The Broadband Bunch presents...

Adventures in Broadband. Embracing Obstacles, Seizing Opportunities and Finding Solutions.

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In this virtual series, we present key topics important to broadband providers and their customers. Each panel consists of industry leaders, experts and analysts as they engage in open and frank discussions on mission critical topics in the broadband space.

Join us for one session or all.


Session 19: October 28 2021, 9am EDT


Project Gigabit: How the UK Is Moving Forward at Light Speed

Bringing ultra high-speed connectivity to all areas of the UK is now front and centre as the UK launches the new 5B Project Gigabit. The overall goal is to reach over 1 million hard to reach homes and business with ultra-high-speed internet. But how will the UK get done? Join Heather Gold as she leads this exciting panel this exciting discussion with Richard Thorpe of City Fibre, Steve Leighton of Voneus, Justin Leese of Ogi, and Vincent Garnier of FTTH Council Europe.

Our Guests:

Vincent Garnier

Vincent Garnier is the Director General of the FTTH Council Europe since July 2020. In this executive capacity, Vincent manages and shapes the FTTH Council’s agenda and ensures the continuous implementation of its mission to advance ubiquitous full fibre-based connectivity to the whole of Europe.

Vincent brings to this position 25 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, in Marketing and Business Development in EMEA and Asia for BtoB companies. Most recently he was Marketing Director responsible for defining the marketing strategies for the broadband solutions at CommScope, a global network infrastructure provider company. Prior to joining CommScope, Mr Garnier worked in international business development at TKH Group N.V. and as a Marketing Manager at Prysmian Group & Exide Technologies.

Vincent Garnier has been actively involved in the FTTH Council Europe activities for several years. He became a Member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer in 2019.

Justin Leese

Justin Leese, joins Ogi as Chief Technology and Operations Officer, bringing a wealth of knowledge and 30 years experience in the telecoms industry from companies such as ScottishTelecom (Thus plc), NTL (Virgin Media), mBlox, Ericsson and Openreach. Most recently, Leese held the role of Programme Director at Building Digital UK, part of the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, where he oversaw a multi-million pound portfolio of digital infrastructure programmes.

Steve Leighton

With more than 20 years of experience in the telecoms industry, Steve Leighton is CEO at Voneus, the champion of rural community and leading provider of Superfast and Ultrafast broadband infrastructure for poorly connected or difficult to reach communities.

Prior to working at Voneus, Steve co-founded Keycom Plc in 2000, a company specialising in the delivery of voice and internet services to the UK’s tertiary education sector. Here he held the role of Sales and Marketing Director for four years before becoming involved in other online start-ups, including Greenroom Digital and Findsyou Limited.

Before transitioning to the telecommunications industry, Steve had a successful Government career, culminating in the role of Head of Communications Sponsorship at the Department of Trade and Industry.

As CEO of Voneus since 2011, Steve aims to ensure all communities within the UK receive superfast broadband and for Voneus to become the market leader for rural broadband provision. The role Steve plays in the rural broadband market is recognised by his appointment to the Boards of both ISPA and UKWISPA.

Richard Thorpe

Richard Thorpe the Chief Delivery Officer of CityFibre is a highly experienced fibre network delivery chief accelerating Gigabit City build programme.

Prior to joining CityFibre, Richard was the CIO of Digicel Group where he was Chief Information Officer, responsible for the IT strategy and transformation of the entire BSS estate for the Caribbean mobile and fixed line operator. Additionally, Richard has led a variety of large-scale full fibre network rollouts in roles including Head of Fibre Deployment at Vodafone, and Head of Construction for NBN in Australia.

As Chief Delivery Officer of CityFibre, Richard is responsible for optimising the end-to-end network delivery process as well as the design and implementation of a target operating model capable of supporting CityFibre’s rapidly accelerating Gigabit City build programme.

Session 18: September 07 2021, 2pm EDT


One on One with Deb Socia, The Enterprise Center, Chattanooga, TN

In Chattanooga, EPB's fiber optic network connects to every home and business in its 600-square-mile footprint, creating vast opportunity for innovation. Since 2014, The Enterprise Center has worked with partner organizations in Chattanooga to foster economic development by capitalizing on the gigabit network and smart grid. The Enterprise Center aims to advance entrepreneurship and Smart City innovation while ensuring equitable access to technology for all residents.


In this one-on-one with Deb Socia, the president & CEO of The Enterprise Center, we will learn about some of The Enterprise Center's key accomplishments and how the organization works as a community partner to make an impact.

Our Guests:

Deb Socia

Deb Socia is President and CEO of The Enterprise Center, a nonprofit that nurtures innovation in Chattanooga with the goal of connecting people to resources and building an inclusive community. Growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the Innovation District, building digital equity, and supporting research and implementation of smart city applications are all a part of the organization’s focus.Prior to her current role, Deb was the Executive Director of Next Century Cities, a nonprofit that supports community leaders as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet. Previously, Deb was the Executive Director of the Tech Goes Home program in Boston whose mission is to ensure digital equity. Deb’s early career included 32 years as an educator and administrator. She was the founding principal of the award winning Lilla G. Frederick Middle School, a Boston Public School where she led the one-to-one laptop initiative.

Deb has been the recipient of many awards for her work, including the NATOA Community Broadband Hero, the Pathfinder Award from MassCUE, the CRSTE Leadership and Vision Award, a Google Digital Inclusion Award, Motherboard Human of the Year, an NTENny Award, and the Charles Benton Digital Equity Award.

Session 17: August 17 2021, 2pm EDT


Myth-Busting Telco Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics

Waiting to modernize your systems to realize the promise of AI, Analytics and advance capabilities is the wrong strategy. Adopting platform versus waiting for you to get your house in order. Your business is opaque - do you have access to the info you need? Does it feel like a bridge too far? Join AT&T veteran and founder of BevTek, Guy Bevente as he discusses the realities of AI.

Our Guests:

Kristina Jensen

Head of DialMyApp USA

Kristina is currently focused on building the US division of DialMyApp where she helps companies accelerate digital adoption through DialMyApp’s patented technology that intercepts calls to call centers and serves up a digital menu that allows customers to self-serve, chat or continue the call. With over 18 years of experience in the telco space focused on delivering analytics and modeling to use data to drive value to the organization, Kristina worked in Digital for 10+ years focused on using analytics to drive digital adoption and building an organization and infrastructure to support the analytics, reporting and modeling functions. She also holds a patent in Marketing Optimization modeling.

Steve Leighton


Nikunj Nirmal

Nikunj Nirmal, Amazon, Principal, Technology Solutions and Strategic Programs, is a business executive, technology enthusiast, and an accomplished leader with an extensive experience in digital strategy, Intellectual Property acquisition, product management, enterprise architecture, and technology roadmap for Fortune 100 organizations.

Nikunj has worked in several leadership roles such as Chief Technology Officer, Head of Digital Transformation, Head of Innovation Labs (USA), and IT Delivery Head. With strong focus on customer experience and innovation, Nikunj has extensive experience in leading large-scale digital transformation programs and delivering technology centric solutions to drive sustainable growth. He has been awarded and recognized through several leadership development programs, including Fellowship.

