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 A cell tower against the backdrop of clouds with a headshot of a woman, Teri Takai.

Former state, federal tech executive Teri Takai receives distinguished award for leadership in public safety communications

June 29, 2023

San Diego, Calif.–  Teri Takai has been awarded the prestigious Chief Harlin R. McEwen Public Safety Broadband Communications Award for her remarkable leadership and significant contributions to the advancement of broadband communications for public safety.

Chief (ret.) Harlin R. McEwen and FirstNet Authority leaders presented the award today during 5x5: The Public Safety Innovation Summit, hosted by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division. 5x5 is a national conference that brings technologists, researchers, developers, and public safety together to share ideas and innovative solutions that can advance public safety communications. 

The award was created in honor of Chief McEwen who was a driving force in the establishment of FirstNet, the nationwide public safety broadband network, and was the founding chair of the FirstNet Authority’s Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC). The award is given to an individual who demonstrates the spirit of service, commitment, and dedication to advancing communications for first responders.

“It is truly an honor to receive this award,” said Takai. “Every day first responders run toward danger. Their life-saving mission is admirable, and reliable communications should be one of the basic foundations that assists them with their mission. The FirstNet Authority is making this a reality for public safety agencies nationwide, and I am proud to have played a part in this historic journey.”

Takai has had a trailblazing and impactful career in public service. She served as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the State of Michigan, then as CIO of the State of California, and subsequently the CIO of the U.S. Department of Defense, the first woman appointed to this role.

In 2012, Takai was appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce to serve on the inaugural FirstNet Authority Board, which was charged with establishing FirstNet, the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN). Takai went on to become the Board’s longest serving member, playing a critical role in governance, personnel, and public safety advocacy committees until 2019.

“Teri Takai’s strong leadership guided the FirstNet Authority Board in moments that were pivotal to the success of FirstNet,” said FirstNet Authority Board Chair and Fire Chief Richard Carrizzo. “Her strategic expertise in government IT and management helped guide the FirstNet Authority through critical milestones—from the award of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network contract to the initial deployment of FirstNet. We would not be where we are today without her extraordinary service. Teri was instrumental in bringing public safety’s vision to life.”

Prior to her position as CIO of Michigan, Takai worked for Ford Motor Company for 30 years in global application development and information technology strategic planning. Today, Takai is Senior Vice President of the Center for Digital Government, a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. She continues to be a thought leader in State IT policy and an expert voice in how states can support the critical communications needs of our nation's first responders.

About the First Responder Network Authority

The FirstNet Authority is an independent entity within the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Created in 2012, its 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. Learn more at kit and follow the FirstNet Authority (@FirstNetGov) on FacebookTwitter,  LinkedIn, and Instagram for updates.


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