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This last year has illustrated that our organizations can thrive outside of a single, clustered point of operation. As we embrace a new network of communication tools, processes, and team dynamics, we need balance.

We need balance in our efforts and results; long-term business objectives with flexible and agile plans of action; and the management of continuous change with the wellbeing of those within our organization.

Our abridged version of the Merit Member Conference this year will focus on deep-dive workshops engineered for immediate and practical applications.

DATES: MAY 10-11, 2021

LOCATION: This is an online event

Instructions on how to access the MMC 2021 will be shared with registrants prior to the event.


Attend MMC 2021 At No Cost to You or Your Institution

Many member institutions are carefully considering event attendance costs. To ensure all who can benefit from MMC are able to attend, we are offering scholarships to cover the cost of registration for you and your colleagues. Simply visit our scholarship page below, let us know the sponsorship is for the registration cost of MMC, and our team will be in touch.

This offer is for Merit Members only and is no longer available for MMC 2021.


Monday - May 10, 2021
8:30 A.M. - 3:45 P.M.
Concierge Desk - Have MMC related questions or looking for information? Visit the Concierge Desk and a Merit Staff Member will be available for immediate support.
Contact the Concierge Desk

Link will be made available during MMC 2021

9:10 A.M. - 9:30 A.M.
Welcome to MMC 2021 & Opening Remarks
Joe Sawasky

President and CEO, Merit Network

Pierrette Dagg

Director of Marketing and Communications, Merit Network

9:30 A.M. - 10:15 A.M.
KEYNOTE SESSION: Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions
Brian Christian

Author and Visiting Scholar, UC Berkeley

Tom Griffiths

Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science, Princeton University

Read Abstract

In a dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show how the algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. This keynote session examines how computer algorithms work, why their relevancy isn’t limited to the digital world, and how to strategically use the right algorithm at the right time. We can all find an easier balance in life by making better decisions, having better hunches and also knowing when to leave things to chance.

10:30 A.M. - 12:45 P.M.
Workshop 1: Community Networks - Pathfinding Through Local Engagement
Pierrette Dagg

Director of Marketing and Communications, Merit Network

Charlotte Bewersdorff

Vice President for Community Engagement, Merit Network

Ben Fineman

President, Michigan Broadband Alliance

Mike Paddock

CEO, Grants Office LLC

Workshop Details

Michigan Moonshot and the Current State of Broadband Expansion

Broadband Jumpstart

Michigan Broadband Jumpstart (MBJ) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals and communities get started on closing their broadband gaps. Ben will provide a brief overview of the organization and how MBJ helps people understand where to begin, how to build a team, and what pitfalls to avoid.

Michigan Moonshot Pathfinder Program

The process of early-stage broadband planning can be complex. From data collection to grant application, or RFP creation to feasibility studies, communities face endless decisions in network pathfinding. This presentation will walk through the foundational steps of local broadband expansion.

Data Collection as a Tool for Community, Municipal and Educational Engagement

Data gathering is an imperative first step in broadband planning and expansion efforts. A grassroots approach to data collection and engagement creates stronger relationships between public and private partners, anchor institutions, community organizations, broadband champions, elected officials, educational entities and residents. Working together to solve the first steps of equitable connectivity has served to further these explicit goals while reinforcing bonds between those working to solve our shared challenges. Community and educational institution-directed outreach is a mechanism for engagement that reinforces the conclusion that we’re stronger together.

The Grant Landscape, Federal and Statewide Opportunities, and the Michigan Moonshot Community Grant Fund

Oftentimes municipalities seeking to build their community networks need expert support for early planning stages to assist broadband expansion efforts and to pursue funding avenues. This presentation will provide information on current and future state and national grant opportunities. The Moonshot Community Grant Fund, a program intended to subsidize tangible projects in pursuit of community network development, will also be discussed.


1:00 P.M. - 3:15 P.M.
Workshop 2: Together, We Win - Municipal and Campus Network Security Controls Framework and the Merit Security Services Overview
Kevin Hayes

Chief Information Security Officer, Merit Network

David Dennis

Executive Director of Product Management, Merit Network

Workshop Details

Malicious network database attacks at the local government and campus-wide level are becoming ever more common, potentially harming cities and educational institutions on an unprecedented level.

Merit’s free municipal network security framework is based on the Center for Internet Security’s “Top 20 Security Controls” and is tailored toward the elements that need to be addressed as operators of community and educational networks. By following this framework, you can elevate your cybersecurity program to an extremely defensible position, able to resist even the most complex and involved attacks. The organizational importance of each topic will be discussed first, including an honest look at how an attacker would take advantage of you in that particular situation. Simple solutions are provided to address each of these concerns, and where possible, low-cost or free options and processes are included to help jump-start your security initiatives.

The workshop will conclude with an overview of the Merit security service portfolio. David Dennis will provide insight into how Merit can assist your organization in implementing some of these top security service controls.

3:30 P.M. - 4:30 P.M.
Go Remote - Member Online Trivia Game
Read Abstract

Amazing hosts lead groups through a series of preselected mini-games, such as trivia, puzzles, fact match, Pictionary and more, all paced to provide a great opportunity to relax, say hello to friendly faces and have fun!

