Eychaner named acting director of Washington State Broadband Office
Departing director Russ Elliott stewarded state office from start up to one of the nation’s leading efforts toward digital equity for rural communities
OLYMPIA, WA — Washington Commerce Director Lisa Brown today announced that Dawn Eychaner will serve as acting director of the Washington State Broadband Office effective Sept. 30, when current director Russ Elliott leaves the position to serve as Chief Executive Officer of a California telecommunications carrier. Eychaner has served as deputy director of the office since June this year.
Since it was established in 2019 with a minimal budget and two full time staff including Elliott, the Washington State Broadband Office has built successful public-private partnerships across the state to meet the state’s aggressive broadband goals and break down digital equity barriers. . Achievements of the growing office to date include a federally-recognized effort that created hundreds of emergency free drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the state and implementation of a detailed strategy and mapping tools for achieving the goal of universal broadband connectivity by 2025. The work garnered over $300 million in funding from the Washington Legislature for the 2021-23 biennium.
Eychaner has a background in local infrastructure financing with the Washington State Public Works and Community Economic Revitalization (CERB) Boards, as well as significant policy experience in the legislature on issues and programs related to early learning, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), food assistance and affordable housing.
“Dawn has a terrific blend of experience to provide continuity of leadership for the broadband office’s digital equity focus,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. She said a national recruitment will be underway soon, with the permanent appointment made jointly with Gov. Jay Inslee later this fall.
“I am proud of our work with the Legislature and Governor Inslee to take the broadband office from a startup to a collaborative organization responsible for $326 million in funding, putting us well on the way to meeting our goal of providing affordable broadband access to all residents,” Elliott said. He also noted several successful federal funding applications that are under consideration for broadband infrastructure to communities including Jefferson County, Stevens County, Okanogan County, Kittitas County, Ferry County and a number of projects on Tribal lands across the state.
New community and Tribal “Broadband Action Teams” throughout the state will boost this and other broadband office work in coming months. Elliott recognized support across this state to meet the state’s aggressive broadband goals from both public and private entities, calling it “humbling” and the reason why Washington state continues to be among the top states in the country in building out broadband infrastructure.
Learn more about the Washington State Broadband Office at www.broadband.wa.gov.
Need help paying for service? The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) may be able to help. The EBB will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. In addition, eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price. Learn more (PDF).