Nikunj serves on Forbes Technology Council. He has been on the Technical Advisory Council for Linux Foundation for Artificial Intelligence, serves on the Advisory Board for Global Business at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), and has worked as Adjunct Faculty at UTD. Nikunj is passionate about mentoring, and building high performance teams.

Session 16: August 03 2021, 2pm EDT


Get Lost! A Broadband Mapping Tool That Really Works

On June 17, the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) released an “Indicators of Broadband Need” tool that puts on one map, for the first time, data from both public and private sources. It contains data aggregated at the county, census tract, and census block level from the American Community Survey collected by the U.S. Census, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Measurement Lab (M-Lab), Ookla and Microsoft. Speed-test data provided by M-Lab and Ookla help to illustrate the reality that communities experience when going online, with many parts of the country reporting speeds that fall below the FCC’s current benchmark for fixed broadband service of 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload. This is the first map that allows users to graphically compare and contrast these different data sources.

Most importantly, this interactive mapping result in made generally available to the public at large. NTIA also offers to state governments and federal partners a geographic information system (GIS) platform called the National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM) that provides more complex tools for analyzing broadband access, such as the ability to upload GIS files to compare proposed projects.

On August 3, from 2 to 3 p.m. ET, please join Heather Burnett Gold as she interviews NTIA’s Sarah Bleau, who will review all the capabilities of the new map and offer a demo of the tool.

Our Guests:

Sarah Bleau

Sarah Bleau has over 20 years in the data networking world, in roles ranging from sales to engineering, management and operations. Sarah joined NTIA’s BroadbandUSA team in early 2021, where she leverages her experience as an industry liaison. This experience includes new business development for fiber start-up Arcadian Infracom, and before that, she managed carrier services at Viasat, a global satellite ISP. Working across geographies and business functions, her primary role was to deploy fiber networks in support of global programs. Prior to that, Sarah spent time with Level 3 Communications (now CenturyLink), where she wore hats in leadership, sales, product, sales engineering and project management. Specializing in Dark Fiber, Lit Transport, Colocation, Cloud and Internet, she built roadmaps, executive calling plans, and business reviews for customers in Research & Education, Wholesale, Content and Financial verticals.

Session 15: July 20 2021, 1:30pm - 3pm EDT


State and Regional Broadband Funding Options

Concerned that passing on the recent round of RDOF federal funding has precluded your company from valuable financial opportunities?  Don’t be! Particularly if you live in a state or region that has implemented a strong broadband program as more and more states realize they must do if they want their citizens to successfully emerge from the pandemic. An updated March 2021 Pew Research Report lists a strong funding and operations program as a key to a successful state broadband program and our panelists will discuss what this entails and how you can benefit.

Our Guests:

Russ Elliott

Russ Elliott is the Director of the Washington State Broadband Office. Prior to his role in Washington, Russ stood up the Wyoming State Broadband Office where he developed innovative tools to quantify broadband needs for the state. Russ has 25 years of C-level leadership including 12 years building and running and eventually selling western Colorado’s largest independent ISP/CLEC. Brainstorm grew from 50 customers to over 14,000 in 10 years by delivering quality telecom data and voice services. Services included fiber, copper, licensed and unlicensed wireless delivered over the very rural parts of western Colorado and northern New Mexico. Russ has sat on state boards and led regional telecommunication organizations.

Bradley Roebke

Bradley Roebke is a Grants Program Analyst with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), where he has managed a multi-million dollar portfolio of infrastructure grants since 2019, including water, sewer, broadband, and access road projects. In this role, Bradley also provides technical assistance to rural communities for developing economically impactful infrastructure projects in which ARC can invest. Prior to joining ARC, Bradley has worked in fiscal/economic consulting for small and mid-sized municipalities across the U.S., and in non-profit community redevelopment in Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds a master’s degree in Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati, and currently resides in Washington, DC.

Angie Dickison

Angie Dickison is the Executive Director for the Office of Broadband Development at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). In this role, she oversees a portfolio of $126 million dollars in broadband infrastructure investments across the state through Minnesota’s Border to Border Broadband grant program. She also collaborates with a diverse group of stakeholders to promote broadband development and digital equity initiatives throughout Minnesota.

Prior to joining the team at DEED, Dickison served as Wisconsin’s State Broadband Director where she led broadband strategy and program development efforts within the state. Working together with industry and community stakeholders, she helped launch a first-in-the nation Telecommuter Forward Community certification program. She was appointed by FCC Chairman Pai to serve as a member of the FCC’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee. Dickison also served as the technology director for Lake County, Minnesota where she was actively involved in rural broadband development. She served as a member of the Blandin Foundation’s Broadband Strategy Board; and was appointed by Governor Dayton to represent rural Minnesota communities on the Governor’s Broadband Task Force.

Dickison has an MBA from the University of Wisconsin and was a 2014 Public Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Rob Osborn

Robert Osborn joined the Commission in 2012, and in January 2020 he became Director of the Communications Division. Prior to joining the CPUC, he worked for 20 years in the communications industry – both wireless and wireline – and helped launch one of the first commercial 3G networks in Japan. Robert has a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Berkeley, and Master of International Affairs degree from the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego.

Session 14: June 15, 2021, 2pm EDT


Muni Broadband: Creating the Communities Where Folks Want to Live

Numerous studies have quantified the economic impact of all fiber networks on economic development but what about the intangible values of living in communities that invested in broadband abundance. Join this elite panel of municipal broadband providers as they discuss have they have attracted and retained more residents to their highly desirable communities.

Our Guests:

Angela Imming

Angela Imming is the Director of Technology and Innovation and GM of Highland Communication Services at the City of Highland. HCS is one of very few municipally owned fiber to the premise networks and the only in the St. Louis region that offers synchronous speeds. HCS serves 3 global corporations, 318 businesses and almost 2606 residents.

What began with certifications in the entire suite of Nortel Networks voice and data telecommunications products has resulted in Angela being responsible for networks on 4 different continents over the course of 25 years. She has imagined and deployed next generation solutions for such fortune 500 companies at Emerson Electric and Peabody Energy and led global telecommunications for the former Internet Service Provider power house Savvis Communications.

Angela graduate from SIUE with a degree in Sociology and Journalism and graduated summa cum laude with her master’s in Public Administration and Policy Analysis from SIUE in December. Angela serves on the SIUE CMIS Executive Advisory Board and is the secretary of the Highland Rotary. She has been married for 27 years and has three children. Her son is in the US Coast Guard and provides IT services for the Joint Intelligence Command Center in Washington, DC. Her daughter is a sophomore at SIUE studying Political Science and journalism and her youngest is a senior at Mater Dei and is attending Logan School of Chiropractic in the fall. Angela is glad to now focus on moving her hometown community through the digital transformation.

Brittany Smith

Brittany started her career at the City of Wilson in 2007 and had the opportunity of signing up the very first Greenlight members. She managed both Customer Service and the Unified Communication Center before landing her current role at the Gig East Exchange. The Gig East Exchange is Wilson’s new co-working space located in the historic downtown district.

Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor has been a Business Development Manager for RiverStreet Networks since their purchase of Gamewood Technology Group in 2018. During the previous 10 years he served as Chief Executive Officer of Gamewood. Since the acquisition of his family owned business in 2003, he has also served as the Chief Operations Officer and Director of Telecom & Networking for Gamewood. Prior to taking over the family business, Able Telecom & Electronics in 1996, he worked for a Fortune 500 Company and US Army. While in the Army, he held positions in an officer at the Platoon, Company, and Battalion levels of leadership. Following his military service, Rob work in several different management positions in operations and logistics with at a large textile production facility before taking over the family owned business. Rob is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, has earned his MBA from Averett University, and over the years he has held certifications from several different telephone system manufactures and telephony peripheral equipment suppliers.

Session 13: May 25, 2021, 2pm EDT


After the Build: Creating Sustainable Broadband Operations

After the excitement of the build is the reality of the operations. Keeping expenses down while keeping subscriber numbers up and new services/apps coming … the struggle is real. In order to succeed, providers must have a scalable platform, market insight and business analytics not to mention automated activation and provisioning.

Our Guests:

Hank Blackwood

Hank Blackwood is a seasoned professional with more than twenty-five years’ experience in the utility and telecommunications’ industries. Hank possesses a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech University.

Upon graduation in 1993, Hank joined Dalton Utilities as an Engineering Technician, and gained experience working in the Natural Gas, Water, and Sewer and engineering departments. Over the next several years, Hank gained extensive experience in utility operations, overseeing a major natural gas rehabilitation project, both water and sewer extension projects and crucial plant rehabilitation.

In 1999, Hank was promoted to Assistant Vice President and moved to the newly formed Technology division to assist in modernizing utility data systems: billing, meter reading, customer information systems, geographic information systems, and data connectivity between all facilities. In this role, Hank led the redesign of the utility’s supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA) for remote control and monitoring of all plants and facilities including security and building automation. This included building fiber connectivity between substations for SCADA communication and laid the foundation for growth of a new market segment for Dalton Utilities, providing voice and high-speed data services to large industrial customers.

Building on the vision to deliver better quality services and support to their local community, Dalton Utilities launched one of the first municipally owned residential Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) deployments in the United States in 2003, passing approximately 20,000 homes and businesses. Hank was instrumental in the launch of voice, video and high-speed data services over this all fiber network, overseeing operations, product development, customer service and technical support services. With hard-work, dedication and a commitment to superior customer service, OptiLink exceeded expectations, achieving an overall take rate of 62% while entering a competitive environment for the first time in Dalton Utilities history.

Under Hank’s leadership, Dalton Utilities remains one of the most successful FTTH projects in the U.S. OptiLink successfully launched 10 Gigabit residential internet in 2019 and is currently upgrading their video system to deliver next generation streaming services in a very competitive video marketplace.

Pastimes include sporting clays, amateur radio, astronomy, and off-roading.

Russ Brethower

Russ has over 30 years of experience working for publicly owned electric utilities. He is currently the Senior Manager for Wholesale Fiber at Grant County Public Utility District in Ephrata, Washington. Grant PUD began building symmetrical gigabit fiber to the premises in 2000 and operates a truly “open access” network with more than a dozen retail providers competing for each customer.

Russ has been with Grant PUD since 2003 and has extensive experience dealing with the growing pains – from technological to political to business – of this unique type of network. Prior to Grant County PUD, Russ was involved in the start-up of Click Network, Tacoma Power’s publicly owned and operated cable network. Russ started his career in public power at White River Valley Electric Cooperative in Branson, MO where he was a part of their Member Services Department and developed a great appreciation for all facets of a public utility and the critical services provided.

Robert Petruk

Fiber to the Farm, the shed, the barn and of course the home and business.

With over 24 years of IT and Telecommunications experience, Robert has strived to stay on the crest of the technology wave. His telecommunications career began in 1999 as a field technician with Bell Canada and has progressed steadily to date. Adapting the ideology that 'The only constant is change...' set a solid foundation for innovation in products, services and infrastructure. This can be directly linked to accomplishments like the design and launch of an IPTV BDU and providing Canada's first Gigabit residential fiber service.

Kris Ward

A 20-year veteran of the telecommunications industry, Kris Ward joined ATMC in January of 2005 as ATMC's first Business Development Manager. In his initial role, Kris worked closely with local businesses, regional and national builders, and land development companies to promote FTTH projects within ATMC’s service territory. In early 2017 Kris was named Director of Residential Development to further emphasize his work with developers, builders, and municipalities with focus on FTTx projects. In November of 2017 Kris’ responsibilities further expanded as he was named Director of Business Development at ATMC with oversight of the company’s business development, residential and business security, and business sales activities. Kris also serves as Chairman of the Brunswick Business and Industry Development Board of Directors which is responsible for Economic Development in Brunswick County, NC.

Session 12: May 18, 2021, 1pm EDT


Subscriber-Centric Operations: Why It’s Different; Why it’s Necessary

A subscriber-centric perspective extends well beyond customer service. Being responsive, proactive and understanding your subscriber’s experience should happen at everywhere within your business. In this discussion, we speak with industry leaders about a subscriber-centric model and how it turns traditional operations on its head. We examine how this model will be difference between long-term success or failure.

Our Guests:

Saikumar Dubagunta
Yogesh Gupta
Kristina Jensen

Session 11: May 11, 2021, 2pm EDT


Strategic considerations to prepare for NTIA’s (and other!) new broadband funding

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will distribute more than $2 billion in new broadband funding through three new programs created by the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act…and that’s just the start of the new funding opportunities coming our way.  If your organization or institution will be eligible to apply for one or more of these programs, you shouldn’t wait for the rules to start thinking about the opportunity.  While each of the upcoming programs will have different rules and requirements, your strategic approach to preparing an application will be vital.  This webinar will address how you can start preparing the broad outlines of your projects now – so you’re ready to submit a competitive application when the funding window’s open later this Summer.

Our Guests:

Heather Mills

Heather Mills, V.P. for Grant and Funding Strategies, works to identify, strategize, apply for, and comply with the requirements of federal and state broadband funding opportunities. She currently is analyzing program opportunities and requirements, and advising clients on strategic approaches to the range of broadband funding opportunities in the CARES Act, the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, and the American Rescue Plan Act. She has long experience with programs run by the Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has also worked to navigate the New Market Tax Credit program. Heather advises E-Rate applicants/consortia and public sector/non-profit providers that require training, strategic guidance, and support with RFPs. She advises on RFP responses and reviews filings for compliance. She is author of an E-rate guidebook for non-profit and municipal providers and co-author of a guide to E-rate for libraries that was commissioned by the Knight Foundation. Additionally, she works to assist with post-award processes such as developing grant management policies and appealing funding decisions.

Session 10: April 27, 2021, 2pm EDT


Why Aren’t There More Open Access Networks?

The goal of Open Access Networks extends beyond access to the internet. OANs should be a sustainable network that provides the freedom of information exchange, fosters a competitive ecosystem, enables digital innovation essential for its growth and long-term affordability. In this panel, we examine the obstacles that prevent this vision becoming reality. We talk with OAN practitioners to identify how they have progressed towards this vision.

