Connected Texas Appoints Executive Director and Program Coordinator to Focus on Broadband Access, Adoption, and Use

Austin, TX – Connected Texas announces the appointment of Don Shirley as executive director and LaTanya Tatum as program coordinator. The new Austin-based staff are critical to the nonprofit’s mission of creating jobs and new economic opportunities across the state.

“Connected Texas is all about bringing broadband access, adoption, and use to every corner of the state,” said Shirley. “High-speed Internet gives Texans a direct line to quality jobs, information, and vital services like telemedicine and higher education. It’s critical that broadband is available to all Texans, not only to improve quality of life, but to also keep our state competitive in the new digital world economy. That is our Connected Texas mission.”

In their roles, Shirley and Tatum will lead the initiative’s continuing statewide effort. Connected Texas has been leading the way since 2009 to bring the economic and quality of life benefits of broadband to all Texas residents.

“We know that expanding broadband has a significant economic impact on a state’s residents, and we know Don’s and LaTonya’s experience, background, and passion for the state of Texas and this mission will be a tremendous asset for the Connected Texas program,” said Brian Mefford, CEO of national nonprofit Connected Nation, Connected Texas’ parent organization.

Under the guidance of the Texas Department of Agriculture, Shirley will oversee the management and administrative aspects of the initiative, as well as support the design and implementation of a statewide broadband deployment strategy. The plan will include partners from both the public and private sectors, all working together on local and regional technology planning, technical assistance, and ultimately, increased broadband adoption and digital literacy in all corners of the state. Connected Texas will also continue taking the state’s broadband inventory on a semi-annual basis and mapping the results.

As program coordinator, Tatum will report to Shirley and work closely with the Texas Broadband Task Force to manage the activities of the Texas regional planning teams. These teams will implement a statewide strategy that includes benchmarking of technology use across relevant community sectors; setting goals for improved technology use within each sector; the development of a strategic plan for achieving its goals; and ultimately increased broadband adoption and digital literacy.

Shirley was previously a field operations manager and executive director of the Connect Ohio program. Prior to joining Connect Ohio, Shirley served as director of strategic alliances for Spinvox, a London-based technology solution provider; served as director of product marketing and next generation services for Powernet Global Communications; and was senior product manager, business marketing, for Cincinnati Bell. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in business administration from The Citadel in Charleston, SC.

Prior to joining Connected Texas, Tatum worked for the state of Texas at the Texas Education Agency as a program specialist. She holds a master of science degree in organizational leadership & ethics from St. Edwards University in Austin, and a master of science degree in criminal justice from Texas State University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Jackson State University in Jackson, MS.

Shirley can be contacted at (512) 660-2006 or [email protected]; Tatum can be contacted at (512) 461-4159 or [email protected]


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