Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.

Fact Sheet: First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)

Printer-friendly version

Fact Sheet: First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)

  • In February, Congress enacted The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which mandated the creation of a nationwide interoperable wireless broadband network that will enable police, firefighters, emergency medical service professionals, and other public safety officials to more effectively communicate and do their jobs.
  • The law created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority within the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Congress charged FirstNet to take “all actions necessary” to build, deploy, and operate the network, in consultation with Federal, state, tribal, and local public policy entities.
  • FirstNet will be led by a 15-person Board of Directors. Three senior administration officials – the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Director of Office of Management and Budget – are permanent members of the FirstNet Board. The law directs the Secretary of Commerce to select the remaining 12 board members. 
  • The Acting Secretary of Commerce, as required by the law, selected FirstNet Board members who each have expertise in one or more of the following areas: knowledge and experience in public safety or emergency response; technical expertise and fluency regarding broadband communications; expertise in building, deploying, and operating commercial telecommunications networks; or expertise in financing and funding telecommunications networks. 
  • The law also requires the FirstNet Board to include members who have served as public safety professionals; have members who represent the collective interests of states, localities, tribes, and territories; and reflect geographical and regional diversity, as well as rural and urban representation.
  • The term of a FirstNet Board member is three years. However, the terms of the inaugural FirstNet Board members are staggered: four members will serve three years; four members will serve two years; and four members will serve one year. Board membership is limited to two consecutive full three-year terms.

FirstNet Board Members
Appointed by Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

Tim Bryan
CEO, National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative
Term: 3 years

Tim Bryan is a seasoned telecommunications industry executive, with more than two decades of experience financing and building telecommunications networks. For the past year, he has served as CEO of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC), a cooperative that represents the telecommunications and information technology interests of 1,500 rural utilities and affiliates covering 20 million homes in 48 states. Prior to joining NRTC, Mr. Bryan was CEO of ICO Global, a satellite company and an early player in mobile/terrestrial wireless hybrid voice and data networks. Prior to that, he was Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Eagle River, and served on the Boards of Directors of Nextel Communications, Clearwire Communications, and OpenTV. Mr. Bryan also served as the President of United Pan Europe Communications, a broadband telecommunications provider serving 6 million customers across Europe. His finance experience includes serving as CFO of United GlobalComm (now Liberty Global) and holding finance and management positions for Jones Intercable, NationsBank Corp., and Mellon Bank. Mr. Bryan is a graduate of Duke University.

Charles “Chuck” Dowd
Deputy Chief, New York City Police Department
Term: 2 years

A 30-year veteran of the New York City Police Department, Charles “Chuck” Dowd brings to the FirstNet Board a wealth of public safety experience. Chief Dowd is currently Commanding Officer of the New York City Police Department’s Communications Division. His division, which has more than 1,500 members, is responsible for the world’s busiest 911 system and a police radio operation that dispatches 4.5 million radio runs annually. Chief Dowd was in command at the New York City 911 call center on September 11, 2001, coordinating the NYPD’s communications response. Chief Dowd is a member of and has worked closely with key public safety organizations including the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCC), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO).

F. Craig Farrill
Wireless telecommunications executive
Term: 3 years

Craig Farrill’s leadership and experience in the wireless industry spans 38 years. Most recently, he    founded advanced wireless systems company, Kodiak Networks, where he served as President and CEO from 2003-2007. Prior to that, he was Managing Director at inOvate Communications Group, an early stage wireless venture capital firm. For the majority of his career, Mr. Farrill has served as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for large international wireless carriers, including Vodafone AirTouch Plc, PacTel Corp., and AirTouch Communications. He also was a founder of the CDMA Development Group (CDG), an international industry association furthering the development of next-generation wideband digital cellular technology. Mr. Farrill has over 13 years of experience on public, private and non-profit boards and currently serves on the board of Kodiak Networks. He has degrees from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Dallas.

Paul Fitzgerald
Sheriff, Story County, Iowa
Term: 2 years

Paul Fitzgerald has a 35-year background in public safety and has been extensively involved in federal public safety communications initiatives. He was elected Story County Sheriff in 1992 after serving for 15 years on the Waterloo Police Department. Sheriff Fitzgerald also served as president of the National Sheriffs Association and has been deeply involved in the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST), the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), and the SAFECOM Emergency Response Council. Sheriff Fitzgerald has a master’s degree from St. Ambrose University and an undergraduate degree from Wartburg College. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Samuel  “Sam” Ginn  (Chairman)
Telecommunications executive
Term: 2 years

Sam Ginn has been a leader in the telecommunications industry for more than four decades, beginning his career in 1960 as an engineer with AT&T. He later transitioned to Pacific Telephone in the mid-‘70s and rose up through the ranks to become chairman and CEO of Pacific Telesis from 1988-1994.  He is an early pioneer in the wireless phone industry, launching AirTouch wireless phone company while at PacTel. He served as AirTouch’s chairman from 1993-1999. In 1999, Vodafone acquired Airtouch, and Mr. Ginn assumed the position of chairman in the United Kingdom. Mr. Ginn currently serves as Senior Advisor at Greenhill LLC, a Wall Street advisory firm, and is Director of OnDot Systems, Inc. He has significant board of directors experience, currently serving on the boards of Franklin Templeton Funds and Eisenhower Medical Center in Ranch Mirage, California. He previously served on boards for ICO Global Communications, CH2M Hill, First Interstate Bank, Pacific Telesis Group, Safeway, Transamerica Corporation, Vodafone, AirTouch Communications, Chevron Corporation, and Hewlett-Packard. Mr. Ginn is a graduate of Auburn University’s College of Engineering, which is named after him. He will serve as chairman of the FirstNet Board.

