First Texas Broadband Hero Award Goes to Woman Working to Expand Internet Access in Rural Parts of the State
Monahans, TX (November 11, 2020) – Connected Nation Texas (CN Texas) has virtually presented the Texas Broadband Hero Award to Teresa Burnett, the Executive Director of the Monahans Chamber of Commerce, for her work to expand broadband (high-speed internet) access, adoption, and use across parts of rural Texas.
“The Texas Broadband Hero Award is reserved for someone who demonstrates the passion, commitment and determination to close the Digital Divide in their community in such a way that it influences and impacts surrounding communities and region,” said Chris Pedersen, Executive Vice President, Connected Nation. “We recognize Teresa Burnett with this award for standing out in these areas and are inspired by her unwavering, broadband leadership.”
Burnett has worked tirelessly for the last several years to expand high-speed internet access to families and businesses across Monahans—tackling new challenges head on while motivating others to continue pushing forward.
“Teresa Burnett demonstrates the leadership, vision and energy needed to bring reliable high-speed internet access to the rural America,” said Carroll Faulkner, President and CEO, Digital Fields. “Her determination, tenacity, and “can do” attitude will ensure that Monahans is connected to the world, and perhaps more importantly, that the world is able to experience all that Monahans and the Permian Basin have to offer. Every community should be so fortunate to have Teresa Burnett working on their behalf. Congratulations to Teresa for the well-deserved Broadband Hero Award!”
Burnett’s work is increasingly important and, perhaps, more difficult as the city has nearly doubled its population in less than ten years from 6,900 people to more than 11,000 residents.
“When you come from an economy that wasn’t very good and then all of the sudden you’ve got this boom push on you, you find out really quick that you don’t have what you need to adequately serve the community,” said Burnett. “You find you don’t have enough electricity or sewage services and your roads are not equipped for what’s happening. So, along with enjoying the boom you have so many challenges including the need for better broadband access. We have lost critical businesses because we didn’t have the high-speed internet access, they needed so it’s extremely important for us to address this challenge head on.”
Burnett partnered with CN Texas and local stakeholders to develop a Technology Action Plan for the area in late 2017 and has since been implementing those steps—putting in long hours and pushing projects forward to create positive change for the entire area.
“Since the first time I met Teresa at the Texas Tribune Festival in 2019, she’s been one of my favorite people,” said Jennifer Harris, State Program Director, CN Texas. “You can tell, instantly, how much she cares about her community and realize that nothing will stand in her way toward getting Monahans and Ward County connected to broadband.”
Those who have worked with Burnett echoed that sentiment during a virtual ceremony honoring her with the Texas Broadband Hero Award. The event was attended by local and state leaders, coworkers, family, and friends.
“Over the years I’ve had the privilege of watching Teresa and her colleagues make steady progress toward getting Monahans connected: first with a community survey, then a technology action plan and now applying for public and private funding to support fiber installation,” said Ellen Ray, Executive Director, Still Water Foundation and Chair of Texas Rural Funders, during the ceremony. “Teresa has been the heartbeat of this broadband initiative since day one—and it hasn’t always been easy! She has shown the grit, dogged determination and great, great care of a leader that truly has her community’s best interest at heart.
CN Texas sat down with Burnett for a one-on-one interview that can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PxpcolhWbA. In it, Burnett shares her one takeaway that every community leader should hear in regard to expanding broadband access in their area. (Media outlets: feel free to use quotes from the interview for your own story.)
Jessica Denson, Communications Director
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About Connected Nation Texas: CN Texas is a local division of the national nonprofit 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: connectednation.org and follow Connected Nation on Facebook and Twitter.
About the Texas Rural Funders: Texas Rural Funders is a coalition of philanthropic organizations working to bring attention and resources to rural communities across Texas. The mission of the Texas Rural Funders (TRF) is to partner with rural Texans to achieve their vision of prosperity and wellbeing. The group’s strategies recognize and are informed by rural expertise and assets. The TRF leverages local, philanthropic, state and federal resources to collaborate on projects, support local capacity and leadership, share research, convene stakeholders and engage in advocacy. More information can be found on the TRF webpage at: https://texasruralfunders.org and follow TRF on Twitter.