Liz Shaw’s efforts to bring broadband to Appalachian regions of Ohio and West Virginia were born when she tried to use the internet for something very personal: ordering a baby shower gift for her first grandchild.

That failed attempt at ecommerce set her on a journey of exploration and activism and led to the organization of Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia Connectivity Summit, which drew Ohio’s governor, federal officials and U.S. Senators.

She told participants at the National Rural Assembly in Durham, North Carolina, this week that she sees reasons for optimism.

“Now, in some communities, the needle is moving for the first time,” Shaw said.

She sums up her efforts, and her recommendation for others fighting for change in rural America, like this: “Just leave everything better than you find it.”

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