FirstNet Authority board revamped with seven new members, Benjamin as chair
FirstNet Authority’s board has seven new members—including a new chair in Stephen Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, S.C.—after U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo today announced 11 appointments to the body overseeing the buildout and operation of the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN).
“I am proud to announce the selection of these highly qualified board members, whose experience in public service and the private sector will ensure that the FirstNet Authority continues to provide the world-class communications network our emergency responders need,” Raimondo said in a prepared statement.
“I thank these individuals for their willingness to join the board and guide the FirstNet Authority in its mission to save lives and keep our communities safe. Their backgrounds and experience reflect the diversity of FirstNet network users and will enable the board to look to the future for investment opportunities and sound financial management to maintain the only public-private nationwide public safety broadband network.”
According to the law that created FirstNet, the FirstNet Authority board consists of three administrative representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Of the other 12 positions on the FirstNet Authority board, Karima Holmes was the only member whose three-year term did not expire this year, leaving Raimondo with the option of making 11 appointments.
Raimondo named Benjamin as chair, where he will succeed Robert “Tip” Osterthaler to become the fifth person to lead the FirstNet Authority board.
In addition to serving as the mayor of Columbia, S.C., Benjamin is the former president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, former president of the African-American Mayors Association, vice chair of the Global Parliament of Mayors, co-chair of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and a former member of the FCC’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, according to a press release.
“Mayor Benjamin is a talented and experienced leader who will bring strong stewardship and vision to the board,” Secretary Raimondo said in a prepared statement. “I am confident that, under Mayor Benjamin’s leadership, the new board will guide the FirstNet Authority as it continues to deploy around the country and serve our first responders.
“I also want to thank our outgoing Chair Robert ‘Tip’ Osterthaler for his service to the FirstNet Authority and the public-safety community. Tip has been a valuable member of the board, and the FirstNet Authority has built a strong foundation with the support of his leadership and dedication.”
Raimondo also announced six other new members to the FirstNet Authority board for a three-year term:
- Alexandra Fernandez Navarro, a commissioner, on the Puerto Rico Public Service Regulatory Board. Navarro also is a member of the FCC Intergovernmental Advisory Committee and a member of the NTIA State Broadband Leaders Network.
- Kristin Graziano, sheriff of Charleston County, S.C. Graziano also is member of the Major County Sheriffs of America.
- Peter Koutoujian, sheriff of Middlesex County, Mass. Koutoujian also is president of the Major County Sheriffs of America, former president of the Massachusetts Sheriff’s Association and a former member of the of Massachusetts House of Representatives.
- Warren Mickens, retired vice president of CenturyLink Communications. Mickens also was a former vice president at Nokia/Alcatel-Lucent.
- Sylvia Moir, retired police chief of Tempe, Ariz. Moir also was the former interim police chief in Napa, Calif., past president of the Police Executive Research Forum and chair of the IACP Community Policing Committee.
- Jocelyn Moore, a consultant/venture capital who serves on the board of directors for DraftKings. Moore also is the former executive vice president for the National Football League, former deputy staff director of the Senate Finance Committee and former deputy chief of staff, policy director and legislative director for Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV.
Joining Holmes as returning members of the FirstNet Authority board are Richard Carrizzo, Brian Crawford, Billy Hewes and Paul Patrick. All four of these men were reappointed to a second three-year term.
Longtime FirstNet Authority board members Ed Horowitz—who preceded Osterthaler as board chair—and Neil Cox were not eligible to return after completing their second three-year terms this year. Others departing the board are Osterthaler, Welton Chase, Matt Slinkard and David Zolet. The other opening on the board that was filled was a seat formerly held by Richard Stanek.
New board members will participate in their first open board and committee meetings on Nov. 17.
This new FirstNet Authority board has a different makeup compared to previous versions, as it features seven members who either are active or retired public-safety officials. Under the law that created the FirstNet Authority, only four public-safety representatives are required to be on the board.
Evelyn Remaley, acting assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, expressed optimism about the new FirstNet Authority board.
“NTIA congratulates the new board members and welcomes them to the team,” Remaley said in a prepared statement. “Under the leadership of Mayor Steve Benjamin, FirstNet is poised to continue to deliver for first responders.
“I also want to thank all of the outgoing board members for their tireless service and commitment. They led the FirstNet Authority through a time of incredible growth and ensured that it is well positioned to serve public safety for many years to come.”