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Broadband and Cable Industry Law 2019


Speaker(s): Angie Kronenberg, Brian Hurley, Colleen King, Cristina Chou, David E. Green, Gail Karish, Geoffrey G. Why, Howard J. Symons, James M. Assey, Jon Berroya, Kevin J. Leddy, Laura A. Stefani, Laura Riposo VanDruff, Lisa M. Ellman, Loretta Polk, Markham C. Erickson, Martha Heller, Maureen A. O'Connell, Michael A. Vatis, Michael D. Nilsson, Michelle M. Carey, Nancy Libin, Neil Fried, Nicholas Degani, Peter Corea, Sarah Morris, Stephanie D. Plasse, Tara M. Corvo
Recorded on: May. 13, 2019
PLI Program #: 250475

Angie Kronenberg joined INCOMPAS in 2013 as its chief advocate and general counsel. Angie manages the INCOMPAS policy team and its work before the federal government. Angie was named a Rising Star in Wireline by FierceTelecom in 2014. In 2015, FierceTelecom named her one of the Top Women in Wireline for her advocacy work on behalf of INCOMPAS members. Angie is a member of the Federal Communications Bar Association and sits on its Executive Committee. Before joining INCOMPAS, Angie was legal advisor to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn where she was primarily responsible for the Commissioner’s wireline and broadband agenda, including the Commissioner’s work as chair of three federal-state joint boards. Prior to that, Angie was a special counsel in the Spectrum and Competition Policy Division of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. She also practiced telecommunications and media law in the Washington, D.C. office of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP for more than a decade. Angie earned a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America, where she also earned a certification from The Institute for Communications Law Studies, and she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Baylor University and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

 


Brian Hurley serves as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the American Cable Association (ACA), representing the interests of small and medium-sized cable operators.  Before joining ACA in 2018, Hurley served as Special Counsel in the Competition Policy Division of the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau.  In that role, he also served as Designated Federal Officer of the agency’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee.  Hurley holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from DePauw University and law degree from Duke University. 


Colleen King is Vice President, Regulatory Affairs at Charter Communications, with responsibility for federal regulatory affairs, particularly wireless and public safety issues.  Prior to joining Charter, she served as Counsel at Wiley Rein LLP, advising clients on spectrum matters before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).  She advised clients on spectrum policy issues and developed advocacy positions related to exclusive or shared spectrum allocations for new wireless services and technologies.  Before Wiley Rein, King worked at the U.S. Department of Justice.  King holds a J.D. from George Washington University Law School and a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross.


Cristina Chou represents media, cable, and telecom companies on a wide variety of regulatory matters before the Federal Communications Commission. A former vice president of regulatory affairs at Time Warner Cable and legal advisor to an FCC commissioner, Cristina is skilled in legal analysis, strategic policy development, and advocacy before the FCC. She has participated in numerous significant proceedings at the agency, on issues including ISP privacy, retransmission consent, navigation devices, online video, media ownership, children’s programming, effective competition, the digital TV transition, program carriage, program access, leased access, closed captioning, and video description.

Cristina also represents technology, telecom, and financial services companies in transactional matters. Her experience includes counseling as well as negotiating and drafting agreements involving software licensing, resale and distribution, cloud services, online advertising, marketing, fiber optic broadband networks, cybersecurity services, and other technology-related issues.


Gail A. Karish is a Los Angeles-based partner at Best Best & Krieger LLP who focuses on telecommunications, assisting clients in California and across the nation with a wide range of regulatory and transactional matters involving broadband and fiber networks, cable and telecom franchising, wireless communications and public-private partnerships. Gail’s clients are mainly public agencies, such as local governments, water districts and municipal utilities. Public agencies serve a variety of roles in relation to telecommunications infrastructure – regulator, owner, service provider, customer, and partner – and Gail’s clients come to her for advice on issues that arise in all these contexts. She also represents some cooperatives, nonprofits and competitive providers.

