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Gary A. Bolles
Co-Founder, eParachute
Partner, Charrette LLC

Bolles is a San Francisco–based consultant and entrepreneur focused on initiatives with impact, who writes and lectures frequently on the future of work and learning. He is a member of the steering committee for the People Centered Internet Coalition, a collaboration with the U.S. State Department, the White House, and the World Bank co-founded by Vint Cerf, to help connect the next 1.5 billion people using a people-centered approach. He was a founding member of the U.S. Broadband Coalition, an initiative to recommend a broadband strategy for the United States and the former co-producer of the MuniWireless conferences, focused on promoting community broadband. His recent writings are available at

Michael Curri
Founder and President, Strategic Networks Group Inc.

Michael Curri leads a team of experienced specialists in a wide range of broadband and economic development initiatives. He brings a unique strategic focus to accelerate both the deployment of critical broadband infrastructure and its use by local businesses, organizations and industry to drive innovation, economic growth and community vitality. His approach is based on his experience that for broadband to be effective and transformational, it is critical to make sure that it is being utilized and driven by compelling and powerful e-solutions. With a vision to revitalize communities and regions to more effectively participate in today’s economy, Curri has consulted and led on projects across Canada and in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. He has a master’s in economics from the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Aaron Deacon
Founder and Managing Director, KC Digital Drive

KC Digital Drive was designed to drive innovation and collaboration in Kansas City and capitalize on next-generation infrastructure. Deacon was instrumental in helping Kansas City prepare to be the first market for Google Fiber. He helped create the Building the Gigabit City community brainstorming session; led the Give Us a Gig initiative for neighborhood education, engagement and advocacy; and organized the Gigabit City Summit to explore city infrastructure issues around next-generation networks and help cities develop community playbooks to take advantage of ultra-high-speed broadband. Founder and principal of the research and strategic planning agency Curiolab, Deacon has a master’s in social science from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s from the University of Dallas.

Mark DeFalco
Manager, Appalachian Regional Commission

Mark DeFalco has worked in the telecommunications Industry for more than 30 years. He has worked for a regional Bell company, a rural telephone holding company, a large inter-exchange carrier and several competitive local exchange carriers. He specialized in competitive market entry and inter-carrier compensation issues and has testified before state public service commissions and state legislative committees in more than 20 states. At the Appalachian Regional Commission, he addresses rural telecom and broadband issues.

Michael Foor
Vice President, Market and Member Services

Michael has over 20 years of leadership experience in areas including finance, economic development and low voltage / telecom distribution and manufacturing. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated success in building strong relationships and fostering collaboration between organizations and communities.

As Vice President of Market & Member Services for NGN, Michael works closely with the NGN family of companies to develop and implement corporate initiatives and promotional plans that achieve the company’s goals and growth objectives, focusing specifically on the areas of infrastructure financing, economic development, corporate readiness, and workforce development.

Prior to his role at NGN, Michael served as President and CEO of Georgia Communications Cooperative and was instrumental in providing North Georgia consumers with alternative broadband solutions. He has also served as Director of Business & Economic Development for Habersham EMC, President of a privately held low voltage and telecom company, and CFO of a multi-million-dollar distribution company.

Michael is heavily involved in community service, serving as the 2015-2016 President of the Rotary Club of Habersham and Vice Chair of the Development Authority of White County. He is also active with the food and children’s ministries at his church, The Torch. He demonstrates a cooperative mentality in his focus on driving community, economic and educational improvement.

Michael’s education includes a B.S. in Business Administration with a Minor in Economics from Youngstown State University and a Master in Business Administration from Brenau University.

Lev Gonick
CEO, DigitalC

Lev Gonick is an educator, technologist and smart-city architect. He has been teaching, working, and living on the Net for more than 25 years. He is co-founder and CEO of DigitalC, an award-winning nonprofit organization that enables and celebrates innovation, collaboration, and productivity through next-generation broadband networks, big opendata solutions and IoT for public benefit. Gonick was CIO at Case Western Reserve University from 2001 through 2013. He and his colleagues were internationally recognized for technology innovations in community engagement, learning spaces, next-generation network projects and organizational development. His innovations catalyzed national projects, including US Ignite and Gig.U. He has received awards and recognition from Inside Business Magazine, Government Technology, Crain’s Business Cleveland, Broadband Communities, NATOA, ComputerWorld and CIO Magazine.