Our Guests:

Chris Mitchell

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative.

Christopher’s work focuses on telecommunications — helping communities ensure the networks upon which they depend are accountable to the community. He is a leading national expert on community broadband networks and speaks at conferences across the United States on the subject, occasionally to directly debate opponents of public ownership. He was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. That same year, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors named ILSR the Broadband Organization of the Year. In 2011, that organization also honored Mitchell for his policy work.

On a day-to-day basis, Mitchell runs, the comprehensive online clearinghouse of information about community broadband. In April, 2012, he published three in-depth case studies of citywide publicly owned gigabit networks, called “Broadband at the Speed of Light.” In April 2011, Mitchell released the Community Broadband Map, a comprehensive map of community owned networks.

He earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Macalester College.

David Corrado

David Corrado is a high performance, results-driven executive with a career demonstrating visionary leadership, expertise and distinguished performance in product strategy, fiscal management and operational management of national and international technology operations. Mr. Corrado is highly effective in directing organizations to meet their business objectives and implement business processes.

Mr. Corrado’s background in operations, network operating systems, project design and management, and systems integration provides a strong base for his technology management expertise. As an IBM consultant, Mr. Corrado architected business process methodologies and taught project management to Fortune 100 companies. Over the past 38 years, Mr. Corrado has guided professional service practices to profitability, built consulting practices in companies that were historically hardware distributors and designed automated workflow management systems that were recognized worldwide as a best practice tool. He has been instrumental in establishing the first telemedicine broadband networks within Ohio and his program methodology has been recognized nationally by USAC, the administrative arm of the FCC. Mr. Corrado is involved in bringing advanced networking services to local government and healthcare institutions.

Most recently, Mr. Corrado has acted as the CEO of the Medina County Fiber Network (MCFN), a municipal high-speed fiber broadband network, providing transport services for fourteen major telecommunications carriers. Mr. Corrado is spearheading a fiber to the home project through a public-private partnership with a nationwide investment firm, concluding a four year worldwide search and negotiation project. Initial construction will include 50,000 homes within Medina County.

Kim McKinley

Kim McKinley, UTOPIA Fiber’s Chief Marketing Officer joined the company in 2010. In her role as the CMO, she oversees the Marketing, Sales, Order fulfillment and the Customer Service departments. Before coming to UTOPIA Fiber, she worked in the Hospitality marketing industry on the east coast. Kim has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC.

Sean Coletti

Sean Coletti serves as the Mayor of Ammon, Idaho and is also an attorney at a law firm in Idaho Falls.  Prior to serving as Mayor, Sean served two terms on the Ammon City Council.  He received his Bachelors Degree from Brigham Young University and Juris Doctorate from University of Connecticut Law School.

Sean currently also serves on various community and state boards, including the Idaho Health Facilities Authority, the Idaho Magistrate's Commission, the Idaho Workforce Development Council, the Eastern Idaho Regional Wastewater Authority, Bonneville Metropolitan Planning Organization, Regional Economic Development for Idaho, and the Idaho Special Assistant United States Attorney Executive Committee. He previously served as Chairman of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce and also Chairman of the Upper Snake River Valley Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.

Sean is married to Ammon native Jessi Grigg Coletti, and they have two sons, Jaydn and Sterling. 

Session 9: March 11, 2021, 2pm EDT


Partnerships Expedite Broadband Deployment

Concerned about having the necessary internal resources to build the Broadband your community needs? Not to worry, you can find partners who can fill in any holes in your deployment plans. Join this session of entities experienced and committed to partnering with others seeking better broadband.

Hosted by Heather Burnett Gold, CEO of HBG Strategies, a consultancy engaged in broadband education targeted at enabling fiber deployment among underserved communities.

Our Guests:

Casey Logan

Casey Logan is President and CEO of Prince George Electric Cooperative, Casey was named President and CEO in April of 2019. Prior to that, Casey served as Vice President of Engineering for Prince George Electric Cooperative. Casey played an intricate role in managing the innovation and upgrades of PGECs electrical system while also serving as Vice President of Operations of PGEC Enterprises, LLC the fiber to the home broadband service “Ruralband”.

Upon Casey’s arrival to the cooperative in 2015, he identified a true need in the community and with Public Private Partnerships transformed an idea of bringing broadband access to the region; into filling the void of access to broadband in a remote region with little or no opportunity for high speed internet.

Logan graduated from the University of South Carolina with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in 2002 and again in 2008 with a Master of Business Administration.  In addition, he is a professional engineer licensed in Virginia and South Carolina.

Cullen McCarty

EVP, Smithville

Cullen McCarty is the Executive Vice President of Smithville Communications, Indiana’s largest privately owned telecom. As a recognized industry veteran, over the past two decades, Cullen has been a tireless advocate on insuring competitive quality broadband, particularly for rural areas of the United States. A frequent traveler to Washington, D.C., Cullen regularly works with Congressional leaders and staffers to promote positive policy development for fiber broadband support and telecommunications advancement.

Cullen is a long-time leader in Indiana economic development and is a former and current participant in several state task force committees for economic development and broadband support. Cullen represents Smithville in federal and regional trade organizations, including providing policy guidance. Cullen holds a BA in history from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Alexander Hagen

CEO/Founder Etheric Networks

Alexander has over 25 years of experience in the telecommunication industry. He is responsible for the company’s strategy, revenue and customer success. Alex has sharpened the company’s focus on growth, expansion, and innovation while developing Etheric’s workforce with a particular emphasis on engineering excellence.

Ami Rodriguez

Ami Rodriguez is a telecommunication professional with over 20 years of experience in the industry.  She currently works for TWN Communications (TWN) as the Vice-President, Sales/Marketing & Business Development.  TWN, a Florida based corporation, is dedicated to the deployment of fiber optic and fixed wireless broadband networks in rural and underserved communities across the country.  Ami’s focus at TWN is the development of key strategic partnerships with rural electric cooperatives, working hand in hand with them to bring broadband services to residential and enterprise customers.

Prior to her 18 years at TWN, Ami spent 6 years Global Crossing (formerly Frontier Communications) in a management role.  Ami holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from the John Sykes College of Business, University of Tampa.

Session 8: March 09, 2021, 2pm GMT; 9am EST


High Pay Back Automation in Telecom

Telecommunication companies at all Tiers continue to look for the greatest possible return on technology and automation investments. There are many investment opportunities, but Telecoms need to decide where to invest precious and limited capital. Given the need to maximize ROI, where should Telecoms place their “big bets” when it comes to selecting technology and automation initiatives? In this session, we will discuss 4 key technology trends – Public Cloud, Edge Computing, AI, and Analytics – with a focus on High Pay Back potential for each.

Our Guests:

Charlotte Patrick

Charlotte is an independent industry analyst covering the use of Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Automation (A3) by telecommunications companies. Her areas of interest are the uptake and efficacy of these technologies and the resulting financial benefit. She brings 13 years of experience as an analyst at Gartner and 10 years of practical experience in AT&T, COLT and Telefonica O2 – with a mix of strategic, marketing and financial skill sets.

