Governor’s Broadband Development Council
The Governor’s Broadband Development Council (GBDC) was established in 2019 by the 86th Legislative Session in order to study and identify ways to provide internet access to underserved areas of Texas. Duties of the council include: research the progress of broadband development in unserved areas; identify barriers to residential and commercial broadband deployment in unserved areas; study technology-neutral solutions to overcome barriers identified under Subdivision; and analyze how statewide access to broadband would benefit: (A) economic development; (B) the delivery of educational opportunities in higher education and public education; (C) state and local law enforcement; (D) state emergency preparedness; and (E) the delivery of health care services, including telemedicine and telehealth.
- GBDC Board Meeting Agenda Draft (February 2023)
- GBDC Board Meeting Minutes (August 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Agenda Draft (September 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Agenda (August 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Minutes (July 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Agenda (July 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Minutes Draft (June 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Agenda (June 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Minutes (April 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Agenda (April 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Minutes (March 2022) 3
- GBDC Board Meeting Materials (March 2022)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet Minutes (September 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Agenda (September 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet Minutes (August 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (August 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (July 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (June 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (May 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (April 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (March 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (January 2021)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (October 2020)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (Sept 2020)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (August 2020)
- GBDC Board Meeting Packet (July 2020)
- Broadband in Texas Briefing Book (April 2020)
Juli Blanda of Aransas Pass is general manager for Sparklight, where she is responsible for the overall management of the cable and internet system operations, maintenance, associate satisfaction, and community relations. She is the vice president of the Greater Texas Chapter of Women in Cable and Telecommunications and chairman of the Texas Cable Association. She volunteers as president-elect of the Aransas Pass Rotary Club and as vice president of Keep Aransas Pass Beautiful, and previously volunteered for the San Antonio Food Bank.
Mike Easley of Austin is vice president of Hospital Operations for Preferred Management Corp, where he manages the daily operations of seven critical access hospitals, nine associated rural health clinics, one EMS service, and one telepharmacy. He is a member of the National Rural Health Association, he is former president and a current board member of the Texas Rural Health Association, and he is a board member of the Texas Hospital Insurance Exchange. Easley received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Biology and a Master in Public Administration from Texas State University.
Jennifer Harris of Austin serves as the State Program Director for Connected Nation Texas, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. She provides oversight of the collection and analysis of broadband data and the development of broadband advancement strategies addressing access, adoption, and use among residents, businesses, and institutions. Previously, she held a variety of positions in the public sector, including roles with multiple members of the Texas Legislature. Governor Abbott first appointed her to the Governor’s Broadband Development Council in January 2020, and she was appointed as vice-chair of the council in 2022. Harris received a Bachelor of Business Administration from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Public Service and Administration from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.
Marshall Harrison of Sunray is Superintendent of Sunray Independent School District, overseeing the operations of a school district that serves 570 students in the northern Texas panhandle. He is a member of the Amarillo College Moore County Campus Advisory Board and president of the Sunray Lions Club. He is active in Sunray Baptist Church, where he served as interim pastor for eight months. In 2017, the Dallas Morning News recognized Harrison as the “Watch Dog Superintendent of the Year”. Harrison received degrees in agricultural education from Howard College and Tarleton State University, and a superintendent certification from Texas Tech University.
Bill Hetherington of Boerne is Chief Executive Officer of the Bandera Electric Cooperative, and brings more than 30 years of experience in technology development and the retail electric industry. At the Cooperative, Hetherington spearheaded the BEC Fiber business, which is an innovative product line offering high-speed internet to select Cooperative customers. He is Chairman of the Board of the Boerne & Kendall County Economic Development Corporation, a member of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and a former board member of the Texas Electric Cooperative Association. Additionally Hetherington serves on the Board of the BEC Foundation and supports many community based non-profit organizations. Hetherington received Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, a graduate degree in administration from Central Michigan University, and a certificate in executive leadership from Wharton Business School.
