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Connected Nation’s EVP of Digital Inclusion serving second term as Chair of FCC’s Communications Equity and Diversity Council

Washington, DC (March 19, 2024) – Heather Gate, Executive President of Digital Inclusion for Connected Nation (CN), once again has been named Chair of the Communications Equity and Diversity Council (CEDC), an advisory council to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as rechartered by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

“Heather has always been a strong voice for vulnerable populations and a tireless advocate for digital equity and inclusion in America,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO, CN. “During her first term as Chair, I witnessed firsthand the long hours Heather put into the council’s work. She was always focused on building consensus and partnering with those representing a wide variety of backgrounds to provide the best advice and guidance possible to the FCC and Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel regarding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the broadband space.”

The FCC shared details late last week about the council’s leadership team and the first meeting under its new charter, which will take place on Wednesday, March 27. Vice Chairs Nicol Turner Lee, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Technology Innovation – Governance Studies for the Brookings Institution, and Susan Au Allen, National President & CEO of the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce Education Foundation, are also continuing their work with the council in the same leadership roles they held from 2021 to 2023. 

“I am extremely honored that Chairwoman Rosenworcel is, once again, entrusting me to lead this important council,” said Gate. “I am committed to collaborating with another diverse council to advance digital equity and inclusion in the United States. The FCC is required by statute to advance telecommunication policies that serve the public interest, promote vigorous competition and technological advancement, and ensure a resilient telecommunication system. Our role as the CEDC is to address issues of inequality in the marketplace and offer recommendations to the FCC on addressing these challenges to ensure all people are given equal opportunities to thrive in a digital world.”

According to the FCC’s website, the mission of the CEDC is “to make recommendations to the commission on advancing equity in the provision of and access to digital communication services and products for all people of the United States, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability.” 

Chairwoman Rosenworcel rechartered the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment (ACDDE) in 2021 under the new CEDC designation — naming Gate as its Chair, a position she officially held until mid-2023. The new leadership term covers the second half of 2023 through the end of 2025.

Gate previously served on the ACDDE in various roles from 2017 to 2021, including Chair of the Committee’s Digital Empowerment and Inclusion Working Group (2017-19) and Vice Chair of the full committee (2019-21).

Since 2006, Gate has been responsible for CN’s strategy development and implementation of programs that impact digital inclusion for all people in all places. She has extensive experience advocating for underserved and vulnerable populations. Her advocacy revolves around ensuring equitable access to digital resources and opportunities and empowering communities, particularly low-income households, and children experiencing the homework gap. Moreover, Gate has actively engaged in policy discussions and advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels, contributing to publications, developing state digital equity plans, and participating in roundtable discussions on broadband adoption, digital equity, and civil rights. Her expertise and dedication have significantly impacted the advancement of digital inclusion efforts, making technology more accessible and empowering for marginalized communities nationwide.

During her time with CN, Gate has guided the successful implementation of digital inclusion programs that empowered more than 95,000 people with basics skills training and distributed 50,000 computers to vulnerable populations from rural to urban low- to-moderate-income communities. She led the design and implementation of the No Child Left Offline program in Kentucky and the Computer 4 Kids program in Tennessee, and she 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’s work also included the planning and implementation of the New York, Nebraska, and Delaware Opportunity Online programs, efforts funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that are focused on helping libraries improve connectivity.

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About Connected Nation: The national nonprofit’s 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. Learn more at