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Keith B. Adams
Assistant Administrator Telecommunications Program, Rural Utilities Service, USDA

Keith B. Adams has been Assistant Administrator for the Telecommunications Program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utility Service (RUS) since July 2013. In this role he manages the Telecommunications Program's loan and grant programs, with an annual budget of almost $1 billion and a $5 billion loan portfolio.

The Telecommunications Program was further expanded in 2009 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which authorized $3.5 billion in budget authority for RUS to provide additional broadband funding through the Broadband Initiatives Program. Under Mr. Adams management, the program awarded more than 95 percent of the funds and returned more than $100 million back to the U.S. Treasury as taxpayer savings.

Mr. Adams tenure with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) first began in 2001 as a Marketing Specialist with the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). His experience also includes time with the U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Small Business Administration and most recently with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Since 2006, Mr. Adams was the Division Chief in USAID’s Office of Food for Peace providing overall leadership for the planning and integration of the day to day operations and budget of the Government’s largest resource for food aid and food security assistance program valued at over $2 billion.

Mr. Adams holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Shepherd University in West Virginia, where he majored in Marketing and received his Master of Science (MS) degree from the University of Maryland in 1999. In 2012 he completed Key Executive Leadership Program at the American University as part of the Senior Executive Service (SES) Candidate Development Program.

Keith is active in his community serving as Board of Director for his Homeowners Association (HOA) and serving faithfully at his church. He resides in the suburban Washington DC Metropolitan area with his teenage son.

Joel Allen
Senior Vice President, Member Services, Cooperative Finance Corporation

Joel joined CFC in 1990. Throughout his career with CFC he has held various positions. In April 2014, Joel became Senior Vice President, Member Services leading CFC’s electric cooperative relationship and lending group.

Joel has an undergraduate degree from Old Dominion University and an MBA with a concentration in Finance from George Washington University.

Ghermay Araya, GISP, CSAM
CEO, Senior Technology Consultant, New Light Technologies, Inc.

Ghermay Araya is the founder and CEO of New Light Technologies, Inc. (NLT). NLT is an award-wining Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and IT consulting services firm based out of the Washington, DC, Metro Area. Mr. Araya has over 20 years of experience leading and implementing GIS/IT data and application development projects. He heads a dynamic team of professionals involved in the full life cycle of technology projects from big data analytics to public safety systems. Most notably, he served as the technical lead and project manager of the DC Government’s first GIS-driven Web portal, which garnered an Innovative Use of Technology Award from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. As a professional services consultant for an early telecom .com, Mr. Araya worked on the development of processes and algorithms for determining if potential DSL customers were in range of local providers’ equipment. Throughout the years, Mr. Araya has consistently used his deep background in GIS and a practical management style to solve real-world business problems for small and large clients alike, leading to innovative and lasting solutions. He currently manages teams deployed across both private and public sector customers including at the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Commerce and Eastern States as well as private companies in the Utilities, Civil Engineering, Emergency Management and Public Safety sectors.

David Asp
Network Collaborative Engineer, Dakota County, MN

David Asp has been the long time champion of Dakota County’s extensive network. He’s served as the lead engineer and public face of the ongoing efforts of the county to expand the capabilities of its growing fiber network. Dakota County has created a coordinated excavation policy that saves up to 90% of the cost of laying additions to their fiber network that connects all corners of the county and connects with several other networks, including Scott County. They drove telecom costs from several hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands for county sites, school districts and other anchor institutions. They have also shared their innovative contracts and forms with other interested parties as models. David’s comprehensive knowledge and history with this fast growing environment will offer several key items for attendees to take home.

Will Aycock
General Manager, Greenlight Community Broadband, City of Wilson

Will Aycock is currently the General Manager for Greenlight Community Broadband in Wilson, NC. Mr. Aycock has served in this position for 3 years.

Prior to taking this position, Mr. Aycock has served as an Assistant Director of ITS, GIS manager and GIS consultant.

Mr. Aycock is a graduate of both Appalachian State and East Carolina Universities and holds a Government Chief Information Officer Certification from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Danna Bailey
Vice President, Corporate Communications, EPB, Chattanooga, TN

Danna Bailey joined EPB in 2005, bringing experience in communications strategy and brand development from an advertising agency background. As an advertising professional, Danna has helped develop communications strategies for consumer products ranging from fast food to skin care as well as business-to-business products and services.

As Vice President of Corporate Communications, Danna works closely with local entities as well as regional, national and trade media to leverage the strength of the EPB infrastructure to help facilitate shared community prosperity.

Jim Baller
President, The Baller Herbst Law Group, P.C.

Jim Baller is the president of the Baller Herbst Law Group in Washington, DC. He represents clients in a broad range of communications matters nationally and in more than 35 states, including more than 50 fiber projects. He was the founder and president of the US Broadband Coalition, a consortium of more than 160 organizations of all kinds that helped build a national consensus on the need for a comprehensive national broadband strategy and recommended the framework that is reflected in the FCC's National Broadband Plan. He also worked with Google on its Fiber for Communities initiative and is currently involved in several Gig.U projects.

The Fiber to the Home Council has recognized Jim as "the nation's most experienced and knowledgeable attorney on public broadband matters." In 2001, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors designated him its Member of the Year. In 2007, Washingtonian Magazine listed Jim as one of "Washington's Best Lawyers," and NATOA made him its first "Community Broadband Visionary of the Year," for "almost single-handedly putting the need for a national broadband strategy to the forefront of public consciousness." In 2009, Ars Technica included Jim on its list of the 25 "Top Names in Tech Policy," and FiberToday named him as its "Person of the Year." In 2012, Jim received the Fiber to the Home Council Chairman's Award "for his relentless promotion and pursuit of community broadband and of faster networks for everyone. His efforts have paved the way for the deployment of all-fiber networks across the country."

Jim is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Cornell Law School.

Jordana Barton
Senior Advisor in Community Development, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Jordana Barton is Senior Advisor in Community Development for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, San Antonio Branch. She supports the Federal Reserve System’s economic growth objectives by promoting community and economic development and fair and impartial access to credit in low- and moderate-income communities. Her focus areas include: Community Reinvestment Act (CRA); community development finance; financial education/capability; affordable housing; workforce development; healthy communities; and small business development. Jordana is lead author of the recently released report, “Las Colonias in the 21st Century: Progress Along the Texas-Mexico Border” (2015). Works in progress for 2016 include “Closing the Digital Divide: A Framework for Meeting CRA Obligations” and “Broadband Access and Telemedicine on the Texas-Mexico Border”. She holds an MPA from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Prior to working with the Federal Reserve, Jordana served as Vice President for Community Development Banking, Capital One Bank. In this role, Jordana built community partnerships and managed investments to promote economic revitalization and access to financial services in low- and moderate-income communities. In 2012, she was awarded the FDIC’s Pioneer Award in Community Development; and, under her leadership, Capital One was awarded Corporate Philanthropist of the Year in San Antonio by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Debra Berlyn
Executive Director, Project GOAL

Debra Berlyn is the President of Consumer Policy Solutions and serves as the Executive Director of the Project to Get Older Adults onLine (Project GOAL).

Prior to launching Consumer Policy Solutions, Ms. Berlyn was Senior Legislative Representative in the Federal Affairs Department of AARP, responsible for all communications and energy matters. Ms. Berlyn was co-founder and Executive Director of the Competition Policy Institute, a non-profit organization, from 1996 to 2002. Immediately prior to creating CPI, Ms. Berlyn served as the Executive Director of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA).

Ms. Berlyn was recently reappointed to serve another term as Chair of the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee. She is on the Board of Directors of the National Consumers League and the Future of Privacy Forum.

She also represented AARP on the digital television transition and has worked closely with national aging organizations on several Internet issues, including online safety and privacy concerns. Ms. Berlyn is a seasoned veteran of telecommunications and consumer policy issues and an advocate for consumers of technology services.

As a national voice on the issues of online safety, broadband adoption, and consumer’s use of technology, she has been a guest on radio and television programs and has been published in newspapers across the country.

Kevin Beyer
General Manager, Farmers Mutual Telephone Company (Bellingham, MN); And Federated Telephone Cooperative (Chokio, MN)

Kevin Beyer started his career as staff accountant at Blue Earth Valley Telephone. Today, Kevin is the General Manager of Federated Telephone Cooperative, headquartered in Chokio, MN and the General Manager of Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, headquartered in Bellingham, MN. Combined, the two Cooperatives serve over 2,100 square miles in west central MN and provides customers with telecommunications services on an all fiber network. Kevin serves as a director for NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and previously served as trustee of the NTCA R&S Program. Kevin also serves as a board member of Pinnacle Publishing and is the current Chairman of the NECA Average Schedule Task Group Committee. Kevin has a BA from Gustavus Adolphus.

Jamie Birdnow
Director Global Solutions, Emerging Access Providers, Commscope

With more than 15 years of experience in the telecommunications space, Jamie Birdnow is leading the development of solutions and strategies for emerging, non-traditional access providers at CommScope. In this new role, Jamie directs global business development and leadership management efforts for the segment.

Before joining CommScope, Jamie served in a number of leadership roles at several telecommunications and technology companies, including product and account management, sales strategy, program management and most recently director of global business development in the alternative energy space. He has also successfully launched and led start-ups in software and digital marketing.

Jamie has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and an MBA in global management from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

Brian Bissonette
Marketing Supervisor, Paul Bunyan Communications

Brian was raised in Fridley, Minnesota and graduated from Fridley High School. He attended Bemidji State University and graduated with a B.S. degree in Mass Communication in 1990. Brian worked in radio for seven years and still remains the radio color commentator for Bemidji State Hockey and Football. In 1998 he started at Paul Bunyan Communications and is currently the Marketing Supervisor in charge of leading the cooperative’s marketing, advertising, and public relations efforts.

Brian is busy away from work as a single parent of a 6 year old in Kindergarten and a 19 year old sophomore in college.

Shirley Bloomfield
CEO, NTCA The Rural Broadband Association

Shirley Bloomfield is chief executive officer of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. With more than 25 years of experience representing the country’s smallest independent telecom operators, Bloomfield is an expert on the role of federal communications policies in sustaining the vitality of rural and remote communities and the benefits rural broadband networks bring to the national economy. In addition to serving as the industry’s chief advocate, Bloomfield has led efforts to seek synergies and align strategic partnerships among rural telecom companies, their larger counterparts, other rural utilities and federal agencies, further expanding business opportunities for NTCA members. In addition to her service to NTCA, Bloomfield also served as senior vice president of federal relations for Qwest and vice president of federal relations for Verizon. Bloomfield serves as a board member of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative and GlobalWin, an organization of women leaders in the high-tech industry.

Don Boeder
Mayor, City of Gaylord, MN

Don Boeder as the Mayor of Gaylord for the past four years has been involved in many projects for the City. Some of the more noticeable ones are, working with the RS Fiber project to bring it to fruition. Which is now in phase one of its build out. Another major project was the complete downtown street project. This was a two year project in conjunction with the DOT as it involved three state highways which intersect in the City of Gaylord. The construction of a 400,000 gal water was another project completed this year. As Mayor, Don has worked out a land swap deal with the school district which now is building a new elementary school in the city. With this land swap deal the city ended up with the old school which Mayor Boeder is now working closely with developers on bringing a medical school to Gaylord.

Mark Boxer
Applications Engineering Manager, OFS

Mark Boxer is the Applications Engineering Manager for OFS. In this role, he assists customers deploying fiber in a wide variety of network design scenarios and analyzes trends in telecommunications markets that drive new product innovation. Mark has a BME degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, and has spent his 25+ year career in the fiber industry. His experience includes varied roles in manufacturing and applications engineering for fiber-based products and markets. Other activities include inventor of two US Patents and member and past Secretary of the IEEE Power Engineering Society Fiber Optic Working Group.

Erik Brinke
Director of Economic Development, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC

Originally from Murphy, North Carolina, Erik is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has extensive experience in workforce and economic development. He has administered federal job-training programs (JTPA/WIA), managed the Southwestern Regional Economic Development office for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and currently serves as Director of Economic Development for Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, a member-owned electric cooperative serving the Western North Carolina and North Georgia region.

In addition to his involvement in the recruitment and retention of industrial and commercial enterprises, Erik also has extensive experience in facilitating broadband network design, grants acquisition, and network implementation/development, and has played a foundational role in the deployment of two major regional fiber-optic networks, as well other regionally-based public/private network projects. Erik understands the critical role of partnerships in solving our most difficult broadband challenges, and always promotes regional cooperation.

Erik is a graduate of the UNC-Institute of Government County Administration program, the Georgia Academy for Economic Development, the UNC-Basic Economic Development Course, and is trained in Continuous Quality Improvement and skilled facilitation. He is a member of both the Georgia and North Carolina Economic Developers Associations (GEDA & NCEDA), serves on the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Rural Economic Development Cabinet, is an appointed member of the Cherokee County (NC) Economic Development Commission, and serves on the Young Harris College Board of Associates and the University of North Georgia Campus Leadership Council.

Erik’s leadership experience includes having served as a two-term Chairman of the Cherokee County (NC) Board of Education, as Vice-Chairman of the Smoky Mountain Development Corporation (SBA 504 CDC), as Secretary & Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the North Georgia Network Cooperative (NGN), and as President of the United Way of Cherokee & Clay Counties in NC.

Erik is a Guardian Ad Litem and enjoys coaching high school football, fishing, camping, and working in his fruit and vegetable gardens. He and his wife Paige, their 13-year-old son, Asher, and 9-year-old daughter, Anna, reside in Murphy, NC.

Jonathan Bullock
Vice President, Corporate Development and Government, Hotwire Communications

With 10 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, leads Hotwire’s cable and satellite content acquisition, governmental partnerships, and its corporate development functions – including financing and acquisitions. Prior to his current role at Hotwire, Jonathan also led Hotwire’s legal team as General Counsel.

Before joining the Hotwire team, Jonathan served for five years as Associate General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Connexion Technologies, a private equity funded telecommunications company that built fiber networks in all fifty states. Before Connexion, Jonathan worked at the intersection of finance and law for international law and energy firms. Jonathan is a graduate of Wake Forest University, Harvard University and Gordon College. Jonathan has been a invited lecturer at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

Hotwire’s unique bulk-style business model has allowed Hotwire to go into micro-communities to deliver a fiber-to-the-home solution. Jonathan has been leading Hotwire’s efforts to partner with local governments to create unique ways to fund and deliver its fiber-to-the-home solution to communities on the east coast and, now, across the country. On a daily basis, Jonathan works hand in hand with communities and Hotwire’s sales teams to ensure demand is sufficient to justify investment.

Josh Byrnes
Representative, State of Iowa;
General Manager,
Osage Municipal Utility (IA)

Josh Byrnes graduated high school from Riceville Community High School in Riceville, IA and is a graduate of Luther College with a BA in Biology. Josh also has his Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership through Winona State University and doctorate coursework through Iowa State University.

