Good Mentors, Love of Learning Help Dannenberg Grow into Knowledgeable Tech Leader
August 30, 2021
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August 30, 2021
After nearly 20 years in the broadband industry, Todd Dannenberg has grown from a technician fresh out of college to a high-performing leader and manager. Todd has been an integral part of the leadership team as SKT works to fulfill its pledge of creating the most reliable network and providing quality, hometown customer service.
In his current role as SKT’s Service & Plant Manager, Todd manages a team of technicians along with specialists in construction and facilities and fleet maintenance. He oversees the outside plant operations – maintaining all the fiber, cables, and other equipment that provide internet service. That’s no small feat considering SKT’s service area spans across seven counties in over 20 communities, with a network of more than 2,250 miles of fiber optic, copper, and coaxial cable to maintain. That’s enough to stretch from Kansas to California and back.
“Todd is dedicated to putting the customer first. That shows, not only in his day-to-day work, but also in the countless times he’s completed overnight maintenance – ensuring that systems are functioning properly while minimizing the disruption for the customer,” SKT Director of Operations Donna Van Allen said.
Todd is also responsible for working with Network Manager Jason Gibbs to plan and implement all new expansion projects. In 2018, he oversaw a major project to upgrade Clearwater from cable modem internet to fiber to the home. That project would give more than 1,400 homes and businesses access to up to 1 Gbps, or 1,000 Mbps, internet service – 40 times faster than the top speed offered with cable modem at the time.
In the last year and a half, the pandemic has highlighted the need for broadband and led to unprecedented federal and state funding to help bridge the digital divide for unserved Americans, particularly those in remote rural areas. Todd has been a core member of the team that applies for federal and state grants to bring broadband service to unserved rural Kansans. Together with the Network Manager, he identifies areas of greatest need for broadband, and also puts together the construction and engineering plans and budget for the projects. Due in part to Todd’s leadership, SKT has made great strides in improving the network, and about 80% of SKT’s service area will have access to up to 1 Gbps by the end of 2022.
“Todd is a team player, which is important in his daily work with the customer service, marketing, finance, and operations teams,” Donna said. “I also appreciate that we can count on his high level of technical knowledge and positive attitude. In his 14 years at SKT, he has really grown into a great leader and manager.”
With a real love for learning, Todd is dedicated to being on top of his game. He got into telecommunications after seeing a high school classmate complete a 20-month tech school program in Goodland, Kan., and later land a great-paying job. Todd’s resume boasts an extensive list of degrees and certificates. He holds certifications in broadband technology and OSHA safety standards along with Master Technician, Master Technician Customer Premises, Master Technician HFC Networks, and Senior Master Technician. Before beginning his career, he earned a diploma at Northwest Kansas Technical College and an associate of Applied Science at Colby Community College, both in Communications Technology. At the age of 31, with two kids and a third before he was done, he completed a bachelor’s in Technology Leadership from Fort Hays State University. Juggling family life with work and completing a degree would prove to be quite a learning experience in itself.
For Todd, his education has extended outside the classroom – to learning daily in the field and from mentors within the industry. He has had several technical managers who have helped him grow in his technical capacity over the years, he said, along with several executive-level managers who’ve helped him build his leadership skills over the last 10 years. One of the greatest lessons has been in developing listening skills, he said.
“Listen more than you speak. And listen to understand, not only to respond,” he said. “These principles have been a challenge for me, but I think I’m getting better with age, and a little encouragement from my wife.”
Todd was born and raised in the north-central part of the state – Osborne, Kan. The county seat, it’s a small farming community along the South Fork of the Solomon River. Todd’s parents, who still live there, just celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. Todd is the youngest of their three sons. His oldest brother, Justin, lives in Kearney, Neb., and the next-oldest brother, Jeff, lives in Shawnee, Kan. Todd grew up wrestling and playing baseball and football. When he wasn’t engaged in sports, he worked on his grandparents’ hog farm or at the wholesale lumber yard for his dad, loading trailers, etc. He also spent a lot of time helping his dad on ‘side jobs’ doing roofing, painting, or other remodel jobs. Those odd jobs would later lead him to start a side business remodeling residential properties.
Todd and his wife, Ashley, will have been married for 14 years this October; as high school sweethearts, they’ve been together for over 20. They have a 12-year-old daughter, Addison, a 10-year-old son, Chase, and a 2-year-old son, Briggs. The Dannenberg family have been in Clearwater since Todd started as a service technician at SKT in 2007. They feel like locals now – and their children don’t know any other place as home.
Between his role at SKT, the remodeling business, and chasing his kids to all their sports and other activities, Todd stays busy. Yet he still finds the time to give back to his community. Over the years, Todd has helped coach many different youth baseball and softball teams, and he’s currently coaching and serving as the President of the Clearwater Youth Wrestling Club. He was a board member of the Clearwater Recreation Commission from 2010 to 2017, serving as the chairman from 2013 to 2017. In addition, he served on the USD #264 Board of Education from 2013 to 2017. His family is also active with the River Valley Community Church in Clearwater.
Todd’s community involvement reflects one of SKT’s core values of giving back to the communities we serve. As SKT works to fulfill its pledge to its communities, including creating the most reliable network, Todd will continue to be an important part of the leadership team that pushes those initiatives forward, improving the quality of life and economic development for rural Kansas families and businesses.