Two FirstNet board members step down, leaving seven open seats

Since the network's launch in all 56 states and territories this year, some longtime leadership of the communications network is changing over.

FirstNet, a national communications network for first responders, lost two of its board members this week, when each stepped down one year short of their possible three-year appointments.

Board Chair Sue Swenson and Vice Chair Jeffrey Johnson have stepped down from their board positions effective Monday, according to a press release from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Both Swenson and Johnson were appointed to three-year board positions in 2016, and notified U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross of their intention not to continue in the roles.

The moves now leave seven open positions on the FirstNet board before the body’s next quarterly meeting in December. The 15-member board includes 12 rotating appointees and three permanent members that include the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

In a press statement, Redl said he was “deeply appreciative” of the work done by Swenson and Johnson seeing the network through its launch. The agency’s sole vendor for the project, AT&T, received authorization to begin building out its dedicated public safety broadband wireless spectrum in March and is now adding features and continuing to build out its infrastructure to reach more customers, particularly in rural areas.


Both Swenson and Johnson have histories with FirstNet beyond these most recent appointments, both having also been part of FirstNet’s original board in 2012. Swenson is credited with having led negotiations on public safety spectrum and forming strategy for the agency.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve public safety over the past six years,” Swenson said in a press statement. “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,” Swenson said. “We remain committed to the FirstNet mission and will seek ways to continue our support of FirstNet in the years following our service.”

Colin Wood

Written by Colin Wood

Colin Wood is the editor in chief of StateScoop and EdScoop. He's reported on government information technology policy for more than a decade, on topics including cybersecurity, IT governance and public safety.

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