Josh spent 8 years as a high school biology teacher and 11 years as the Industrial Division Chair at North Iowa Area Community College. During his time at NIACC, Josh work extensively on developing a skilled workforce for the North Iowa region.

Josh was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2010 and will be retiring from his legislative duties this year. During his time as a legislator, Josh served as the Iowa House Transportation Committee Chairman and was instrumental in passing fuel tax increase in the state of Iowa. Josh also served on the agriculture, education, ways and means, and economic growth committees.

Most recently Josh took over as the General Manager of Osage Municipal Utilities (OMU) in Osage, Iowa. OMU provides electric, gas, and telecom utilities to the city of Osage.

Josh and his wife reside in Osage with two kids attending Osage school and have a daughter attending the University of Iowa as a freshman.

Heather Burnett Gold
President and CEO, FTTH Council Americas

Heather Burnett Gold is the President of Fiber-to-the-Home Council North America, a non-profit organization established to help its members plan, market, implement and manage fiber to the home solutions. Council membership includes companies and organizations that deliver video, Internet and/or voice services over high-bandwidth, next-generation, direct fiber optic connections - as well as those involved in planning and building FTTH networks. The Council was created ten years ago to share knowledge and build industry consensus on key issues surrounding fiber to the home. See More

Prior to joining the Council, Gold served as Senior Vice President of External Affairs for XO Communications, a $1.5 billion telecommunications company, where she was responsible for the creation and execution of a comprehensive public policy strategy and regularly interacted with Congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the White House and state lawmakers and regulators. Gold was also responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s Cost of Service strategy, including vendor selection and management for an approximately $600M annual budget.

Gold has more than 27 years of experience in the industry, including five years as President for the Association for Local Telecommunications Services (ALTS) during the period surrounding the passage and implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. She has also served as a founding principal of The KDW Group, a telecom consulting firm, and as Vice President of Industry Affairs for Intermedia Communications. She was honored by the Washington Business Journal as one of its 2010 Women Who Mean Business. Gold received her BA (magna cum laude) and MA degrees in Economics from Tufts University. She received her MBA in Finance and Marketing from Washington University in St. Louis. Gold also completed the General Management Program of the Harvard Business School.

Joe Buttweiler
Business Partner Manager, Connect CTC, MN

Joe Buttweiler engages with communities, corporations, and private citizens to facilitate the growth of Broadband in on behalf of Consolidated Telecommunications Cooperative (CTC). Previously Joe managed the start-up of a new fiber to the premise project at an electric cooperative in Northeastern Minnesota in which 800 miles of fiber optic cable were installed and now provide service to those who previously lived in the dial-up world. Joe understands firsthand what challenges exist when living in a community without broadband and the transformations that take place within our homes, businesses and communities after Broadband services become available.

Travis Carter
VP Technology, US Internet Corp, Minnetonka, MN

Travis Carter VP Technology and founding partner of US Internet (USI) has been involved in the ISP industry since mid 1994, from deploying the first beta 56k dial-up modems to deploying the first production 10gig fiber to the home connection his career has seen most aspects of the rapid evolving Internet industry.

With the successful citywide municipal wireless network deployed in Minneapolis in 2007, USI continued its focus on technology with it’s fiber to the premise network now serving over 50,000 homes and businesses in Minneapolis.

Travis is responsible for overseeing the design, deployment, and implementation of USI’s vision of Minneapolis being the most connected City in the US, while maintaining it's 4.6+ star Google rating for customer satisfaction and can always be found hanging around answering questions.

Shannon Clark
CEO & General Manager, Richland Electric Cooperative

Shannon Clark, a 25-year veteran at Richland Electric Cooperative, has served the past 19 years as their CEO & General Manager. During his tenure he has lead the cooperative through a variety of diversification projects and multiple partnerships, including the development of Genuine Telecom. Genuine Telecom is a competitive local exchange company owned equally by Richland Electric Co-op, LaValle Telephone Co-op and Richland-Grant Telephone Co-op. Formed in 1998, Genuine Telecom has evolved successfully to become a critical part of the greater Richland County, Wisconsin infrastructure supporting a host of business and residential customers. Clark also serves as the District Five director on the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative Board of Directors where he is a strong advocate for partnering to meet the technology needs of rural America.

Thomas W. Cohen
Partner, Washington, D.C. Kelley Drye

Thomas Cohen is a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. His practice focuses on providing legal counsel to further the business interests of entities engaged in the provision of wireline and wireless telecommunications, cable (video), and broadband (Internet) services. He has significant experience in federal and state administrative and legislative advocacy, business-related legal matters, including transactions, and litigation.

Mr. Cohen has more than 35 years of experience in the communications/telecommunications industry sector, first as a government policy maker, serving for over a decade as assistant general counsel for legislation at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and as senior counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee. He then was a founder and principal in firms assessing and developing communications/telecommunications properties and advising businesses. He joined Kelley Drye in 2005.

Rollie Cole
Senior Fellow, Sagamore Institute for Policy Research

Rollie Cole, PhD, JD is a policy analyst and lawyer who has worked for several think tanks and several law firms and taught in Schools of Public Policy, Business, and Law at three major universities – the University of Washington, the University of Michigan, and Indiana University. He was the co-founder and first president of the international Association of Personal Computer User Groups and was for many years the Executive Director of the Software Patent Institute. He also serves as Director of Technology Policy for the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research and a subcontractor to Thomas P. Miller & Associates. His degrees are from Harvard University. His latest books are in his Wholesale Economic Development series: Volume I (Approach), II (Mid-Large MSAs), and III (Mid-Small MSAs), available from Amazon. You can find out more about Rollie and his related efforts at his own web site:

Bill Coleman Consultant to Blandin Foundation

Bill Coleman assists communities develop and implement broadband infrastructure and market development programs. As an accomplished community planner and technology consultant, Bill ensures that communities make sound technology decisions using innovative, collaborative strategies. His facilitation techniques lead to quick victories and sustained effort.

His creative vision and project management skills with clients such as Blandin Foundation and Dakota Future have been recognized with awards from organizations such as the Intelligent Community Forum, Minnesota High Tech Association, Economic Development Association of Minnesota and America’s Best Communities. Bill has worked with both the Intelligent Community Forum and Strategic Networks Group to manage community projects on their behalf.

Before founding Community Technology Advisors in 2000, Bill managed a regional ISP’s market development program and staffed the State of Minnesota’s Star City and Business Retention and Expansion Programs. Bill has a Bachelors Degree in Urban Studies and Political Science from Mankato State University and studied telecommunications management at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. On behalf of his community, Bill founded TEDxMahtomedi and serves on the board of PCs for People.

Lee Comer
Manager of Business Development, Foresite Group

With over 19 years of experience as a designer, supervisor, and project manager in the telecommunications industry, Lee Comer is the Manager of Business Development at Foresite Group.

A legacy employee at Bellsouth Telecommunications, Lee began his career as a Services Technician. He progressed through various roles of responsibility and leadership including OSP Network Designer, Special Services Network Manager, and Construction Supervisor; ultimately serving as a Senior Project Manager on U-verse/Project Lightspeed for AT&T Southeast.

Seeking a role where he could more aggressively support the development of fiber optic networks, Lee migrated to Byers Engineering Company. As Senior OSP Design Manager, his team oversaw a city-wide FTTH project in Austin, TX.

In December 2015, Lee co-founded the Network Design department at Foresite Group. As Manager of Business Development, he promotes his vision of connected communities through their “Gig City Program”. Recognizing the need to support Municipalities and Utility Companies pursuing market-wide broadband connectivity, this collaborative partnership was formed to provide guidance and resourcing for economic feasibility assessments, and the design and construction of turnkey fiber optic networks.

A native Alabamian, Lee earned both his Bachelors and Masters of Industrial Design from Auburn University. Passionately serving through Bible Study Fellowship, Boy Scouts of America, and in Swaziland, Africa, Lee currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama, with his wife and two children.

Patti Constantakis, Ph.D.
Director, Adult Learning Initiatives

Patti has a long-held commitment to innovation, technology and education and has spent the bulk of her career in the educational technology field largely working with adult learners. Prior to Digital Promise, Patti was the Director of Product, Content and Curriculum at and was responsible for several large parent education initiatives that included developing digital media components, implementing on-the-ground workshops and events, and managing community-based media campaigns. Prior to GreatSchools, Patti worked with several start-ups, developing and implementing e-learning courseware, online educational games, and mobile apps for a variety of audiences, including English language learners, older returning community college students, parents and families, and teachers. Patti earned her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in communications, with an emphasis in Spanish-language media and Latinos in the U.S. She received her master’s degree in Radio, Television, Film, also from the University of Texas at Austin, and a dual bachelor’s degree in journalism and Spanish from New Mexico State University.


Thomas M. Coverick
Managing Director, Keybanc Capital Markets

Thomas Coverick joined KeyBanc Capital Markets (the “Firm” or “KBCM”) in April 2007 and leads the Firm’s Municipal Broadband Public Finance initiative. Additionally, he manages KBCM’s Chicago and New York Public Finance offices. With over twenty-five years of public finance experience, Mr. Coverick has served in lead banking roles or as financial advisor for the issuance of over $9 billion of municipal bond offerings. Mr. Coverick has served as the lead or day-to-day banker for sole managed underwriting engagements in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Utah. He served as lead banker with regard to the Firm’s engagements with Municipal Broadband issuers including the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency (“UTOPIA”), the Utah Infrastructure Agency and MiNet. Mr. Coverick is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago and resides in Illinois.

Michael Curri
Founder and President, Strategic Networks Group Inc.

Michael Curri founded Strategic Network Group, Inc. (SNG) in 1998 and as President he leads an experienced team of specialists on a wide range of broadband and economic development initiatives. Michael 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.

Michael’s 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 – driven by compelling and powerful e-solutions. With a vision to revitalize communities and regions to more effectively participate in today’s economy, Michael has consulted and led on projects across Canada in the US, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia.

Michael has a Master’s in Economics from the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Jeff Dahna
General Manager, WindomNet, MN

Jeff Dahna was recently promoted to General Manager of the municipal fiber network in Windom, MN, after working in technical positions with WindomNet for the previous eleven years. Before working in Windom’s NOC, Jeff taught hands-on Community College level occupational instruction in Telecommunications Technologies such as: Fiber Optics, Outside Plant, Broadband and cabling technologies at Minnesota West Community and Technical College. Windom, with a population of approximately 4600, is far smaller than many municipal networks, but it has a fiber to the home network that has thrived and is now connecting many of the small towns surrounding it. When it was begun in 2004, the city issued $9.47 million in revenue bonds. WindomNet was essential in retaining jobs that were going to have to relocate in order to get the connections they needed by expanding outside the city limits. In the years since, the network has become the network center for service provision to SMBS, a multi-community ARRA funded network to the south and is rapidly becoming a valuable point of presence to the internet.

Doug Dawson
President, CCG Consulting

Doug Dawson is the President and founder of CCG Consulting. CCG Consulting is the largest telecom consulting firm in the country in terms of clients, and has helped over 750 carriers in the last decade. CCG offers a full range of telecom services including engineering, regulatory, business planning, strategic planning and implementation services. CCG’s newest service is new product development and CCG can turn-key new products for carriers.

Doug’s primary responsibilities at CCG are helping clients realize their potential through detailed needs assessment and strategic planning. Doug has helped devise strategies enabling clients to survive and thrive during the recent telecommunications industry slowdown. Doug brings a broad background to his work with experience in telephone accounting, engineering, regulatory and business planning. He is directly in charge of all client consulting at CCG.

Doug has been working in the telecom industry since 1978 at several different companies. He has both a consulting and an operational background. CCG currently works for a wide range of telecom providers including ILECS, CLECs, ISPs, municipalities and wireless carriers.

Jerome Day
Consulting Engineering Program Director, Calix

Jerome Day has been involved in the telecommunications industry for over 30 years and has been a constant force in the continued transformation of the service provider’s network. Jerome began his career in 1983 with Engineering Associates, Inc, a telecom consulting and engineering firm. In 1996 Jerome joined Nortel-Optical Networks and supported service providers needing 10 and 40G transport systems to meet the initial explosion of broadband services. After 14 years with Nortel Jerome joined Calix in 2009 to manage Calix’s Consultant Liaison Program where he supports the growing consultant and engineering community, who has a large and strategic role in the design and deployment of FTTH systems for Calix’s customers. Jerome holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University and resides in Kennesaw, GA.

Curtis Dean
President, SmartSource Consulting
Broadband Services Coordinator, Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities

Curtis Dean has been working in the telecommunications industry for the past 18 years. In his role as president of SmartSource Consulting, Curtis provides administrative support, marketing support, and strategic direction for small broadband companies. He also serves as Broadband Services Coordinator for the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, providing general support for Iowa’s two dozen active municipal telecommunications utilities. Prior to 2011, Curtis was part of the leadership team at Spencer Municipal Utilities when it launched a municipal broadband utility in 1999.

Curtis received his bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University and an Executive Master of Public Administration from the University of South Dakota. He lives in Grimes, Iowa with his wife Amy and their dog-daughters Stella and Mocha.

Barry Derrick
Strategic Solutions Marketing Manager, ADTRAN

Barry Derrick is part of the ADTRAN strategic solutions marketing team, and has more than 15 years’ experience in technical marketing. He has global solutions marketing responsibility for the areas of SDN/NFV, Next Generation and Gigabit Broadband directed at the residential, enterprise and mobile access markets. Previously at ADTRAN, Barry focused on the company’s highly successful cloud connectivity line of products, which include: NetVanta and Total Access IP Business Gateways, NetVanta access routers, and eSBC. In 2010, he joined ADTRAN from General Electric where he held various roles in product marketing and marketing communications.

Joey Durel
Former Mayor, City-Parish of Lafayette, LA

Joey Durel took office in January 2004 and concluded his third and final term as Lafayette’s Mayor-President on January 4, 2016.

Under Mr. Durel’s leadership, Lafayette’s strong local economy, unique cultural heritage, and innovative technology have been frequently recognized nationally. According to the Bureau of Economic Research, Lafayette is the happiest city in America, and for the sixth time in seven years, Lafayette ranked in the top 25 metro areas in the Best Performing Cities Index of the 200 largest metros. In 2014, Lafayette was also named one of the top 10 shining examples of economic development in the South by Southern Business and Development, ranked as the eighth best manufacturing city in the U.S. by New Geography and was named by Forbes as the number one mid-sized metro area in the nation.

In what was called, “a victory for America,” Durel spearheaded the LUS Fiber to the Premise initiative, and today Lafayette is known worldwide for have the fastest internet speed in the world! The Lafayette system was not built with tax dollars, and must compete with the private sector on a level playing field. “We probably had ever possible obstacle thrown at us, and we overcame everyone of them,” said Durel. He also led the way in the city purchasing 100 acres of pristine, undeveloped land in the middle of Lafayette that is being developed as a world-class central park, by the private sector. Lafayette has adopted a comprehensive plan that will help Lafayette develop more intelligently, thereby using tax dollars more efficiently.

