FirstNet CTO Ali Afrashteh Resigns

FirstNet lost another key member of its leadership this month.

The leadership shuffle at the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) continues. Former FirstNet Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Ali Afrashteh has resigned, FirstNet confirmed this week. Afrashteh cited “personal reasons,” and FirstNet said it wished Afrashteh a “speedy recovery.”

Jeff Bratcher is replacing Afrashteh. Bratcher joined FirstNet as acting deputy CTO in November 2013 and became the permanent deputy CTO in June.

Afrashteh’s departure also was accented by the change in role of Jeffrey Johnson, retired fire chief of Oregon’s Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, CEO of the Western Fire Chiefs Association, and former chair of Oregon’s State Interoperability Council. Johnson will serve as vice chairman and previously served as a board member. These changes in leadership come six months after Afrashteh’s hire in April, and months more beyond the retirement of General Manager Bill D’Agostino and the hire of CIO Jim Gwinn.

About 20 employees now work at the technical headquarters, according to FirstNet.

FirstNet has been accused of offenses ranging in character from slow to possibly illegal. How this most recent departure will affect the project’s future is unclear, but FirstNet welcomed Johnson after months of speculation that he would join the organization in some capacity.

“For those of you who know Jeff, this won’t come as a surprise. You know that Jeff has spent his career in public safety, so he knows this extremely,” FirstNet Chairwoman Sue Swenson told Urgent Communications. “He was also a significant member of the group that actually created the enabling legislation that made FirstNet a reality.”

This article was updated Dec. 12.

Colin wrote for Government Technology and Emergency Management from 2010 through most of 2016.