Headshots of six women who serve on the FirstNet Authority Board.

Ingenuity, diversity, and expertise: the benefits of women as leaders

Working with strong female leaders has been a highlight of my career at the U.S. Department of Commerce. I’ve been enriched personally and professionally by the unique perspectives and experiences of these women. At the FirstNet Authority, we are privileged to be led by many women who bring ingenuity, diversity, and expertise to our work.

Unique to the FirstNet Authority

Ten years ago, Congress passed legislation authorizing the FirstNet Authority and giving us the mission to oversee the buildout, deployment, and operation of the nationwide public safety broadband network called FirstNet.

A unique aspect of the FirstNet Authority is that we are led by a Board, with members appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. The Board’s oversight ensures that the FirstNet Authority and AT&T—our public-private partner—develop, build, operate, and maintain a network that will best equip first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. 

Exceptional women who are members of the Board 

In October 2021, Secretary Gina Raimondo appointed 11 leaders in public safety, technology, and finance to serve on the FirstNet Authority Board. The diversity within the Board is a strength for our agency, helping to advance our mission to improve communications for the public safety community.

I’d like to introduce you to the exceptional women who are members of the FirstNet Authority’s Board today.

Alexandra Fernández Navarro, our first Board member from a U.S. territory, is an experienced leader in the telecom sector who is dedicated to bringing broadband to the underserved. When Hurricane Maria wiped out 95% of cell sites in Puerto Rico, she led efforts to restore communications on the island. She served as commissioner of the Puerto Rico Public Service Regulatory Board, overseeing essential services like telecommunications, energy, and transportation in Puerto Rico. She also served as a member of the Federal Communication Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee and National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s State Broadband Leaders Network.

Our board also includes a 33-year law enforcement veteran, Sheriff Kristin Graziano, a trailblazer and tireless advocate of diversity and women’s issues. Throughout her career, she has taken on leadership roles, including as an Element Leader, a SWAT team trainer, and an innovator in school safety response. After serving in law enforcement in both Charlottesville, Virginia, and Charleston County, South Carolina, she became the first woman to be elected sheriff in South Carolina. Now, as Sheriff of Charleston County, she leads one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the state.  

As a leader in emergency communications, Karima Holmes has served at the helm of Washington, D.C.’s emergency communications center during high-profile events, including presidential inaugurations, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the January 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. She continues to serve in this role today. In addition, she has served as executive director at emergency communications centers across the United States, leading efforts to improve technical infrastructure and public safety programs. In addition to serving on our Board, she is a leader for women in public safety, serving on the board of 911der Women Inc., a non-profit that supports women working in 9-1-1.

Chief Sylvia Moir is a police executive with more than three decades of experience who champions equity and effectiveness in policing. During her decade of experience as a police chief, she led departments in Tempe, Arizona, and El Cerrito, California, and served as Chief of Police in Napa, California. Currently, she coordinates the California Peace Officer Standards and Training Executive Development Course which strives to enhance the leadership potential and capabilities of leaders in law enforcement. She is also the chair of the Community Policing Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and a past president of the Police Executive Research Forum.

Jocelyn Moore has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently serves as Senior Managing Director, Corporate Affairs, for the investment firm Pretium. Previously, she was Chief Communications Officer for the National Football League. Prior to joining the private sector, she spent 15 years as a senior staffer in the United States Senate, including as the Deputy Staff Director for the Senate Committee on Finance as well as Legislative Director for Senator John D. Rockefeller IV. In addition to our board, she also serves as an independent director on the boards of two publicly traded companies, DraftKings, and OppFi. 

Tia Boatman Patterson not only serves on our board, but also as the Associate Director for Housing, Treasury, and Commerce for the White House Office of Management and Budget. Prior to joining the Biden Administration, her expertise and skills were vital in leading the state of California Housing Agency out of the Great Recession. She has been a vocal advocate for access to long-term housing for all throughout her work. 

Future generations

I’m so proud to work with this team of extraordinary leaders at the FirstNet Authority. More than ever before, frontline leaders across public safety disciplines are women. The representation of women in public safety, engineering, and technology fields is improving, but we need to do more to maximize the benefits of diversity. I am personally committed to cultivating a work environment where women can grow and prosper as leaders. Together with my colleagues at the FirstNet Authority, we look forward to future generations of women who will advance public safety communications.    

Learn more about how FirstNet is transforming public safety communications — contact your local FirstNet Authority Public Safety Advisor and sign up for our discipline newsletters. Follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn for the latest FirstNet Authority updates.

For information on FirstNet products and services or to access your subscriber account, visit FirstNet.com.     

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