Joanne Hovis
President, CTC Technology & Energy

A recognized expert in communications policy at the federal, state and local levels, Hovis has extensive experience as a broadband business consultant working for the public interest. She has developed public-private partnerships on behalf of numerous public sector networks and provides communities with guidance on the structures, business models and financing opportunities available for broadband development.

Hovis is a longtime advocate for the interests of local communities in communications policy. She has testified before Congress and the FCC and has been widely published and featured as a speaker on topics related to building broadband at local and state levels. She serves on the boards of directors of OneCommunity and the Benton Foundation and is immediate past president of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. She received her J.D., with honors, from the University of Chicago Law School and is a member (inactive) of the bars of Illinois and the District of Columbia.

Darryl F. Howard
Founder, Space Logix

Howard currently is the Founder and operator of Space Logix, a coworking facility located in Greensboro, NC. Prior to this position he was the Founder of Cypress Equipment, a technology integration company. He has held previous positions in Engineering, Sales and Management from organizations including Sprint, Harris Corporation, Nortel and Anixter. He has designed and implemented numerous converged large-scale communications networks worldwide for Fortune 500’s, local and state government, major transportation hubs and higher education facilities. Presently he is involved in the startup “Old Mill Outfitters” which concentrates on brownfield commercial real estate development and their use of Internet technologies to attract tenants, increase rental and retention rates. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rollins College as well as several technology certifications from major network equipment manufacturers.

Hilda Legg
Former Rural Utilities Service Administrator
Vice Chair, Broadband Communities Magazines

A prominent broadband advocate and champion, Legg served as the 15th administrator of the RUS. She administered a $6 billion loan and grant program for the infrastructure needs of rural America and has a unique overview of the needs of rural America as it evolves into a diverse economy.

A long-time advocate of holistic approaches to economic development in rural areas, Legg served seven years as executive director and CEO of the Center for Rural Development, considered a national model for economic development. In 1990, President George Bush appointed her alternate federal co-chair for the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington, D.C., representing the region’s 21 million people and assisting in the management of a $190 million budget aimed at creating jobs, building infrastructure, and establishing education and workforce training and numerous research programs relative to rural economic development.

Casey Lide
Principal, Baller Stokes & Lide, PC

Lide represents local governments and public power utilities in matters involving telecommunications, cable television, high-speed data communications, internet access, wireless telecommunications, right-of-way management, pole and conduit attachments and barriers to the public-sector entry into telecommunications. He has particular expertise assisting public- and private-sector clients on contract drafting and negotiation matters, having successfully executed dozens of fiber optic IRUs and leases, easements, franchises, attachment agreements, ISP service agreements, interconnection and collocation agreements, strategic memorandums of understanding and others. He regularly works with multi-disciplinary teams of legal, financial, engineering and other technical experts, assisting government entities and utilities in making comprehensive telecommunications and cable plans, developing state-of-the-art communications systems, and complying with state and federal communications requirements. He is a frequent author, speaker and instructor on these topics.

Christopher Mitchell
Director, Community Broadband Networks, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Mitchell is a leading national expert on community networks and internet access. At ILSR, he serves as policy director for Next Century Cities, a national collaboration of mayors and CIOs seeking universal access to fast, affordable, reliable internet connections. His research and reports are available online at He is also a senior adviser to the Coalition for Local Internet Choice. In 2015, the White House used his research as building blocks in a National Economic Council report encouraging community networks. On a day-to-day basis, he runs, a comprehensive online clearinghouse of information about community broadband. Mitchell earned a master’s in public policy from the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s in political science from Macalester College.

Kevin Morgan
Chief Marketing Officer, Clearfield

Morgan has served in various senior marketing positions, including at ADTRAN, Inc., where he gained extensive experience in advanced communications technology, fiber optic systems and business product marketing. Before that, he spent nearly a decade at telephone operating company BellSouth, now a part of AT&T, where he worked as the lead product evaluations resource of broadband technologies in the science and technology department. Morgan also served in various leadership positions with the FTTH Council Americas (now the Fiber Broadband Association), including as a regular board member 2011–2016 and board chair in 2015. He earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Auburn University and an MBA from the University of Alabama.

