Horowitz Named FirstNet Board Chairman, Poth Exits
Wednesday, September 05, 2018 | Comments

Edward Horowitz was named chair of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) for a two-year term, and FirstNet CEO Mike Poth will leave his position at the end of September.

A National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) statement said Poth, who was appointed CEO in August 2015, has accepted a position in the private sector and will assist with transition efforts this month.

“Mike Poth took the helm at a critical time and has been a driving force behind FirstNet’s success,” said David Redl, assistant secretary of Commerce for communications and information. “We are grateful for his service, and he leaves us with a clear path for the ongoing deployment of a nationwide public-safety network. I am confident that under the leadership of Ed Horowitz, the board and FirstNet will continue to deliver for public safety, in coordination with AT&T, without interruption.”

The FirstNet board will select a new CEO and appoint an acting CEO in coordination with the Department of Commerce.

“For the past three years, I have had the honor of serving public safety here at the First Responder Network Authority,” Poth said. “Leading this organization of talented individuals dedicated to supporting our nation’s first responders has been a true privilege. Now, FirstNet is here. Together with AT&T and the public-safety community, FirstNet is fully prepared to continue its momentum. In the meantime, I will be focusing my efforts on ensuring the smoothest transition for FirstNet and all of its stakeholders.”

Following Horowitz’s reappointment to the board, there are six seats to fill on the FirstNet board.

To ensure continuity and a quorum for the board, three members whose terms expired last month — Neil E. Cox, Kevin McGinnis and Annise D. Parker — agreed to extend their terms, an NTIA statement said.

Former FirstNet Board Chairwoman Sue Swenson and Vice Chair Jeff Johnson stepped down from the board in August. Barry Boniface stepped down from the board in 2016. Kevin McGinnis finished his second three-year term in August. Board members are appointed for a term of three years, and members may not serve more than two consecutive full three-year terms, however, McGinnis agreed to extend his term.

Board members, even those who are term limited, are allowed to serve until their successor has been named or to the end of the calendar year in which their term has expired, whichever comes first, an NTIA spokesman said.

Horowitz’s and Cox’s first terms expired in August, but they are eligible to serve another three-year term. Annise Parker's term also ended in August, according to the FirstNet website.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross reappointed Horowitz to the board and named him chair.

“I’m honored to be appointed as chair of the FirstNet board as we continue the important work of driving FirstNet forward on behalf of public safety," Horowitz said. "We have an experienced team and the strong public-safety relationships needed to ensure first responders have the network they need for their lifesaving mission. I look forward to working with the FirstNet Authority team, AT&T and our nation’s first responders as the network buildout continues to move forward.”

Horowitz is the founder and chairman of Edslink, a venture capital firm. He has also served as co-CEO of TV content provider Encompass Digital Media and other broadcast firms. He was first appointed to the board in 2015.

Ross 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 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 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.

The board’s next quarterly meeting is in December.

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