Director Statement

Since 2008, Connect Ohio’s mission has always been to help bring internet access, adoption, and use to all Ohioans. Revealing a gap in coverage that could impact public safety, giving local residents and state officials a realistic view of the broadband landscape, and providing the programs and oversight that a study from The Ohio State University (OSU) says are desperately needed in the Buckeye State are just some of the ways in which we’ve accomplished this mission.

The OSU study entitled Connecting the Dots of Ohio’s Broadband Policy examined the Digital Divide in the state of Ohio and found that more than one million people still do not have adequate access, and, if they did, it would mean as much as a $2 billion impact, conservatively, for Ohio’s families and businesses.

The Ohio State study cited Connect Ohio as a neutral third party that can provide solutions and “coordinate various cross-sector stakeholders” while providing a “vital resource by collecting Ohio’s broadband data, analyzing it, and making it accessible to state policymakers.” It also identified our digital literacy and job training program, Digital Works, as providing another service needed in the state.

In alignment with this research, Connect Ohio’s work includes:
• Completing an in-depth mapping update of Ohio’s broadband landscape.
• Assisting Ohio lawmakers in interpreting federal policy, trends, and opportunities and helping to guide Ohio policy.
• Facilitating Connected Community Engagement Programs to assist with broadband planning.
• Convening broadband stakeholders, community anchor institutions, providers, local agencies, legislators, and businesses to analyze, plan, and implement enhanced and new broadband deployment throughout Ohio.
• Collaborating with libraries, schools, non-profits, and community action organizations to form a network of over 400 locations to deliver Every Citizen Online a free 6-hour basic computer and internet training program to over 43,000 Ohioans.
• Providing digital skills, job readiness training, placement assistance, and ongoing mentorship and creating over 870 careers for graduates of our Digital Works program.

What’s next for Ohio?


Recent articles in Money Magazine and BizWomen recently named Ohio among the top states for tech workers in America and claimed that Ohio is on its way to surpassing Silicon Valley with 3 cities in the top 20: Cincinnati (11), Columbus (12), and Cleveland (14). Those tech workers need adequate internet access and training to continue to grow the state; yet, one million Ohioans still do not have broadband access and are missing out on job opportunities in the growing tech sector.

Ohio risks remaining behind in the development of a comprehensive broadband strategy and needs to appoint an organization with the proven resources necessary to execute such strategy.

We believe that everyone belongs in a Connected Nation and hope to find renewed opportunities to continue our work with local communities, local leaders, and state lawmakers to make that a reality in the Buckeye State.

Stu Johnson
Executive Director, Connect Ohio

OUR TEAM

Stu Johnson
Executive Director, Connect Ohio
Vice President, Digital Works

Stu Johnson serves as the Executive Director for Connect Ohio and Vice President, Digital Works. Stu leads Connect Ohio's involvement in state broadband and leadership initiatives with public and private sector stakeholders. He also manages existing Connect Ohio programs, including local broadband action planning, broadband inventory mapping and technical assistance, research, and community solutions support.

Stu provides comprehensive strategy and management of the Digital Works program including implementation and development on a national level, identification and achievement of programmatic goals, and revenue management of the program.

Stu has over 25 years of executive level telecommunications experience and holds a bachelor of science in finance from The Ohio State University.

Tammy Spring
Operations Manager, Digital Works

Tammy Spring serves as Operations Manager for Digital Works. Tammy is responsible for providing day-to-day oversight of the Digital Works program along with a wide range of training, mentoring, and supervisory activities designed to teach, develop, improve, and maintain individuals’ necessary skillsets, place them in entry-level job positions, and also prepare them for jobs requiring greater skills.

Dan Manning, Community Technology Advisor

Dan Manning serves as Community Technology Advisor for Connect Ohio. Dan coordinates and manages the activities of regional planning teams across the state. Dan provides “train-the-trainer” activities to the regional planning teams on the broadband landscape to spur digital literacy activities in each region. In addition, with assistance from Connected Nation’s communications staff and the volunteers of the regional planning teams, he works to increase regional and local awareness of the planning teams, the planning process, the benefits of increased broadband adoption, and Connect Ohio through the media and local organizations. Dan holds a bachelor of science in mathematics from Western Michigan University.
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Tom Stephenson, Community Technology Advisor

Tom Stephenson serves as Community Technology Advisor for Connect Ohio. Tom coordinates and manages the activities of regional planning teams across the state. Tom provides “train-the-trainer” activities to the regional planning teams on the broadband landscape to spur digital literacy activities in each region. In addition, with assistance from Connected Nation’s communications staff and the volunteers of the regional planning teams, he works to increase regional and local awareness of the planning teams, the planning process, the benefits of increased broadband adoption, and Connect Ohio through the media and local organizations. Tom holds a bachelor of science and a master of science in administration from Central Michigan University.
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Heather Gate, Director, Digital Inclusion

Heather Gate serves as Manager of Digital Inclusion Program Development for Connected Nation. Heather is responsible for managing the development and implementation of Connected Nation’s digital inclusion programs. Heather provides high-impact project management services, including day-to-day program management and funding research. Heather also helps to maintain existing program partner relationships and assists with identification of potential new partners or innovative business opportunities which are in line with program missions. Heather holds a bachelor of science in computer science, a master’s in computer science, and a master’s in public administration from Kentucky State University.
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Career Opportunities