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U.S. Department of Commerce Announces Six Leadership Appointments to Board of First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet)

October 31, 2018
News Media Contact
Commerce Department

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the appointment of six leaders in public safety, technology and network financing to serve on the Board of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).

The new members bring the FirstNet board to a full complement, with 12 non-permanent members selected by the Commerce Department and three permanent seats filled by the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  The Board oversees the activities of FirstNet to ensure that FirstNet and AT&T, its commercial partner, develop, build, and operate a nationwide broadband network that will best equip first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities.

Last month, Secretary Ross reappointed Edward Horowitz to the Board and named him Board Chair.

“I am proud to announce the selection of these highly qualified new Board members, whose experience in public service and the private sector will ensure FirstNet continues to provide the world-class communications network our emergency responders need,” said Secretary Ross. “I thank our new members for their willingness to join the Board and guide FirstNet in its mission to save lives and keep our communities safe.”

Secretary Ross appointed five members to the FirstNet Board for three-year terms:

Richard Carrizzo, Chief of the Southern Platte Fire Protection District, Kansas City, Missouri, who also serves as lead fire representative on the policy board that manages the region’s 911 system.

Welton Chase, Jr. Brig. Gen. (ret.), U.S. Army, Army Information Technology (Signal), led the Army's largest theater information technology organization supporting over 430,000 Army users across 81 data centers in 38 states.

Brian Crawford, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Shreveport, Louisiana, responsible for the city’s fire, police and public works departments. 

Billy Hewes, Mayor, Gulfport, Mississippi, who’s played a key role in recovery operations from natural and man-made disasters.

Paul R. Patrick, Division Director, Family Health and Preparedness, Utah Department of Health, Salt Lake City, and past president of the National Association of State EMS Officials.

In addition, Secretary Ross reappointed one current Board member to serve in a new three-year term:

Neil Cox, CEO, Repio, Inc., Seal Beach, California, has served as Chair of the FirstNet Board’s Technology Committee.

“I want to thank and welcome all of the new board members and congratulate Neil Cox on his reappointment,” said David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator. “I am confident we have the right board in place, under the leadership of Ed Horowitz, to guide FirstNet as it deploys around the country and connects our first responders.”

“I am pleased to welcome our newest members to the FirstNet Board,” said Horowitz. “Each are experts in their fields - from local leaders to public safety officials and business and technology executives. I want to thank Secretary Ross for supporting FirstNet with these new appointments and the reappointment of Neil Cox. With these accomplished leaders on board, we are set to drive FirstNet’s success – now and in the future.”

“I also want to thank our outgoing members for their service to FirstNet and the public safety community; Kevin McGinnis, who was a member of the FirstNet Board since the beginning and brought valuable emergency medical perspectives and relationships to FirstNet, and Mayor Annise D. Parker, who served on our Public Safety Advocacy Committee and helped us engage with local governments in the planning leading up to the early deployment of FirstNet.”


The First Responder Network Authority is an independent entity within the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). FirstNet’s mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. In March 2017, the Department of Commerce and FirstNet announced a partnership with AT&T to build and operate and the first responder network. It will deliver the technologies and infrastructure that public safety desperately needs for day-to-day operations, disaster response and recovery, and securing of large events.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 created FirstNet, and Congress directed that FirstNet be governed by a 15-person Board, with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney General, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget named as permanent Board members. Congress charged the Secretary of Commerce with selecting the remaining 12 members.

To view the full bios of the FirstNet Board, visit: To learn more about FirstNet, visit