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People on Campus: Media arts guru Joaquin Alvarado

May 8, 2006

Photo of Joaquin AlvaradoJoaquin Alvarado's work days begin at 6 every morning and end well after 9 p.m. In between he races to meetings with educational leaders, technology execs and government officials. "I just try not to be late," he said.

As the founding director of SF State's Institute for Next Generation Internet (INGI), Alvarado's networking has brought the University powerful allies in its efforts to use emerging computer technology to improve education, employment opportunities and economic development throughout the Bay Area.

Gail Whitaker, dean of the College of Extended Learning and associate vice president for academic program development, where INGI is based, said, "Joaquin is exceptionally good with people. He is brilliant, resourceful, articulate and tireless. But his greatest strength is that he combines this brilliance and energy with caring and compassion."

Alvarado was born in San Francisco and later moved to Oakland. His parents, Bay Area activists during the '60s and '70s, provided an early introduction to the importance of building bridges to affect positive change. They also helped put him on the path toward becoming an award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer, producer and director. In elementary school Alvarado looked to his mother, an artist and teacher, to check out video cameras from her workplace. Alvarado and his friends took to the streets to shoot footage for some of his earliest films. He went on to earn a bachelor of arts in Chicano studies from University of California, Berkeley, and a master of fine arts from the UCLA School of Film, Television and Digital Media.

With the emergence of high-speed networks offering connection rates a thousand times faster than what we associate with broadband today, Joaquin Alvarado is leading SF State's outreach efforts to ensure that the infrastructure is put in place so that "all will have access." "I've always been interested in democratizing media production," Alvarado said.

Ken Ikeda, head of Youth Sounds, part of the Bay Area Video Coalition, a network of high school- and community-based digital media training centers for low-income teenagers, praised Alvarado for stepping forward to help his young learners. "He helped us direct our focus as an organization toward helping these kids continue their education," Ikeda said. "He's really visionary," he added, pointing out that he is also down to earth. "Everyone is his friend."

One of INGI's key partners is San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his Digital Media Advisory Council (DMAC). Similar in design to the Biotech Advisory Council which helped bring the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to the City, DMAC is working to support and grow digital media business in the Bay Area. The University's INGI is a charter member.

"We've helped affect the conversation locally and internationally around priorities with the Next Generation Internet, and broker a diverse range of stakeholders -- something we didn't have the chance to do with the first Internet," Alvarado said.

Last year, the University joined forces with DMAC to launch the Digital Sisters City Initiative. The program has since brought representatives from Canada, Ireland, India, Macedonia, Mexico, Singapore and France into the Bay Area discussion of the future of collaboration via high-speed networks.

Jeff Fino, cofounder of Bay Area animation studio Wildbrain and chair of DMAC, says that he has enjoyed working with Alvarado. "Joaquin is a very positive guy with an uncanny knack for bringing people together from disparate backgrounds," he said. "He's able to cut through a lot of bureaucracy and create consensus."

-- Adrianne Bee


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Last modified May 8, 2006 by University Communications