Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross now has seven FirstNet board seats to fill

The chair and vice-chair of the First Responders Network Authority board are stepping down, two years into their three-year terms. Chair Sue Swenson and Vice-Chair Jeff Johnson — both original members from when the FirstNet board first formed — are retiring from the authority’s board, leaving a total of seven vacancies on the 15-member board. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration asked for applications to the board in April and the vacancies are expected to be filled by the secretary of commerce later this year.

Swenson came to the FirstNet board with an extensive background in the telecom industry; Johnson is a former fire chief still actively involved with public safety organizations.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve public safety over the past six years. Having accomplished what Chief Johnson and I set out to do back in 2012 with the deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network across all 56 states and territories with AT&T, it seems like the right time to transition,” Swenson said in a statement. “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.”

The FirstNet board has 15 voting members, of which 12 are non-permanent members appointed by the secretary of commerce. The other three seats on the board are filled by the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“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 Assistant Secretary of Commerce David Redl in a statement. “We are deeply appreciative of their commitment to public safety and service to their country. The Department 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.”

FirstNet CEO Mike Poth also extended his thanks to Swenson and Johnson.

“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 Poth in a statement. “From the strategic program roadmap 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.”

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