FirstNet Authority board gets two members, including first 911 official
All position on the FirstNet Authority board are filled, after U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today appointed two new members, Karima Holmes—the first 911 official to serve on the board—and Matt Slinkard of the Houston Police Department
“These new board members will ensure FirstNet continues to deliver for America’s emergency responders,” Wilbur Ross said in a prepared statement. “I thank our new members for bringing their leadership to the Board and guiding FirstNet in its mission to save lives and keep our communities safe.”
A press release issued today by the U.S. Department of Commerce provided the following background about the two appointees.
- “Karima Holmes, Director, Office of Unified Communications, Washington, D.C., supervises all of the District’s emergency 911 and basic city service 311 call activities. She led efforts to prepare the District’s dispatch centers to accept Next-Generation 911.
- “Matt Slinkard, Executive Assistant Chief of Police, Houston, Texas, serves as an executive command officer with the Houston Police Department where he manages the investigative and special operations functions that include 22 divisions and five commands.”
FirstNet Authority board Chairman Ed Horowitz welcomed the new board members.
“I am pleased to welcome our newest members to the FirstNet Authority Board,” Horowitz said in a prepared statement. “They are experts in their fields and bring additional substantive technical and public safety experience to the Board as we continue to drive the FirstNet Roadmap forward based on public safety’s priorities. I want to personally thank Secretary Ross for his continued support of FirstNet with these new appointments.”
Particularly notable is the appointment of Holmes, who is the first FirstNet Authority board member to be appointed while serving in an active 911 role.
Under the 2012 law that established the FirstNet Authority as the entity within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the FirstNet Authority is tasked with building a nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN). Although the FirstNet Authority has no legal jurisdiction over 911, there has been a growing sentiment within the public-safety community that the organization would benefit from additional 911 expertise, given the inherent linkage between 911 centers and first responders in the field.
Holmes is filling the board position previously held by Teri Takai, whose term expired in August after seven years of service to the FirstNet Authority. Takai was the last of the original board members appointed when the FirstNet Authority was established in 2012.
By replacing Takai, Holmes has the opportunity to serve a full three-year term on the FirstNet Authority board that is scheduled to expire in August 2022, according to the FirstNet Authority web site.
In contrast, Slinkard’s current term is scheduled to end in January 2021, because he is slated to complete the tenure of former board member Richard Ross. Richard Ross is the former City of Philadelphia police commissioner who resigned that position in August amid allegations of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and gender discrimination within his department.
Diane Rinaldo, Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator, expressed optimism about the direction of FirstNet.
“As FirstNet expands its public safety network throughout the country and supports our first responders, I’m confident in the FirstNet Authority board’s membership and leadership under Ed Horowitz,” Rinaldo said in a prepared statement. “I also want to thank our outgoing members Teri Takai and Richard Ross for their service to FirstNet and the public-safety community.”