Jane Smith Patterson
Partner, Broadband Catalysts, LLP

Patterson, Brian Rathbone and Deborah Watts created a new LLP, Broadband Catalysts, to promote broadband in rural areas and low-income urban areas. Patterson was previously executive director of the first Rural Internet Access Authority in the United States and executive director of the e-NC Authority, an organization that works to bring affordable high-speed internet access to North Carolina, particularly rural areas.

Patterson’s background includes service as vice-president of ITT Corporation-Network Systems Group, as a vice chancellor at UNC-Wilmington and in positions with research programs at the University of Pennsylvania and UNC-Chapel Hill. She has been an advisor to many states and countries in the planning for deployment of national information infrastructure. Patterson is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed post-graduate degree work at N.C. State University and additional studies at Harvard University.

Jeff Reiman
Principal, The Broadband Group

Jeff brings a comprehensive understanding of technology, capital market structure, and entrepreneurial leadership to assist clients in building successful and enduring projects within a corporate or governmental structure. Having lead the ARRA Federal Broadband Stimulus division of TBG, Mr. Reiman was responsible for the analysis, management, political advocacy, and filing representation of Federal Grant opportunities. Mr. Reiman represented Broadband Service Providers, Cable Operators, Native American Tribes, and Non-Profit Organizations with the drafting and submission of nearly $90 million in Federal Broadband Stimulus Funding. All grants submitted under TBG’s guidance were successfully funded.

Prior to joining the Broadband Group, Mr. Reiman worked in the Boston office of Credit Suisse on the Equities Sales and Trading Floor working with Institutional Investment Firms based in Canada. Additionally, he has served on the International Sales & Marketing Team of Wave7 Optics, a FTTX Optical Broadband Access Systems Manufacturer, managing the Mexico, Canada, and Caribbean sales regions.

Mr. Reiman began his career at the DC headquarters of a Presidential Campaign, and is a graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Government.

Michael Render
President and Lead FTTH Researcher, RVA LLC

Render has conducted research on the FTTH industry in North America from its inception to the present day, documenting both the progress of fiber-to-the-home deployment and its impact on consumers’ lives. The Fiber Broadband Association, Broadband Communities and many others have relied on his research.

Render has published several articles on issues related to innovation in the practice of both consumer and business-to-business oriented market research. He has consulted with a wide range of firms ranging from Fortune 100 corporations to promising startups and served on the boards of nonprofit organizations and high technology corporations. In 2005, he received a special Broadband Communities Cornerstone Award for his contributions to FTTH research.

Will Rinehart
Director of Technology and Innovation Policy, American Action Forum

Rinehart comes to the Forum from TechFreedom, where he was a research fellow. He previously directed operations at the International Center for Law & Economics. In 2009, he was a Koch Summer Fellow at the Progress & Freedom Foundation, concentrating on advertising policy and internet governance. In 2008, he was a research associate at the Illinois Policy Institute, where he studied state-level budget, energy and tax issues. He also worked for the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement as the research assistant in technology and civic engagement.

Steven S. Ross
Editor-at-Large, Broadband Communities Magazine

Ross is a long-time technology writer, a former full-time professor at Columbia University and the founding editor of Broadband Communities Magazine, a national publication and the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for ultra-connected communities. He is a highly respected journalist and an expert on broadband technologies. He has domestic and international expertise in architecture, land-use planning, business and education and helped establish the New Jersey Environmental Education Fund in 1983.

A fellow of the American Institute of Chemists, Ross holds a B.S. in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia. He has authored or edited 19 books and has won numerous technical, professional and journalism awards. He has taught statistics in academic and industrial settings and has lectured and consulted in 84 countries.

Jasper Schneider
Vice President, NISC

Jasper Schneider is a Vice President at National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) . Schneider brings expertise in technology, law and rural issues to NISC. For six years, Schneider ran a federal agency at both a state and national level, leading USDA’s Rural Utility Service as State Director in North Dakota, and acting Administrator in Washington, DC. Schneider is also a former lawmaker, serving in the North Dakota Legislature. Prior to Schneider’s public service career, Schneider had a law practice and also started a successful technology company covering the computer hardware industry. Schneider also worked at Cisco Systems, prior to obtaining his law degree from Hamline University School of Law, in St. Paul, MN. Schneider and his wife have four children, and make their home in North Dakota.

