Named for Charles Benton, the founder of Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, NDIA created the awards to recognize leadership and dedication in advancing digital equity: from promoting the ideal of accessible and affordable communications technology for all Americans to crafting programs and policies that make it a reality.
Digital Equity Emerging Leaders – Erica Camacho & John Torous
For the first time, we named not one, but two emerging leaders for their work together on an outstanding digital inclusion project, centered around smartphone-based digital literacy skills for accessing mental health services. Increasing digital literacy, especially for smartphone devices, is critical to ensuring equitable access to mental health services. As COVID-19 has forced so much of mental health online, those unable to connect are excluded from care. As smartphones are the primary tool people use to access digital mental health (video visits and apps) – these programs are designed to directly teach skills and ‘train the trainers’ to offer that teaching.
Director of Digital Inclusion, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Erica Camacho is the Director of Digital Health Equity within the Division of Digital Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliated teaching hospital. Erica’s primary focus has been to support those with mental illnesses where access to care is often limited, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and PTSD. In this role, Erica oversees several projects centered around improving digital literacy. This includes a Digital Education Curriculum known as Digital Outreach for Obtaining Resources & Skills (DOORS) and the Digital Navigator Training Program, which equip participants with the tools and education needed to implement technology into care. Erica also manages the largest mental health app database available, known as the M-health Index and Navigation Database (MIND). Under her leadership, this database has been named a leading mental health app evaluation framework for diversity, equity, and inclusion. In addition to leading these projects centered around improving health equity through technology, Erica leads two ongoing IRB-approved research studies investigating the impact of mobile apps on mental health. Her work has resulted in 15 peer-reviewed publications.
Director of the Division of Digital Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
John Torous, MD MBI, is a psychiatrist who works with underserved populations and uses technology to increase access to critical mental health services.
He is the director of the digital psychiatry division, in the Department of Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliated teaching hospital, where he also serves as a staff psychiatrist and assistant professor. He has a background in electrical engineering and computer sciences and completed his psychiatry residency, fellowship in clinical informatics, and master’s degree in biomedical informatics at Harvard. Dr. Torous is active in investigating the potential of mobile mental health technologies for psychiatry and has published over 200 peer reviewed articles and 5 books chapters on the topic. He serves as editor-in-chief for JMIR Mental Health, web editor for JAMA Psychiatry, currently leads the American Psychiatric Association’s Health IT Committee, and is a senior member in IEEE.
Digital Equity Champion – Tobey Dichter
Tobey Gordon Dichter is founder and chief executive officer of Generations on Line, an award winning national nonprofit dedicated to internet literacy and access for older adults, serving about 200,000 low-income older adults over the past 21 years. Tobey was a pioneer in the field of digital literacy, making free training software available to public libraries, senior centers, nursing homes and subsidized elder housing, and more recently apps and website tutorials for families and homebound elders. Tobey earned her bachelor’s in journalism and a master’s in industrial psychology from Temple University. She is the recipient of the ASA Mind Alert Award for innovation in older adult learning; the Civic Ventures inaugural Purpose Prize Fellowship, the Center for Literacy Champion Award, and in 2015 PBS Next Avenue named her One of the 50 Most Influential People in Aging. GoL has helped thousands of low-income seniors feel comfortable completing the online 2000 U.S. Census to enhance inclusion, made online tutorials that simplify COVID vaccination site finding, Medicare Part D plan finder, and the Social Security website. Tobey is known by the aging network, media, and peers as a strong advocate for digital literacy for the most vulnerable older adults.