovation, ACL 

Day 2 Agenda: May 15, 1:00-3:30pm ET

1:00 pm ET Welcome and Housekeeping

  • Katie Clark, Policy Analyst, Office of Interagency Innovation, ACL 
  • Meredith Hanley, Program Director, USAging 

1:10 pm ET Program Spotlight: Machine Learning and Social Health Connector Tool

This program spotlight will highlight No Wrong Door Virginia’s online Social Health Connector tool, which uses machine learning to support Virginia residents’ social health needs. The Social Health Connector provides a person-centered, customized social health connection plan to individuals based on a series of self-reflective questions. This customized digital tool is designed with older adults, individuals with disabilities, and caregivers in mind.   

  • Moderator: Katie Clark, Policy Analyst, Office of Interagency Innovation, ACL  
  • Sara Link, Director of No Wrong Door, Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)
  • Erika Okonsky, No Wrong Door Expansion Specialist, DARS
  • Kathy Spangler, Director of 211 Virginia, Virginia Department of Social Services
  • Mary Miller, Director of 211 Data Projects, United Way Worldwide
  • Catherine MacDonald, Director of Community Engagement and Outreach, Virginia Commonwealth University

2:15 pm ET Break

2:30 pm ET Panel: Virtual Programming

This panel will explore the future of virtual programming as we enter a post-pandemic era and will showcase replicable virtual programming models.  

  • Moderator: Alex Glazebrook, Vice President, Programs, Senior Planet and Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP   
  • Lucas DeLuca, Director of Support Services, Amputee Coalition 
  • Rebecca Freeman, Human Services Planner/Evaluator III, Division of Aging and Adult Services, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services 
  • Rayna Sage, Co-Director, Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities at the University of Montana  
  • Joseph Rolandelli, OPAL Center Director, Baltimore County Department of Aging 

3:25 pm ET Call to Action and Wrap-Up

  • Meredith Hanley, Program Director, USAging 
  • Katie Clark, Policy Analyst, Office of Interagency Innovation, ACL 

3:30 pm ET Summit Adjourns

Funding for this initiative was made possible by contract no. HHSP233201500088I from ACL.  The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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