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Connected Nation names Vice President of Digital Inclusion to lead national push for digital equity

Surge in demand for high-speed internet access leaves families, kids, senior citizens, veterans on wrong side of Digital Divide

Bowling Green, Ky. (January 5, 2021) – Connected Nation (CN), a national nonprofit working to close the Digital Divide, is taking action to more effectively respond to the increased need for digital equity across the country by naming Heather Gate as Vice President of Digital Inclusion. 

“For more than a decade, Heather has faithfully led our organization’s effort to help get technology into the hands and homes of some of the most vulnerable individuals and families within the Digital Divide,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO, CN. “Heather was the driving force in 2006 behind Connected Nation’s device donation program ‘No Child Left Offline.’ It was one of the first of its kind in the world and was recognized nationally for its social impact. Since that time, she has filled leadership roles within the Bill & Melinda Gates ‘Opportunity Online’ program, the ‘Computers for Kids’ program, and the ‘Every Citizen Online’ program, among others. Heather also designed and launched Connected Nation’s ‘Drive’ platform, which provides digital learning services that help thousands of people yearly.”

Gate plays a pivotal role in the national dialogue and policy considerations around digital inclusion and equity for diverse populations. She currently serves as Vice Chairwoman of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE). She served as Chair of the Digital Empowerment and Inclusion Working Group in a previous iteration of the committee. 

“I am excited that Connected Nation is making it possible for me to expand my work toward digital empowerment and digital equity. Our mission to find innovative solutions for expanding access, adoption, and use of broadband and its related technologies is more critical now than ever before,” said Gate. “It was clear to me even before the pandemic that too many families, senior citizens, veterans, and children are on the wrong side of the Digital Divide. What’s happened in 2020 is that there is a new understanding of the negative ramifications of not having that access. We must and can do better to help vulnerable populations access an increasingly digital world so that they too can leverage the resources and information found almost exclusively online that can improve their lives.”

Connected Nation works to develop and provide tools, resources, and methods that help states and communities create and implement solutions to their broadband and digital technology gaps.

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More About Heather Gate
During her time with CN, Gate has guided the successful implementation of digital inclusion programs that saw more than 80,000 people receive basics skills training, along with the distribution of 10,000 computers to vulnerable populations from rural to urban low- to-moderate-income (LMI) communities; led the design and implementation of the No Child Left Offline program in Kentucky and the Computer 4 Kids program in Tennessee; and supported the implementation of various Lifeline Broadband Adoption Pilots that ranged from securing refurbished devices in Puerto Rico to coordinating digital literacy workshops for the Hopi Tribe in northeast Arizona.

Gate has led the development and implementation of various digital inclusion programs that culminated in the design and development of CN’s online learning platform, Drive™. This platform, launched in 2014, supports new technology learners and trainers and currently hosts more than 12,000 unique learners actively engaged in either basic skills training or job skills training.

Gate’s work also included the planning and implementation of the New York, Nebraska, and Delaware Opportunity Online programs, an effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and focused on helping libraries improve connectivity and develop sustainable plans and partnerships for providing access to broadband and related technologies in their communities; and working with Connected Nation’s program partners to ensure that broadband technologies and digital skills training resources are accessible to vulnerable populations across the country. This includes working with low-cost broadband programs, supporting state broadband initiatives, and developing and implementing custom programs that have impacted thousands across the United States.

Gate holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Kentucky State University, where she earned the President’s Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a graduating student. She also has master’s degrees in computer science and public administration from Kentucky State University.

Jessica Denson, Communications Director
(502) 341-2024


About Connected Nation: Our mission is to improve lives by providing innovative solutions that expand access to and increase the adoption and use of broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies for all people. Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation. 

Connected Nation works with consumers, local community leaders, states, technology providers, and foundations to develop and implement technology expansion programs with core competencies centered on a mission to improve digital inclusion for people and places previously underserved or overlooked. For more information, please visit: and follow Connected Nation on Facebook and Twitter.