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New FirstNet Leadership Steps Up

The First Responders Network Authority has a new acting CEO and board vice chair, as the public safety communications agency fills spots left by a number of recent departures.

FirstNet’s new acting CEO is Edward Parkinson, who replaces Mike Poth. Poth announced he was leaving the agency at the end of September to head to the private sector after leading FirstNet for three years.

Parkinson helped draft the initial bill that kicked off the effort to create FirstNet, during his time working for then-chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Peter King. He was one of FirstNet’s first employees, joining the authority in 2013. According to FirstNet, Parkinson held a variety of leadership positions in the agency, most recently that of executive director of external affairs, and “led the organization’s outreach efforts that resulted in all 56 states and territories choosing to opt-into the FirstNet network.”

Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information David Redl said in a statement that Parkinson’s “understanding of the history of the FirstNet project and his leadership roles throughout its maturation make him uniquely qualified to lead the FirstNet organization into its operational phase.”

Meanwhile, recently installed Board Chair Edward Horowitz has named Sheriff Richard Stanek, who has served on the FirstNet board since 2014, to the position of vice chair. Stanek has served on the board’s public safety advocacy committee and is a 35-year veteran of law enforcement; he currently serves as sheriff of Hennepin County, Minnesota and has leadership roles in both national and state law enforcement associations. He is vice president of the National Sheriffs’ Association and chair of the NSA’s homeland security committee; Stanek also serves as vice president for homeland security for the Major County Sheriffs of America.

Having a public safety leader like Sheriff Stanek in the vice chair role is valuable to the Board, to the FirstNet organization, and to the public safety community as we work to implement the network, Horowitz said.  “We have worked closely together on the board over the last three years and look forward to continuing to drive FirstNet forward for public safety.”

Redl said in a statement that Stanek “has been a dedicated and essential member of the FirstNet Board and he is a terrific choice to serve as vice chair. Sheriff Stanek’s extensive public safety experience will bring a valuable, first responder perspective to the board’s leadership.”

Former Board Chair Sue Swenson and Vice-Chair Jeff Johnson both original members from when the FirstNet board was first formed both retired from the board in August. – RCR Wireless

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