Mr. Durel has a background as a small businessman. Before holding political office, he served as the Chairman of the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. He is a graduate of Leadership Lafayette and Leadership Louisiana and in 2015 was named the Distinguished Graduate of the Leadership Institute of Acadiana. Most recently, Mr. Durel was inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame as the recipient of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, B.I. Moody, III College of Business Award.

Currently, Mr. Durel is the principal in The Durel Group, a consulting firm to help cities achieve the same kinds of success Lafayette has achieved. He is also the Business Development Officer for Iberia Bank.

Cindy Edwards
Area Director, U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (Denver Regional Office)

Cindy Edwards serves as an Area Director of the Denver Regional Office of the Economic Development Administration. Cindy is responsible for directing and overseeing program delivery of EDA investments that fulfill the agency’s mission of leading the federal economic development agenda. Cindy has over 30 years of management experience in public and private infrastructure development and implementation. Cindy is a registered Professional Civil Engineer and a graduate of the University of Minnesota.

Nivin Elgohary
Senior Vice President, Co-Bank

As CoBank’s senior vice president for electric distribution, water and community facilities, Nivin Elgohary focuses on innovative solutions to help the bank better serve the bank’s rural infrastructure customers. This includes the development of new services and products, rural economic development programs and public private partnership initiatives. Ms. Elgohary is a member of CoBank’s Senior Leadership Team. In January 2014, Ms. Elgohary joined CoBank to manage the public-private partnerships. Prior to joining CoBank, Ms. Elgohary served as assistant administrator with the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. She was responsible for the agency’s rural electric program and oversaw a total loan portfolio of $46 billion. She also served in a variety of other roles within Rural Utilities Service, working with both rural electric and rural communications providers accessing a variety of financing programs sponsored by the agency.

Ms. Elgohary has a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Old Dominion University in Virginia.

Mark Erickson
EDA Director , City of Winthrop, MN

Mark Erickson is the EDA Director for the city of Winthrop, Minnesota and has been helping organize and promote the RS Fiber project in West Central Minnesota since 2009.

Prior to Winthrop he was employed by Hiawatha Broadband Communications in Winona, Minnesota, working with communities interested in building advanced telecommunication networks.

He currently serves on the board of the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association and is a past member of the Blandin Foundation’s Telecommunications Strategy Board.

Deborah Frank Feinen
Mayor, Champaign, IL

Current Mayor of the City of Champaign, elected in 2015. Appointed to the Champaign City Council in 2007 as an at-large Council Member, and elected in 2008 and 2011. An advocate for Broadband, served as Former Chair and Vice-Chair of the UC2B (Urbana Champaign Big Broad Band) Policy Committee and former member of the UC2B NFP Board.

A proud resident of Champaign for over forty years. Graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1989 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Education. Juris Doctor, 1992 from the Illinois Institute of Technology Kent College of Law, and in 1992, admitted into the Illinois Bar. Worked at the Illinois Pollution Control Board and later joined Nally, Bauer, Feinen & Mann, P.C. as its first associate. Named partner in 2001. Joined Tummelson, Bryan, & Knox, LLP as a partner in 2013. Lives in Champaign with husband, Chuck, and two children, Karlee and Catherine. A few hobbies include running, horseback riding, and photography.

Isak Finér
Chief Marketing Officer, COS Systems

Isak Finér holds a position as Chief Marketing Officer at the strongly expansive company COS Systems where he is responsible for the sales and marketing of COS Service Zones - an innovative cloud based solution for demand aggregation and analysis of the expected costs and revenues of fiber roll-out in different zones. COS Service Zones™ is the ultimate decision support solution when planning roll-out of fiber networks. Isak has previously worked with business development and sales management at a number of global companies, as well as with sales and market analysis. He holds a MSc degree in Industrial Engineering and Management at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden and has further academic experience within economics and entrepreneurship from Stanford University, CA-U.S., University of California Berkeley, CA-U.S. and Uppsala University, Sweden.

Adrianne Furniss
Executive Director and Trustee, Benton Foundation

Adrianne is Executive Director, Board Member and Trustee of the Benton Foundation, a private operating foundation which works to ensure that media and telecommunications enhance American democracy. Benton pursues its mission by working with policymakers and advocates to seek policy solutions that ensure that the latest communications technologies support the values of access, diversity and equity, are universally available and affordable, and improve the quality of life for all Americans. Benton’s primary focus is on access, adoption, and effective use of open, affordable, high-capacity broadband Internet access service.

Adrianne spent her professional career in the media business, specializing in distribution and marketing strategies, management, strategic planning and acquisitions. For 13 years, she ran Chicago-based Home Vision Entertainment (HVe), a publisher and distributor of classic and independent films on DVD. Before that, Adrianne spent eight travelling the world for Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) where she served as VP of International Television.

In addition to the Benton Foundation, Adrianne serves on the Board for the not-for-profit documentary film and media arts company, Kartemquin Films; and on the Board of Advisors for the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), which represents a wide range of public and private interests who support the authority of local communities to make the broadband Internet choices that are essential for economic competitiveness, democratic discourse, and quality of life in the 21st century.

Adrianne received her BA at Yale University in Art History and an MA in Radio, TV and Film from Northwestern University.

Tom Garrison
Communications Director, City of Eagan, MN

Tom Garrison is Communications Director for the City of Eagan, MN and helps oversee the 40 mile AccessEagan open access fiber network known as AccessEagan. Tom represented metro cities on Minnesota’s first state broadband task force in 2008-2009. He was previously the founding editor of Minnesota Technology magazine. Since 2004 Eagan has mapped private and public broadband assets throughout the city and has used its knowledge as an economic driver. Successes include attracting a major data center, increased tech employment, new retail and, major corporate relocation decisions.

Lev Gonick
CEO, One Community

Lev is co-founder of OneCommunity and became CEO July 1, 2013.

In 2011 Government Technology awarded Lev one of their “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers & Drivers in Public-Sector Innovation.” In the same year Crain’s Business Cleveland named Gonick one its “10 Difference Makers” in Northeast Ohio and Broadband Communities honored him with their CornerstoneAward for “using fiber to build an inclusive society and empower individuals.” In 2010 he received recognition as “Visionary of the Year” from NATOA. Lev has been recognized by ComputerWorld as a Premier 100 IT leader and honored by CIO magazine with a CIO 100 Award. Northeast Ohio’s Inside Business has recognized Lev as one of their Power 100.

Lev was CIO at Case Western Reserve University from 2001-2013. He and his colleagues were internationally recognized for technology innovations in community engagement, learning spaces, next generation network projects, and organizational development. Lev’s innovations, including the Case Connection Zone catalyzed national projects, including US Ignite and Gig U.

A frequent international speaker and consultant, Lev currently serves on the Boards of Monarch Teaching Technologies (educational software developers for persons with autism), DecisionDesk, EGenio, Groundworks Dance Theater, and Cleveland Independents (Restaurants).

Emma Green
Operations Analyst, Accenture

Emma Green comes from Indianapolis with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Studies from Indiana University Bloomington. She later received her Masters of Science degree in Information and Communication Sciences from Ball State University. As a graduate student, she was a member of the Digital Policy Institute and took part in developing a report that establishes the technical and economic feasibility of broadband deployment in rural Indiana. In addition, she received Best Student Paper after presenting her research report titled, "Indiana Rural Broadband: Technical and Economic Feasibility" at the 2016 Information and Telecommunications Education and Research Association (ITERA) Conference in Louisville. She currently works at Accenture as an Operations Analyst in Chicago, Illinois.

Brent Groome
Chief Executive Marketing, Economic and Strategic Initiatives, HTC

HTC 1990 – Present

  • Public Relations Representative 1990 – 1991
  • Asst. Commercial Manager 1991 – 1993
  • Commercial Manager 1993 – 1994
  • Chief Executive – Customer Operations 1994 – 2014
  • Chief Executive - Marketing, Economic, and Strategic Initiatives 2015—present
    • Lead contact for HTC’s spectrum auctions: LMDS/900/700
    • Key staff member in launching HTC’s wireless service in 1996
    • Department Head overseeing HTC’s wireless services from 1996—present

GTE 1987 – 1990

  • Communications Associate 1987-1988
  • State Public Affairs Manager 1988-1990

Community Activities and Groups:

  • Commissioner of the Horry Georgetown Technical College
  • Member of the Myrtle Beach Area Recovery Council
  • Member of the Horry County Economic Development Strategic Plan Task Force
  • President of the Coastal Carolina University Athletic Foundation Board of Directors
  • CSSA (Communications Supply Services Association) Board of Directors
  • North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
  • Past Regional Board Member for Fellowship of Christian Athletes
  • Past Board Member of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Past Chairman of Conway Area Chamber of Commerce

Erik Gronvall
VP, Srvc Prvd & Ntwk Arch Americas, Commscope

Erik Gronvall joined CommScope through the acquisition of TE Connectivity’s Telecom, Enterprise and Wireless businesses in August of 2015. Collectively, Erik has served TE and ADC for over 10 years - leading product strategy, design and development for inside and outside plant connectivity solutions. Erik holds multiple patents on network architectures and product designs, and provides regular consultation to customers on outside plant connectivity requirements. Erik holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota and an MBA at the University of St. Thomas.

J Guevara
Economic Development Manager, City of Santa Cruz, CA

Innovating within government, bridging cross-functional teams, and creating lasting impact is what J. Guevara is all about. As the City of Santa Cruz Economic Development Manager, J. specializes in broadband policy, business recruitment and retention, and business ecosystem promotion through lifestyle storytelling. He leads the City of Santa Cruz's public-private partnership efforts for a ubiquitous fiber-to-the-premises build along with establishing best practices for wireline and wireless models to support a competitive marketplace while ensuring the community values and benefits from fast and affordable internet. He recently led and executed the creative strategy for, redefining what an local government website can achieve through an authentic brand with human-centered design, sustained by an in-house creative team. You can learn more about J. and his passion for public-private partnership solutions to broadband infrastructure and using design thinking inside government on LinkedIn at: or follow him on Twitter @_jguevara.

Bernard Gulachek
Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Information Technology, University of Minnesota

Bernard Gulachek is the interim vice president and chief information officer (VPCIO) for the University of Minnesota. He leads IT and plans for its long-term future at the University.

Bernard has served the University of Minnesota since 1986 in a variety of operational and strategic technology leadership roles. He is credited with leading many of the information technology services in use at the University today and for working effectively across this large enterprise to achieve both individual unit and institutional goals through the use of technologies.

Timothy Herwig
District Community Affairs Officer, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Tim Herwig is a District Community Affairs Officer in the Central District of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, located in Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity he provides community development outreach, training, and partnership development to national banks and federal thrifts, training and technical support to examiners, and other outreach services to organizations representing the interests of low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. Tim has focused his work to the extent possible on rural community and economic development in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Prior to joining the OCC, Tim was the Central Region Community Affairs Liaison with the Office of Thrift Supervision. He also served ten years as a Vice President of Community Affairs and CRA Officer for TCF National Bank in Chicago. He has served on a variety of boards in Chicago including Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, and the Donors Forum. Tim holds a B.A. from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota and an M.A. from the University of Virginia, both in English Literature.

Jim Hickle
President, Velocity Telephone, Inc./Gigabit Minnesota

Jim is a 20 year veteran of the telecommunications industry who has been President of Velocity Telephone since 2004. He has been instrumental in the growth of Velocity from a traditional CLEC that resold telecommunications services, to an innovative supplier and developer of unique telecommunications services for small businesses. Velocity is also a business fiber provider building fiber to business parks and apartment complexes in the Twin Cities metro area. He currently leads Gigabit Minnesota a fiber to the home provider that builds, deploys and supplies Gigabit Fiber to the Home services in Rosemount. Prior to getting into the telecommunications industry, he ran the wholesale division of Fannie May Candies in Chicago and he can tell you how to make a great chocolate covered cherry. Jim and his wife Reta, live in Rosemount Minnesota and are the proud parents of two boys, two daughter-in-laws, and one beautiful granddaughter who has stolen her Grandpa’s heart!

Charles Hilliard
Technology/eLearning Coordinator, Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, Fond du Lac Reservation, Cloquet, MN

Mr. Hilliard is proud of the fact that the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School is now in its second year of a 1:1 technology initiative that he believes is helping students with engagement, and developing a sense of "ownership" in their education.

For the past three years, Charles has held an "App Camp" during the summer where his students practiced the process of functional software design, construction, and implementation. Students attending the camps have successfully built apps for mobile technologies via PCs that are focused on topics and activities relevant to them-including Ojibwe language and Culture, and in the process practiced "real world" applications of 21st Century Skills such as: collaboration, problem solving, brainstorming, research and development, etc.

He holds an AA Degree from Lake Superior College in Duluth, MN, a BS Degree in Education from Bemidji State University, Bemidji, MN, where he also attended Graduate School earning a Certificate in Online Education.

Brian K. Housh
Council Vice President, Village of Yellow Springs
Midwest Policy Manager,Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Brian is Council Vice President for the Village of Yellow Springs and Council Liaison to the Community Access Panel, the commission that has taken the lead on moving forward the municipal broadband initiative. A graduate from Cornell’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations and a JD/MBA (Environmental Law/Finance & Entrepreneurship), he brings a community development perspective to his political and policy work. Brian has been actively engaged in regional economic development initiatives that emphasize strategies to enhance quality of life, create jobs and increase commerce via arts, culture and environmental sustainability. He spent 12 years in Thailand managing his corporate communications training consultancy and leading the charitable efforts of the American Chamber of Commerce. Collaboration is Brian’s M.O., reflected in such projects as YS-Opoly, a monopoly-styled game that he worked with hundreds of community stakeholders to produce.

Elected to a 4-year term in 2013, Brian is a Council member who is rational, engaged, authentic and collaborative. His legal and business acumen has been useful in making decisions that support the creative community that Yellow Springs, Ohio embodies and promote a high quality of life in the Village. Brian is also Council Liaison to the Arts & Culture and Economic Sustainability Commissions, and he recognizes the critical importance of broadband access for all citizens to ensure their competitiveness and success.

Joanne Hovis
President, CTC Technology & Energy

Joanne Hovis is president of CTC Technology & Energy, where she directs the firm’s work in network business planning; market analysis; financial modeling, policy, and strategy; and management consulting. Joanne advises public sector clients regarding how to build strategy and opportunity for public–private partnerships in broadband. She led the CTC teams that developed first-of-their-kind partnerships for the Commonwealth of Kentucky; the City of Santa Cruz, California; the City of Westminster, Maryland; rural Garrett County, Maryland; and the Champaign-Urbana Big Broadband consortium. Joanne co-authored “The Emerging World of Broadband Public–Private Partnerships: A Business Strategy and Legal Guide,” which was published by the Benton Foundation (

An attorney with a background in communications and commercial litigation, Joanne is also the CEO of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), and former President of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA). She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Fiber to the Home Council and the Benton Foundation.