Gail regularly advises and assists clients with:

  • Compliance with federal and state wireless siting laws, shot clocks and other regulations affecting individual permit applications
  • Broadband planning, and revising master plans, local ordinances and regulatory processes to encourage broadband deployment
  • Compliance with federal and state cable and telecom franchising laws, including those applicable to competitive franchising, renewals and transfers
  • Evaluating, structuring and implementing opportunities for public-private partnerships
  • Representation in rulemaking proceedings, licensing and regulatory approvals, and pole attachment disputes before the FCC and state utility commissions
  • Negotiation of agreements such as cable and telecom franchises; fiber network leases and IRUs; pole attachment and collocation agreements; macro cell site leases and small cell licenses; Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and smart city contracts

Gail previously worked in-house at a Miami-based telecommunications carrier that was a subsidiary of Entel-Chile where she was responsible for state and federal licensing, regulatory compliance, and contracts related to the company’s national launch of retail and wholesale telecommunications and Internet services targeting the U.S. Hispanic market. Gail started her career in Canada at a large government-owned electric utility where she represented the utility at environmental and rate hearings, and later helped develop and implement an investment strategy focused on privatization opportunities in Latin America which resulted in the successful acquisition of a Peruvian electric utility.

Gail has law degrees from McGill University and York University in Canada, and is admitted to practice law in California.


Howard J. Symons is a partner in the Communications, Internet & Technology Practice.  He has nearly 40 years of experience in telecommunications law and policy, including senior positions in government and the private sector. Before joining the firm in 2017, he served in two high-profile roles at the Federal Communications Commission: as general counsel from 2016 to 2017 and as vice-chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force from 2014 to 2016.  He was appointed to both posts by Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Highly regarded throughout the industry, Mr. Symons has represented companies in the cable, wireless and telecommunications industries as well as their trade associations before the FCC, Congress and State legislatures, and the courts.  Mr. Symons advised these companies on a wide range of matters, including video, broadband and telephony.

As general counsel of the FCC, Mr. Symons oversaw more than 60 lawyers that provide legal support for the Commission’s policy and rulemaking activities and recommend decisions in adjudicatory matters.  He also served as one of Chairman Wheeler’s four senior advisors.  As vice chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force, he was one of the primary architects of the first incentive auction: a two-sided auction in which broadcasters bid to give up their spectrum and wireless providers bid to buy it.

From 1985 to 2014, Mr. Symons was a partner at another AmLaw 100 firm, chairing that firm’s communications practice and serving as a member of the Policy (Executive) Committee.  From 1981 to 1985, he served as senior counsel to the Subcommittee on Telecommunications in the US House of Representatives; in that role, he was responsible for developing legislation on matters ranging from domestic telephone policy to cable franchising and international telecommunications. 

Mr. Symons also served as an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s National Law Center, where he taught courses in telecommunications law and regulation for 10 years. He has authored several articles on the telecommunications policy process, testified before Congress and state legislatures, and spoken at numerous industry conferences and continuing legal education seminars on topics relating to regulatory trends, the FCC and more.


Jon Berroya is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Internet Association (“IA”), which represents over 45 of the world’s leading internet companies. Berroya is responsible for overseeing IA’s legal, regulatory, and public policy initiatives, which seek to foster innovation, promote economic growth, and empower people through the free and open internet.

Berroya has been working on technology-related legal and policy issues for over twenty years, during which he has advised companies on a wide range of issues, including: data security/privacy, intellectual property enforcement, and export controls. Before joining IA, Berroya was the Entertainment Software Association’s Vice President, Legal Affairs. Berroya also previously worked for BSA | The Software Alliance, he served as in-house counsel to Yahoo! Inc., and he also represented prominent social networking sites, internet portals, and ISPs as a private practitioner. Berroya began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office.


Kevin J. Leddy joined Charter Communications as Senior Vice President, Technology Planning and Application in 2017.  Mr. Leddy is responsible for communicating Charter’s overall technology vision to industry organizations and policymakers.

Mr. Leddy joined Charter from Time Warner Cable, where he served as Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy prior to the completion of Charter’s transactions with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016.  He held a broad range of positions in corporate strategy, technology planning, public policy, product development and marketing for Time Warner Cable and its predecessor companies.  Mr. Leddy began his career with the National Cable & Telecommunications Association in 1977.

He works closely with industry organizations including The Internet and Television Association (NCTA), CableLabs, and the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), where he was Chairman of the Board of Directors.  He has been honored with NCTA’s Vanguard Award for Marketing, CTAM’s Chairman’s Award, and CableLabs President’s Award.