Tuesday - May 11, 2021
8:30 A.M. - 1:00 P.M.
Concierge Desk - Have MMC related questions or looking for information? Visit the Concierge Desk and a Merit Staff Member will be available for immediate support.
Contact the Concierge Desk

Link will be made available during MMC 2021

9:00 A.M. - 9:15 A.M.
Opening Remarks
Pierrette Dagg

Director of Marketing and Communications, Merit Network

Bob Stovall

Vice President for Infrastructure Strategy and Research, Merit Network

9:15 A.M. - 1:15 P.M.
Workshop 3: How to Evaluate Potential Networking Automation Decisions and Craft the Plan
Bob Stovall

Vice President for Infrastructure Strategy and Research, Merit Network

Michael Milliken

Vice President of Technology and Operations, Merit Network

Kevin Hayes

Chief Information Security Officer, Merit Network

University of Michigan

Grover Browning

Manager, Network Automation Program, GlobalNOC

A.J. Ragusa

Manager of Network Automation and Performance, GlobalNOC

Karl Newell

Network Software Architect, Internet2

Kevin McCartney

Senior Director Business Development Edge Cloud, ADVA

Calvin Remsburg

Senior Sales Engineer, Juniper Networks

Workshop Details Automation Overview

Bob Stovall and Michael Milliken will make the case for automation in every organization. An overview of the benefits and potential approaches will be provided, along with pointers for overcoming personnel hurdles. What is automation, why you shouldn’t be afraid of it, but also instill a sense of urgency in starting automation in your org. The uphill is only going to get steeper.

Cybersecurity Advantages

Kevin Hayes provides guidance and best practices in automation foundation building through the lens of information and cyber security and will also explore the ways in which the Michigan Cyber Range has begun to embrace automation.

University of Michigan - Automation Playbooks - Guidance From Your Community

Every size and type of organization can benefit from networking automation. Often, the hardest step in implementation is the first. The University of Michigan will provide a high level overview of potential productivity efficiencies and automation planning basics, in addition to identifying publicly available resources.

GlobalNOC - Automation Playbooks - Guidance From Your Community

Moving towards automation within an already existing network can seem complex and overwhelming. GlobalNOC, a world-class research and educational network supporter, will discuss realistic automation timelines and framework implementation from a pragmatic perspective.

Internet2 & CISCO* - Automation Playbooks - Guidance From Your Community

Internet2 will discuss the ways in which their organization has leveraged Cisco’s networking automation tools and their greater long term network vision.

ADVA - Using Solution-based Automation to Simplify the Deployment of Edge Network and IT Cloud Services

Kevin McCartney discusses how the industry is enabling new models for service delivery based on open hardware and software that automates the entire process from factory to branch activation. ADVA highlights how enterprises are able to take advantage of services like SD-WAN, firewall, and more traditional IT applications on a common, shared platform in the branch, and how it can be delivered directly from the factory and automatically activated-with no manual involvement.

Juniper Networks - Automation Playbooks - Guidance From Your Community

Network Automation Success. How customers are winning with automation today.

1:15 P.M. - 1:30 P.M.
Closing Remarks
Pierrette Dagg

Director of Marketing and Communications, Merit Network



MAY 10TH, 9:30 – 10:15 A.M. EST

For more information on Algorithms To Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions, visit

Brian Christian


Brian Christian is the author of The Most Human Human, a Wall Street Journal bestseller, New York Times editors’ choice, and New Yorker favorite book of the year. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and The Paris Review, as well as scientific journals such as Cognitive Science, and has been translated into eleven languages. He lives in San Francisco.


Brian Christian is the author of The Most Human Human, which was named a Wall Street Journal bestseller, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and a New Yorker favorite book of the year. He is the author, with Tom Griffiths, of Algorithms to Live By, a #1 Audible bestseller, Amazon best science book of the year and MIT Technology Review best book of the year.

His third book, The Alignment Problem, has just been published.

Christian’s writing has been translated into nineteen languages, and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Paris Review, and in scientific journals such as Cognitive Science. Christian has been featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Radiolab, and The Charlie Rose Show, and has lectured at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, the Santa Fe Institute, and the London School of Economics. His work has won several awards, including fellowships at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, publication in Best American Science & Nature Writing, and an award from the Academy of American Poets.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Christian holds degrees in philosophy, computer science, and poetry from Brown University and the University of Washington. A Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, he lives in San Francisco.

For speaking inquiries, please contact Wesley Neff at the Leigh Bureau: [email protected].

[email protected]

Tom Griffiths


Tom Griffiths is a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Princeton University, where he directs the Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences. He has published more than 150 scientific papers on topics ranging from cognitive psychology to cultural evolution and has received awards from the National Science Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, the American Psychological Association, and the Psychonomic Society, among others. He lives in Berkeley, California.


Tom Griffiths’s research explores connections between natural and artificial intelligence to discover how people solve the challenging computational problems they encounter in everyday life. Currently the Henry R. Luce Professor of Information Technology, Consciousness, and Culture at Princeton University, he completed his PhD in Psychology at Stanford University, and taught at Brown University and the University of California, Berkeley before moving to Princeton.

In addition to Algorithms to Live By Tom has co-authored over 300 scientific publications, and this work has received awards from organizations ranging from the American Psychological Association to the National Academy of Sciences.

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