Matthew Huddleston
County Manager, Lake Connections

Matthew Huddleston is the County Administrator for Lake County, MN and has been working in that capacity since 2012. Prior to his role as County Administrator he served as the County Coordinator for the same county starting in 2008.

Along with the role of County Administrator, he has been involved in the process of seeking funding for and building a new, county-owned, state-of-the-art fiber optic broadband network known as Lake Connections. The majority of the network is complete and operational and the county is in the process of connecting customers. The network has been constructed to serve all of Lake County and portion of Eastern St. Louis County in Minnesota.

Thomas P. Jensen
General Field Representative, USDA, Rural Utilities Service

Thomas is a General Field Representative USDA Rural Utilities Service -Telecommunications where he works initiating and closing loans and grants; and supervising and inspecting construction progress. Prior to joining USDA, Thomas provided consulting services to communication providers. Thomas was CEO of Encore Communications, a CLEC service provider. Jensen’s education includes a Master’s in Business Administration from University of St. Thomas and Bachelor’s in Mechanical & Industrial Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Jensen’s past affiliations include; adjunct Faculty University of St. Thomas and Capella University, serving on the Minnesota Telecommunications Association board, the Dakota County Technical College advisory board and James J. Hill Library board, where he served on the Finance Committee and chaired the Governance Committee.

JoAnne C. Johnson
Executive Director, MN Public Broadband Alliance

JoAnne Johnson serves as the Executive Director of the MN Public Broadband Alliance, a group of managers and officials of publically funded broadband networks that work together to strengthen each other. She also is a consultant to communities and companies to improve issues surrounding broadband infrastructure and use. She was formerly with U-reka Broadband Ventures, a consulting company that served as either consultant or partner to several successful stimulus fund applicants in MN and WI. Her twelve years in government relations and community development with Frontier Communications was a factor in her being named Chair by Governor Pawlenty of the MN Broadband Advisory Task Force, created in 2010’s legislative session. She also served on the original highly acclaimed Ultra High Speed Broadband Task Force in 2009-2010. Prior to her work in the private sector, JoAnne was an Economic Development Officer for Congressman Collin Peterson in the rural 7th District, giving her ample experience and background in rural issues.

Larry Johnson
Director and Founder, The Light Brigade

Larry Johnson, director and founder of The Light Brigade, has been at the forefront of fiber optics since 1977 and has built a reputation as an expert in all aspects of fiber optic technology. He participated in the early development of industry standards for fiber optic design, installation, testing, and measurement. Mr. Johnson has developed numerous fiber-to-the-user training courses, including Certified Fiber to the Home Professional (CFHP), FTTx for Installers and Technicians, and FTTx Outside Plant Design. His leadership in the industry has resulted in repeated invitations to speak and coordinate FTTx activities at key conferences worldwide.

Randall J. Johnson
IT Director, Red Wing Ignite Rural Intern Program, MN


  1. Bachelor of Science Degree in English/Journalism from UW-River Falls
  2. Associate of Science Degree in Data Processing from Control Data
  3. Masters in Management Degree from Cardinal Stritch University

Work Experiences

  1. High school English teacher, Rush City, MN
  2. Writer/news editor/photographer for the Red Wing Republican Eagle
  3. Computer documentation specialist for Nortel, Eden Prairie, MN
  4. Software instructor for Cray Research/Silicon Graphics, Eagan, MN
  5. Technical support specialist for Third Judicial District of MN, Rochester, MN
  6. Goodhue County IT Director, Red Wing, since 2005

Bernadine Joselyn
Director, Public Policy & Engagement Program, Blandin Foundation

Bernadine Joselyn represents the voice of rural Minnesota communities on the Minnesota Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. She has served as director of Blandin Foundation’s Public Policy & Engagement Program since 2001. Beginning in 2003 Bernadine has led the foundation’s broadband programming, including a $6.6 million Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) broadband adoption project, a multi-sector, comprehensive approach to rural Minnesota broadband adoption. Funded in part by federal stimulus dollars, MIRC reached every one of Minnesota's 80 rural counties with education, training, and technical assistance, removing barriers to broadband adoption. Since MIRC’s sunset in 2013, Blandin Foundation trustees have committed an additional $3 million to further the work on broadband adoption in rural Minnesota.

A Minnesota native, Bernadine has a Master’s degree in international affairs and a certificate in advanced Soviet studies from Columbia University. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s degree in public policy from the University’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute. Bernadine served for seven years as a diplomat with the United States Department of State, including assignments in New Delhi and Moscow. She spent the better part of a decade living and working in Russia, including as Director of the Moscow office of the Eurasia Foundation, and Director of the Moscow office of the International Research and Exchanges Board.

Bernadine can be reached at 218-327-8728 and

Elin Katz
Consumer Counsel, State of Connecticut

Elin Swanson Katz has served as Consumer Counsel for the State of Connecticut by since 2011. She heads the Office of Consumer Counsel, an independent state agency established in 1975 that advocates on behalf of consumers in matters relating to electricity, water, natural gas, and telecommunications. Her agency also includes the Connecticut State Broadband Office. Ms. Katz is one of the state leaders of the CTgig Project, in which a number of Connecticut municipalities are seeking to develop ultra-high-speed gigabit networks through public-private partnerships. As Connecticut’s Consumer Counsel, Ms. Katz serves on the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board, and is Vice-President of the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (“NASUCA”). She is also NASUCA’s representative on the Federal Communication Commission’s Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service. Ms. Katz is on the Advisory Committee for the Critical Consumer Issues Forum, a joint initiative of NARUC, NASUCA and EEI. She is the recipient of the New England Women in Energy and Environment’s (NEWIEE) 2014 Achievement Award.

Prior to becoming Consumer Counsel, Ms. Katz practiced at law firms in Washington, D.C.; Boston; and Hartford. She also served as Assistant Counsel at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, taught at Trinity College in Hartford, and served as a legal consultant. Ms. Katz served on the West Hartford, Connecticut Board of Education from 2009 to 2013.

Ms. Katz holds degrees from Cornell University (B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations), Boston University School of Law (J.D. cum laude), and Trinity College (M.A. in English (Writing, Rhetoric, and Media Arts), with honors).

Fabion Kauker
Country Manager, Biarri Networks

Fabion has been with Biarri Networks since its first project in Australia building the design software and delivering consulting services about technology choices including GPON, wireless and satellite. Biarri is actively engaged in the US market delivering design as a service as well as analysis to tier one's, startups and communities. Fabion is actively involved in a number of these projects and is passionate about rapidly delivering ubiquitous broadband in innovative ways.

Philip A. Keithahn
Chairman and CEO,ProGrowth Bank

Phil Keithahn is a founding investor and Chief Financial Officer for the proposed Minnesota College of Osteopathic Medicine. Phil is Chairman of ProGrowth Bank, which is located in Gaylord, Minnesota with branches in Mankato and Nicollet. A third-generation banker, Phil joined ProGrowth Bank in 1990 after spending 7 years with Norwest Bank and Norwest Corporate Finance. During the last 35 years, he has worked on a broad range of corporate and investment banking transactions, and has financed several integrated senior healthcare facilities.

As CEO for Sterling Capital Advisors, Phil provides advisory services to entrepreneurs and business owners. Starting in 2013, he assembled the financing for RS Fiber Cooperative, which is building a gigabit fiber-optic broadband network in South Central Minnesota. During this assignment, Phil established a business relationship with Dr. Jay Sexter and Tony Danza as they were developing the educational strategy and feasibility analysis for MNCOM.

Wayne Kelly
Coordinator, Rural Policy Learning Commons (RPLC)

Wayne Kelly believes that a vibrant rural Canada is essential for the country’s continued economic success and quality of life. To contribute to the development of rural Canada, Wayne has been working in and studying rural development for more than 15 years and has received his Masters of Rural Development from Brandon University and he is presently a PhD student at National University of Ireland, Galway, exploring how rural communities adopt broadband and other Information and Communication Technologies. At the Rural Development Institute (RDI), Wayne is focused on applying innovative development research on digital technologies to help rural Canada realize the opportunities facing it as society, the economy and technology change. As part of the RDI team and as the coordinator of the Rural Policy Learning Commons (RPLC) Wayne hopes to explore new and creative areas to support communities, organizations, businesses and government in rural Canada as well as to further promote the goal of the RPLC.

Douglas Kinkoph
Associate Administrator, Office of Telecommunications and Information (OTIA), NTIA, U.S. Dept of Commerce

Mr. Kinkoph is the Acting Associate Administrator for the Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications (OTIA) for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Office of Telecommunications Information and Applications at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In this capacity, Mr. Kinkoph leads the $4.3 billion Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), resulting from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which funded the deployment of broadband infrastructure, public computer centers, sustainable adoption of broadband service, and the statewide broadband planning and data collection initiative, leading to the creation of the National Broadband Map.

Mr. Kinkoph also directs NTIA’s post-BTOP Strategic Initiatives to promote broadband deployment and adoption across communities nationwide. Prior to this role, Mr. Kinkoph managed the OTIA team responsible for overseeing the BTOP broadband Infrastructure grants.

A telecommunications policy expert, Mr. Kinkoph has more than two decades of experience in the public and private sectors. Mr. Kinkoph held multiple executive roles in the communications industry before joining the Department of Commerce. Most recently, Mr. Kinkoph was Vice President of Operations at Soundpath Conferencing, responsible for all Sales, Marketing and Customer Service operations. His private sector experience also includes serving in senior regulatory and policy roles at XO Communications, Nextlink, and LCI. Mr. Kinkoph earned his M.A. in Administration from Central Michigan University and his BS in Telecommunication Management from Ohio University.

Todd Kielkopf
President, Kielkopf Advisory Services, LLC

Mr. Kielkopf provides strategic development and financial advising services to utilities, communities, business and other clients. He also coordinates the EMERGE@Simpson College entrepreneurial development program and advises its venture teams on proof of concept formation, value proposition discovery and business plans.

Mr. Kielkopf’s 20+ years of professional employment experiences include being both a municipal utilities General Manager and a municipal financial director that formed public/private partnerships to build a fiber-to-the-premise network. His approach ties community-owned broadband, regional entrepreneurial economic development and S.T.E.M. education to broadly define the network’s local impacts. Mr. Kielkopf has also served as President of the Board of Directors for a regional utility services provider, Advisory Council Chairperson of the Iowa Energy Center and on several boards of local economic development organizations.

Paul Kronberger
Chief Information Officer, City of Madison Information Technology

Paul is the Chief Information Officer for the City of Madison, WI. This centralized IT organization provides applications development, infrastructure and support services for all city departments. Additional responsibilities include advising the Mayor and Common Council on technology related issues. Previous positions include serving as CIO for the WI State Dept. of Revenue, CIO for the WI State Dept. of Commerce and IT management positions at the City of Milwaukee. In addition, Paul has held executive positions with several technology companies. Current initiatives at the City of Madison include a Digital Divide Pilot Project that will bring low cost internet service to four underserved neighborhoods. In addition, a proposed City-wide Fiber to the Premises project is in its conceptual stages.

Eric Lampland
President, Lookout Point Communications

Eric Lampland has been President of Lookout Point Communications, an independent consultancy, established in 1997. Lookout Point provides key specialty disciplines to address feasibility, operations, network design, component design, funding and legal aspects that arise during network infrastructure evaluations and implementations. Lookout Point also delivers telecommunications consulting and acts as an advisor to vendors, investors and companies on technology trends, industry analysis, product suitability and marketing.

Eric has been a network architect for almost 40 years and an active member of several international standards forums including the IETF, IEEE, MEF and ATM Forum(s) making contributions to today’s architectures and protocols. His work with public utilities and municipalities has led to recent projects leveraging the newest and disruptive SDN/NFV emergent technologies advantaging transport aggregation and shared service level infrastructures. He is still learning.

Greg Laudeman
Senior Consultant, Magellan Advisors

Greg Laudeman focuses as consultant, educator, entrepreneur, and researcher on how community and technology make us more capable. He is a Senior Consultant for Magellan Advisors, a leading broadband consultancy, and the founder of Eduity, a startup company building an online social platform for workforce planning and development. Greg has worked extensively in talent- and technology-based economic development across southeast and beyond, included over a decade at Georgia Tech. He is past president of the Rural Telecommunications Congress, and has professional experience in media and telecom. Greg has a doctorate from University of Tennessee Chattanooga, where he also earned his bachelor’s degree, and he has master’s degrees from Georgia Tech and Michigan State.

Ewell Lawson
Manager of Government Relations, Missouri Public Utility Alliance

Ewell Lawson is a veteran government affairs professional who has served as a trusted adviser to three governors, a state auditor, and a member of Congress. Ewell has twenty-three years of experience in legislative and policy matters, serving as a Special Assistant to the Governor for Policy and Legislative Development, Missouri’s Director of Intergovernmental Relations, and as the Director of Government Affairs in the State Auditor’s Office. As a District Office Manager for a Member of Congress, his responsibilities included grant facilitation for local governments. He has been a registered lobbyist in Missouri since 1998. Lawson now serves as MPUA’s Manager of Government Relations and Member Services. In this position, he oversees all of the association’s legislative activities while also coordinating and marketing the organization’s services to its members. As a member of the American Public Power Association’s Board of Directors and Chair of APPA’s Advisory Committee of State Associations, he is up-to-date on many issues impacting public power communities. He holds a Masters of Public Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Missouri.

Hilda Legg
Former RUS Administrator and Vice Chair, Broadband Communities

A prominent broadband advocate and champion, Hilda Gay Legg served as the 15th Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Ms. Legg recently assumed the post of Vice Chair of Broadband Communities Magazine.

Appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by a unanimous vote of the U.S. Senate on September 27, 2001, Ms. Legg administered a $6 billion loan and grant program for the infrastructure needs of rural America through Water and Environmental, Telecommunications and Rural Electrification Programs. RUS is part of USDA’s Rural Development mission area, which also includes agencies that serve rural housing, rural business, and community facility needs. As a result of her experience, Ms. Legg has a unique overview of the needs of rural America as it evolves into a diverse economy, In both public and private life, she has been committed to encouraging economic growth while helping improve the quality of life in all of rural America.

A long-time advocate of holistic approaches to economic development in rural America, Ms. Legg entered public service in Washington, D.C. from The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Minnesota, where she served seven years as Executive Director and CEO. She was responsible for the overall management of the state-of-the-art facility as well as program development and outreach. The Center, whose concept is based on a holistic approach, is considered a national model for economic development.

In 1990, Ms. Legg was appointed by President George Bush as Alternate Federal Co-Chairman for the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington, D.C. Her primary responsibilities were to represent and promote the economic policies for the region’s 21 million people, and to assist in the management of a $190 million budget aimed at job creation, building infrastructure, education and workforce training and numerous research programs relative to rural economic development.

Other Career Endeavors: During the late 1980’s, Ms. Legg was Director of Admissions and a faculty member at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Minnesota.

