Tag Archives: leadership

MCNC’s Mark Johnson joins FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee Working Group

The Quilt, a national coalition of advanced U.S. regional networks for research and education (R&E), and MCNC, the non-profit owner and operator of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), today announced that MCNC Chief Technology Strategist Mark Johnson will represent the national R&E networking community on a new Working Group within the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC).

In January, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of this new federal advisory committee that will provide advice and recommendations for the commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access. The BDAC is intended to provide a means for stakeholders with interests in this area to exchange ideas and develop recommendations to enhance the FCC’s ability to carry out its responsibility to encourage broadband deployment to all Americans.

The FCC announced two BDAC Working Groups this week, and Chairman Pai appointed Johnson to serve as a member of the Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers Working Group, which is a 25-member group chaired by Robert DeBroux, Director of Public Policy and Federal Regulatory Affairs at TDS Telecom and full member of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee. The other BDAC Working Group announced this week will focus on Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure. Another two BDAC Working Groups were announced earlier this month.

“I’m honored to represent The Quilt and MCNC with this appointment, and I look forward to working with my fellow group members to find ways to best deploy connectivity solutions and advanced broadband Internet into rural areas,” Johnson said. “I’m delighted that the R&E networking community will have a voice on this critical issue, and I look forward to getting to work.”

The full BDAC held its first public committee meeting on Friday, April 21.

The schedule for the new BDAC Working Groups has yet to be determined.

Johnson’s career encompasses 30 years of leadership experience in the management, engineering, and operations of Internet technologies. During his tenure at MCNC he has been responsible for operating a private microwave network and for a variety of fiber network technologies as a customer and constructor. North Carolina’s varied geography and mix of urban and rural communities means he has encountered all types of technical and regulatory obstacles in broadband technology deployment. And, Johnson has successfully worked with all types of entities in the broadband technology landscape to address these obstacles. He also is a founding board member of The Quilt, a former board chairman, and currently serves as its vice chair.

The Quilt offers guidance on NSF cyberinfrastructure future plans

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made cyberinfrastructure a central theme in its plans for developing and delivering tools to enhance scientific discovery.

This year, between January and April, the NSF sought input from the research community on science challenges and associated cyberinfrastructure needs over the next decade and beyond. The federal agency was looking for bold, forward-looking ideas to help advance the frontiers of science and engineering over the next decade and beyond (NSF CI 2030). This activity also recognized that researchers in varying disciplines may need different resources; may have differing priorities for access, interoperability, and continuity; and may require external expertise to address the most critical problems in their specific disciplines.

Please refer to Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) NSF 17-31 for full background information on this activity.

What is Cyberinfrastructure?

Cyberinfrastructure was first used by the NSF to describe research environments that support advanced data acquisition, data storage, data management, data integration, data mining, data visualization and other computing and information processing services distributed over high-speed networks beyond the scope of a single institution. It is classified as a technological and sociological solution to the problem of efficiently connecting laboratories, data, computers, and people to find that next great innovation or discovery.

In 2009, NSF undertook a community-informed analysis of cyberinfrastructure needs that led to the formulation of a vision, strategy, and set of initiatives entitled Cyberinfrastructure for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21). Since that analysis, many changes have taken place in terms of scientific challenges and opportunities as well as technological progress. To continue capitalizing on the potential provided by cyberinfrastructure to advance science and engineering research, the NSF is beginning to formulate an updated strategy in 2017 as well as concrete plans for future investments in this area.

The NSF Cyberinfrastructure Special Report offers more in-depth presentations on cyberinfrastructure.

The Quilt Contribution

The Quilt has provided a response to the NSF’s Request for Information on Future Needs for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure to Support Science and Engineering Research (NSF CI 2030).

Regional research and education (R&E) networks play a critical role in providing the underpinning fabric that makes possible local, regional, national, and global collaborations using advanced cyberinfrastructure. As a non-profit consortium representing 36 regional R&E networks nationwide, The Quilt has a collective mission to support all science and engineering fields and their research challenges.

