Swenson, Johnson Resign from FirstNet Board, 7 Positions to Fill
Monday, August 20, 2018 | Comments

The chairwoman and vice chair of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) resigned. Board Chair Sue Swenson and Vice Chair Jeffrey Johnson notified Assistant Secretary of Commerce David Redl of their resignation. In addition, more than half of the nonpermanent board members will be replaced.

Both Swenson’s and Johnson’s second two-year terms as board chair and vice chair, respectively, expire this month, but they could have continued to serve on the board for a year. Swenson's and Johnson's board terms expire in August 2019. They both served two years of their 2016 three-year appointments.

“Secretary Ross and I are grateful for the leadership that Sue Swenson and Jeff Johnson demonstrated in leading FirstNet from a true startup to nationwide deployment,” said Redl. “We are deeply appreciative of their commitment to public safety and service to their country. The Department (of Commerce) and FirstNet have identified talented, experienced candidates for the FirstNet board that will carry on Sue and Jeff’s good work. We look forward to announcing those appointments later this year.”

At the August FirstNet board meeting, the board passed a resolution thanking Swenson for her service as board chairwoman since 2014. “The FirstNet board hereby extends its formal appreciation to Sue Swenson for her extraordinary expertise, experience, commitment and leadership as the board chair,” the resolution said.

Additionally, four of the 12 appointments of nonpermanent members to the FirstNet board expire this month. Board members are appointed for a term of three years, and members may not serve more than two consecutive full three-year terms. Kevin McGinnis is finishing his second three-year term so he will step down.

Neil Cox and Ed Horowitz have terms expiring this month but are eligible to serve another three-year term if they seek to do so and are re-appointed. Barry Boniface stepped down from the board in 2016, and his position will also be filled. Annise Parker's term ends this month, according to the FirstNet website.

An NTIA statement said: “With today’s resignations, there will be seven seats to fill. The board’s next quarterly meeting is in December.”

The Secretary of Commerce is responsible for appointing the 12 nonpermanent members of the FirstNet board, which includes 15 voting members. The other three seats are filled by the attorney general, the secretary of homeland security and the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In addition, the Secretary of Commerce appoints the board chair, while the board chair selects the vice chair.

At the August meeting, a FirstNet official said FirstNet received 18 applications for new board slots. After an initial review, recommendations were sent to Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and FirstNet is waiting Ross’ final decisions.

In April, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued a notice seeking expressions of interest from individuals who would like to serve on the FirstNet board.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve public safety over the past six years,” Swenson said. “Having accomplished what Chief Johnson and I set out to do back in 2012 with the deployment of the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) across all 56 states and territories with AT&T, it seems like the right time to transition. We remain committed to the FirstNet mission and will seek ways to continue our support of FirstNet in the years following our service.”

“It was a privilege to serve with Sue and represent the fire service community on the FirstNet board,” Johnson said. “I am confident that FirstNet will continue to succeed as it pursues its mission of providing a dedicated broadband network for every first responder in the country.”

“We thank Sue and Jeff for their leadership of the FirstNet board and for their commitment to public safety during a critical time in the history of FirstNet,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “From the strategic program road map to the nationwide deployment today, the board has worked with the FirstNet team to set a clear path for public safety’s network, and as a result, we are well positioned for continued success now and in the future.”

“I’m deeply honored to have had the privilege of working alongside Sue Swenson and Chief Jeff Johnson as we formed our public-private partnership with FirstNet and moved quickly to bring first responders the nationwide communications platform they spent years fighting for,” said Chris Sambar, senior vice president, AT&T FirstNet. “FirstNet is here, and I’m confident that we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without Sue and Chief Johnson’s tireless efforts. Their unwavering vision, dedication to serving public safety and great leadership has set FirstNet on a course for success. First responders can be confident that FirstNet will deliver for them today and for decades to come, supporting them in ways that only their network platform can.”

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