From 1985 to 1987, she was the Field Representative in the Bowling Green office of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell. Ms. Legg served in the Reagan Administration at the U.S. Department of Education. She started her professional career as a teacher in the Adair County Schools and is certified both as an administrator and counselor.

Blair Levin
Communications & Society Fellow, Brookings Institute

Blair Levin serves as a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Metropolitan Policy Project of the Brookings Institute. He also serves as the Executive Director of Gig.U: The Next Generation Network Innovation Project, an initiative of three dozen leading research university communities seeking to accelerate the deployment of next generation networks. From 2009-2010, Mr. Levin oversaw the development of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler cited Mr. Levin’s work, noting that “no one’s done more to advance broadband expansion and competition through the vision of the National Broadband Plan and Gig.U.” Prior to his work on the National Broadband Plan, Mr. Levin worked as an analyst at Legg Mason and Stifel Nicolaus. Barron’s Magazine noted that in his work, he "has always been on top of developing trends and policy shifts in media and telecommunications … and has proved visionary in getting out in front of many of today's headline making events."

From 1993-1997 Levin served as Chief of Staff to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. Previously, Mr. Levin practiced law in North Carolina, where he represented new communications ventures, as well as local governments. He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School. He is the co-author of the “The Next Generation Network Connectivity Handbook” (2015) and, with Reed Hundt, “The Politics of Abundance” (2012).

Casey Lide
Principal, The Baller Herbst Law Group

Casey Lide is a Principal with Baller Stokes & Lide, PC, a national law firm based in Washington, DC. The only law firm in the United States to be named to Broadband Community Magazine’s FTTH Top 100 for each of the last four years, Baller Stokes & Lide represents clients in a broad range of communications matters nationally and in more than 35 states, including telecommunications, cable television, high-capacity broadband communications, the Internet, wireless communications, right-of-way management, pole and conduit attachments, barriers to community broadband initiatives, bankruptcy, privacy, and antitrust.

Mr. Lide 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 MoUs and others.

Michael Liimatta
Professor, City Vision University; Former Manager of ConnectHome at HUD

A visionary leader and social entrepreneur, Michael has worked in the nonprofit sector and online higher education for over 30 years. He has been an advocate for broadband adoption on a national level and locally in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, the first Google Fiber city. In KC, he provided leadership to a broad-based community effort to ensure that low income and minority families could take advantage of all the benefits of high speed Internet connectivity.

Michael is the co-founder and former CEO of Connecting for Good. Established in 2011, the organization is bridging the Digital Divide in Kansas City through wireless Internet connectivity, community computer centers, low cost refurbished computers and free digital life skills classes.

Recently, Michael spent a year in Washington, D.C., working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He served as manager of the ConnectHome Initiative, a White House and HUD pilot program that is expanding broadband adoption for school children in living in public housing in 27 U.S. cities and the Choctaw Nation.

Michael’s involvement with online education began in 1998, when he founded City Vision University, which is an accredited degree granting institution. He recruited and supervised adjunct faculty members, oversaw curriculum development and led the process of obtaining accreditation and federal student aid. Michael retired from the college as Chief Academic Officer in 2015.

Gregg Logan
Vice President of Engineer, Telapex, Inc.

After attending the University of Mississippi, Gregg began his now 36 year career in telecommunications working in the Independent Telco space. In 1990, Gregg was named Director of Technology for Telapex, Inc., the parent company of C Spire. After four years of focus on building the rural cellular markets of C Spire Wireless, Gregg moved full time to C Spire Wireless as Director of Technical Operations. He was responsible for building and operating the cellular network of the company that has since grown into the largest privately held cellular company in North America. In 1999 Gregg was named Vice President and General Manager of Telepak Networks, Inc., a startup company with all fiber based products and services. Telepak Networks placed the first Fiber-to-the-Home network in Mississippi and one of the first in the Southeast into service in 2006. In 2012, Telepak Networks, dba C Spire Fiber, introduced business class dedicated Internet access and full-featured IP phone services in conjunction with C Spire Business Solutions. In 2013, he was named Senior Vice President for C Spire Fiber where he was responsible for all day-to-day operations. Under Gregg’s management, the C Spire Fiber team put into place a fiber network throughout Mississippi that reaches into four states. In 2014 Gregg was named Chief Technology Officer of C Spire that includes the C Spire fiber network boasting more than 6,000 route miles of fiber, over 1700 cell sites, using 3G and 4G technology, as well as C Spire’s Fiber to the Home initiative that brings Gigabit Internet speeds, a full suite of IPTV and home phone service to eight markets throughout Mississippi.

Jason Longenecker
Project Manger, New Light Technologies

Jason Longenecker has spent over 15 years supporting the telecommunications industry. He enjoys using his talents in information technologies, geographic information systems, and business process improvements to develop solutions that benefit community broadband providers. Mr. Longenecker has been a project manager at New Light Technologies for over 12 years, supporting numerous clients such as FEMA, Esri, and DC-Net, the DC Government’s municipal broadband program. At FEMA, Mr. Longenecker managed a multi-million dollar program that supports FEMA’s Geospatial Intelligence Units throughout the country by providing staff, equipment, training, data, and enterprise GIS applications. Over the last six years, Mr. Longenecker has managed a home-grown spatial and network application for 50+ users at DC-Net. In the last year, Mr. Longenecker has begun sharing his complementing GIS and telecom experiences with the broadband community through the Utility LINE blog ( and in a May/June 2016 article entitled “DIY Fiber Mapping,” published in Broadband Communities Magazine.

Ben Lovins
Senior Vice President, Telecommunications Jackson Energy Authority

Ben Lovins is the Senior Vice President of the Telecommunications Division for Jackson Energy Authority (JEA). He has been directly involved with FTTH deployment and operation since the company’s entrance to the market in 2003 when it built its $70 million fiber-to-the-home system and with the most recent announcement to bring Gigabit service to its customers. Prior to joining JEA in 2003, Ben worked for Comcast in various positions. Ben’s 27 years in the Telecommunications industry includes operational, headend engineering, product and service deployment, video programming and services contract negotiations, and additional administrative responsibilities. Ben holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership as well as an MBA from Union University. Ben is a current FTTH Council Board member.

Martin Lowery
Executive VP, Member and Association Relations, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Martin Lowery is Executive Vice President, Member and Association Relations of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). His overall responsibility is to ensure that NRECA excels in serving the needs of its 1,000 members and to assist in directing the implementation of the association’s strategic plan.

Prior to being named Executive Vice President, he was Manager of NRECA’s Consulting, Training and Market Research Division. His responsibilities included directing the provision of services to NRECA member systems and allied organizations.

These activities represent a full range of management and technical consulting and training services, including strategic planning, management audits, merger studies, marketing programs, market research, organization studies, compensation planning, financial management, board and supervisory training and development, member and employee attitude surveys, and management information systems.

Prior to leading NRECA’s Consulting, Training and Market Research Division, Dr. Lowery served as Assistant Manager of NRECA’s Computer Services Division. As Assistant Manager, he was responsible for directing a staff of information technology professionals covering all aspects of the data processing environment with particular emphasis on compensation and benefit administration, new applications, database design, system software and computer operations.

Dr. Lowery has been employed with NRECA since 1982. Previous experience includes five years as manager of the Engineering and Technical Services Division for a Washington-based management consulting firm.

In May 2014, he was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame, which is the highest honor that the U.S. cooperative community bestows on people who have made heroic contributions to the cooperative community. Lowery serves on the boards of the National Cooperative Business Association, the National Cooperative Bank and the Consumer Federation of America. He was elected in 2013 as the U.S. representative to the board of the International Cooperative Alliance.

Dr. Lowery received a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) from DePaul University and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Duke University.

Danna MacKenzie
Executive Director, Broadband Development, MN

Danna MacKenzie joined the State of Minnesota in January 2014 to head up their new Office of Broadband Development, which is housed within the Department of Employment and Economic Development. As Executive Director, MacKenzie leads broadband strategy and program development efforts within the state and provides support to both the Governor’s Subcabinet on Broadband and the state’s Broadband Task Force. MacKenzie currently oversees the execution of the state’s new $20M Border-to-border Broadband Infrastructure Incentive fund that was passed during the 2014 legislative cycle. Prior to joining the Office, MacKenzie served as technology director for Cook County, Minnesota for 17 years, where one of the roles she held was that of administrator for the Cook County Broadband Commission, which was instrumental in bringing fiber to the home to the whole of the rural community. During these years she also served as a member of the Blandin Foundation Broadband Strategy Board focusing on connectivity and broadband use throughout the rural parts of the state.

Bruce Maas
CIO and Vice Provost for Information Technology, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Bruce Maas is the Vice Provost for Information Technology and CIO at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a position he has held since August of 2011. He has served the University of Wisconsin System in a diversity of roles over a career of more than 37 years, including University Budget Manager, Assistant Dean for Business Affairs, and PeopleSoft Student System Executive Project Manager. Prior to his current position, he served for seven years as the Chief Information Officer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Bruce has served as the Director and as a faculty member of the EDUCAUSE Leadership Institute, and as chair of the EDUCAUSE Midwest Regional Conference. Presently, he is serving a 4 year term on the EDUCAUSE Board from 2012 to 2016, and is presently the Board Chair after serving as Treasurer for 2 years. He is also a member of the Internet2 External Relations PAG, Co-Chair of the Internet2 Global Summit Planning Committee, and is the co-PI for two NSF infrastructure grants. In addition, Bruce is a member of the Board of Directors of Unizin and is serving a three year term on the Board of Directors of IMS Global.

Bruce holds an MS in administrative leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Bachelor degrees in Accounting and MIS.

Boris Maysel
Director of Business Development, Siklu

Boris Maysel is an accomplished executive with 15 years’ experience in the field of telecommunication.

Boris went all the way in Siklu from the product idea, through its development, mass production, definition and execution of go-to-market strategy and acquiring partners to build profitable and sustainable business.

Boris serves as Siklu’s Director of Business Development. In his role he is responsible for spearheading company efforts to bring affordable gigabit connectivity everywhere working together with carriers, service providers, cities and municipalities.

Melanie L. McCoy, P.E.
Superintendent, Sebewaing Light and Water Sebewaing, MI

Melanie McCoy has been involved in the Construction, Operation and Management of Power Generation facilities for over 35 years. She is currently the Superintendent of Sebewaing Light and Water, a Municipal Utility in the Thumb of Michigan providing Electric, Water and Internet to its 1700 residents. Sebewaing became the first “Gigabit” Community in Michigan in 2015.

Prior to Sebewaing she was General Manager in Wyandotte, MI and where an Integrated Renewable Energy Program was initiated including Solar, Geothermal and Energy Efficiency. A Mechanical Engineer from Lehigh University, Melanie previously served as Plant Manager and then Director of Environmental Projects at DTE Energy.

Christopher A. McLean
Assistant Administrator Electric Program, Rural Utilities Service, USDA

Christopher A. McLean was named Assistant Administrator for Electric Programs (AAE) at the Rural Utilities Service on January 11, 2015. This is his third time at the agency. As AAE, Chris presides over a $46 billion loan portfolio. In recent years the RUS annual lending budget has been in excess of $5 billion. The agency makes low interest loans for rural electric infrastructure, renewable energy, smart grid and energy efficiency.

Prior to his return to RUS, Chris served as the Acting Director of the Program Planning and Accountability Division of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (OASCR) at the United States Department of Agriculture. He came to OASCR in 2013 as civil rights fellow in the Policy Office.

From 2010-2012, Chris served as a senior advisor to the Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS).

In private practice, Chris was the co-owner of e-Copernicus, a consulting firm that specialized in telecommunications, transportation and technology policy. Chris was also the Executive Director of the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition (CERC).

Mr. McLean is a former RUS Administrator and former Governor of the Rural Telephone Bank. He was appointed Deputy Administrator in January 1998. In 2000, he was the first person nominated and confirmed for the position of RUS Administrator. He served through the end of the Clinton Administration.

Prior to joining RUS, Mr. McLean worked on Capitol Hill for more than 15 years. He joined Senator Jim Exon’s staff in 1982 and served as Legislative Assistant and Legal Counsel until the Senator’s retirement in January 1997. In 1997 he was Legislative Counsel to Senator Bob Kerrey.

Mr. McLean hails from Omaha, Nebraska. He received an LL.M. in International and Comparative Law from Georgetown University in 1985, a J.D. from Creighton University School of Law in 1982, and a degree in Business Administration from Creighton University in 1980.

Pat Millen
Co-Founder & President, E2D, Inc.

Pat Millen is the Co-Founder and President of E2D, Inc. – Eliminate the Digital Divide. With his family, he created E2D as a non-profit in 2013 to address digital inclusion imbalances existing within low-income families in the Charlotte region. Since its inception, E2D has provided solutions totaling over $800,000 for nearly 2,000 families. For 24 years prior to founding E2D, Mr. Millen owned and managed a successful international sports marketing agency that specialized in the sport of soccer. Mr. Millen lives in Davidson, NC with the Co-Founders of E2D: wife Eileen Keeley and their 3 children – Paddy, Franny and Sam.

Jodie Miller
Executive Director, NDC4 Cable Commission and Town Square Television

Jodie Miller has been the Executive Director at Northern Dakota County Cable Communications Commission (“NDC4”) and Town Square Television since 1993, serving seven cities in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. She started there as Education Coordinator in 1989.

Miller is NATOA’s Board President and leads the policy & legal and communications committees. She co-chairs the legislative committee of NATOA’s Minnesota chapter MACTA, and has served as a MACTA board member and President. Miller also sits on the League of Minnesota Cities Telecomm Task Force.

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

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) in Minneapolis. Mitchell is a leading national expert on community networks and Internet access.

Within his capacity at ILSR, he also serves as the policy director for Next Century Cities, a national collaboration of mayors and CIO’s seeking universal access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet connections.

On a day-to-day basis, Mitchell runs, the comprehensive online clearinghouse of information about community broadband. Their interactive community broadband network map tracks over 450 such networks. His research and reports are available online at

In 2015, the White House used Mitchell’s research as building blocks in a National Economic Council report encouraging community networks. He was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. That same year, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors named ILSR the Broadband Organization of the Year. Follow him @communitynets

Photo courtesy of Glenn Ricart

Neela Mollgaard
Executive Director, Red Wing Ignite

Neela Mollgaard is the Executive Director of Red Wing Ignite. Red Wing Ignite is a non-profit advancing innovation, technology and entrepreneurs by bringing together like-minded individuals to create a thriving innovative ecosystem. When Red Wing, Minnesota became a partner of US Ignite, she was part of a dedicated group that developed and launched the non-profit. Mollgaard has over 20 years of experience in corporate and non-profit organizations. She has led the creation of initiatives in both the business sector and within communities. During her time in Red Wing she has served in various leadership roles with local non-profit and philanthropic organizations. Currently, she is the board chair and founder of Women Cents, a non-profit that serves children and families. She also serves on the Jones Family Foundation and the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband.

