Economic developer Christa Wagner Vinson brings nearly 15 years of experience helping regional and national nonprofits and state and local governments create innovative, community-led solutions that drive sustainable growth, most recently through her consultancy and as co-founder of NC Hearts Gigabit, a digital platform that supports the universal availability of affordable, reliable, high-capacity Internet to create thriving local communities.
Previously, she helped launch and accelerate the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, a multi-sector initiative that catalyzed global recognition for the Research Triangle region of North Carolina’s clean technology sector, and was an analyst for the North Carolina Department of Commerce and SJF Institute, a positive-impact business accelerator in Durham, N.C.
Alan Fitzpatrick is the CEO of Open Broadband, an ISP providing broadband internet service to undeserved communities. Prior to Open Broadband, Alan had 20 years management experience in the Telecommunications and Software industries, including COO of DC74 Data Centers, COO of VolP Services at ACN Inc., Sr. VP of Engineering for US LEC Corp, and founder and CEO of 2 software companies.
Alan is a promoter of a gigabit internet infastructure in North Carolina, and co-founded Charlotte Hearts Gigabit, widely credited with attracting Google Fiber to Charlotte. He later joined as a co-founder of NC Hearts Gigabit. Alan is also an Adjunct Professor and enjoys teaching entrepreneurship and technology courses for Central Michigan University and Johnson and Wales University.
Alan has an MBA from Vanderbilt University and a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University.
For more than a decade Catharine has been a broadband consultant serving North Carolina communities in planning and deploying local broadband systems and closing the digital divide, focusing particularly on those communities in the Research Triangle area and surrounding rural counties.
Highlights of Catharine’s work include assisting Pinetops, N.C. in its 2017 legislative effort to keep gigabit service (NC House Bill 396); contributing to the development, implementation and promotion of North Carolina’s first community-owned, fiber-to-the-home gigabit network in Wilson, N.C.; working with the Town of Chapel Hill on piloting a free Wifi network to serve underprivileged public housing students with no internet access at home, assisting Carrboro N.C. in its role as a participant in the Triangle’s NCNGN project and assisting in various broadband feasibility studies.
Catharine is known for organizing the NC fiber lunches, and co-founding NC Hearts Gigabits (previously named CLIC-NC). She spearheaded a North Carolina grassroots effort that lobbied against NC House Bill 129 to defend local community authority to offer broadband services between 2007 and 2011.She is currently the project director for the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), president of the Virginia Chapter of NATOA and at-large member and chair of the City of Alexandria, Virginia’s IT Commission. Catharine holds a master’s degree from the Annenberg School of Communications and a B.A. from the University of Michigan.
Deb Watts brings more than 15 years as a senior director of research and development for the e-NC authority/NC Broadband. In this role she was responsible for designing, funding, and evaluating national best practice models for increasing broadband Internet access and utilization, including business and technology development centers, transactional e-government utilization, grassroots connectivity strategic planning initiatives and strategic broadband policy planning. This work was especially focused on connectivity challenges in rural and underserved communities. As senior partner at Technology Development Group, a consultancy practice specializing in technology-led economic development, Watts has accumulated more than 30 years of successful experience on a state, national, and international level related to public and private sector science policy and technology-based economic development.
Watts has undergraduate and graduate degrees in molecular biology from NC State University and Emory University respectively, and at the University of NC at Chapel Hill has completed an MBA degree and all coursework toward Ph.D. in Operations Management with a focus on Innovation and Technology and has completed additional studies at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Gene Scott is currently the General Manager OSP for Greenlight Community Broadband in Wilson, NC. Mr. Scott has served in this position for 12 years. His duties include overseeing the design, material specifications / selection and maintenance of the OSP portion of the City’s FTTH network as well as private fiber optic networks for corporate customers.
Prior to taking this position, Mr. Scott’s career spanned 28 years in OSP Engineering for a major Telco, holding positions of increasing responsibility including Senior Engineer where he was responsible for the day to day management of a district engineering office.
Mr. Scott is a graduate of East Carolina University.
Jane Smith Patterson is currently a Partner with Broadband Catalysts. She previously served as executive director of the e-NC Authority, an organization with a goal of bringing affordable high-speed Internet access to the citizens, businesses and institutions of North Carolina, particularly in rural areas. Prior to taking this leadership position in 2001, Patterson worked for North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt through his 4 terms in office, first as Secretary of Administration, then as Chief Advisor for Policy, Budget and Technology, and finally as Senior Advisor for Science and Technology and Director of the Office for Technology.
Patterson’s background also includes working in the private industry as vice-president of ITT Corporation- Network Systems Group, of ITT-Alcatel, NA. Jane has served as a Vice Chancellor at UNC-Wilmington and in positions with research programs at the University of Pennsylvania and UNC-Chapel Hill. She consistently leads focused efforts, both for her state and nationally to improve technology and its application, in order to enhance the economy of North Carolina and the United States as well as to advance educational opportunities for future generations. Jane is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has completed post-graduate degree work at N.C. State University and additional studies at Harvard University. She serves on a number of boards for nonprofit organizations, including the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
Eric Kramer has over 20 years of telecommunications industry experience and currently serves as President and CEO of Wilkes Communications and RiverStreet Networks in Wilkesboro, N.C. In this role, he has overseen multiple strategic acquisitions and an extensive growth initative in North Carolina, which established multiple public-private partnerships. He began his career as a consultant with John Staurulakis, Inc., where he spent 8 years working with numerous rural ILECs on financial and regulatory matters. Mr. Cramer holds a BSBA in Finance from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, and an MS in Telecom and Technology Management and MBA, both from the University of Maryland.
Doug Dawson joined the NC Broadband Matters Board of Directors in July 2019. He is the President and founder of CCG Consulting – the largest broadband consulting firm in the country in terms of clients, with over 900 clients. CCG offers a full range of telecom services including engineering, regulatory, business planning, strategic planning and implementation services. One of Doug’s areas of emphasis is helping clients find financing for new network expansion.
Doug has worked in the telecom industry since 1978 and has both a consulting and an operational background. Doug writes a daily blog that can be found a thttp://potsandpansbyccg.com.