FirstNet’s board largely will remain the same for the next year, after U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker yesterday announced the reappointment of three members prior to their one-year terms expiring. However, Bill Keever announced that he will not return to the FirstNet board.

During yesterday’s FirstNet board meeting, Pritzker emphasized that “FirstNet is a high priority of ours” while announcing that Jeff Johnson, Sue Swenson and Teri Takai—each given a one-year term upon their original appointment last August—will remain with the board.

“I know that you want to move forward as quickly as possible to get up and operating, and we want to be as supportive as we can,” Pritzker said during the meeting. “The first thing that we did was make sure that the board continues forward, so one of the first things we’ve done is reappoint Jeff Johnson, Sue Swenson and Teri Takai for another three years.

“They obviously bring expertise to the group in a number of issues, ranging from spectrum management to stakeholder outreach. I want to thank them for their willingness to continue to serve. We’re pleased that you’re sticking with us.”

Meanwhile, Keever opted to let his one-year term expire this month, so that he can concentrate his efforts on a very different endeavor.

“I appreciate the opportunity to be part of this historic undertaking to build a nationwide public safety network dedicated to public safety,” Keever said in a statement. “Being a member of the FirstNet Board has been an honor. But it is now time for me to focus on running my family winery in California. I wish FirstNet all the best and will be watching with anticipation from the sidelines as this new network unfolds."

FirstNet board member and acting chief technical officer (CTO) Craig Farrill said Keever’s engineering background and technical knowledge will be “sorely missed” by FirstNet’s network-design team. FirstNet Chairman Sam Ginn echoed this sentiment.

“We hate losing you [Keever],” Ginn said. “You have made a wonderful contribution.”

Although Farrill continues to serve as acting CTO until a full-time replacement is hired, FirstNet’s hiring of 10 full-time staff members during the past few months will enable a key transition for the organization from board management to staff management, according to Ginn.

“As those of you who have been following our progress know, early on, board members took on management responsibilities,” Ginn said. “As we add senior management, we are putting board members back in their more traditional role.”

FirstNet board members unanimously approved resolutions thanking Farrill and other board members for their willingness to assume day-to-day responsibilities until staff members were hired. For example, Swenson has been leading FirstNet’s communications with entities building public-safety LTE networks. Going forward, Johnson will relinquish the leadership of FirstNet’s user-advocacy program to TJ Kennedy, FirstNet’s new deputy general manager.

FirstNet board member Wellington Webb said the effort of these FirstNet board members has been admirable and crucial during the formative stages of FirstNet.

“I don’t know how much people really understand and truly realize that we had no staff, and that it was the board members that were actually working as staff members,” Webb said. “That is very, very unusual and … I just want to thank those other board members, as you have, for the extra time that they put in. It really has pushed FirstNet much further along than what we would have been, if we were waiting to get the entire staff on board.”