Jeff O’Neill
City Administrator, City of Monticello, MN

Jeff O’Neill has been the City Administrator for the City of Monticello, Minnesota for 10 years. His responsibilities have included facilitating development and operation of a triple play telecommunication service known as FiberNet Monticello. FiberNet was conceived by a citizen group in 2005, and authorized by a citizen vote in 2007, with service becoming operation in July 2010. His telecommunications background includes service as a Minnesota Public Broadband Alliance board member.

O’Neill has been with the City of Monticello for over twenty eight years serving also in the past as Community Development Director/Deputy Administrator. During his tenure the population has nearly tripled and the City has become a commercial hub for the region. He career also includes service as the City Administrator for the City of Watertown, MN as well as service to the City of Coon Rapids, MN as Assistant Administrator.

O’Neill has a MA in Urban and Regional Studies from Minnesota State at Mankato as well as a Bachelors of Arts Degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter MN.

Kevin Morgan
Chief Marketing Officer, Clearfield

Kevin Morgan is the chief marketing officer of Clearfield, Inc., the preferred supplier specialist in fiber management and connectivity platforms for communication service providers.

Morgan has served in various senior marketing positions since 1996 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 & Technology department. Morgan also served in various leadership positions with the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Americas, including as a regular Board Member 2011-16 and Chairman of the Board in 2015.

Morgan received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University and an MBA from the University of Alabama.

Chuck Olsen
CEO & Co-Founder, Visual

Chuck Olsen is a Minneapolis-based filmmaker and entrepreneur working at the intersection of culture, technology and social good. He enjoys exploring the world with a 360 camera and is the Co-Founder of Visual, a virtual reality media + technology company.

Barry Orton
Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin
Chair, Madison Citywide Broadband Committe

Barry Orton is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is a veteran consultant to local and state governments, specializing in telecommunications planning, broadband policy and cable regulation.

Orton is Chair of the City of Madison's Citywide Broadband Subcommittee and Vice-Chair of Madison's Local Food Committee. He was an original founder of NATOA. Orton's PhD and Masters are from Rutgers in Urban and Regional Planning.

John Paul
CEO, Spiral Internet

John has been a geek for most of his adult life. In the early 1980s, he worked at Teleguide (a San Francisco Chronicle company) designing interactive digital pages for transmission to public information kiosks located throughout the Bay Area – a precursor of the Internet. In 1986, he launched a graphic design studio in Berkeley, California and became an early adopter in using Apple computers for creative work. He has done design work for Sun Microsystems, Intel, Oracle, Bluetooth, Wells Fargo, and McDonalds. In early 2006, he and his late business partner and spouse, Chip Carman — when asked to take over the customer base of the Nevada County Community Network (NCCN) — began operating as Spiral Internet in Nevada City, California.

John is currently the CEO of Spiral Internet. Under his helm, Spiral organized the local Google Fiber for Communities initiative – 95959google – for Nevada County in 2010. He likes to say “Google selected Kansas City, and Spiral chose Nevada County.” Spiral was recently funded by the California Public Utilities Commission to build phase one of a gigabit 100% fiber optic network to connect 2,900 homes and 300 businesses in Nevada City and Grass Valley, California.

John was named “Visionary of the Year” in November 2014 by Innovate North State in Chico, California. He sits on the Membership Committee of the FTTH Council Americas.

John has been a member of the 49er Breakfast Rotary Club of Nevada City since 1997; serving as President during 2006-07. He served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Nevada City Downtown Association in 2007- 08, and Chair of the Nevada County Broadband Advisory Group in 2013-14.

Dan Pecarina
President and CEO, Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC)

Dan Pecarina, President and CEO for Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC), has 35 years of experience in the technology and telecommunications industry.

Dan joined HBC in 1999 and has overseen the implementation of a wide range of data, video and voice systems and services. He led the development of Fiber-to-the-Premise networks in seventeen communities over the past ten years. HBC now provides access to gigabit data/Internet service over its fiber optic network and has expanded its HBC Air broadband wireless service to 30 megabits in some of the most rural areas of southeast Minnesota. Dan has also been instrumental in the development of the HBC Studios and Sports Network, HBC’s southern Minnesota multi-wave 100 Gb transport network and the HBC Wizards technical services and consulting group.

Prior to joining HBC, Pecarina spent 12 years at Winona State University as Director for Technology. While at WSU, he led the development of a campus-wide fiber-optic network and started the Laptop University initiative that provided laptop computers to all students.

Sheldon C. Petersen
Chief Executive Officer, National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC)

Sheldon C. Petersen has served as governor and chief executive officer of CFC since March 1995. Petersen began his career in the rural electrification program in 1976 as staff assistant for Nishnabotna Valley REC in Harlan, Iowa. He later served as general manager of Rock County Electric Cooperative Association in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Petersen joined CFC in 1983 as an area representative and provided financial management and consulting services to the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana and the Dakotas. In 1990, Petersen moved to CFC headquarters where he held various positions, including director of Policy Development and Internal Audit, director of Credit Analysis, assistant to the governor and acting administrative officer.

He also was instrumental in the governance of two CFC affiliated organizations that meet the financial needs of electric cooperatives and rural telecommunications companies and cooperatives. He served as administrative coordinator for the board of directors and coordinated corporate activities of the Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative and the National Cooperative Services Corporation.

A native of western Iowa, Petersen received his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Northern Iowa in 1975. He and his wife, Donita, presently reside in Leesburg, Virginia.

Matthew Rantanen
Director of Technology, Southern California Tribal Chairmen's Association (SCTCA)

Assists tribes with technology development, ranging from broadband network design, radio station applications, tribal administration technologies, to technology policy development. Rantanen serves on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Native Nations Broadband Task Force for a second term, and is co-chair on the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Technology and Telecommunications Subcommittee as well as the Technology Task Force at NCAI. Rantanen is a Board member on Arizona State University’s, American Indian Policy Institute(AIPI), and sits on the Tribal Advisory Council(TAC) to the State of California for the Broadband Council and the Cal Office of Emergency Services.

Rantanen has been called a “Cyber-Warrior for Tribal Broadband.” He is an “Advocate for Net-Neutrality,” and “Tribal Priority for Spectrum over Tribal Lands.”

Mike Reardon
Cable Communications Officer, City of Saint Paul, MN

In 2017, it will mark 40 years that Mike has been a government bureaucrat, in one form or another, for pretty much his entire career. Since 1988, he has been involved with cable franchise, telecom and broadband administration and video programming and has been the Cable Communications Officer for the City of Saint Paul, MN since 2005. In this capacity he oversees the City's two cable franchises, was involved with the City's efforts in broadband and I-Net replacement, and transformed the City's government access operations to a video centric operations, where he gets to supervise a great bunch of award-winning video producers. You can currently watch Mike as the host/producer of the bi-weekly City information program, All About Saint Paul, on Saint Paul’s government access TV channel.

Mike is a past president and board member of NATOA (National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, 1992-97) and is, and has been, the current president of NATOA's Minnesota state chapter MACTA, (Minnesota Association of Community Telecommunication Administrators), since 2013. Mike also served on the State of Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task.

Michael Render
President & Leading FTTH Researcher, RVA LLC

Michael Render is president of Render, Vanderslice & Associates, the premier U.S. market research firm in the area of fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the-premises. RVA has a 30-year history of diverse market research service.

Render has overseen a census of North American FTTH deployments for each of the last three years and has been quoted in national publications such as Business Week and The Wall Street Journal . Render is a frequent speaker at conferences dealing with FTTH/FTTP, and has been invited to update officials at the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies regarding the progress of the technology.

Render has several articles published on issues related to innovation in the practice of both consumer and business-to-business oriented market research. In addition to his work in broadband, Render has consulted with a wide range of firms ranging from Fortune 100 corporations to promising start-ups. He has served on the board of directors of both non-profit organizations and high technology corporations.

In 2005, he received a special Broadband Properties Cornerstone Award for his contributions to FTTH research.

Catharine Rice
Project Director, CLIC

Catharine Rice is Project Director for the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), and consultant with Broadband-Matters. For more than a decade, Catharine has been a cable and broadband consultant serving North Carolina communities in planning and deploying local broadband systems and closing the digital divide, focusing particularly on those communities in the Research Triangle area and surrounding rural counties. Highlights of her work includes working with the Town of Chapel Hill on the development of a free Wifi network to serve underprivileged students in the public housing neighborhoods who have no internet access at home (now in pilot phase); assisting Carrboro in its role as a participant in the Triangle’s NCNGN project, and contributing to the development, implementation and now current promotion of North Carolina’s first community-owned, fiber-to-the-home Gigabit network Wilson, North Carolina. Ms Rice is known for spearheading a grassroots effort, and lobbying to defend, local community authority to offer broadband services between 2007 and 2011. She is currently on the Board of Directors of NATOA, President of NATOA's Virginia Chapter, VATOA, and a Council delegate and Vice Chair of the City of Alexandria, Virginia's IT Commission. She holds a Masters’ Degree from the Annenberg School of Communications and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Steve Ross
Editor-at-Large, Broadband Communities Magazine

Steven S. Ross is a long-time technology writer and former Columbia University professor and is also the Editor-at-Large of Broadband Communities Magazine. The national publication (www. is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for ultra-connected communities.

Ross is a highly respected journalist and an expert on broadband technologies. He also has domestic and international expertise in architecture, land-use planning, business, and education.

Since the dawn of the commercial World Wide Web in 1993, Ross has been conducting annual surveys on media and cyberspace, with special emphasis on how emerging technologies shape Internet use. He has consulted on these issues for the Pulitzer Prize board at Columbia and for some of the world’s largest media companies and foundations.

Ross is well known in journalism circles for his CD-ROM-based instructional software and for his expertise in distance learning and computer-assisted reporting, also known as "analytic journalism".

Ross holds a BS in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MS in Journalism from Columbia. He has authored or edited 19 books, including a massive, continually updated encyclopedia of computer technology and major reference books on land-use planning, product safety, and environmental issues. He has edited magazines and newsletters for McGraw-Hill, MBA Communications, Boardroom Publishing and others. He’s won numerous technical, professional, and journalistic awards.

He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists and has taught statistics in academic and industrial settings.

His community government experience includes more than a decade on the planning board and environmental commission of Leonia, New Jersey, and two stints as President of New Jersey Environmental Lobby. He helped establish the New Jersey Environmental Education Fund in 1983. He has lectured and consulted in 84 countries.

Ross taught for 19 years at Columbia University. He was on the full-time faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism, which he helped computerize in the 1980s and where he established the world’s first courses in analytic journalism. He had been an adjunct there as early as 1973, when he taught the world’s first courses in environmental reporting. He was teaching online database access as early as 1979 at Columbia, in a pioneering national reporting course.

Scottie Sandstrom
Executive Director, Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation

Scottie Sandstrom is the Executive Director of the Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation, holding this position from March 2011 to the present.

His responsibilities include directing the public/private economic development corporation with a vision to grow the economic climate in the county by assisting established businesses to grow, assisting start-up businesses and attracting businesses to locate and thrive in the region. His role also requires partnering with government, private business, education, workforce and the banking community to the furtherance of economic development initiatives.

Prior to his current position, Sandstrom was in management and sales for over 33 years with Larson-Juhl (a Berkshire Hathaway company), the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of picture frame products, where he was a multi- year salesperson of the year award winner.

Sandstrom holds a BS in Liberal Arts from the University of Wisconsin - Superior, and lives near Lake Superior with his wife Cheryl in rural Washburn, WI.

Ellen Satterwhite
Director, GlenEcho Group

Ellen Satterwhite is a Director with the Glen Echo Group, a public affairs firm in Washington, DC. She helps clients formulate policy positions and tell their stories with good one liners backed by solid data.

Satterwhite earned a Master’s in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and a BA from Grinnell College. Previously, Ellen served as Program Director for Gig.U, supporting communities seeking gigabit speeds.

Ellen has years of experience at the intersection of technology and policy, including as a co-author of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and as Consumer Policy Advisor to the Commission. She has researched and written on a range of technology and communications issues, and her work has been written about in Huffington Post, AllThingsD, CNet, Geekwire, GigaOm and CivSource.

Hon. Matt Schmit
Senator, State of Minnesota

Senator Matt Schmit (DFL-Red Wing) represents District 21 in the Minnesota Senate, which includes portions of Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona, and Dodge counties. Elected in 2012, Schmit serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, which oversees telecommunications issues. He also sits on the Capital Investment and Energy and Environment policy committees, as well as the Natural Resources, Economic Development, and Agriculture finance division. In addition, he holds the gavel for the Senate Fish and Wildlife Subcommittee.

Outside his official legislative duties, Schmit runs a small consulting firm, P3 Strategies, and is a member of the National Transportation Research Board. He is also active with the National Conference of State Legislatures, serving on the Nuclear Energy Legislative work group.

A lifelong resident of Red Wing, Schmit's academic background includes undergraduate studies in biology and political science at St. John's University and graduate studies in economics and public policy at the University of Minnesota.

Ysni Semsedini
CEO, Festival Hydro Inc Rhyzome Networks

Ysni Semsedini is the CEO of Festival Hydro Inc and Rhyzome Networks. Festival Hydro Inc is a local electrical distribution company owned by the City of Stratford that services 20,000 customers in the municipalities of Stratford, St.Marys, Seaforth, Hensall, Zurich, Dashwood and Brussels. Rhyzome Networks is the City of Stratford owned Internet Service Provider company which has Dark fibre, lit fibre and ubiquitous city wide wi-fi assets. Ysni received a B.ESc degree in Electrical Engineering and M.ESc degree in Power Systems from Western University and a Masters in Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University. Ysni is a registered P.Eng with the Professional Engineers of Ontario and has worked in industry for almost 13 years.

Gary Shelton
County Administrator, Scott County, MN

Gary Shelton has a degree in Business Administration from the New Mexico Military Institute. Gary’s experience in the areas of government administration, business, information technology, and corrections spans more than 40 years and includes a wide variety of roles. Currently, Gary is the County Administrator for Scott County, MN. He has served the county in that position since 2009 and he was the Deputy Administrator for ten years before that. The Scott County Administrator serves at the pleasure of the Scott County Board of Commissioners, and is, in essence, the Chief Executive Officer of the County. As the County Administrator, Gary is responsible for the overall management of County operations, including preparation and implementation of annual operating and capital improvement budgets and support to the County Board, Regional Railroad Authority, and Water Management Organization. Gary’s responsibilities included the county’s decision in 2007 to build a $4 million, 90 mile fiber ring connecting community anchor institutions and state agencies that dramatically expanded capacity and access to a high speed network and immediately lowered telecommunications budgets. Since that time, Scott County’s continually growing network provides fiber in partnership with several carriers that provide services, that network has helped to lure major employers to the area, such as Amazon and Shutterfly. Scott County’s network continues to grow and their partnerships continue to build a vibrant economic environment for growth.

Mark Shlanta
CEO, South Dakota Network, LLC

Mark Shlanta has led SDN Communications to significant growth during rapidly changing times.

