This post is a part of the First Responder Network Authority’s (FirstNet Authority) Meet the Public Safety Advocacy Team blog series, introducing you to FirstNet Authority’s leading partners within the public safety community.
Advocacy for public safety has always been integral to the work of the FirstNet Authority. The Public Safety Advocacy team was designed to work hand-in-hand with public safety in each of the 50 U.S. states, five territories, and the District of Columbia to make sure public safety’s voice and needs are represented in the FirstNet network buildout and evolution.
The teams are spread across four regions—North, Central, East, and West—and are comprised of subject matter experts in each discipline of public safety, including law enforcement, emergency medical services, 9-1-1, emergency management, and fire service, as well as governance.
The Public Safety Advocacy team for the North covers a geographically diverse region of 16 states:
Alaska Indiana Missouri Oregon
Iowa Kansas Nebraska South Dakota
Idaho Michigan North Dakota Washington
From earthquakes in Alaska to tornadoes in Ohio to North America’s largest cross country ski race in Wisconsin to the challenges of rural terrain in Oregon, the region experiences a mix of issues that necessitate reliable and resilient communications. The region’s public safety agencies respond to extreme weather, large events, and other emergencies while executing everyday operations to protect communities and save lives. They require a network that is there whenever and wherever they need it most. The FirstNet Authority works in support of public safety’s communications needs, including voice, video, data, situational awareness, secure information exchange, coverage and capacity, and more.
In 2019, the PSA team held over 300 engagements with public safety in the 16 states of the North region. Our ongoing consultation with public safety stakeholders provides a clear vision for the FirstNet Authority’s future activities and investments to advance public safety’s network.
Lesia Dickson serves as Area Director for the North and leads the FirstNet Authority’s team of public safety advisors for the region who work together with local, state, and federal public safety organizations to understand how FirstNet can help them do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.
Lesia says, “FirstNet gives public safety the ability to have interoperable communications on a nationwide broadband network that’s been built for the challenges of emergency situations.”
She first joined the FirstNet Authority in 2016. Previously Lesia worked in the Texas Division of Emergency Management, where she implemented and managed the evacuation tracking network for the state. She also has 25 years of experience at AT&T where she served as the strategic account director and emergency communications liaison for Texas.
John Hunt, Senior Public Safety Advisor, is responsible for outreach to public safety agencies in Indiana, and is the subject matter expert for 9-1-1, Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), and Emergency Communications Centers (ECCs) for all 56 states and territories.
John says, “People on the FirstNet Authority team come from differing backgrounds but we all have a strong dedication to public safety in our DNA.”
John joined the FirstNet Authority in 2015. Before that he worked in the commercial 9-1-1 service provider sector for more than 30 years as a 9-1-1 product manager for AT&T, Ameritech, Southwestern Bell, TeleCommunication Systems, and as a 9-1-1 public policy manager for OnStar. One of John’s proudest career roles was serving as the Governor of Michigan’s appointee to the State 9-1-1 Committee for 25 years.
Jonathan Lewin is Senior Public Safety Advisor for Michigan and Illinois where he works with public safety to learn about best practices and help promote the use of advanced communications tools to improve outcomes. Jonathan brings a wealth of experience from his work in law enforcement and technology.
Jonathan says, “I was lucky in my sworn career to leverage my passion for public safety with a love of technology, so FirstNet is the perfect next job. I’ve always said that communications and interoperability are the foundation of everything that first responders do.”
Jonathan joined the FirstNet Authority in 2020. He retired from being chief of the bureau of technical services and chief information officer at the Chicago Police Department after starting as a police officer and rising through the ranks for 28 years. Jonathan is a past-chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Information Technology Section and former member of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. In 2019, he was awarded Technology Champion of the Year by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
Tim Pierce, Senior Public Safety Advisor, supports public safety in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Tim is driven by the feedback he hears directly from public safety, which helps the FirstNet Authority to prioritize advancements and investments for the future of the network.
Tim says, “Now that we are beginning to make investments in the network, it is exciting to see industry innovation being put to use in the hands of responders.”
Tim began his public safety career as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. He went on to oversee the Warning System and Communications Interoperability for Dane County Emergency Management and then manage Wisconsin’s statewide land-mobile radio system as Statewide Interoperability Coordinator. He was appointed by the Interoperability Council to serve as the State Point of Contact on their behalf in developing state plans for adopting FirstNet.
Kyle Richardson, Senior Public Safety Advisor, works with first responders in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio to enhance their broadband communications experience in real emergencies and everyday scenarios. He is motivated by seeing public safety across the country put FirstNet to use in their daily operations.
Kyle says, “What began as a lofty concept is now a reality—the public safety community has worked tirelessly to get a dedicated public safety broadband network.”
Kyle served as a stakeholder engagement advisor with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Prior to joining the FirstNet Authority in 2014, he worked as a contractor for the Department of Defense Inspector General. He served seven years in the U.S. Air Force and also with the North Carolina National Guard, participating in hurricane relief efforts.
Kristi Wilde, Senior Public Safety Advisor, works with public safety in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and serves on the FirstNet Authority Emergency Communications Center working group in support of 9-1-1 issues. She collaborates with agencies to learn about communications challenges unique to different communities and to understand the best technology solutions to support their operations. She has been a proponent of FirstNet since the beginning.
Kristi says, “Being a part of this incredible evolution of public safety communications is mind-blowing. Listening, learning, and sharing these experiences is vital to me as we continue to evolve.”
Kristi joined the FirstNet Authority in 2013 after more than three decades working in a regional, consolidated ECC/9-1-1 center in Eugene, Oregon. She is most proud of her work on collaborative projects related to public safety communications, emergency planning, and coordination. She served ten years as an original member of the Oregon State Interoperability Executive Council and remains an active member of the Oregon Chapter of APCO/NENA.
Lesia, John, Jonathan, Tim, Kyle, and Kristi work together in the 16 states of the North region to collect feedback about public safety’s experience in using FirstNet to better understand how broadband communications can advance emergency communications. They’re available to talk to agencies and individuals about FirstNet.
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 Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for the latest FirstNet Authority updates.
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