SA Digital Connects, a San Antonio nonprofit dedicated to closing the digital divide, announced Rhia Pape as their new executive director Oct. 18.

The background

Pape previously spent nine years with the city of San Antonio, most recently serving as digital inclusion administrator in the city’s office of innovation.

She possesses a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and master’s degrees in organizational leadership and information technology.

Pape replaces Marina Aldrete Gavito, who was elected to the San Antonio District 7 City Council seat earlier this year.

Digging deeper

According to a news release, under Pape’s guidance, SA Digital Connects is poised to expand its impact and reach through collaborations with public, private and community entities. Representatives said SA Digital Connects will work toward securing necessary funding to ensure the expansion of affordable, reliable internet service levels across the San Antonio area.

In related news, Bexar County Commissioners Court on Oct. 24 approved $5.4 million in federal. funding to continue the expansion of digital access across the county.

Commissioners’ action to use American Rescue Plan Act funds for digital connectivity by Spectrum brings the total amount that will be spent on the program over the next three years to more than $31 million. Spectrum will be responsible for $26 million.

County officials said most of the funding will go toward bridging the digital divide across 10 census tracks in south and east Bexar County, affecting 8,761 households. Access will be available starting in the second quarter of 2024 and completed by 2025, county officials said.

What they’re saying

SA Digital Connects board Chair Luisa Casso said Pape is an accomplished and respected leader with a proven track record of success in cross-sector collaboration and implementation of digital inclusion efforts.

“The board and I are confident that Rhia will lead our organization to new heights, bridging the digital divide, facilitating economic mobility for all, and maintaining momentum toward achieving our mission,” Casso said in a statement.

Pape said having access to affordable, reliable internet service benefits community members in different ways.

“Access to the internet is foundational to participating in our digital world, and feeling safe, secure and confident online is a fundamental necessity for individuals and communities to thrive,” she said in a statement.