I love the freedom and flexibility of working from home. But working in a remote world means that in-person meetings with co-workers can sometimes be few and far between. However, my recent trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for some of our Digital Literacy and Learning workshops gave me the opportunity to meet a fantastic group of Connected Nation (CN) staff — in real life!
The phrase Greatest of All Time (GOAT), is sometime overused, but in this case, it’s completely true. I am excited to introduce you to a few of the GOATs — at both CN and in the broadband world!
Heather Gate – Executive Vice President of Digital Inclusion
Heather kicked off the workshops at the Urban League of West Michigan by teaching computer basics. She not only brings her extensive computer knowledge (I mean, she only a master’s in computer science, no big deal), Heather also brings her enormous heart, and a sense of joy. From the moment she walks into a room, you know she cares deeply about the people and the material she is about to teach. Her contagious laughter makes it all more fun. In November 2021, Heather was appointed as Chair of the Federal Communications Commission’s Communications Equity and Diversity Council (CEDC), which shows how respected she is in her field. Heather has dedicated over 15 years to closing the Digital Divide and making sure everyone, everywhere has not only access to broadband, but the skills they need to thrive in a digital world.
Tammy Spring –Operations Manager, Digital Works
Meeting Tammy in person was a pleasure. For well over a year, I have had the opportunity to speak to her on the phone and see her in virtual meetings. She is always optimistic and full of energy. Her virtual energy cannot hold a candle to her in-person energy, though — it is simply infectious. Besides the fact that she taught an amazing class on email basics, she took on the role of emcee for the two days we were at the Urban League of West Michigan. Tammy has a way of making every single person in the room feel comfortable and excited to participate. She brought lots of laughter and made sure everyone knew that no question was dumb. Trust me, Tammy knows the material, having been a part of our Digital Works program for many years, but she also knows how to ensure participants are getting the most out of it. Much like Heather, her heart is always focused on closing the Digital Divide in every single community, and with each individual she works with.
Dan Manning – Broadband Solutions Manager
If you’re talking about broadband in the state of Michigan, you’ve likely heard the name Dan Manning. Dan has worked for Connected Nation for over 11 years, after spending 32 years with technology giant IBM. His time with CN has been spent on the ground, closing the Digital Divide in Michigan, one community at a time. While in Grand Rapids, Dan taught a workshop on internet basics. His knowledge of the material, professionalism, and smile throughout the workshop made every attendee feel comfortable and ready to learn.
Melissa Anderson – Digital Works Facilitator and Development Coordinator
Melissa was not able to attend the Grand Rapids workshops in person but taught a hybrid on computer basics from her home in Kentucky. She has spent over a year training the military community in digital skills through CN’s Digital Works program. To me, she is one of CN’s hidden gems. Because most of her time and generous heart are dedicated to helping those outside of our organization, CN staff doesn’t get a chance to see how talented she is firsthand. This made seeing her in action a special treat. Melissa is a lifelong learner, always willing to branch out and learn something new. She is always eager to jump in wherever CN needs her, which is why she ended up teaching a few courses virtually to the Urban League of West Michigan team. She has a keen ability to keep the classes interesting, relevant, on task and fun!
This is just a small sample of the individuals who are teaching Digital Literacy and Learning Workshops across the country. Most of our staff will be trained on these and other courses, like cybersecurity, mobile device basics and web conferencing.
If you are interested in bringing this essential skills training to your community, we would love to help. To learn more, visit: https://connectednation.org/digital-literacy-workshops/. We hope to meet you in person soon!
About the Author: Ashley Pino is the Connected Nation Marketing Communications Specialist. She is responsible for communications and marketing functions that broadly publicize Connected Nation (CN)’s mission, educate stakeholders on Digital Divide issues, and lead to new programs and projects that expand CN’s social impact.
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