He received a B.A. in government from Colby College and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


Laura Stefani works at the intersection of law, policy and technology, providing clients with creative regulatory solutions to bring new wireless technologies to market. Areas of focus include unlicensed and licensed wireless technologies, unmanned aircraft, satellite, medical devices, and the Internet of Things.

Before joining Mintz, Laura was a partner at a DC-area firm that serves technology, telecommunications, and media clients. She counseled clients on licensing, regulatory matters, and spectrum allocation issues and represented them before the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and other federal agencies. She also previously advised clients on wireless, broadband, internet, satellite, and telecommunications issues and worked on legislative matters at another DC-based telecommunications law firm.

Before turning her focus to telecommunications law, Laura practiced as a litigator for several years, primarily handling employment disputes and administrative law actions.

Recognition & Awards

  • Best Lawyers in America: Communications Law (2019)
  • 2018 Distinguished Service Award, Federal Communications Bar Association

Involvements

  • Member, Federal Communications Bar Association
  • Co-chair, Continuing Legal Education Committee, Federal Communications Bar Association
  • Past Co-chair, Engineering and Technical Committee, Federal Communications Bar Association
  • Past Co-chair, International Telecommunications Committee, Federal Communications Bar Association

Practices

  • Communications
  • FCC Regulation
  • Satellite Authorizations
  • Legislative Strategy


Lisa Ellman chairs the Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Group at the global law firm Hogan Lovells, where she’s a leading public policy lawyer focusing on domestic drones, Urban Air Mobility, and other emerging technologies. She co-founded and co-leads the Commercial Drone Alliance, an independent non-profit organization led by key figures of the commercial drone industry. Lisa is widely recognized as one of the “world’s foremost authorities on drones and law.”

Throughout her career, Lisa has worked to bridge government policymaking and business innovation. Lisa has held a variety of positions at top levels of the executive branch at the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Most recently, she led DOJ’s effort to develop policy that would govern the use of UAS in the United States and participated in the federal interagency group tasked with integrating UAS into the National Airspace System.

Lisa’s focus is expanding the commercial drone industry. She also focuses on UAS security efforts. Lisa co-founded the Domestic Drone Security Summit Series, bringing together national security agencies with industry to explore collaboration opportunities around drone security.

Lisa's opinions are often featured in publications and news broadcasts such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Associated Press, Fortune Magazine, Crain’s New York Business, NBC News San Francisco, San Francisco Chronicle, Bloomberg News Radio, HuffPost Live, and others. Lisa was featured in Fortune magazine's "Most Powerful Women" series for her efforts to develop policy to govern drone use in the United States.


Loretta Polk is Vice President & Deputy General Counsel of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association.  She has over 30 years of experience representing the cable industry on a wide variety of legal and regulatory matters, including video and broadband technology, competition, consumer protection, public safety and broadband adoption issues.  She leads the association’s privacy and cybersecurity legal and policy work.      

Over her career, Loretta has served on the Federal Communications Bar Association’s Executive Committee and co-chaired the former Cable Practice Committee.  She was also a trustee of the FCBA Foundation, co-chairing the high school and college scholarship program.  She also served on the D.C. Bar Technology Task Force and the Steering Committee of the Arts, Entertainment and Sports Law Section, where she was awarded the D.C. Bar’s “Outstanding Community Service Project” in 1998 for an education program in media and the arts.  In 2001, she completed the Cable Television and Marketing Association’s executive management program at Harvard Business School and was appointed to the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee from 2004 - 2007.

Loretta is a member of Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) and in 2018 was among a group of women that received the Multichannel News and WICT-NY “Wonder Woman” award, which honors the accomplishments of women who have helped pave the way for younger generations of women in the evolving television, media and internet industries.  She now serves on the Emma Bowen Foundation National Advisory Council, which prepares minority youth for careers in the media and communications industry.  And she was a long-time member of the boards of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and the Legal Aid Society.  Early in her legal career, she worked as a Legal Advisor at the U.S. Department of State and as an associate in the Washington office of Jones Day.  Loretta received her J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was Executive Editor of the Human Rights Law Review, and her B.A. from Rutgers University. 


