Samantha Musgrave is stepping in as interim director of Baltimore-based nonprofit internet provider Project Waves.
For the next four months, founder Adam Bouhmad is taking a leave of absence for a role on the national stage. He will be advising on digital equity and innovation efforts related to the America Rescue Plan, which is the latest COVID-19 aid package to pass from the federal government.
With the shift, Musgrave transitioned from her role as head of operations to interim director on Friday. She said the focus of the next four months will be on continuing progress.
“Because it’s temporary and Adam will be back, it’s really focused on the work that [Project Waves] has been doing consistently and at the highest quality,” Musgrave told Technical.ly. “I want Adam to come back to an organization that is thriving, growing and where the customers that are using are service are happy.”
It comes as the organization also named Devin Weaver as head of engineering. Weaver is a network engineer who has been passionate about how internet infrastructure can shape opportunity in Baltimore. Musgrave now leads a team of five full-time technicans.
“Anytime you step into a position like this you’re taking on an incredible amount of personal responsibility to succeed,” said Musgrave. “That’s the most surprising thing. People talk about, ‘You got promoted and you must be so excited for this opportunity.’ That excitement is really paired with a lot of pressure to do right by my team, the organization and Baltimore.”
Project Waves connects households to the internet through its network and sector antennas that send a signal from tall buildings. The org has grown exponentially during the pandemic, as the shift to remote work and distance learning made digital access more urgent in a city where 40% of households lack wireline broadband service.
Project Waves went from providing internet to two households before the pandemic, to having 600 households slated to be connected in 2021. It has been supported by public, philanthropic and community funders.
“The awareness that everyday people, and that includes everyday funders, have really been able to dedicate and focus on with regard to… human capacity needs and funding needs — that really helped us to be able to grow the work really quickly,” Musgrave said.
In the city, the installation work is carrying on. By the end of the week, Musgrave expects a multi-dwelling unit to be connected to Project Waves’ network and provide free internet to the 170+ residents in the building. That’s not to mention an antenna on the building to broadcast service into the surrounding community. Project Waves didn’t disclose the name of the building.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-