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Our Team

Eric Frederick

Executive Director

Eric Frederick is the Executive Director for Connect Michigan.

Eric joined the CN team in July 2011 as the State Program Manager for Connect Michigan.  He has built and led a nationally recognized team that has produced the nation’s first Certified Connected Community.  Eric has developed relationships with statewide, national, and international groups that are partnering with CN to solve problems of connectivity, and to bolster the value of internet connections.  The success of the Connect Michigan program has created communication opportunities to share Connect Michigan’s success across the CN family, across Michigan, and into neighboring states.

Prior to joining Connect Michigan, Eric worked for LSL Planning, Inc. as a Project Planner. In this role, Eric was responsible for comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance development, transportation planning, the development of specialized Cost of Community Services Studies, economic development and grants related projects, all for various cities throughout the state of Michigan and the mid-west. He holds a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Science degree with a Major in Planning and a Minor in Geographic Information Systems from Northern Michigan University.

Dan Manning

Community Technology Advisor

Dan Manning serves as Community Technology Advisor for Connect Michigan. 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 Michigan through the media and local organizations.

Prior to joining Connect Michigan, Dan worked at Blue Kairos, LLC where he founded and launched a new digital marketing firm that provided internet marketing, social media and consulting services for small and medium businesses. He sourced and developed new client relationships, prepared and sold services proposals and developed / maintained currency on latest technologies and strategies in the online marketing area. Dan holds a Bachelor of Science, Mathematics from Western Michigan University.

Tom Stephenson

Community Technology Advisor

Tom Stephenson serves as Community Technology Advisor for Connect Michigan. 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 Michigan through the media and local organizations.

Before joining Connect Michigan, Tom worked as a Project Manager / Data Manager / Designer at Martinrea, Inc. in Reed City, MI. In this role, Tom managed all incoming and outgoing electronic data, trained CAD designers and toolmakers, traveled offsite for customer visits and managed outsourcing projects. Tom holds both a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University.

Heather Gate

Manager
Digital Inclusion Program Development

Heather Gate is responsible for managing the development and implementation of Connected Nation’s digital inclusion programs. This position 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 earned a second Master’s degree in Computer Science from Kentucky State University (KSU). She previously received a Masters in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from KSU. As a graduate assistant at KSU, Heather helped in the implementation of several projects at the university including the implementation of the video-based e-learning system designed to help personnel development.

Wil Payton

Communications Specialist

Wil Payton serves as a Communications Specialist where he is responsible for assisting with projecting a positive image of Connected Nation to stakeholders and the general public through various media activities including web and other multimedia assets. Wil coordinates with media at a national level to gain maximum exposure for Connected Nation’s activities and support partner communications and assist in strategic downstate media outreach.  

Wil joins Connected Nation with extensive experience in public affairs, publication design and layout, web development and marketing and digital imaging most recently serving as Communications Consultant with BookMark Creative Services. In addition, he served as Graphic Designer for National Active & Retired Federal Employees Association, Art Director for Marine Corps Gazette and Communication/Public Affairs Specialist in the U.S. Air Force. 

Wil holds a B.S. in Communications from Illinois State University.