Markham Erickson is chair of Steptoe’s Internet, Telecom, and Technology practice group, where he counsels clients in some of the most highly visible, complex legal matters in these sectors. He successfully applies novel and creative theories, earning precedent-setting outcomes on cases of first impression. Markham has represented Internet companies since the beginning of the commercial Internet, and has been the lead counsel for Internet firms in the so-called network neutrality debate since its inception. He regularly engages the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on investigations, complaints, rulemakings, and proposed mergers in the communications sector, and represents technology companies on questions relating to copyright and technology.

Markham is widely recognized as one of the nation’s top Internet and media lawyers. He serves as co-chair to the annual Broadband and Cable Law Seminar at the Practising Law Institute in New York City. He is ranked in The Legal 500, Super Lawyers, and Chambers USA, where he is described as being “as knowledgeable on internet matters as anyone I have ever met” and as a “first-rate lawyer.” In recognition of his authority in the field, Markham was appointed by the White House to represent the United States before the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development on Internet speech and regulatory matters.

In addition to leading the firm’s practice group, Markham is co-chair of the Steptoe’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. He also is a member of the firm’s Professional Advancement Committee and its Hiring Committee.


Martha Heller currently is the Chief of the Media Bureau Policy Division at the Federal Communications Commission.  Ms. Heller also has held several other positions at the FCC.  She has been an Assistant Chief in the FCC Enforcement Bureau Front Office, an Acting Media Legal Advisor to former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, and a manager in the Media Bureau Industry Analysis Division.  Before coming to the FCC, Ms. Heller was a partner at the law firm Wiley Rein LLP.  She is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and Cornell University.


Maureen O’Connell is currently Vice President of Government Affairs for Charter Communications, representing the company before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other government agencies.  Ms. O’Connell focuses on media policy issues such as retransmission consent, a wide array of cable franchising issues, and accessibility. 

Prior to Charter, Ms. O’Connell was President of O’Connell Strategies, where she advised media clients on business and public policy issues ranging from major media deals to international and domestic regulatory matters.

Ms. O’Connell was with the Government Relations office of 21st Century Fox for almost 18 years, including as Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Public Policy.   Her responsibilities included representing the company before the FCC, other government agencies, and Congress, on media policy issues ranging from retransmission consent, over-the-top video, media ownership, and broadcast TV regulations.  Ms. O’Connell played an integral role in FCC v. FOX, the Supreme Court case on indecency decided in 2012.

Prior to 21st Century Fox, Ms. O’Connell served as Media Legal Advisor to FCC Commissioner James Quello, and as a Supervisory Attorney in the FCC’s Media Bureau. Prior to the FCC, Ms. O’Connell was an associate at Keller & Heckman and at Leventhal, Senter & Lerman.

Ms. O’Connell is originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and earned both her Bachelor’s degree and her J.D. from the University of Iowa.


Michael Nilsson has solved problems for clients in the media industry and elsewhere for more than twenty years.  He represents these clients before the FCC, Congress, DOJ, the U.S. Copyright Office, and foreign regulators—as well as in commercial negotiations.  

Mr. Nilsson has been recognized by Chambers USA for his work in the in telecom, broadcast & satellite fields.  A client described him as “simply one of the smartest lawyers that I know” and that “he’s the one I would most trust to represent me when the stakes are high.”  Mr. Nilsson has also been recognized by Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers for his work in communications and copyright law.

Representative Clients and Matters.

  • Media industry coalition. Acts as lead counsel for a coalition including some of the largest pay-TV providers seeking relief from “retransmission consent” fees demanded by television stations.
  • Media industry trade association. Represents trade association of small- and medium-sized cable operators in a wide range of media proceedings at the FCC and before Congress, including a successful opposition to the largest proposed broadcast merger in history.
  • Large television distributor. Helped the largest U.S. satellite television provider navigate dozens of FCC rulemakings, successfully obtain regulatory authorization for numerous mergers and acquisitions, lobby for reauthorization of key legislation governing the company’s operations, and prosecute anti-piracy matters in Latin America.
  • Public media organization. Assists a public media entity in acquiring and licensing hundreds of programs, both domestically and internationally.
  • International cable operator. Represents a client in the purchase of, management of, and ultimate sale of a cable operator with systems in multiple Caribbean jurisdictions.
  • Communications companies. Represents non-media communications companies in the full range of FCC matters.
  • Nonprofits and startups. Negotiates commercial deals and provides a broad range of counseling and compliance advice, including “general counsel-like” services.

