Important Update Notice
As of July 1st, 2022, ULI Pittsburgh local management will change.
September 11, 2022
Name: Kirsten Compitello
Company/Organization: Michael Baker
Current position (and what do you do) and for how long: National Broadband Digital Equity Director – Since May 2022
New Role: National Broadband Digital Equity Director Michael Baker International (MBI)
Closing the digital divide is both a trend and a need. Michael Baker recognized the need and created the consulting position internally in response to the national formation of Digital Equity directors and staffs are becoming a part of local/state govt. within planning depts. In the private sector of broadband planning, this role is somewhat unique.
MBI is integrating digital equity as a core value from planning and funding through project construction into their infrastructure planning where appropriate and necessary to be a valuable resource. Kirsten is hiring a team to help guide the massive expansion of broadband infrastructure currently kicking off, which will transform our communities and economy for decades to come!
The Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA) has historic funding available at the state level to collect data, analyze data and ultimately invest in digital infrastructure.
Kirsten’s job is thinking through digital impact on community and people end-users- thinking through past inequities- closing gaps to ensure broadband investments are reaching those who need it and paired with necessary supporting programs.
1) Identify that digital equity needs to be mapped/analyzed (census/ American community surveys/ field-verification, ISP Data)
2) Create/recommend solutions to fix inequities in communities- lack of skills, affordability, lack or providers-
Building partnerships and coalitions- broadband providers and community groups- public sector at any level- to form connections, implement solutions
3) Measure impact- What impact all of those have- where do they fall- short and where are successes?
This is an exciting role and space because it impacts so many other sectors- Economic development driven by development, housing, WFH, enables real estate trends for years to come- where business development and residential communities occur. Biggest Challenges in the field are the reducing the inequities- lack of devices, digital literacy, affordability.
Place of birth/hometown: California
School attended: University of Notre Dame
Career/Leadership advice: Ask the question! Especially early on in your career or in a new job/role- just don’t ask the same question twice.
How did you get into the real estate industry?: Adjacent- Urban designer. I began my career as an urban designer, interested in shaping the spaces we live and work in. Shaping places that serve people first and allow thriving and sustainable communities has always been my passion.
What is the best business decision you have made?: I think the best business decision I have made has probably been to recognize the skills and expertise of those around me – the team members I’ve worked with over the years have expanded my horizons. I’ve worked on many types of planning and design projects and gained new skills and ideas through each. Combining skills and learning from one another has allowed me personally and the teams I’ve worked with to push boundaries and develop new products that none of us would have led alone.
What advice would you give to someone entering the industry today?: Don’t be afraid to explore new ideas or avenues that interest you. That’s often where new opportunities arise.
What is the coolest real estate project/land use challenge you have participated in?: I worked on an affordable housing project near NYC about 10 years ago. It involved Section 8 housing on a steep hill, and required a site plan to redevelop in phases without displacing a single resident. It merged my tendencies towards organization, spreadsheets and math with design, placemaking, and community quality of life. I loved doing that work.
What has been your biggest lesson learned or mistake that you have learned the most from?: I’ve often undervalued how much I know or how valuable my experience is. I’ve learned over years to respect my own hard work and not undersell myself.
Favorite vacation spot: I love traveling, but a Mediterranean beach is the best place to stop
Favorite restaurant: Balade in NYC, or anything Lebanese
Family: I have one 🙂 1 phenomenal husband, 2 tech-obsessed kids, 1 furball cat, and many houseplants
Hobbies/Interests: Watercoloring & gardening
Why is involvement in ULI (and/or WLI) valuable? How long have you been involved with ULI/WLI?: I joined ULI/WLI three years ago, although I’ve followed ULI in various capacities for 15 years. The most valuable part of WLI is getting to know other dedicated women impacting real estate and design in this region, and share experiences and inspiration.
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