GRAND RAPIDS, MINN. – Blandin Foundation has named Minnesota’s chief information officer, Thomas Baden, to its Broadband Initiative Strategy Board. This board oversees and advises the Blandin Community Broadband Program (BCBP), a $1.5 million grantmaking program.
Since 2003, the Blandin Foundation Broadband Initiative Strategy Board has recommended 246 grants to nearly 70 communities and 110 organizations in Minnesota. The initiative aims to spur a globally competitive future for rural Minnesota citizens, businesses and communities by deploying and encouraging the use of ultra-high-speed, next-generation broadband across the state.
Baden is joining 14 broadband advocates from around state on the board: Matt Grose (Independent School District 317), Nancy Hoffman (Chisago County HRA-EDA), Al Juhnke (Office of Senator Franken), Steve Kelley (University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs), Jon Linnell (North Region Health Alliance), Danna MacKenzie (Office of Broadband Development), Scott Marquardt (Southwest Initiative Foundation), Toni Merdan (Office of Representative Collin Peterson), Angie Dickison (Lake County), Carrie Rice (Enventis), Senator Matt Schmit (Minnesota State Senate, District 21), and Madonna Yawakie (Turtle Island Communications).
“I look forward to working with other members of the Blandin Foundation Strategy Board to help the State realize the tremendous potential for broadband to strengthen and transform our rural communities, create new opportunities for economic growth, and leverage the power of technology to improve government services for citizens in greater Minnesota,” said Baden.
Prior to joining the governor’s cabinet, Baden was the chief information officer for the Minnesota Department of Human Services. He also held leadership positions at the Minnesota Office of Enterprise Technology, and was enterprise architect for the Department of Employment and Economic Development and Minnesota Department of Human Services.
“We are thrilled to welcome Thomas Baden to the foundation’s Broadband Strategy Board,” said Blandin Foundation Public Policy and Engagement Director Bernadine Joselyn. “His vision and enthusiasm will be a tremendous asset to our efforts to encourage the kinds of creative partnerships necessary to help rural communities benefit fully from a broadband-fueled economy.”
“It is increasingly clear that ultra-fast, next-generation Internet networks are necessary to building and sustaining resilient, vibrant communities,” said Blandin Foundation President and CEO Dr. Kathleen Annette. “These networks don’t build themselves. Nor do the skills and culture needed to use these 21st century tools just appear automatically. Community leadership is key. Blandin Foundation is privileged to be able to support the vision and commitment of community partners who understand that broadband is the indispensable infrastructure of our time, and are doing the hard work of helping their communities thrive in the new digital age.”