Bryan Estes

Bryan Estes is a Managing Director in Deloitte Consulting's Technology, Media & Telecom practice specializing in IT Transformation, System Integration and Outsourcing. Bryan has spent over 30 years helping Telecommunications and Utility clients deploy technology solutions supporting Consumer, B2B and Corporate functions that accelerate speed to value and reduce IT cost.

Saikumar Dubagunta

Saikumar Dubagunta (Sai) is a veteran of the telecommunications industry.  In his career of more than 28 years he has held many roles and worked across a wide spectrum of areas including embedded software development, distributed computing, network management, storage management, application and network security, digitization, cloud native computing and others.

He currently works as the head of solutions and delivery for HCL's Telecommunications Service Provider group. He is actively engagement in developing solutions for Network transformation  (5G networks including OSS, Service assurance, Open Source initiatives) and Digit transformation (ecommerces, BSS, Business Management and Orchestration and others)

Session 7


Open Access Networks: Are Americans Ready to Jump In?

In this all Q&A panel discussion, participants will hear from operators and vendors who are providing open access networks – networks that generally offer a separation between the physical layer (transmission) provided by one operator and the services layer (products) allowing multiple operators. This system has been in place in the US for years in the middle mile market but is just being tested in the last mile market. While it is gaining strength in European counties, is the US ready to jump-in as a way to offer network infrastructure in areas that might not normally justify the investment?

Networks currently operating this model include Utopia in Utah, Grant PUD in Washington, Medina County, Ohio and more. Join us as we discuss what needs to be enabled for success.

Our Guests:

Kim McKinley

Kim McKinley, UTOPIA Fiber’s Chief Marketing Officer joined the company in 2010. In her role as the CMO, she oversees the Marketing, Sales, Order fulfillment and the Customer Service departments. Before coming to UTOPIA Fiber, she worked in the Hospitality marketing industry on the east coast. Kim has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC.

Russ Brethower

Russ has over 30 years of experience working for publicly owned electric utilities. He is currently the Senior Manager for Wholesale Fiber at Grant County Public Utility District in Ephrata, Washington. Grant PUD began building symmetrical gigabit fiber to the premises in 2000 and operates a truly “open access” network with more than a dozen retail providers competing for each customer.

Russ has been with Grant PUD since 2003 and has extensive experience dealing with the growing pains – from technological to political to business – of this unique type of network. Prior to Grant County PUD, Russ was involved in the start-up of Click Network, Tacoma Power’s publicly owned and operated cable network. Russ started his career in public power at White River Valley Electric Cooperative in Branson, MO where he was a part of their Member Services Department and developed a great appreciation for all facets of a public utility and the critical services provided.

Brian Snider

Brian is the Chief Executive Officer for Lit and has previously worked as Director of Fiber Delivery at Byers Engineering in addition to creating the Network Design Practice Area at Foresite Group. Brian started out working in drafting and design at the Dothan Technology Center and interned at an architecture firm in Dothan, AL while pursuing an early golf career.

Brian shifted to the telecommunications industry in 2003 working as a drafter and quickly grew to managing all aspects of the project as a contractor for AT&T in Birmingham, AL. Brian has over 15 years of experience in wide area network deployments, having led the build-outs of the entire Southeast US for AT&T’s Uverse release, Google Fiber’s builds in Austin, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and Huntsville, Verizon’s network densification in Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland, Nashville, and Knoxville, in addition to numerous municipal projects throughout the country.

Brian has worked with a core team to create the process that brings community broadband into the 21st century. Brian started on a mission 4 years ago to focus solely on municipal and community networks to connect people to information, to ideas, and to each other, and Lit continues to carry that torch.

Kyle Glaeser

Kyle Glaeser, Director of Emerging Networks at Underline

Kyle started his career as a network design engineer working on projects for Google Fiber, AT&T, Verizon, and FTTH builds around the world. Using his background in GIS, Kyle created scripts and models to drive efficiencies into network designs, shaving millions of dollars off large builds. He began implementing GIS based innovations into the design, construction, and financing of large FTTH builds. After seeing a number of projects explode past their projected budgets, he created a program to use LiDAR collection data and autodesign tools to accurately analyze a market cost before construction. Through this work, Kyle took an interest in information infrastructure as the basis of smart city technologies, developing network architectures that are custom tailored to communities infrastructure needs. Upon learning about the emerging open access market and software defined networking, he became passionate about developing specific network use cases and architectures that would propel the open access.

Session 6


Getting the Broadband That Your Community Wants: Factors in Deciding to Build it Yourselves

Often wanting better broadband for your community, broadband on par with that offered to urban/suburban areas, is not enough. Your current incumbents may determine, based on their return parameters, that your community should does not justify the investment that it will take to deliver that level of service. What to do? Wait, hope? No, put together an action plan for determining your own broadband future including finding partners and consultants who can help build this model. This session will feature those experts discussing what it takes and how to achieve success.

Our Guests:

Will Aycock

Will Aycock is currently the General Manager for Greenlight Community Broadband in Wilson, NC. Mr. Aycock has served in this position for 3 years.

Prior to taking this position, Mr. Aycock has served as an Assistant Director of ITS, GIS manager and GIS consultant.

Mr. Aycock is a graduate of both Appalachian State and East Carolina Universities and holds a Government Chief Information Officer Certification from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Benjamin J. Fineman

Ben is an advanced networking professional and digital inclusion advocate. Some years ago, Ben realized that many people in the U.S. do not have access to internet connections that allow them to participate in the most basic of online activities, let alone emerging technologies. This led Ben to co-found the Michigan Broadband Cooperative, where he volunteers as President and leads the organization toward the mission of achieving ubiquitous broadband in Michigan. Ben was also a key member of the team that led Lyndon Township through a ballot initiative that took this rural township from the limited choices of spotty DSL, cellular, and satellite services to a township-wide municipal fiber network offering symmetric gigabit service.

Since then Ben has also served on county and state broadband task forces, and today consults with Merit Network on their Michigan Moonshot initiative to expand community networks in rural Michigan. Ben also leads the industry engagement program for the non-profit university consortium Internet2, where he works to enable connections between industry and academia that advance research and education using networking technologies.

Steve Lange

Steve Lange is the Information Technology Manager at the City of Wadsworth (Ohio). He graduated from the University of Akron with B.S. degrees in Management Information Systems and also Electronic Business Technologies. He has been working professionally with computer systems since 1997. Over the years, he has worked with various software servers running both on Windows and Linux operating systems, iSCSI SAN storage devices, virtualization with both VMware and Hyper-V Hypervisors, various database platforms and networking with routers and switches.

Prior to taking this position, Mr. Aycock has served as an Assistant Director of ITS, GIS manager and GIS consultant.

The City of Wadsworth operates a City-owned Internet Service Provider called CityLink. CityLink started in 1997 as an analog cable TV service and expanded to offer a cable modem Internet service in 2001. The TV service was upgraded to digital/HD in 2007. CityLink expanded again in 2012 when it launched its VoIP phone service.

Chris Mitchel

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative.

Christopher’s work focuses on telecommunications — helping communities ensure the networks upon which they depend are accountable to the community. He is a leading national expert on community broadband networks and speaks at conferences across the United States on the subject, occasionally to directly debate opponents of public ownership. He was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. That same year, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors named ILSR the Broadband Organization of the Year. In 2011, that organization also honored Mitchell for his policy work.