Mr. Nilsson was the principal telecommunications and technology legal adviser to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV.  

Mr. Nilsson served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Sitar Arts Center, a nonprofit arts education center, where he also teaches saxophone. He also has served on the Board of Directors of Brown Broadcasting Service.


Nancy Libin is a co-chair of Davis Wright Tremaine’s Privacy & Security + Technology practice.  She helps companies in a wide range of industries navigate the ever-increasing and complex array of privacy and cybersecurity laws and regulations.  She has provided legal and regulatory compliance advice, advocated in rulemaking proceedings before federal and state agencies, advised regarding data privacy and security issues in the context of mergers and acquisitions, developed data governance programs, and counseled clients regarding data security incidents. 

Nancy has extensive federal government experience: she was the Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer of the U.S. Department of Justice during the first term of the Obama Administration and served as Counsel to then-Senator Joe Biden on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Prior to joining Senator Biden’s staff, she was Counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a public policy organization in Washington, D.C. that focuses on Internet law and policy.  She began her career at Howrey & Simon where she practiced general commercial litigation.  She received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her A.B. from Harvard University.


Neil Fried is SVP for Congressional and Regulatory Policy & Senior Counsel for Federal Advocacy and Strategic Planning at the Motion Picture Association of America. He represents the interest of the MPAA’s member studios—Walt Disney, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Warner Bros., and Netflix—before Congress and the Administration on matters such as copyright and communications law. Neil joined the MPAA in 2013 from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he served as chief counsel on media and technology issues. Serving the Committee for nearly a decade, his portfolio included television, radio, wired and wireless communications, spectrum, cybersecurity, broadband, and internet issues.

Prior to his work on the Hill, Neil practiced law at two D.C. law firms representing clients before Congress and the Federal Communications Commission. Neil served as an attorney with the FCC from 1996 to 2000, where he helped to implement the 1996 Telecommunications Act. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and his Juris Doctor from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. He grew up in New York City.


Pete Corea is Vice President, Law at Altice USA where he focuses on supporting the company’s operations.  Over the past year Pete has supported Altice USA’s entry into the wireless market by way of its infrastructure-based Mobile Virtual Network Operator arrangements.

Prior to his role in the Legal department of Altice USA, Pete was responsible for Federal and State government affairs and legal/regulatory for Cablevision.  Pete came to Cablevision from ICO Global Communications where he was VP of Government Affairs (domestic and international), Counsel and Corporate Secretary.  Prior to ICO, Pete served at the FCC in the Wireless Bureau and the Media Bureau.

Pete began his legal career as Assistant General Counsel to the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications & Energy, Cable Television Division.

Pete received his undergraduate, masters and law degrees from Boston University.


Stephanie Plasse serves as SVP & Deputy General Counsel, Global Revenue, Partnerships and Distribution.  In this capacity, Stephanie oversees legal support of global distribution, digital, OTT, SVOD/AVOD, international, corporate, corporate development, technology, music, consumer products and experiential deals as well as regulatory affairs.  She provides legal and strategic support for U.S., Canadian and Caribbean distribution of, and licensing of content from, ten networks including A&E, History and Lifetime on all global platforms.  Stephanie was a member of class 27 of the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute and was named a Woman to Watch by WICT and Multichannel News in 2016 and a CableFax Top Lawyer in 2018 and 2019.

Before joining A+E Networks, Stephanie was VP of networks business and legal affairs for HBO.  Prior to that, she was an associate in the entertainment department at Greenberg Traurig LLP and the corporate department at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP.

She has a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where she was the President of the Stanford Law Review and won the awards for Best Team and Best Brief in the Kirkland Moot Court Competition. She holds a B.A. from Yale College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, and was the editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News.  Stephanie also studied at Bonn University in Germany as a Fulbright scholar.


