Doreen Bogdan-Martin, SIS/MA ’90, made history on September 29, becoming the first woman elected secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the main technology agency at the United Nations.

The tech trailblazer received 81 percent of the vote at the Plenipotentiary Conference in Bucharest, Romania. In her role with the 157-year-old agency—which joined the UN in 1947—Bogdan-Martin will work to protect the right to communicate and strive to connect the world. Her term begins on January 1.

“Whether it’s today’s children or our children’s children, we need to provide them with a strong and stable foundation for growth,” she said. “The world is facing significant challenges—escalating conflicts, a climate crisis, food security, gender inequalities, and 2.7 billion people with no access to the internet. I believe we, the ITU and our members, have an opportunity to make a transformational contribution. Continuous innovation can and will be a key enabler to facilitate resolution of many of these issues.”

 

Doreen Bogdan-Martin gives an acceptance speech as ITU Secretary-General Elect at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2022 (PP-22) on September 29 in Bucharest, Romania.

The US government endorsed Bogdan-Martin for the role, with President Joe Biden noting in a statement that she “possesses the integrity, experience, and vision necessary to transform the digital landscape.”

Bogdan-Martin became fascinated with satellite communications while taking SIS professor Eric Novotny’s course on international communications policy. After working with the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration for five years, she joined ITU in 1994. She served as director of the agency’s Telecommunication Development Bureau since 2019, brokering more than agreements and spearheading initiatives that complement the UN’s mission around health care, youth, gender equality, education, agriculture, and poverty. She also established the Global Network Resiliency Platform during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping maintain digital connectivity and producing materials on cyber safety.

Bogdan-Martin received AU’s inaugural Outstanding Technology Policy Changemaker Award in September 2021, recognizing her efforts to bridge the gender and digital divides.

“Doreen’s is a career that’s rooted in exciting innovations made possible by technology but driven by the purpose of employing that technology in pursuit of a more just and equitable world,” AU president Sylvia Burwell said at the award ceremony.