On a day-to-day basis, Mitchell runs, the comprehensive online clearinghouse of information about community broadband. In April, 2012, he published three in-depth case studies of citywide publicly owned gigabit networks, called “Broadband at the Speed of Light.” In April 2011, Mitchell released the Community Broadband Map, a comprehensive map of community owned networks.

He earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy from the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Macalester College.

Session 5


Yes, Fiber Networks are Still Being Built!

The good news is that social distancing is not stopping the flow of fiber to communities. It is an investment in infrastructure that, because it is almost all out of doors and does not require close contact with others, can and is continuing in strength. Hear from these companies involved in bringing fiber to you and your customers as they explain the new ground rules for maintaining the flow of essential high-speed broadband.

Our Guests:

Carl Meyerhoefer

Carl Meyerhoefer works for Calix and has global responsibility for the marketing and positioning of Calix solutions into the Fiber Innovators segment. This segment includes Municipalities, Electric Cooperatives and Fiber Overbuilders.

Carl has been working in the telecommunications industry for over 25 years with a focus on developing emerging/growth markets. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Villanova University and has extensive experience marketing Fiber-to-the- Home solutions to Service Providers.

Jeff Reiman

Jeff Reiman ● Vice President, The Broadband Group

1. Focused understanding of telecom specific public positioning, capital market structure, and advanced network deployment strategies.
2. Supports development and implementation of Technology Master Plans™️ for TBG’s utility, municipal, and development clients nationwide.
3. Graduate of Harvard University with a degree in Government, and currently services as President of the Harvard Club of Nevada.

Jason Pond

Jason Pond is the co-founder and CEO of Grizzly Broadband - a telecommunications provider located in the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys in Western Montana.

Jason is a true innovator in the internet business and has over two decades of entrepreneurial experience in the telecommunications and wireless broadband industry. He ran Grizzly internet, a wireless internet and fiber optic service provider for over 10 years before selling it in 2015. After that, he dabbled as a fiber network specialist designing, engineering and constructing fiber optic networks for a bit before returning to his passion of being an ISP and co-founded Grizzly Broadband.

Beyond work, Jason has been a volunteer firefighter, search and rescue coordinator and considers himself a shooting enthusiast.

Chris Beisner

Chris Beisner, Vice President, Product Management at ETI Software Solutions has nearly 25 years of experience with billing and OSS applications in the cable, telco, and municipal utility markets, specializing in service activation interfaces. Since joining ETI in 2004, Beisner hasbeen very involved with all aspects of ETI’s Fiber-to-the-Home (‘FTTH’) and DSL interface products serving in several capacities including product manager, project manager and director of ETI’s technical services division. These different roles allowed Beisner to develop keen insights into the challenges associated with deploying an FTTH network, the know-how to transition from a manual-based provisioning approach to an automated one, and how to get the most out of an access vendor’s provisioning interface. Today, Chris is responsible for driving new and existing product development.

From 1994 to 2004, Beisner was employed by CSG Systems, where he held a variety of positions including product manager, program manager, and senior project manager. While at CSG, he became a well-known subject matter expert on nearly all of CSG’s addressable interfaces. In 1997 Beisner earned the CSG Award for Excellence and received a full scholarship by the company to pursue his masters degree. Beisner holds a double undergraduate degree in speech communications and history from Iowa State University and a master’s degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Session 4


Funding New Networks in the Era of Social Distancing

So, a little panic has set in, how can we even afford at a time like this to build a broadband network that will enable access to the critical applications our communities need? State and federal funding opportunities are still available as are more creative public/private partnerships.  In this session, professionals who understand the myriad of funding opportunities will discuss options that will fit any community.

Our Guests:

Carol Mattey

Carol Mattey is the Principal of Mattey Consulting LLC, based in the Washington, DC metro area. Mattey Consulting provides regulatory, strategic and public policy advisory services to broadband providers, governmental entities, non-profit organizations, and others active in the telecommunications industry.

Ms. Mattey has more than 30 years of experience formulating, enforcing and advising on federal communications regulation. Prior to launching her own firm, Ms. Mattey was Deputy Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau at the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) from March 2010 to February 2017, focusing on modernizing the FCC’s universal service programs, including the creation and implementation of the Connect America Fund. Before that, she served as Senior Attorney Advisor on the FCC’s National Broadband Plan from September 2009 to March 2010. From 2005 to 2009, she was a director in Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications practice advising private sector clients on business strategy and regulatory compliance matters.

Between 1994 and 2004, she held several management positions at the FCC, including Deputy Bureau Chief, focusing on wireline policy issues including local competition, merger condition enforcement, privacy, and universal service. Previously, she worked on telecommunications, media and spectrum issues at the National Telecommunications & Information Administration. She started her professional career as an attorney at Wilmer Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale) in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Mattey received a J.D. cum laude and M.A. in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. from the University of Virginia.

Joanne S. Hovis

Joanne Hovis is a nationally recognized authority on broadband markets and on the evolving role of public–private partnerships in the provision of communications services to the public. For more than 20 years, she has overseen directed CTC’s consulting services related to strategic planning, market analysis, business modeling, and financial analysis for localities, states, and tribal governments throughout the country.

Joanne leads the CTC teams that advise the states of Alabama, Connecticut, Nebraska, New Mexico, and New York; the cities of Atlanta, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.; and the statewide broadband networks in Colorado, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. She also leads CTC’s advisory work regarding federal broadband funding programs such as E-Rate, ReConnect, the Connect America Fund, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, and the Healthcare Connect Fund.

Joanne has testified on multiple occasions before Congress on rural broadband, broadband public-private partnerships, and the digital divide, and has provided expert presentations to the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and other national organizations.

Joanne has testified on multiple occasions before Congress on rural broadband, broadband public-private partnerships, and the digital divide, and has provided expert presentations to the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and other national organizations.

Session 3


Life post COVID-19: A new normal?

The worldwide pandemic has led to economic disruption, unprecedented government action, business model shifts, and adjustments in the way we live, work, and play. Will our responses lead to a new normal? Join us in the conversation focused on some of the key changes that we embraced and thoughts on the longer lasting impacts.

Our Guests:

Marc D. Guerra

From the beginning of his career Marc D. Guerra has exhibited a strong entrepreneurial proclivity. In 1973, Marc started his first business, a general contracting company specializing in commercial buildings and custom homes. During the next ten years, Marc started two companies; one that built pools and spas and the other that focused on real estate development.

Due to the increasing need to manage the finances of his building and Development Company, Marc became interested in financial services. In 1982, Marc started a financial services marketing company whose purpose was to bring financial planning to middle income families. As his company grew, Marc expanded into five Midwestern states with upward of 250 representatives.

Building on his successes, Marc and a handful of trusted associates began to look for new horizons for their financial services company. From this search, Marc founded Estate Plan Services. This company’s mission was to educate the American public about the importance of tax planning, estate planning and How Money Works; this important field stresses the time-honored principles of tax minimization and asset preservation, strategies that previously have been a privilege for only the very rich.