He joined the company in 1998 as network planning and operations director and was promoted to chief executive officer in 2000.

As CEO, he’s led efforts to expand SDN’s network across South Dakota and into neighboring states, and increased business and institutional access to broadband connectivity and related services. He also spearheaded the development of the company’s data center and colocation facility in northwestern Sioux Falls.

With people, businesses and government gaining increasingly more and easier access to broadband connectivity, he expects the telecommunications industry to keep changing at a rapid pace.

“Every day is a new ride,” he says. “We’ve gone through an evolution of technology. Now we’re seeing a huge uptick in bandwidth consumption through data and mobile applications.”

Prior to joining SDN, Shlanta worked for a decade in Missouri in various positions for Contel, GTE, Ameritech Cellular, and Consolidated Communications.

He grew up in Brookings and graduated from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls. He earned degrees in mechanical engineering and engineering management from the University of Missouri - Rolla.

Shlanta stays busy away from work as the chairman of Forward Sioux Falls and the chairman of the Education Telecommunications Board for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He also has served as president of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

In addition, he volunteers for the Boy Scouts, Junior Achievement and Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

He and his wife, Peg, have four boys who range in age from 14 to 21.

Randy Simpson
Vice President, Marketing & Communications, Colorado Communications & Utility Alliance

Randy currently serves at the Vice President of the Colorado Communications & Utility Alliance (, whose goal is to give policy guidance on a wide range of broadband, cable and utility related issues to jurisdictions and policymakers in Colorado. The CCUA is a chapter of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers & Advisors ( as well as a section of the Colorado Municipal League. ( His full-time job is serving as the Television & Cable Services Supervisor with the city of Aurora government channel ( He has over 30 years of experience in government cable television, working both on the video production side as well as cable franchise administration.

Derek Slater
Head of Policy Strategy & Campaigns, Google Fiber

Derek Slater is a Senior Policy Manager at Google. Based at the company's headquarters, he works closely with product teams -- including Google Fiber -- to help them navigate public policy, and he supports the company's global government relations team on media and telecommunications policy. Derek has been writing about digital media since he bought a Diamond Rio PMP300 MP3 player as a teenager, and before coming to Google he worked at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In 2009, he helped Vint Cerf and a group of network researchers launch Measurement Lab, an open platform for Internet measurement tools, and he has written about novel ways to drive broadband deployment.

Hon. Tom Sloan
State Representative, District 45 State of Kansas

Representative Tom Sloan is serving his eleventh term in the Kansas House of Representatives. Currently, he serves as Vice-Chairman of the Vision 2020 committee – the Legislature’s long-range planning committee – and a sitting member of the Transportation Committee, as well as the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Additionally, he serves as a leader on a number of professional association task forces and federal advisory committees. His goal in each case is to bring the best practices back to Kansas, to educate his state and federal colleagues on our approaches to solving problems in the Sunflower State, and to build a better future for his state and future generations by way of compromise.

Tom was raised on a small farm in Central New York State where he learned the importance of being reliable and working hard by milking cows twice per day, in addition to all of the other farm responsibilities that fall on the eldest child. He graduated in the top 10% of his class from McGraw Central High School and lettered in baseball, basketball, soccer, and rifle.

He attended Syracuse University on scholarship and graduated 1968 with a B.A. degree featuring a major in Political Science. He earned a Masters Degree in Political Science from Michigan State University and served as a Teaching Assistant. Following a year back on a dairy farm to support a seriously ill family member, Tom returned to Michigan State. Ultimately transferring to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he earned his PhD in Political Science and headed a faculty member’s 30-person research team.

Tom served as Associate Director of the Kansas State Nurses Association and then moved to the Kansas State Senate as Chief-of-Staff for the Senate Majority Leader, Bob Talkington. Leaving the Senate, he represented the Getty Refining and Marketing Company as a Government and Community Affairs Representative for three years before returning to the Kansas State Senate as Chief-of-Staff for the Senate President, Bob Talkington.

Following Senator Talkington’s retirement, Tom served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Corrections; and then Executive Director of KPL/Western Resources’ Government Relations, Corporate Communications, and Economic Development Departments; before seeking the 45th District’s seat in the Kansas House of Representatives in 1994.

Tom has served as Chairman of the Special Joint Committee on Energy, Chairman of the Higher Education Committee, Vice Chairman of the Utilities Committee, and Vice Chairman of the Government Efficiency and Technology Committee.

He has served as Chairman of two Discussion Groups on Electric Transmission Issues at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); is the only state legislative member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 30-member Electricity Advisory Committee; is a member of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative’s Steering Committee. Tom is President of the Lawrence Technology Association and Chairman of Rural Water District #1. He also serves as a member of the Kansas Energy Council; and is a member of the Insurance Commissioner’s Telemedicine Task Force.

Tom and Gail recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary and have three adult children and two grandchildren. Wendi, Jeremy and their family live in North Carolina; Keith and Michelle live in Texas; and Lynnette lives in Lawrence. Gail developed the natural resources education and mentoring program at Haskell Indian Nations University for the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal and tribal natural resource agencies.

Michael Smeltzer
Director of Special Projects, Consolidated Communications

Michael K. Smeltzer retired in early 2014 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as the Director of Networking and the Director of Community Projects. He was the PI (Principal Instigator) behind the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband (UC2B) Consortium’s $29.4 million BTOP project.

The UC2B network is comprised of seven middle-mile fiber rings connecting more than 250 broadly-defined Anchor Institutions which are located throughout the community, and a last-mile Fiber-to-the-Premise infrastructure passing some 4,650 households and 200 businesses in eleven underserved neighborhoods. UC2B provides gigabit retail and wholesale services as well as dark fiber leases on an open access basis. The UC2B network is now managed by a private not-for-profit (NFP) corporation, which is actively seeking a new private partner to help expand UC2B’s FTTP service areas.

After failing at retirement badly, Mike accepted a part-time position with Champaign Telephone Company, where he has been leading a Metaswitch VoIP deployment. CTC was recently acquired by Consolidated Communications. Mike now serves on the UC2B NFP Board and is involved with the search for a new private partner.

Before rejoining the University in 2005, Mike was the local Operations Manager for McLeodUSA, where he helped design and manage a $7 million fiber-to-the MDU project in the campus area. He has also been a faculty member in the University’s College of Communications, at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL, and at University High School in Urbana, IL.

He was formerly a photojournalist with the United Press International (UPI), a cinematographer and television news anchor with WCIA-TV and served as the Publisher and General Manager of the Daily Illini. While Mike likes to believe that his circuitous career path displays a deep capacity for life-long learning, his wife of 42 years knows better.

Brian Snider
Manager of Business Development, Foresite Group

Brian is the Network Design Director at Foresite Group, Inc. He brings over nine years of experience to our new Birmingham, Alabama office and has worked his way through every aspect of Network Design. Brian started as a drafter for the AT&T PLS U-verse project and worked his way to a full time Senior Engineer and then a Quality Control Manager for the same project. He shifted his career path to management and used his team mentality approach and innovative ideas to bring an automated design approach to the U-verse deployment which resulted in a shorter design cycle and drastically reduced schedule. He has since directed multiple large volume projects for AT&T and Google Fiber nationwide and has established a very experienced design center team located in Birmingham. He has a special interest in volume projects, PMO assistance and improving design durations through technology improvements.

Gigi B. Sohn
Special Counsel for External Affairs, Federal Communications Commission

Ms. Sohn has served since 2001 as the President and CEO of Public Knowledge and, from 2011-2013 as the Co-Chair of the board of directors of the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG). She has served on the board of the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) and on the Advisory Board of the Center for Copyright Information. In October 1997, President Clinton appointed Ms. Sohn to serve as a member of his Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters.

The Honorable Tina Smith
Lieutenant Governor, State of Minnesota

Tina Smith is Minnesota's 48th Lt. Governor. Since taking office in January 2015, Tina has focused on building an economy that works for all Minnesotans - championing issues including rural broadband internet access, expanding access to early learning, and supporting statewide job creation.

Tina leads the Destination Medical Center initiative - a multi-billion dollar public-private partnership to make Rochester America's City for Health. The DMC is expected to create 35,000 to 45,000 new jobs in southeast Minnesota, and attract over $5 billion in private investment over the next 20 years.

Before being elected Lt. Governor, Tina served as Governor Dayton's Chief of Staff. In that role, she managed the daily operation of state government, an enterprise with 34,100 employees. Tina led the Administration's Better Government Initiative to make government work better for people - speeding up permitting times, making government documents and forms easier to understand, and saving taxpayer money through more efficient, more customer-friendly services.

Prior to her state service, Tina served as Chief of Staff for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. After the 35-W Bridge collapse in 2007, Tina worked with the Pawlenty Administration and Minnesota's federal delegation to secure fast-track funding and rebuild the bridge in record time.

Tina moved to Minnesota in 1984 for a job in marketing at General Mills. She left General Mills to start a small business that served state and national businesses and nonprofits.

Tina graduated from Stanford University and earned an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Before attending college, she worked in Prudhoe Bay on the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline.

Tina and her husband Archie have been married for more than 30 years. They have two sons, Sam and Mason, who also live in Minnesota.

Deb Socia
Executive Director, NextCentury Cities

Deb Socia is the Executive Director of Next Century Cities, a new initiative that strives to support community leaders across the country as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet. More than 60 cities strong, Next Century Cities is committed to celebrating city successes, demonstrating the value of truly high speed broadband, and elevating the importance of next generation broadband as essential infrastructure.

Prior to her role as the Executive Director of Next Century Cities, Deb was the Executive Director of the Tech Goes Home program whose mission is to ensure digital equity. Tech Goes Home provides training, hardware, and low cost Internet access to Boston residents and supported nearly 14,000 participants during Deb’s tenure.

Previously, Deb spent 32 years as an educator and administrator. She was the founding principal of the Lilla G. Frederick Middle School, a Boston Public School where she led the one-to-one laptop initiative.

Deb was named the NATOA Community Broadband Hero in 2013, received the 2013 Pathfinder Award from MassCUE, the 2010 “Leadership and Vision” award from CRSTE (Capitol Region Society for Technology in Education), the Quincy/Geneva Community Advocate award in 2009, and the Lilla G. Frederick Award in 2008.

Pamela Standing
Project Director and Co-Founder, the Minnesota Indian Business Alliance

The Minnesota Indian Business Alliance (MNIBA) was formed in 2008, in response to the limited American Indian private sector growth and development occurring throughout the state. Since then the statewide organizational collaborative has over 135 partners representing a broad cross sector of tribal economic and small business development experts, tribal attorneys/judiciary, tribal artisans, American Indian business owners, legal advisors, financial institutions, economic/community development organizations, consumer protection and financial education organizations, non-profits, foundations, institutions of higher education, corporations, MN elected delegates, county, state and federal agencies.

MNIBA is part of a regional partnership of Indian Business Alliances in North and South Dakota, Wisconsin and Montana. Together they a forming a Tribal Broadband Coalition and are in the process of developing a Model Tribal Broadband Engagement Obligation tool kit with best practices for tribal leaders and their key decision makers.

Standing holds a BA in Education and a MBA in International Business. She is a citizen of Cherokee Nation.

Ernie Staten
Deputy Director of Public Service, City of Fairlawn Department of Public Service

Ernie Staten, Deputy Director of Public Service, has been working in local government for more than twenty three years at the City of Fairlawn located in Northeastern Ohio. He is responsible for the City’s infrastructure; including but not exclusively, it’s engineering, design, construction and maintenance. Ernie is the liaison for all utilities: storm water, sanitary sewer, public water, and electric, gas, phone and cable. The City has 4 parks all of which are designed, maintained and serviced by the department. There are 55 miles of roadways in the municipal. With an average snowfall of 62 inches through the season, providing safe driving conditions is a top priority. The City of Fairlawn has 7,500 residents and hosts over 30,000 visitors daily in commercial activity.

The city has a compactor service available to all of its residents of which 82% participate. The compactor allows the resident to recycle paper, plastic, glass, oil, cardboard and yard waste at no charge.

Staten has been instrumental in the development and planning of the brand name FairlawnGig – a municipal broadband community. The City of Fairlawn will be the first true gigabit city in the State of Ohio due to the unique engineering of Fujitsu Network Communications. The City of Fairlawn is investing in the ‘last mile’ network required to bring state of the art internet access services to Fairlawn, its residents, businesses, and visitors as well as the adjacent Akron-Fairlawn-Bath Township Joint Economic Development District (“JEDD”). The FairlawnGig is a one gigabit, fiber to the home project with a carrier grade wireless component. This municipal broadband service will advance the following purposes:

  • Make world-class, broadband internet services available to all residents, businesses and visitors in the City of Fairlawn and the JEDD at reasonable prices
  • Create a competitive advantage for attracting businesses, resident and visitors to the City of Fairlawn and the JEDD
  • Promote commercial and residential growth and stimulate economic development in the City of Fairlawn and the JEDD.
  • Provide a carrier-grade wireless network that would improve the Fairlawn experience for approximately 30,000 daily visitors.
  • Encourage competition by making the fiber optic network open and available for use by other internet service providers.
  • Improve city services and public safety communications, awareness and responsiveness.

Staten is propelling the City of Fairlawn to a highly competitive, technologically advanced municipality with an eye to the future.

Ashley Stelfox
Associate, The Baller Herbst Law Group, P.C.

Ashley Stelfox is an associate at Baller Herbst Stokes & Lide, PC, a national law firm based in Washington, DC, and Minneapolis, MN, that specializes in representing 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.

Ms. Stelfox works closely with Jim Baller and other partners on community broadband matters, in particular concerning the Coalition for Local Internet Choice. She is the co-author of “Economic Development: The Killer App for Local Fiber Networks,” Broadband Communities Magazine (Nov-Dec 2014). Before joining the firm, Ms. Stelfox was a Legal Fellow at the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Ms. Stelfox is a 2013 graduate of the American University Washington College of Law, and is admitted to the bar in the State of Maryland.

Sean Stokes
Principal, Baller Herbst Stokes & Lide

Sean Stokes is a Principal of Baller Herbst Stokes & Lide, PC, a national law firm based in Washington, DC, and Minneapolis, MN. The only law firm in the United States to be named to Broadband Community Magazine’s FTTH Top 100 for each of the past two years, Baller Herbst Stokes & Lide specializes in representing public sector entities including State and local governments and public power utilities on a wide range of regulatory, administrative, legislative, and judicial matters involving broadband, telecommunications, cable television, wireless communications, right-of-way management, pole and conduit attachments and barriers to public-sector entry into communications. His clients include the American Public Power Association, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), regional and state utility associations and municipal leagues and public and private entities in more than 35 states, including the majority of publicly-owned fiber-to-the-home networks in the country.

As a litigator, Mr. Stokes has been involved in numerous competition cases involving complex factual, legal and policy issues, multiple parties, and large amounts in controversy. He was part of the legal team representing the City of Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC in their petitions to the FCC to preempt state barriers to broadband.

