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[Speech] Commencement Speaker and Net Neutrality Champion Gigi Sohn Speaks on the Importance of Tech Advocacy

Photo of a reel of conduit ready for installation.

On May 18, 2024, Gigi Sohn gave the Commencement Address to the School of Information graduating class of 2024:

Good afternoon. Thank you, Dean Hearst, for that lovely introduction and for being such a great friend and wonderful host to me and my family. I also want to thank you for finding an extra short gown and a box for me to stand on!

Congratulations graduates! It’s a great honor to be speaking before you and your families today. While I didn’t attend Berkeley, I’ve spent a great deal of time here over the past two decades, and there are so many people at Cal who have been friends and mentors that I feel like I should earn an honorary residence, or better still, a parking permit!

In October of 2021, I was nominated by the President of the United States for a very important role — to be a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, which regulates communications networks of all kinds, from broadcast to cable to broadband. This job is at the top of my profession, and my nomination was historic — I was the first openly LGBTQ individual selected to serve on the FCC. So probably you are thinking now: oh, that’s why Gigi Sohn has been asked to speak to you today. Ah, but I said I was nominated, not that I was confirmed. In short, politics happened.

I’m speaking to you today because regardless of what happened during the 16 long and difficult months of my Senate confirmation process, I wouldn’t have changed a thing that I did before or during it. And despite the fact that I wasn’t confirmed, I continue to do the important work of ensuring that our communications policies promote a healthy democracy and a just society. You see, I didn’t become a public interest advocate so I could be in power. I became a public interest advocate so I could speak truth to power and make change.

The full speech is available here.



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