Marc’s expertise makes him a highly sought after trainer in the field of estate planning. From 1991 to 2010, Marc has trained over 10,000 financial services professionals on the finer points of estate planning and asset conservation.

In 1993, Marc was appointed as director of estate planning for an international financial services company that has representatives worldwide. Marc has been married to his wife Carol for forty-four years; they have four adult children and seven grandchildren. They currently reside in West Chicago, Illinois. Carol, a devoted wife and mother, home schooled their children and is the major source of inspiration for both husband and children alike. Marc believes that his most important responsibility is to be an example to his children; and that there is no higher calling than to be a great father and husband.

Julie White

Julie White is the Executive Administrator for the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago. She oversees all of the financial and administrative operations in Medicine in support of research, patient care and teaching. Julie obtained her Master of Public Health Degree from the University of Washington and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to her role at the University of Chicago, she served in a variety of administrative leadership roles in the Departments of Medicine and Surgery at Stanford University between 2006 and 2017

Chandra N. Sekharan

After completing his PhD at Clemson University and earning an MS from the Indian Institute of Science, Dr. Sekharan served as an Assistant Professor at the Center for Parallel Computation, Department of Computer Science, University of Central Florida. He joined Loyola's faculty in the summer of 1993. He got promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in 1995 and to the rank of Professor in 2002. He also consults frequently for local industry, and government. He is currently consulting for the US Army via Battelle in Multi-Agent Architecture for the Future Force and Data Mining.

Dr. Sekharan's main research interests include performance engineering and benchmarking in parallel and distributed computing environments, network optimization, relational databases, and WWW. He has published over 50 papers in the above areas. His current research is being supported by two NSF grants "Community Information Technology Entrepreneurial Project" and "End-to-End Performance Measurement in High-Performance Networks".

Session 2


Telemedicine: Critical for Our time

With doctors and hospitals slammed with treating Covid-19, how can communities safely manage healthcare for noncritical patients, regardless of their illness? In this session, learn how telemedicine can be employed for remote maintenance of patients with chronic illness, initial screening and diagnosis. Hear from experts who have created effective telehealth networks and what worked.

Our Guests:

Kathy Hsu Wibberly

Kathy is Director of the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC). TRC’s are federally funded to assist with telehealth program development and sustainability in order to increase access to quality care for rural and other underserved populations. Kathy is also Director of Research for the Karen S. Rheuban Center for Telehealth, Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine, faculty member at the Healthy Appalachia Institute and adjunct faculty member in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Kathy’s public service career reflects close to 30 years of experience in public health, public policy, program development, program evaluation and strategic planning. Kathy is an Appointed Member and Chair of the Rural Health Committee for the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) Board and is Vice President of the Virginia Telehealth Network Board.

Kathy G. Schwarting

Kathy G. Schwarting, MHA serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Palmetto Care Connections, a non-profit telehealth network for SC that was founded in 2010. PCC works with existing telemedicine/telehealth providers to promote/expand their services as well as with new up and coming applications. PCC primarily focuses on improving access to care for rural/underserved populations. PCC assists providers in vetting the most suitable telehealth technology, conducting a site needs assessment that includes connectivity, installing and configuring the hardware and finally training the staffs to effectively utilize the equipment and software. PCC also Co-Chairs a statewide Telehealth Education Committee with SC AHEC whereby educational tools/resources are developed and distributed to primary care providers. PCC serves as the administrator for South Carolina’s Broadband Consortium called the Palmetto State Providers Network (PSPN) which is used to ensure appropriate bandwidth for health care providers for telehealth services.

PCC recently submitted more than $30M in funding requests to the Universal Service Administration on behalf of health care providers in SC. Kathy also serves as the Co-Chair of the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance (SCTA) along with the Medical Director for MUSC Health which is responsible for building a statewide open-access telehealth network for SC and allocating funding for telehealth equipment, services and support as directed by the SC General Assembly. Under Kathy’s leadership, PCC manages a Telehealth Behavioral Health Network of 57 Behavioral Health Sites scattered throughout the state. PCC is also responsible for coordinating a Telehealth Summit for SC on an annual basis and it showcases telehealth success stories in SC and around the nation. Kathy has over 24 years of experience in rural health care working with various types of providers to improve the overall health care delivery systems. She spent more than fifteen years in rural network development working to foster relationships, develop partnerships, recruit health care providers and promote shared services between health care providers in rural communities by developing and coordinating the first not-for-profit rural health network in South Carolina, which served as a model for other states.

Kathy has also served in various capacities of leadership and management in the rural hospital setting including Director of Physician Services, Director of Support Services and Director of Operations for Bamberg County Hospital, a 54-bed acute care hospital. Kathy also established a Hospitalist Program and fully staffed and managed the Emergency Department at Barnwell County Hospital, a 64-bed acute care hospital. Kathy received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina and holds a Master in Health Administration degree from the Medical University of South Carolina. She serves on numerous advisory boards throughout the state including: the South Carolina Health Information Exchange (SCHIEx), the Low Country Area Health Education Consortium (AHEC), the South Carolina Behavioral Health Coalition (SCBHC) Core Leadership Team, The South Carolina Institute of Medicine & Public Health Workforce Development Task Force, as well as the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance Advisory Board (SCTA). She also serves on the Advisory Board on a national level for The Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law (CTel). Kathy resides in Bamberg, South Carolina with her husband who coaches high school baseball and football. Her oldest son, Tav (22), attends the University of South Carolina and coaches high school football and her youngest son, Garris (21) attends Charleston Southern University.

Jim Balshi

Dr. Jim Balshi joined the St. Luke’s Information Technology Department in 2016 as the Chief Medical Information Officer. He has been practicing vascular surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital for over 30 years. Dr. Balshi completed his General Surgery Residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, his fellowship in Vascular Surgery at Boston University Hospital and his fellowship in Endovascular Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Balshi has worked with Information Technology throughout his career facilitating the Allscripts EMR in specialty practices. He assisted the inpatient leadership for our seven hospital Epic go-live in January 2016 and directed the Network’s 250 Ambulatory site Go Live in January 2018.

As CMIO since 2016, Dr. Balshi provides senior leadership and clinical guidance to the St. Luke’s Heart and Vascular Center team and assumes responsibility for Information Technology Medical Leadership. Dr. Balshi works with our clinical service lines to improve existing systems and provide physician IT leadership through our ongoing addition of Epic clinical modules. He directs additional technology projects enhancing patient care, quality improvement and the Provider / patient experience. Dr. Balshi’s project priorities include: 1) Expanding the role of TeleHealth across the spectrum of patient care 2) Developing the use of Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning in improving Clinical Decision Support. 3) Refining training techniques for Provider and Clinical staff education. Dr. Balshi was born at St. Luke’s Hospital and raised in Bethlehem. He and his wife Jill reside in Saucon Valley with their Aussie Hazel. Jim is an avid cyclist and enjoys golf, skiing and hiking.