As the director of open internet policy for New America’s Open Technology Institute, Sarah Morris leads OTI’s advocacy and legal efforts on issues related to broadband access and adoption, online consumer protections, and preserving the open internet. Her work on these issues has been widely quoted in a number of national publications, and she has appeared as an expert on radio and television outlets. She is a regular contributor for The Hill, and frequently writes for a variety of other national outlets.

In addition, Morris is an adjunct professor of law at George Washington Law School, where she teaches telecommunications law and legal writing for the Federal Communications Law Journal.

Prior to joining New America, Morris was a Google policy fellow with the public interest law firm Media Access Project, where she assisted with research and drafting of FCC comments on a wide range of key communications issues. She earned a B.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a J.D. and LL.M. in space, cyber, and telecommunications law from Nebraska Law, completing her thesis on privacy and security concerns related to smart grid technology. She currently serves on the Alumni Council for the LL.M. program.


David E. Green is Vice-President for Public Policy and Creative Content Protection for NBCUniversal in the Comcast-NBCUniversal Washington Office.  He focuses on public policy issues, especially those involving the protection of digital content.  Before joining NBCUniversal in April of 2005, Mr. Green was the Vice President and Counsel for Technology and New Media for the Motion Picture Association of America, where he handled similar public policy issues for the major U.S. motion picture studios.

Prior to joining the MPAA in May 2003, Mr. Green worked for the U.S. Department of Justice.  There, he served as the Principal Deputy Chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Criminal Division, where he helped coordinate the national enforcement of criminal laws protecting against computer hacking and intellectual property theft.  Before that, Mr. Green prosecuted public corruption cases as Senior Litigation Counsel in the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.  Mr. Green also worked for several years as an associate with the law firm of Arnold & Porter, where he was involved in litigation and in legislative work, including intellectual property protection. 

Mr. Green graduated from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in History.  He received his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Louis H. Pollak in Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


Geoffrey has substantial experience in prominent policy and legislative issues affecting the cable, broadband, wireline, and wireless industries. Prior to joining Mintz Levin, he served as the Commissioner (2009 - 2014) and General Counsel (2007 - 2009) of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC). In his role as Commissioner, Geoffrey directed all administrative, legal, and policy priorities for the department. 

While Commissioner, Geoffrey led the DTC on a number of fronts, including spearheading state interests at the FCC regarding the upcoming spectrum auction, public safety, broadband deployment, IP transition, and Universal Service Fund reform. Geoffrey also was heavily involved in adjudicating cable rate cases, handling interconnection disputes, and enabling wireless companies to do business in the Commonwealth as “eligible telecommunications carriers.” In addition, Geoffrey initiated investigations regarding telephone service quality and the federally funded Lifeline program. He also chaired the FCC’s Section 706 Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services and co-chaired the North American Numbering Council. In addition, he was a member of the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council and the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners.

Bar Admissions
Massachusetts
Washington, D.C.

Honors
Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts, 2016 Community Service Award
Outstanding Service Award, New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners
The Edward J. McCormack Jr. Award for Excellence, Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts   


James Assey currently holds the position of Executive Vice President of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association.  Prior to his position at NCTA, Mr. Assey was a long-time telecommunications counsel and staff member on the U.S Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation working for both U.S Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), and U.S Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC).    Mr. Assey has also worked previously in the Washington, D.C office of Willkie, Farr and Gallagher and clerked for the Honorable Cameron M. Currie in the U.S District Court for the District of South Carolina.

Mr. Assey is a graduate of Stanford University and earned his JD from Georgetown University Law School.


Nicholas Degani comes to Commissioner Pai’s office from a detail to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he served as counsel under Chairman Fred Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden. His portfolio included communications issues and agencies, with a focus on the Universal Service Fund, intercarrier compensation, privacy, cybersecurity, agency jurisdiction and spending, and the administrative process.

Before his detail, Mr. Degani served as an Attorney Advisor in the Wireline Competition Bureau’s Telecommunications Access Policy Division, where he worked on issues related to the Universal Service Fund’s low-income and schools and libraries programs, as well as contributions and eligible-telecommunications-carrier issues. Mr. Degani has also worked in the Commission’s Office of General Counsel and the Wireline Competition Bureau’s Competition Policy Division, where he worked on pole attachment issues, transaction review, broadband policy, and numbering issues related to Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Services. Mr. Degani entered the Commission through the Attorney Honors Program in 2007.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Degani served as a law clerk for Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and magna cum laude from Yale University, where he studied Electrical Engineering/Computer Science and History.