Schelana Hock of Moscow is the County Clerk of Polk County where she serves as the official record keeper of the county. Hock previously served as the Telecommunications Operator for the Corrigan Police Department and as the Deputy Clerk, Data Entry Clerk, and Chief Deputy of Polk County. She volunteers as a food server with the Multi-Cultural Festival and as a telephone operator with the Polk County Emergency Management Disaster telecommunications division. Hock is pursuing a degree in Integrated Studies from Sam Houston State University.
Akbar Kara of Plano is President and Chief Executive Officer of LEARN: Lonestar Education and Research Network, a non-profit created by the Texas Legislature to assist research & education institutions and health science centers with high performance networking. Previously, Kara worked in senior network and information technology roles for the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Columbia University, and New York Hospital. Kara has served in leadership roles at the IEEE Supercomputing Conference and as the committee chair at Internet2.edu. Kara also volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America and he is currently serving in the executive committee of TheQuilt.net, a non-profit consortium. Kara received a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the City College of New York and a certificate in Executive Management from Columbia University.
Steven Johnson, Ph.D. of Austin is the President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT). ICUT serves as the voice of the 40 independent, private universities and colleges in Texas and the nearly 130,000 they serve across the state. He previously served as the Chancellor of the nonprofit university WGU Texas. He served as a senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, as director of Financial Aid for Concordia University Texas, and as chief of staff to a now-former member of the Texas House of Representatives. Dr. Johnson received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Concordia University Texas, a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Nebraska.
Thomas J. Kim, M.D. of Austin is a self-employed physician, telehealth clinician, and consultant who provides care to incarcerated juveniles, the elderly, military personnel, victims of disasters, and others. He is a Lay Chaplain for the Episcopal Church of Good Shepherd, he serves multiple leadership roles for the Boy Scouts of America, and he is a performance coach for the archery teams of Highland Park Elementary School and Lamar Middle School in Austin. He also serves on several committees and leadership roles with the Texas Medical Association. Kim received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Georgetown University, and a Masters of Public Health and a Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University.
Lindsey Lee of Edna is a realtor, owner and operator for L2 Cattle, LLC, and manager of Lee Ranch. She is a director of the Edna Lions Club, a volunteer with Helping Hands of Jackson County, vice chairman of Jackson County Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, and former president and vice president of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. She is also a former member of the Texas Farm Bureau Natural Resources Committee. Lee has earned multiple awards and recognitions as a leader in farming, ranching, and agriculture. Lee currently serves as a gubernatorial appointee to the Texas State Board of Professional Geoscientists. Lee received a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.
Marty Lucke of Floydada is County Judge for Floyd County, which entails administration and finance leadership for the county, as well as judicial duties for certain misdemeanors, small claims cases, civil cases, probate cases, and more. He is President of the South Plains Rural Transit Board and Chairman of the South Plains Rural Planning Organization. He is also a member of the Floyd County Veterans Memorial Board and a senior steward for the Floydada Masonic Lodge #712. Governor Abbott first appointed him to the Governor’s Broadband Development Council in January 2020, and he was appointed chair of the council in 2022. Lucke received a Bachelor of Science in Geology from Abilene Christian University.
Frank Moreno of Crystal City is Mayor of his community of more than 7,000 residents, where he has worked to restore financial accountability, save his city from bankruptcy, and build residents’ trust following a major corruption scandal from the administration that preceded his. He served for 30 years in the United States Army before receiving an honorable discharge and retiring as a Sergeant Major. He is former president of the Crystal City Lions Club and the Crystal City Festival Association and a member of American Legion.
Saurin Patel, M.D. of Austin is Chief Medical Officer for Access Physicians, where he leads clinical program design, physician management, technology and innovation, auditing, and more. He provides oversight for the company’s telemedicine services, and is a telemedicine care provider, as well, regularly seeing and consulting with patients via telemedicine. Prior to his career in medicine, he worked in the hedge fund industry. He is a member of the Society of Hospital Medicine, the American College of Physicians, and the Travis County Medical Society. Patel received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin and a Doctor of Medicine from UT Southwestern Medical School.