Aaron Rogers

Dr. Aaron Rogers is a local leader in the treatment of nasal and sinus disorders. He trained at Emory University completing hundreds of sinus procedures under the supervision of academic rhinologists and endoscopic neurosurgeons there. His research centered on nasal polyposis and chronic sinusitis in addition to studying the effects of topical glucocorticoids (steroids) on the nasal and respiratory tissues.

At Advanced ENT he initiated and oversees the Otolaryngic Allergy program, offering allergy testing and modern allergy treatment options (such as “Allergy Drops“) for patients suffering from nasal and pharyngeal allergy symptoms. Diagnnostic olfactory (smell) testing is also performed. He also brought Balloon Sinus Dilation, or Balloon Sinuplasty, and the Intersect Propel steroid-eluting sinus implant to the Advanced ENT practice. After performing the first in-office sinus balloon procedure in Atlanta in 2010, he has made this a meaningful part of the treatment options offered to patients suffering from chronic sinusitis and nasal congestion. In 2017, Georgia’s first cryotherapy procedure for vasomotor rhinitis was performed by Dr. Rogers.

Lending endoscopic skills from sinus surgery, Dr. Rogers also performs advanced salivary endoscopy and minimally invasive procedures for salivary stone extraction (submandibular and parotid stone retrieval). In 2018 it is expected that laser salivary lithotripsy will be FDA approved – we will be an early center adopting this technique.

Obstructive sleep apnea, snoring and other sleep disorders have special interest to Dr. Rogers as well. Dr. Rogers works with two local sleep laboratories for diagnostic testing and has ability now to perform most sleep apnea tests from home. We have a full-time Certified Sleep Technician on-site to help with testing and fitting of CPAP devices. Dr. Rogers also offers oral appliance therapy (a specialized retainer to wear at night) and an array of sleep apnea surgeries.

Advanced ENT’s sinus radiology workhorse – the IAC-accredited Cone Beam CT scanner – is lead by Dr. Rogers as the Medical and Technical Director. Dr. Rogers is active in the medical device innovation community both locally in Atlanta and in Silicon Valley, consulting with a number of device companies. Meaningful and innovative technology we hope will ultimately improve the quality of specialist healthcare and reduce costs for all.

Dr. Rogers has written several scientific publications, editor of a nationally-distributed pocket guide for ENT trainees, and authored a chapter in the textbook Skull Base Surgery Techniques and Concepts. Additionally he has presented medical research at many recent leading national scientific conferences.

Dr. Rogers has availability for Private and Concierge Care off-site as well. Dr. Rogers’ personal interests include outdoor activities and spending time with his family. When not at work he can usually be found running, hiking, or fly fishing.

Local hospital affiliations include Northside Hospital, Atlanta Outpatient Surgery Center, St. Joseph’s Health Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite and Meridian Mark Surgery Center. Dr. Rogers is a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, and the Georgia Society of Otolaryngology.

Session 1


Distance Learning: What Creates Success

In this session, we will hear from educators involved in distance learning as well as researchers who have explored the requirements for successful implementation of distance learning including access to devices, access to broadband and effective training. Companies and communities should be able to evaluate if their distance learning requirements will be sufficient to meet their educational goals during this time of social distancing.

Our Guests:

Todd Way

Todd Way is the CEO for Douglas Fast Net, a for-profit broadband subsidiary of Douglas Electric Cooperative. Todd is a 1995 graduate of Oregon State University with a master’s in Business Administration and a B.S degree in Construction Engineering Management. Todd began his carrier in telecommunications in 1991 working with US West Communications in Oregon and Washington. In 2004 he assumed the role of VP of Operations for Rio Communications, a competitive local exchange carrier located in Roseburg, Oregon. In 2007 he took over the operations of DFN for the cooperative.

Todd is currently the Chair of the Northwest Telecommunications Association and of the Utilities Telecom Council’s Broadband Technology Committee. In the past Todd has sat on the boards of Eastern Oregon Telecom, the Roseburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership and the Douglas County Development Board.

Johannes M. Bauer

Johannes M. Bauer is the Quello Chair for Media and Information Policy at Michigan State University (MSU). From January 2013 through June 2019, he served as the Chairperson of the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University. He is trained as an engineer and social scientist with MA and PhD degrees from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria. His research focuses on media and information policy and Internet governance, including issues such as network neutrality, overcoming digital divides, innovation in 5G wireless services, and the design of public interest technology. He uses qualitative and quantitative methods, including computational approaches to policy analysis.

His work has been funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and international organizations. Dr. Bauer has served as an advisor to public and private sector organizations in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. His most recent book, the Handbook on the Economics of the Internet (co-edited with Professor Michael Latzer at the University of Zurich), was published in 2016 by Edward Elgar. Dr. Bauer has held visiting professorships at the Technical University of Delft, Netherlands (2000-2001), the University of Konstanz, Germany (Summer 2010), and the University of Zurich, Switzerland (2012).

Pierrette Renée Dagg

Pierrette Renée Dagg is the director of Marketing and Communications at Merit Network, the nation's longest-running research and education network. Pierrette's teams organize educational resources, reports and events that support the Michigan Moonshot, an initiative that aims to bridge the digital divide in Michigan. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education and Educational Technologies from the University of Toledo.

Nick Fisher

Nick Fisher is finishing out his first year as an Assistant Principal at a middle school in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He is in his 12th year in education, all at the same school. He previously served as a Dean for two years and a history teacher for nine years. He also spent seven years as the Social Studies department chair.

Erin Huggins

Erin Huggins is a Research Associate on the Research and Evaluation team at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University. Her current evaluation projects include work with The Homework Gap Hotspot initiative, UNC-TV, NC New Teacher Support Program, Digital Durham, and DPI’s School Business System Modernization team. Past projects include work with MyFutureNC, Digital Learning Initiative, NC Community College System, NCICU, DPI, and other stakeholders in North Carolina.

Erins' research interests focus on digital equity, new teacher support, teacher efficacy and motivation, and improving educational opportunities in rural communities. She holds a B.A. in English Literature, an M.A.T. in Special Education, and she is finishing a Ph.D. in Education Evaluation and Policy with a minor in Educational Psychology at North Carolina State University. Prior to joining the Friday Institute, Erin worked as a research assistant in NC State’s College of Education and worked for 11 years as a special education teacher in North Carolina.

Hosted By:

Heather Burnett Gold is the CEO of HBG Strategies, a consultancy engaged in broadband education targeted at enabling fiber deployment among underserved communities.

A thirty-year plus industry veteran, Gold most recently served as the President/CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association. Prior to that, she was the SVP of External Affairs and Access Management for XO Communications.

Gold holds a BA (magna cum laude) and MA degrees in Economics from Tufts University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from Washington University in St. Louis. Gold also completed the General Management Program of the Harvard Business School.  She was honored by the Washington Business Journal as one of its 2010 Women Who Mean Business and was recognized by Fierce Telecom as one of its Women in Wireline for 2013.

Guy Bevente is founder of BevTek – a consulting company focused on advising software and services companies with a focus on digital transformation. Guy’s responsibilities at AT&T included major system integration and modernization efforts across both the BSS and OSS space.

More recently, he led architecture and delivery teams in the digital domain space for bother B2C and B2B. He also has a great deal of experience in M&A, Organization Development, and Driving Change.

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