Decades of success since the initial funding of regional networks by the NSF have taught us that the geography of resources is a significant factor in supporting research pursuits and scientific discoveries. In several of its current cyberinfrastructure programs, NSF has recognized that coordination of specific cyberinfrastructure activities are most effectively coordinated at the regional level by organizations that are frequently best positioned to foster and enable collaboration across a number of boundaries and serve to maximize NSF investments for the greatest good.

These networks provide scientific researchers with the network paths and bandwidth they need to move data as well as access remote and virtualized advanced cyberinfrastructure. The networks are engineered to support high-quality services that are consistent to researchers independent of the field of study, the number of users on the network, or the number of collaborators and collaboration sites. These organizations provide a sophisticated level of network services.

The Quilt believes the following advancements in the development, deployment, and utilization of advanced cyberinfrastructure will be a key part of an ongoing national strategy to address scientific and engineering research challenges. In the RFI submission, The Quilt outlines and describes six specific technical advancements in cyberinfrastructure that must be addressed …

  1. Keeping pace with network capacity demands
  2. Distributed, federated computing with shared resource
  3. Hybrid commercial/private cloud services for research
  4. End-to-end performance of research flows
  5. Cyberinfrastructure security
  6. Development and sustainability of a diverse cyberinfrastructure workforce

*Download and view the PDF of The Quilt’s full RFI response issued out of the NSF website.

Investing in Cyberpractioners

Preliminary investments in programs that support development of “cyberpractitioner” roles at the campus and regional levels has had meaningful impact for those researchers fortunate enough to have access to these individuals. Nationally, we are just now gaining insights into the benefits of cyberpractioners on the research process with their ability to bring to bear additional research resources and tools for scientific discovery.

The Quilt affirms that the next area of focus should be the scalability and sustainability of these roles within the country’s advanced cyberinfrastructure ecosystem by creating opportunity for longer-term career paths. This will encourage these specialized individuals to remain in their field of work as they mature in these positions while also encouraging a new set of professionals to enter in these roles in the future.

Next Steps

NSF has supported advanced computing since its beginning and continues to expand access to these resources. This access helps tens of thousands of researchers each year – from high-school students to Nobel Prize winners – expand the frontiers of science and engineering, regardless of whether their institutions are large or small, or where they are located geographically. By combining superfast and secure networks, cutting-edge parallel computing and analytics, advanced scientific instruments and critical datasets across the country, the NSF’s cyber-ecosystem lets researchers investigate questions that can’t otherwise be explored.

According to NSF, the contributions and ideas collected across the country last quarter will be used this year to inform NSF’s updated strategy and plans for advanced cyberinfrastructure investments.

All submissions made to NSF will be made available on the following website: http://www.nsfci2030.org.

(Image credit: Visualization of 3-D Cerebellar Cortex model generated by researchers Angus Silver and Padraig Gleeson from University College London. The NeuroScience Gateway was used for simulations.)

The Quilt recommends MCNC’s Mark Johnson to FCC advisory committee

The Quilt has nominated MCNC Chief Technology Strategist Mark Johnson to serve on the Federal Communication Commission’s new Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) as a representative of the national research and education (R&E) networking community.

In January, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of this new federal advisory committee that will provide advice and recommendations for the commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access. The BDAC is intended to provide a means for stakeholders with interests in this area to exchange ideas and develop recommendations, which will in turn enhance the FCC’s ability to carry out its responsibility to encourage broadband deployment to all Americans.

According to reports, approximately 380 nominations have been submitted for this committee with 17 seats available. The FCC intends to establish the BDAC for two years, with an expected starting date this spring.

The role of R&E networks in delivering advanced broadband Internet access for education, research and other community anchor institutions while also working to evolve the technology of the Internet itself provides an important perspective for the committee as it contemplates how to remove barriers to deployment.

The Quilt President and CEO Jen Leasure explained that because R&E networks like MCNC were established to meet the specialized needs of academic research in higher education institutions. The experience they have is particularly valuable for informing FCC policy for gigabit networks and beyond.

“Our country’s research and education networks and Mr. Johnson are well-positioned to contribute decades of leadership and experience in the deployment, management, engineering and operations of advanced Internet technologies at the local, state, regional and national levels,” wrote Jen Leasure in a letter of recommendation to Chairman Pai. “As independent, non-profit network builders and operators, R&E networks hold an invaluable role in this country’s broadband landscape that provides them with a unique perspective to contribute to discussions about removing barriers to broadband deployment.”

MCNC is a technology nonprofit that builds, owns and operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN). MCNC has deployed fiber in 82 of 100 North Carolina counties and serves anchor institutions in all 100 counties on this vast, 2,600-mile network. MCNC also is committed to creating a market for dark fiber in the state to facilitate ubiquitous, gigabit residential broadband.

Johnson’s career encompasses 30 years of leadership experience in the management, engineering, and operations of Internet technologies. During his tenure at MCNC he has been responsible for operating a private microwave network and for a variety of fiber network technologies as a customer and constructor. North Carolina’s varied geography and mix of urban and rural communities means he has encountered all types of technical and regulatory obstacles in broadband technology deployment. And, Johnson has successfully worked with all types of entities in the broadband technology landscape to address these obstacles.

“The BDAC will be important in that it will advise the FCC on impediments to deploying advanced broadband Internet in rural areas,” said Johnson. “It’s important for MCNC and many of the country’s R&E networks because this is a strategic issue for us, and we want a voice in how those issues are framed. All of The Quilt members are pressing for better broadband to some degree, and it is also a critical issue for education so that everyone has access and connectivity.”

Johnson has received support from The Quilt as well as from many members of The Quilt who have written letters of recommendation. Internet2 has submitted a letter on his behalf and well as the North Carolina Wireless Research Center. N.C. Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland has endorsed his nomination as well as Internet pioneer Jane Patterson and Joanne Hovis from the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC).

Mark is a founding board member of The Quilt, is a former board chairman, currently serving as its vice chair.  Mark is also a founding board member of the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, a nonprofit, advocacy organization that supports open, affordable, high-capacity broadband connections for anchor institutions and their surrounding communities. If selected, he will represent the interests and missions of The Quilt research and education network community as a whole and is willing and available to serve a two-year term on the committee as well as participate as a member of any subcommittee(s).

NTIA seeks input on new Community Connectivity Initiative

The National Telecommunications and Information Initiative (NTIA) will be hosting a nine-part webinar series in an effort to grow the Community Connectivity Initiative.

The webinars, taking place on the second Thursday of each month starting in July through March 2017, will support accelerated broadband access, improve digital inclusion, strengthen policies and support local priorities. These hands-on and interactive sessions will allow stakeholders the chance to have a say in the future growth of the initiative while identifying tools that could benefit communities in the present and future.

The planned discussion topics are as follows:

  • July 14: Initiative update and framework and assessment design discussion
  • Aug. 11: Initiative update and discussion of the report and recommended output
  • Sept. 8: Initiative update and recommendations discussion
  • Oct. 13: Initiative update and discussion on user support requirements
  • Nov. 10: Initiative update and evaluation discussion
  • Dec. 8: Initiative update and discussion of training requirements
  • Jan. 12: Initiative update and discussion of roll-out timeline
  • Feb. 9: Initiative update and communication discussion
  • March 9: Initiative update and next steps discussion

Admission is open to the public, although it is requested that participants pre-register for each webinar. Questions during the webinar may be sent to BroadbandUSA@ntia.doc.gov.  For more information about the webinars, how to register and the webinar topics, visit the Federal Registrar.

Additionally, NTIA has invited several thought leaders to Washington D.C. for a two-day design workshop to help complete the next level of detailed design for the Community Connectivity Framework, Online Assessment Tool, and Reports.

This event is invitation only and is scheduled for June 28-29.

The NTIA’s BroadbandUSA team is developing new tools to support communities working to accelerate broadband deployment, deepen broadband adoption, strengthen local policies, and use broadband to advance local priorities. The Community Connectivity Initiative design is based on the best practices and best thinking of leading practitioners in communities throughout the country. The program structure encourages continuous improvement, inviting community leaders to take stock of their current broadband assets, access, and applications, identify opportunities and next steps, and re-assess later. The goal is to support more communities as they develop local plans to increase access, adoption and use and to use common measures rooted in local practice to create a foundation for further investments in broadband.

For more about the initiative, visit http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/CCI

MCNC names Jean Davis president and CEO

Quilt member MCNC today announced that Jean Davis has been named president and CEO of the non-profit operator of the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN).

The organization made the surprise announcement at NCREN Community Day 2014 at NC State University.

Jean Davis

Davis comes to MCNC from the N.C. Department of Commerce, where she served as both COO and Executive Director of Business, Industry and Trade. Jean’s background includes executive management experience with major technology multinationals, entrepreneurial startups and government.

She will begin her tenure at MCNC officially on Nov. 17. She is just the eighth CEO in this history of the organization since 1983 and is the first woman to hold the position.

“MCNC has a rich history of innovation in North Carolina, and I’m excited for the opportunity to build upon that path of success for the next phase of MCNC’s growth,” said Davis. “Technology changes daily, and by working in collaboration with the NCREN Community, staff, private-sector partners and others, we can create new opportunities that will keep North Carolina as a leader in broadband connectivity.”

For 30 years, North Carolina has set the pace for national research and education networking by leveraging NCREN, which provides true high-performance broadband connectivity for community institutions in K-20 public and private education, non-profit health care, public safety and many federal, state and private research institutions.

Each year, MCNC recognizes and celebrates the progress and achievements from the NCREN community with this two-day event is being held at the Institute for Emerging Issues and the James B. Hunt Jr. Library.

Fall Member Meeting: Network with networking influencers

Our 2014 Fall Member Meeting is coming up in September, and we have an extraordinary line-up of keynote speakers and guests scheduled to participate.

At the invitation of Quilt member WiscNet, The Quilt will be holding its Fall Member Meeting on Sept. 9-11 at the Monona Terrace on the shores of Lake Monona in Madison, Wisc. Registration closes on Friday, Aug. 22.

We are very excited to see more than 75 networking leaders from around the country attend for some exciting discussions on how R&E networks are uniquely positioned to meet the challenges of today’s infrastructure challenges.

David HotchkissDavid Hotchkiss, CIO at Medical College of Wisconsin and new member of WiscNet Board of Directors, is one of our keynote participants with a discussion focused on meeting the infrastructure challenges of supporting large-scale medical research and education. Here he plans to share experiences from the largest research institution in eastern Wisconsin and learn from others who may have similar stories and challenges.

Mark LukerDr. Mark Luker, Associate Director for the National Coordination Office for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program, also highlights this year’s agenda. The NITRD Program provides a framework in which many federal agencies come together to coordinate their networking and IT research and development efforts. We’re really looking forward to learning how the program is serving as a catalyst for collaboration and innovation for U.S. global leadership in networking, information technology and applications.

We also have break-out sessions scheduled for advanced networking topics, network security, how to best serve niche communities on your network such as K-12 or health care, UEN operations, an updated on Quilt Peer-Review services, a briefing on the Net+ Regional Partner Program, discussions on the Quilt-InCommon Pilots and Regional Network-InCommon Business Models, and much more.

Click here to view the full agenda.

Following the conclusion Fall Member Meeting on Sept. 11, The Quilt is hosting a Leadership Workshop facilitated by Don Welch, President and CEO of Quilt member Merit Network.

It’s going to be exciting event. Thanks again to WiscNet for hosting this year’s meeting.

If you have not registered, please be sure to do so by Aug. 22. Online registration is available and space is limited.

You can follow the conversation now and throughout the meeting using #FMM14 or @TweettheQuilt.

We look forward to seeing you in September!

Executive leadership changes in our Quilt community

There have been a couple of important changes to executive leadership in our R&E networking community that The Quilt wants you to know about…

Lonnie joins LONI

A few months ago, the LONI Management Council established a search committee to identify and recommend to the Louisiana State University Board of Regents an appointment of an Executive Director upon Donnie Vandal’s retirement effective July 1.

LonnieLegerAfter considerable deliberation, the search committee unanimously recommended Lonnie Leger to be Executive Director of the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI). He assumed the role on July 1 after approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.

Louisiana is fast becoming a leader in the knowledge economy. Through LONI, researchers have access to one of the most advanced optical networks in the country along with the most powerful supercomputing resources available to any academic community.

MCNC names its CFO as interim chief executive officer

In other executive moves this month, a familiar face remains in charge at MCNC as the organization undergoes a change in leadership.

Pat MoodyMCNC, best known as operator of the North Carolina Research and Education network (NCREN), continues a search for a permanent replacement to succeed Joe Freddoso, who stepped down on June 30 after seven years on the job.

Chief Financial Officer Pat Moody now has taken over on an interim basis.

“Joe Freddoso had many successful accomplishments for MCNC during his tenure, and we thank him for his years of service and all of his efforts,” said Moody. “I’m looking forward to ensuring MCNC continues to operate in this same fashion while our experienced and dedicated team provides the level of connectivity and service our constituents have come to expect from us.”

As the CFO of MCNC since 1999, she has the institutional knowledge and enjoys the utmost respect from the board of directors, staff, customers and partners. Moody is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in business administration. She has more than 38 years of management experience, and is also a director and treasurer of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

A search for a permanent replacement goes on.

Have news?

If you have a company announcement or member news that our networking community might be interested in, please share it with us. If you are interested in more information about The Quilt and its members, we encourage you to explore our website and our Twitter stream @TweetTheQuilt.

Networking leaders kick-off summer in Kansas City

Twenty-seven participants representing 22 R&E organizations across the country gathered for the Networking CEO Roundtable held on June 25-26 in Kansas City, Mo.

This summertime tradition provides a forum for executive leadership from R&E networking organizations to gather with peers to share insights, hear other executive perspectives, and have a top-to-top exchange on topics focused on supporting member institutions.  While each member of The Quilt is unique, the meeting discussions reinforced our common missions and similarities within our R&E community.  These types of member to member collaborations highlight The Quilt’s role as a trusted convener of its members and allows us to collectively advance networking in support of research and education.

Thank you to Quilt member, MOREnet, for hosting our event, and thank you everyone who participated in the rich discussions.

Our next gathering for The Quilt will be our Fall Member Meeting, which will be held Sept. 9-11 at the Monona Terrace on the shores of Lake Monona in Madison, Wisc.

MCNC’s Joe Freddoso steps down as CEO

MCNC President and CEO Joe Freddoso and the team at MCNC have created one of the best public broadband infrastructure networks in the country over the last seven years. Effective June 30, he will step down as leader of MCNC as the organization continues to thrive and move forward for North Carolina. Watch the video announcement below.

Jen Leasure, president and CEO of The Quilt, said Joe Freddoso has been a tremendous asset to our research and education community.

“Since joining MCNC, Joe’s leadership, engagement, and tireless work on behalf of educational technology and research infrastructure has been integral to the collective advancement of our national advanced networking community. As a member of The Quilt’s Board of Directors, Joe has actively supported and promoted our organization and it has been a true pleasure to have worked with him. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to work with Joe appreciates his leadership, commitment, compassion and humor that he so willingly shares.”

Joe will be sorely missed, and The Quilt wishes him all the best in what is sure to be the next successful chapter of his professional life.