Kirk Petty of Vernon is the CEO and general manager for Santa Rosa Telephone Cooperative, which offers telephone, broadband, and internet protocol television service to customers in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma. He has 40 years of experience in working in various roles for telecommunications companies across Texas. He is a board member of the Texas Lone Star Network, and previously served on the Boards of the Texas Telephone Association (TTA), the Texas Statewide Telephone Cooperative (TSTCI), and the Salvation Army.
Greg Pittman of Sherman is the CEO and executive director of Meals on Wheels Texoma, where he leads administration, operations, and planning for the non-profit that serves more than 30,000 meals each month to elderly Texans in Cooke, Fannin, and Grayson Counties. He is a member of the Sherman Rotary Club, a board member of the Meals on Wheels Association of Texas, and a member of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Service Providers. He also volunteers as a tutor for students in the Sherman Independent School District, and with Habitat for Humanity, and other charitable organizations. Pittman received a degree in fine arts from the University of North Texas.
Ray Scifres of Levelland is the Sheriff of Hockley County. Additionally, he serves as an Adjunct Instructor of Law Enforcement at South Plains College. He is currently a director of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, Committee Vice-Chair of the South Plains College Criminal Justice Advisory Committee, and a member and former board member of the Texas Jail Association. Scifres received a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences and Master of Science from Lamar University and is pursuing a Doctor of Management from Wayland Baptist University.
Kenny Scudder of Odessa retired as the vice president of a Permian Basin oilfield equipment manufacturing company, and currently works as a sales representative for Catamount Oilfield Services. He volunteers for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Texas Chapter. He is also a volunteer for the Means Memorial United Methodist Church, where he teaches Sunday school. Scudder received a Bachelor of Business Administration from San Angelo State University.
Edward Smith of Abilene is executive director of the Abilene Library Consortium, where he directs the 501(c)3 organization that supports libraries across the region. He is a member of the Texas Library Association and has previously served on the Association's Executive Board. He is a former board member of the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, and he currently serves as an Elder at Beltway Park Church in Abilene. Smith received a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from Hardin-Simmons University and a Master of Science in Library Science from the University of North Texas.
Hatch Smith, Jr. of Llano is Chief Executive Officer and Administrator of MidCoast Medical Center-Central in Llano, a rural hospital that he and other local business leaders helped save from going out of business. Smith is also a leader in ranching and agribusiness. Previously, he held finance and investment positions with JPMorganChase and Commerce Street Capital. Smith is a board member of the American Tarentaise Association, and he volunteers in civic events and in efforts to promote research into Alzheimer’s disease. Smith received a Bachelor of Arts in Science from Cornell University and a Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.
William “Bill” Sproull of Richardson is immediate Past Chair of the Governor’s Broadband Development Council. Sproull has had a nationally recognized 40 year career in economic development, technology, innovation and public policy. He most recently served for 17 years as President and CEO of the Richardson Texas Chamber of Commerce, Tech Titans, and the Richardson Economic Development Partnership. Under his leadership the Council recommended and the Legislature enacted House Bill 5, the state’s first comprehensive broadband legislation. Sproull was elected in 2014 as Chairman of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the world’s largest association for professional economic developers. He previously served on the boards of the Texas Association of Business, the Technology Councils of North America, the Texas Research Alliance, and the Dallas Regional Chamber. Sproull is a graduate of Baylor University, where he earned a BA degree with double major in Economics and Political Science.
Matthew Yeager of Dallas County is the Assistant Superintendent of Technology for Garland ISD. He is a member of the Internet for All Coalition and the North Texas Innovation Alliance and a former member of the Governor’s Operation Connectivity. Yeager received a Bachelor of Science in Business Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Business Administration from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce.