South Dakota: Broadband Program Manager
Mike Waldner has worked in the information technology industry his entire career with most of his career focused on state-wide broadband initiatives.
He was and continues to be influential in many state-wide technology projects, including the first Internet connection and website for state government. He helped connect all K-12 schools, then built and directed the State K-12 Data Center providing technology services (including a centralized email system, web hosting, video streaming, etc.) for all K-12 schools in South Dakota. Then working as the capacity manager on the State Broadband Initiative team, they developed some of the first mapping of broadband in South Dakota along with digital equity efforts in the form of granting equipment for many locations to provide internet capabilities. He then directed the FirstNet efforts in South Dakota to ensure our state made the most of the national public safety mobile broadband network for all first responders. This included working with mobile apps in an effort to allow all responders to communicate on one platform to keep interoperable mobile communications for all first responders. Now, Waldner heads up the efforts to connect every location in South Dakota to future-proof high-speed reliable internet through the state’s ConnectSD program. Since the program began in 2019, to date, they have awarded 103 grants and connected over 31,000 locations.
He serves as an adjunct professor at Dakota State University teaching computer forensics, business, and IT related courses. He also is a past elected official as the Public Safety Commissioner for the City of Madison, made an appearance in a Forensics Files TV show, volunteers, teaches Sunday school, swims, bikes, runs, and strives to enjoy life. Waldner holds a Master of Science in Information Systems along with bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Information Systems.