Jeffrey Johnson
Fire Chief, retired; CEO Western Fire Chiefs Association
Former Chair, State Interoperability Council, State of Oregon
Term: 1 year

Jeffrey Johnson has an extensive public safety background, with broad experience at both the local and national level. Chief Johnson served as Chair of Oregon’s Statewide Interoperability Executive Council, which is transitioning from four independent state-owned radio networks into a single interoperable modern voice and data network. Prior to that, Chief Johnson was the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Fire Chief/CEO for 15 years. Chief Johnson is very active nationally on public safety communications matters, and has served on the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Board of Directors and served as President and Chairman of the Board. He is now CEO of the Western Fire Chiefs Association and served as a representative of the SAFECOM Emergency Response Council.  He also serves as Chairman of Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI), a company majority-owned by IAFC to provide emergency services consulting.  Chief Johnson is a graduate of Concordia University.

William Keever
Retired telecommunications executive
Term: 1 year

William Keever’s career in the telecommunications industry spans 40 years. Mr. Keever held a number of executive-level management positions, including CEO of the Asia region of Vodafone Group. He also held leadership positions at wireless service provider AirTouch, including Executive Vice President of Network and Systems Operations for AirTouch Cellular and President of AirTouch International.  Mr. Keever also has served on the Board of Directors of PalmSource, Inc., Japan Telecom Ltd., J-Phone, Advanced Fibre Communications Inc., and Vodafone K.K. (Japan). Mr. Keever is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento.

Kevin McGinnis
Chief/CEO, North East Mobile Health Services
Term: 3 years

Kevin McGinnis’ career in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spans 28 years, and he is a nationally recognized advocate for broadband communications within the EMS community. Mr. McGinnis is currently Chief of North East Mobile Health Services, the largest paramedic service in Maine. He serves as the Communications Technology representative between five national EMS organizations and federal agencies and national organizations impacting public safety video, data, and telecommunications. Mr. McGinnis is a member of the Public Safety Alliance and has been very involved in public safety activities, including serving on the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Response Interoperability Center Public Safety Advisory Committee; the Communications Interoperability, Security, and Reliability Council; and the P25 Interoperable Communications Standards Steering Committee. Mr. McGinnis was Vice-Chair of the Public Safety Spectrum Trust and is currently Chair of the SAFECOM Executive Program, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security advisory committee on communications interoperability in public safety. He holds degrees from Brown University and Cornell University.

Ed Reynolds
Retired telecommunications executive
Term: 2 years

Ed Reynolds is a pioneer in the wireless telecommunications industry. He served as president of Network Operations for Cingular Wireless prior to its acquisition by AT&T. Mr. Reynolds also served as president of BellSouth Mobility, which provided wireless service across seven southeastern states. He was responsible for BellSouth’s worldwide wireless communications strategy and the development and test marketing of new wireless features and technologies. Mr. Reynolds earned degrees from Auburn University and the University of Alabama.

Susan Swenson
Telecommunications/technology executive
Term: 1 year

Susan Swenson brings extensive experience as a telecommunications and technology executive to the FirstNet Board. She served as President and CEO of business software provider Sage North America from 2008-2011. Ms. Swenson also served as COO of digital content company, New Motion/Atrinsic, mobile virtual network operator, Amp’d Mobile, and T-Mobile USA. She was also President and COO of Leap Wireless, International (Cricket Communications) from 1999-2004 and President and CEO of Cellular One from 1994-1999. Ms. Swenson serves on the Board of Directors of Wells Fargo, Spirent Communications, Harmonic, the University of California Irvine and Novatel Wireless. She is a graduate of San Diego State University.

Teri Takai
Government information technology expert; former CIO, states of Michigan and California
Term: 1 year

Teri Takai has vast experience working on state government information technology issues, previously serving as Chief Information Officer (CIO) for California and Michigan. She is also a past president of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers. Ms. Takai is currently the Defense Department's CIO and the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Information Management/ Information Technology and Information Assurance as well as non-intelligence space systems, critical satellite communications, navigation and timing programs, spectrum, and telecommunications. She also serves on the Harvard Policy Group on Network-Enabled Services and Government. Before serving in government, Ms. Takai worked for the Ford Motor Company for 30 years, where she led the development of the company's information technology strategic plan. Ms. Takai is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Wellington Webb
Founder, Webb Group International; former Mayor, Denver, Colorado
Term: 3 years

Wellington Webb served as Mayor of Denver, Colorado from 1991-2003. Mr. Webb also served as president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Conference of Black Mayors. As Mayor, Webb oversaw a number of economic development initiatives, including completion of the $4 billion Denver International Airport, the redevelopment of the former Stapleton Airport into a thriving residential and business area, and the redevelopment of the Industrial Central Platte Valley near downtown Denver. After serving as Mayor, he founded Webb Group International, which works primarily with businesses and cities on economic development projects. Mr. Webb serves on the Board of Directors of Maximus Corporation and Maldef (Mexican American Legal Defense Fund), and is President of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce Foundation. He also served as a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. Mr. Webb holds degrees from the Colorado State College at Greeley and the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley.