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FirstNet Board Filled by Public Safety Officials, Telecom Execs

Now that legislation for a nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety use is a reality, a board of directors has been chosen to oversee the project.

With legislation passed earlier this year to create nationwide interoperability by building a wireless broadband network for first responders and public safety officials, the federal government needed to find individuals to oversee the network’s progress.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, signed by President Barack Obama on Feb. 22, allotted $7 billion in federal grants to develop the network.

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is an independent group within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency of the Commerce Department, and a “recruitment prospectus” was issued to find the members for its board of directors. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary, U.S. Attorney General and Office of Management and Budget director will hold permanent seats on the board. Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank was charged with selecting the remaining 12 members.

On Monday, Aug. 20, the board members were named at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International Conference. The new FirstNet board members are as follows:

Tim Bryan
CEO, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative

Bryan was appointed CEO of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative last year. Prior to his current position, Bryan was CEO of ICO Global Communications, a satellite and terrestrial wireless company.

“FirstNet will provide a vital service to the country,” Bryan said in a statement. “Our first responders put their lives on the line every day and deserve the best communications tools available.”

Chuck Dowd
Deputy Chief, New York City Police Department

Dowd, in addition to his position as deputy chief of the New York City Police Department, also serves as commanding officer of the Communications Division.

F. Craig Farrill
Wireless Telecommunications Executive

Prior to co-founding Kodiak Networks in 2001, Farrill was managing director at inOvate Communications Group, a venture capital firm that focused on investments in the wireless space. Previously, he served as chief technology officer for Vodafone AirTouch PLC. In addition, Farrill founded the CDMA Development Group in 1993, an international consortium of companies that work to advance wireless telecommunications systems.

Paul Fitzgerald
Sheriff, Story County, Iowa

Sam Ginn
Telecommunications Executive

Considered to be a pioneer of wireless technology, Ginn is the former CEO of Vodafone AirTouch, PLC. In 2005, Ginn was appointed by Alabama Gov. Bob Riley for a seat on the Auburn University Board of Trustees. He was also elected a director of the Chevron Corp. in 1989.

Jeffrey Johnson
Retired Fire Chief; CEO Western Fire Chiefs Association; Former Chair, State Interoperability Council, Oregon

Johnson holds more than 30 years of experience in the fire service. In 2009, Johnson became president and chairman of the board of directors of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

“It’s so critical to first responders that this national public safety network is completed with their perspective in mind, and I’m anxious to fill that role,” Johnson said in a statement. “I have first-hand experience with understanding the mission critical component and how the existing communications networks need to find a path in FirstNet. I’m looking forward to seeing this critical initiative through.”

William Keever
Telecommunications Executive (retired)

Kevin McGinnis
Chief/CEO, North East Mobile Health Services

In addition to serving as chief and CEO of  North East Mobile Health Services, a paramedic service in Maine, McGinnis is vice chairman of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust Corp.

“The future of EMS is broadband communications,” McGinnis said in a statement. “Paramedic services and the hospitals with which they interact for patient care will, in my estimate, be majority users of the public safety broadband network.”

Ed Reynolds
Telecommunications Executive (retired)

Susan Swenson
Telecommunications/Technology Executive

With more than 20 years of experience in fixed line and wireless telecommunications, Swenson spent a portion of her career with Pacific Bell, and later became president and CEO of Cellular One, a joint venture with Vodafone AirTouch and AT&T Wireless. After, she held executive positions with Leap Wireless International and T-Mobile. Most recently Swenson was chief operating officer of Atrinsic Inc., a provider of digital media entertainment content.

“The initial work of FirstNet must focus on building this network in the most efficient, effective and expeditious way possible,” Swenson said in a statement. “It’s also critical that the network be built to meet the highest priority needs of its future customers.”

Teri Takai
Government IT Expert; Former CIO of Michigan and California

Takai currently serves as the CIO of the U.S. Department of Defense and was appointed to the role in 2010.

Wellington Webb
Founder, Webb Group International; Former Mayor of Denver