Mr. Stokes 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; complying with state and Federal communications requirements; drafting, negotiating and enforcing cable and telecommunications franchises; drafting integrated right-of-way and zoning ordinances, licenses, and permits; and negotiating pole, fiber, and tower agreements.

Mr. 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 as well as 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.

Shannon Sweeney
Associate, David Drown Associates, Inc.

Prior to joining David Drown Associates, Shannon served in several different capacities for local governments that included directing administrative, planning, and economic development activities. For the past 15-years Shannon has worked as a financial advisor to Minnesota communities, townships, and counties as an associate with David Drown Associates, Inc.

Shannon has had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects that include assembling financial packages and proposals for industrial development projects, affordable housing projects, municipally owned essential function bond housing, creation and administration of numerous tax increment districts, creative utilization of tax abatement, creation of housing rehabilitation and historic preservation programs, and the issuance of bonds for a wide variety of local government projects. Recently, Shannon was involved in assembling funding for an economic development loan made by 10 Minnesota Communities to the recently created RS Fiber Cooperative. Shannon also serves as a financial advisor to several of the communities participating in the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Project.

Shannon’s focus has been on educating local elected officials so that they are able to make informed decisions in the areas of project finance, economic development and project planning.

Jacob Terstriep
Business Systems Analyst, Adams Telephone Cooperative

Jacob Terstriep comes from Quincy, Illinois with a Bachelor’s of Science in Management Information Systems. He was previously employed by the City of Quincy as the Senior Analyst / GIS Coordinator where he worked in Project Management and GIS Mapping. In 2015 he started at Adams NetWorks and is currently the Business Systems Analyst working closely with their fiber to the home initiative. He is primarily responsible for data analysis in relation to fiber to the home,, managing various projects, and backend data management systems.

Noah Theran
Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications, Internet Association

Noah Theran is Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications at the Internet Association where he oversees the communications and digital team. In this role, he established the Internet Association as an important voice in public policy debates including net neutrality and the sharing economy. Prior to working at the Internet Association, Theran was Communications Director at the Private Equity Growth Capital Council in Washington, D.C., where he helped the private equity industry rebut attacks emanating from the 2012 presidential election and managed communications around comprehensive tax reform and regulatory issues. Theran also worked for Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications in Washington, where he developed and executed communications strategies for a diverse set of clients with broad reputation, image, and crisis management challenges. He is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Tarek Tomes
Chief Information Officer, City of Saint Paul, MN

In February, 2014, Tarek Tomes was appointed as Saint Paul’s Chief Information Officer and leads the Department of Technology and Communications.

Tomes served as an Assistant Commissioner at MN.IT (formerly Office of Enterprise Technology) for the prior five years of being appointed. His work at MN.IT included setting service strategy for the State’s portfolio of services including line of business applications as well as technology services, among others.

Tomes also spent more than a decade working in the private sector. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology Management from the University of Maryland, University College and has done graduate work at Boston University.

Steve Traylor
Executive Director, NATOA

Steve Traylor is the Executive Director/General Counsel for the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA). He advocates for local government interests in federal legislative and regulatory matters dealing with communications issues, including broadband deployment and adoption, rights of way management, and cable franchising. Prior to joining NATOA in 2010, he served as an Associate Legislative Director for the National Association of Counties (NACo) where he handled tax and finance issues. Steve has also worked as Assistant General Counsel for the League of California Cities and as a Deputy City Attorney for Sacramento, CA.

Nicol Turner-Lee
President and CEO, NAMIC, Inc.

Nicol Turner-Lee is Vice President and Chief Research and Policy Officer for the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), a 28-year old minority media advocacy organization, where she is responsible for designing and implementing its research and policy agenda. In her prior tenure at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Dr. Turner-Lee created the first “National Minority Broadband Adoption Study” which was cited in the Federal Communications Commission’s congressionally mandated National Broadband Plan as well as a subsequent report detailing the information needs of communities. In 2011, Dr. Turner-Lee was appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity in the Digital Age by former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. She has received numerous awards and is the author of several publications with one forthcoming on online privacy concerns of vulnerable populations. She received her B.A. from Colgate University and her doctorate in Sociology from Northwestern University.​

William Vallee
Connecticut Broadband Policy & Programs Coordinator, Connecticut Broadband Office

As an elected official of a small town in Maryland, Dr. Robert Wack advocated for, planned, and led the Bill has been active since 1993 as an telecommunications attorney with the state of Connecticut public utility consumer advocate's agency, the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), where he has represented utility consumers before administrative utility regulatory bodies, the Federal Communications Commission, state and federal courts, including the state and U.S. Supreme Court. He represented the state of Connecticut as the Broadband Policy Coordinator managing the NTIA State Broadband Initiative data collection/mapping and strategic five-year planning grant. Bill helped author the state’s successful application to NTIA for $94 million to upgrade the state’s Public Safety and Education Networks to create the Nutmeg Network, an ultra-high speed fiber network connecting the state’s 169 municipalities. Bill is project manager of the CTgig Project which seeks to create an open access fiber network servicing every address in Connecticut. Prior to joining the OCC, Bill practiced corporate finance law on Wall Street (Hawkins, Delafield & Wood) and in Hartford (Halloran & Sage). Bill holds a B.A. cum laude in English from Union College and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, where he was Writing and Research Editor on the Urban Law Journal. See Vallee, William, ”Sale-Leaseback Transactions By Tax-Exempt Entities and the Need For Congressional Guidelines,” Fordham Urban L. J., Vol. 12, Issue 2, 1983.

Tom Venables
IT Director, City of Burnsville, MN

Tom Venables is the Information Technology Director for the City of Burnsville, MN, population of 61,630. Tom started his involvement in broadband initiatives in 1996, by leveraging the use of broadband cable modems to interconnect city and school district facilities via an Institutional Network (INET) provided through a local cable franchise.

Tom’s responsibilities include:

  • IT infrastructure planning, design and management
  • Application service delivery
  • Help desk operations
  • Coordination of training and organizational development
  • Policies, standards and procedure development
  • Participation and leadership in local, regional and statewide initiatives: DCC, CJIIN, HiPP, LOGIS, Dakota Broadband Board, State of Minnesota MNiT Services.
  • Management and leasing of city telecommunication facilities and assets, including antenna agreements, fiber optics and facility space.

Over the past 23 years, Tom has participated in new cable franchise negotiations for the building and use of a dedicated dark fiber INET to municipal and school district facilities, and has lead the design and implementation of a city owned fiber optic metro area network connecting 57 facilities. Over the same period of time, Tom has been involved in licensing/leasing dark fiber assets to private and public entities, developed agreements with wireless and wired broadband providers for residential and commercial uses leveraging city assets, held public meetings for Fiber To The Premise (FTTP) concepts, and is currently a member of the Dakota County Broadband Board, a Joint Powers Agreement group developing plans for a county wide fiber INET. Tom is a board member of Local Government Information Systems consortium (2007 – current.) Tom received a B.A. in Criminal Justice with a focus on Business Computer Information Systems, from St. Cloud State University. He is married, has two daughters and finds time to enjoy many activities which include volunteering, fishing, boating, hunting, brewery tours and trying new technology gadgets.

Dr. Robert Wack
City Council President, Westminster, MD

As an elected official of a small town in Maryland, Dr. Robert Wack advocated for, planned, and led the implementation of the first community-wide gigabit fiber network in the Mid-Atlantic region, the award winning Westminster Fiber Network (WFN).

The WFN is regarded as an innovative example of a Public Private Partnership model with potential national application.

Robert also has experience in telecom policy, franchise negotiations, and as a telecommunications entrepreneur. Through Arcus Solutions, Robert provides strategic and business planning, advocacy, and political consulting for municipal fiber projects around the country. He also is a board certified Pediatrician and practices in a community hospital Pediatric Emergency Department.

Charlie Walker
President/CEO, Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation

As President & CEO of the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) since 2006, Walker responsibilities include overseeing the firms programs-including business retention and attraction, innovation and entrepreneurship, international trade support, and business financing. Walker is charged with setting the strategic direction, improving Chippewa County’s image and brand, building a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, and executing CCEDC’s core missions- all aimed at bringing talent, jobs and investment into Chippewa County Wisconsin.

A nationally recognized leader and a regular speaker at regional and national conferences Walker has served as an Adjunct Professor for Sul Ross University, Midland, and Lakeland College(s). He has consulted with local cities and state governments throughout the United States, Is a graduate of Angelo State University earning a Master’s in Public Administration, and has received the designation as a Certified Economic Developer from the International Economic Development Council.

A dynamic leader and champion for economic growth in Wisconsin, Charlie’s 30 year career in both the private and public sectors reflects his passion for community and economic development. He has extensive experience in managing an economic development team that was instrumental in creating, producing and executing projects that resulted in the attraction of over 150 companies, creating over 10,000 jobs, and construction/addition of over 5 million square feet of building space, and $2.2 billion in capital investment for notable projects such as Intel, Leprino Foods, AAR Corporation, Emerge Energy, Cray Inc., SGI, EOG Resources, 1-800-Flowers, Tasus, Boeing, Japan Airlines, ADM, and many others.

Mr. Walker has been active on the Boards of economic development, chambers of commerce, and downtown business development organizations in Alaska, California, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin. He has received and been honored through numerous awards- “Outstanding New Developer of the Year”, “Innovation Program Award” and “Organization of the Year” from his peers.

Monica Webb
Government Relations, Ting Internet

Monica spent her early career working in the financial services industry in Toronto, in marketing and management, where she launched channel marketing platforms that continue to dominate channel strategy in the mutual fund industry today.

After moving to the Berkshires in 2002, Webb operated a marketing consulting agency and joined a handful of tech-savvy western Massachusetts residents in spearheading efforts to create a regional municipal fiber-to-the-premises network in towns unserved by broadband. Those efforts resulted in a 44-town cooperative called WiredWest, incorporated in 2011 under a Massachusetts’ statute that enables municipalities to individually or jointly finance, build and operate telecommunications networks.

As her role at Ting Internet, Webb works with local stakeholders in existing Ting towns, and also participates in evaluation of existing and prospective gigabit network locations, and related business projects. Today Ting owns and operates a rapidly-expanding fiber network in Charlottesville, VA; operates and provides ISP services over a FTTH network in Westminster, MD and over two middle-mile fiber networks in Virginia. Ting is also building a FTTH network in Holly Springs, NC, and will be announcing more cities in the near future.

Shane West
Vice President of Marketing and Product Development, TDS Telecommunications

Shane began his career with TDS Telecom’s parent company, Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. in 1996. He then moved to TDS Telecom’s sister company, U.S. Cellular, before joining TDS Telecom in 2001. Shane has held various roles within TDS Telecom as part of its marketing organization. Prior to his current role as Vice President of Marketing and Product Development, Shane served as the Vice President of Consumer Marketing and Product Development. He moved into his current role in 2015. In his current role, Shane leads the overall marketing strategy and tactics for TDS’s telco and cable operations and has led TDS’s FTTH marketing and sales initiatives. This responsibility includes leading brand development and management, customer acquisition and retention marketing, and digital marketing. Shane is also responsible for product strategy at TDS including product management, development, and project management and prioritization for TDS Telecom.

Shane is a member of the University of Wisconsin E-Business Consortium Marketing Executive Forum. In his free time, Shane enjoys coaching youth baseball and soccer. He also spends time musky fishing in Wisconsin and Canada. Shane holds a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.

John Windhausen
Executive Director, Broadband (SHLB) Coalition

John Windhausen, Jr. is the Executive Director of the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, a diverse coalition of community anchor institutions, broadband companies (for-profit and non-profit), foundations (such as the Gates Foundation) and public interest groups. Mr. Windhausen also represents a variety of non-profit and commercial organizations through his consulting firm, Telepoly Consulting. His current clients include the American Library Association, EDUCAUSE and The Quilt. Prior to opening his consulting practice in 2004, he served as President of a telecommunications trade association, as counsel and senior counsel to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee for nine years, and as staff attorney at the FCC. Mr. Windhausen graduated from Yale University and the UCLA School of Law.

Madonna Peltier Yawakie
President, Turtle Island Communications, Inc. (TICOM)

Madonna founded TICOM to provide telecommunication engineering and consulting services to Tribal Nations. TICOM works with their clients to develop and implement broadband systems that meet federal National Broadband Plan Standards for rural and remote high cost service areas. TICOM’s major accomplishments include engineering, project management, construction management, and implementation of the following:

  • The first 100% tribally owned and ETC Designated Commercial Wireless System in the Nation
  • The first 100% tribally owned Fiber to the Home Network which provides 1 gigabit capacity to all residents and businesses within its tribal lands.

TICOM’s work contributes to closing the digital divide in Indian Country, and increasing broadband access to enhance economic, education, public safety, and healthcare opportunities for those living and working on tribal lands.

Madonna’s career in the Telecommunication Industry began in 1991 and includes holding positions in Operations, Marketing and Project Management for both a Regional Carrier, and an Engineering Firm that supported the Rural Telecommunication industry. She has contributed to the development of the FCC’s Telecom/Broadband Policies for Tribal Nations. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration, and a Masters in Community & Regional Planning from North Dakota State University. She is a Citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

David Young
Fiber Infrastructure and Right of Way Manager, City of Lincoln, NE

David Young is currently the Fiber Infrastructure and Right of Way Manager with the Public Works department for the City of Lincoln. He received his M.S. in Telecommunications Administration from Oklahoma State University while employed as an Outside Plant Engineer with the City of Tulsa. In 2012, Mr. Young was hired as a consultant to design the Lincoln Technology Improvement System for the City of Lincoln. Six private business-class carriers have leased the LTIS system since 2013. Mr. Young’s current project list includes the implementation the City of Lincoln Fiber to the Home initiative, ODAS and Wireless Master Planning for Sacramento, CA and serving as treasurer on the economic development board for the Northern Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.

Matt Zehnder
Vice President, KeyBanc Capital Markets

Matt Zehnder is a Vice President in KeyBank’s Public Sector/Public Finance Group based in Seattle Washington. Mr. Zehnder specializes in designing financing strategies and executing financial transactions for public power and utility clients nationally. Throughout his nearly four years at Key, Matt has participated in over $2 billion public power, cooperative and investor owned utility public bond offerings and credit transactions. He has experience in capital market and credit transactions including taxable and tax-exempt revenue and general obligation bonds and notes, lines of credit, direct and private placements, bridge financings, and other structures. Matt’s clients range in size from $10 million to $500 million plus in annual revenue.

Prior to joining Key, Matt led the financial planning group at a large west coast public power provider. Prior to his public sector experience he was a manager with a public accounting firm in New York providing fixed income and derivative valuation services to many of the largest financial services firms in the Country.

Matt holds a Master’s of Science in Finance degree from The George Washington University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting from Western Washington University. He also holds a Utility Management Certificate from Willamette University. His securities licenses include the Series 52 and 63 and he also passed the Washington State Board of Accountancy Exam in 2002.









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