Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Laura Walker McDonald is a DC technologist you should know

The CEO of SIMLab is working to break down the digital divide.

Laura Walker McDonald.

(Courtesy photo)

Laura Walker McDonald is a UK transplant who is focused on bringing inclusive tech into focus in the D.C. area.
The Tenleytown resident is the CEO of the Social Impact Lab (SIMLab), an organization tackling some of the challenges in information and communication technology in the world of social change. SIMLab is a consulting business which has worked on projects funded by Google and the Hewlett Foundation. FrontlineSMS, which was later spun out of SIMLab in 2014, was named the world’s top tech NGO in 2013 by the Global Journal.
“We work hard to maintain a focus on inclusion,” Walker McDonald said in an email interview. “We believe that digital technologies can make new things possible, but that if these things are only possible for some people, then the digital divide is just exacerbated.”

Walker McDonald co-ran FrontlineSMS with her husband for five years. The company, which is still in operation, was her first job in tech. Previously, Walker McDonald worked with the Red Cross in the UK. FrontlineSMS is one of Walker McDonald’s proudest projects and was key in the formation of SIMLab, she says.
The work that’s coming out of SIMLab is actively trying to reach out to communities that might not have access to the internet. One way the organization is trying to accomplish this is by working with the D.C. Public Library and keeping everything they learn under a Creative Commons license.


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