Ashley Stelfox
Associate, Baller Stokes & Lide, PC

Stelfox works closely with Jim Baller and other partners on community broadband matters, in particular the Coalition for Local Internet Choice. She is co-author of Economic Development: The Killer App for Local Fiber Networks (Broadband Communities Magazine, Nov.–Dec. 2016). Before joining Baller Stokes & Lide, Stelfox was a legal fellow at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She is a 2013 graduate of the American University Washington College of Law and is admitted to the bar in Maryland.

Sean Stokes
Principal, Baller Stokes & Lide, PC

Stokes’ clients include the American Public Power Association, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, regional and state utility associations and municipal leagues, and public and private entities in more than 35 states, including most publicly owned fiber-to-the-home networks in the country. He was part of the legal team representing Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina, in their petitions to the FCC to preempt state barriers to broadband.

Stokes is a graduate of the National Law Center at George Washington University. He is a member of the bar of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth, Eighth and Eleventh Circuits; the Federal District of Columbia; and the local courts of the District of Columbia. He holds an AV rating, the highest peer review rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Larry D. Thompson
Chief Executive Officer, Vantage Point Solutions

Thompson is a licensed professional engineer and has designed satellite, wireless and broadband wireline networks for more than 30 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from William Jewell College and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas. Prior to founding Vantage Point Solutions in 2002, he held several engineering and management positions with TRW’s Space and Defense sector, CyberLink Corporation and the Martin Group. Over the years, he has helped many wireless and wireline companies successfully manage their technical, regulatory and financial challenges. Thompson is a frequent speaker at state and national conferences and a frequent expert witness at utility commission and legal proceedings relating to telecommunication technology and regulatory matters. He lives in Mitchell, South Dakota, with his wife and two daughters.

Nicol Turner-Lee, Ph.D.
Fellow, Governance Studies,
Center for Technology Innovation Brookings Institution

Turner-Lee comes to Brookings from the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media, telecommunications and broadband industries. At Brookings, she researches public policy designed to enable equitable access to technology across the United States. Prior to joining MMTC, Turner-Lee was vice president and the first director of the Media and Technology Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the nation’s leading think tank on issues related to African Americans and other people of color.

Turner-Lee graduated from Colgate University magna cum laude and has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University. She also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Christa Wagner Vinson
Principal, Wagner Vinson Consulting

Vinson has more than a decade of experience helping regional and national nonprofits and state and local governments create innovative, community-led solutions that drive sustainable growth. Before starting her consultancy, she helped launch and accelerate the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, an initiative of business, government, academic and nonprofit leaders that catalyzed global recognition for the Research Triangle region of North Carolina’s clean technology sector. She helped define the scope and opportunity in clean tech through original research with RTI International and as co-creator, with Zpryme, of the Energy Thought Summit: Research Triangle.

Vinson is a former policy analyst with the North Carolina Department of Commerce; an associate at SJF Institute, a positive-impact business accelerator in Durham, North Carolina, and director of government relations for the North Carolina chapter of a national environmental advocacy organization.

William Wallace
Executive Director, US Ignite

William Wallace has more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, most recently as cofounder of DigitalBridge Communications, a startup dedicated to bringing 4G broadband wireless services to underserved portions of the United States. Prior to DBC, Wallace was co-founder and CEO of OnePoint Communications, which was purchased by Verizon Communications in 2000. Previously, he served as head of the telecommunications practice and chief operating ofcer for Gemini Consulting, where he led teams that developed strategies and improved operations for many of the world’s largest carriers. Wallace received an A.B. degree in government and economics from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Joseph S. (Jody) Wigington P.E.
General Manager,CEO, Morristown Utility Systems Morristown, TN

Mr. Wigington is a registered Professional Engineer with 39 years’ experience in the utility and manufacturing sector.  After jobs with TVA and the BASF Corporation, he has worked for the Morristown Utility Systems since 1995 serving as General Manager since 2007.  As CEO, he is responsible for managing utility operations to provide power, water, wastewater and telecommunications services for the City of Morristown.  Mr. Wigington helped guide Morristown’s entry into telecommunications in 2006 as a Fiber to the Home community to improve broadband services, lower rates, and enhance economic development.  Most recently he has lead MUS in partnering ventures with other utilities to push FTTH technology into rural areas. Fiber infrastructure was key in developing advanced metering for Smart grid technologies utilizing the fiber network to achieve operational efficiencies and peak load reduction.




















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