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Spotlight on Commerce: Rachel Wolbers, Telecommunications Policy Analyst, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

Guest blog by Rachel Wolbers, Telecommunications Policy Analyst, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

I am honored to participate in the Department of Commerce’s celebration of Women’s History Month. Women have a unique power to face down challenges and bring people together. My mom, a trailblazing female executive, instilled in my sister and me a do-it-yourself attitude that inspired us to follow our dreams, even if they were in the male-dominated fields of law and finance. One principle that my mom instilled in me is perseverance, which has helped me in working with disruptive tech companies. 

As Eleanor Roosevelt put it: “you must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

While I am incredibly passionate about the work I do, I actually stumbled into the field of tech policy while at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. After I was rejected from the International Law Journal, I decided to give the Journal of Law, Technology, and Internet a try. Not only did I discover a passion for Internet law and policy, but that experience helped me land a job on Capitol Hill working for a House Judiciary Committee member who was a self-described “tech nerd.”

From Capitol Hill, I joined an all-female consulting team representing technology companies on policy issues. I learned from some of the most accomplished women in Washington, D.C. about how to translate complicated technical issues to policymakers and to tech companies. I also learned the power of building coalitions to empower change on issues including diversity in tech. Later, I joined a non-profit organization that worked with startups, a natural fit me for me since I grew up watching my mom launch several companies from our kitchen table.

Last May, I joined the Office of International Affairs at the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to work on global technology policy issues. Our mission is to promote access to, and use of, information and communications technologies internationally. In places like the G20, G7, and the OECD, NTIA has been an advocate in closing the digital gender gap by enhancing girls’ and women’s access to digital technology.

Our office focuses particularly on the needs of those in poverty and those who live in rural areas. Additionally, NTIA is committed to international support for girls’ and women’s education and training, including in S.T.E.M. education. These issues are critical to supporting female entrepreneurs, bridging the digital divide, and inspiring female voices.

I have always tried to serve the public and fight for causes I am passionate about. That is why I consider myself incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to work on globally-focused policy issues at NTIA that help women around the world. 

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce women during Women's History Month.