Tara is Chair of the Communications Section and a member of the firm's Policy Committee. In her over 20 years in private practice, she has developed extensive experience in cable and broadband regulation. Her practice includes counseling and representation in connection with federal and state governmental matters, as well as communications-related transactions and litigation. She counsels communications industry clients on matters such as network access, net neutrality, OVD competition issues, and compliance with the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 and the related FCC rules for accessibility of advanced communications services and equipment. She assists clients with transfer of control issues in the purchase and sale of systems, and advises them in retransmission consent and program carriage disputes before the Federal Communications Commission and the courts. Her clients include Cablevision Systems Corporation, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Discovery Communications, AMC Networks, MSG Networks, and others.

Tara received her B.A. in Government and Modern European Studies from Cornell University (1990). She earned her J.D., with high honors, from Duke University School of Law (1993). She serves as the Washington office’s coordinator for community service activities, as well as the firm's Co-chair for Professional Development.

Publications

Speaking Engagements

Newsroom

EDUCATION

  • Duke University (JD, with high honors, 1993)
  • Cornell University (BA, Government and Modern European Studies, 1990)

BAR ADMISSIONS

  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts


Michael Vatis has spent most of his career addressing cutting edge issues at the intersection of law, policy, and technology. Michael's practice focuses on Internet, e-commerce, and technology matters, providing legal advice and strategic counsel on matters involving privacy, security, encryption, intelligence, law enforcement, Internet gambling, and international regulation of Internet content. He also is an experienced appellate litigator, representing clients before the US Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals. Michael is praised by clients in Legal 500 as "a deep thinker [who] thoroughly analyzes issues, identifies solutions and is able to apply his analysis to business reality."

Michael was the founding director of the National Infrastructure Protection Center at the FBI, the first government organization responsible for detecting, warning of, and responding to cyberattacks. Before that, Michael served as Associate Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Director of the Executive Office for National Security in the Department of Justice, where he advised the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General and coordinated the Department’s activities involving counterterrorism, intelligence, encryption, and cybercrime. In that capacity, he also helped lead the development of the nation’s first policies regarding critical infrastructure protection. Michael served as Special Counsel at the Department of Defense, where he handled sensitive legal and policy issues for the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense and the General Counsel, receiving the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence.

After leaving the government in 2001, Michael served as the first Director of the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth, a federally funded counterterrorism and cyber security research institute. He was simultaneously the founding Chairman of the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (I3P). I3P, a consortium of leading cyber security research organizations, worked with industry, government, and academia to develop a comprehensive research and development agenda to improve the security of the nation’s computer and communications networks. Michael also served as the Executive Director of the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age, a highly influential group of technology company executives, former government officials, and civil libertarians that recommended ways the government could more effectively use information and technology to combat terrorism while preserving civil liberties. Michael was the principal author of the group’s second report, whose recommendations were adopted by the 9/11 Commission and included in the 2004 Intelligence Reform Act.


Michelle Carey is Chief of the Media Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission.  She previously served as a Media Bureau Deputy Chief, assisting in shaping the Bureau’s policies designed to facilitate competition in the multichannel video programming marketplace.  Prior to this appointment, she was a Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the Department of Commerce.  Ms. Carey has also served as Senior Legal Advisor to Chairman Kevin J. Martin, Deputy Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau, and Chief of the Competition Policy Division of the Wireline Competition Bureau.  Before joining the Commission, she clerked for the Honorable Hart T. Mankin of the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals.  Ms. Carey received her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University.


Laura Riposo VanDruff is an Assistant Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.  An experienced litigator, she supervises matters relating to violations of U.S. laws enforced by the Commission regarding the privacy and security of consumer information.  Ms. VanDruff also manages privacy and security initiatives at the Commission, including the Commission’s study of security in the mobile device ecosystem and its Stick with Security and Start with Security initiatives.  She served as trial counsel in the agency’s first administrative litigation alleging that a company failed to provide lawful security for consumers’ personal information.  Ms. VanDruff is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law.