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Vote for Susan Ness!

A Tribute to a Former Commissioner Who Really Cared About Spectrum

ust as spectrum policy has usually been nonpartisan, so is this blog. But in looking at the ballot for Tuesday’s primary here in (inside the Beltway) Maryland, the sample ballot shown at right made me nostalgic.

Susan Ness served as an FCC commissioner from May 1994 to May 2001. She is the only commissioner within recent memory who had a strong interest in spectrum policy - although Chmn. Powell certainly also had a special interest in the topic. She hired as an adviser David Siddall, an OET staffer who had previously worked on the Hill. While Dave is not an engineer by training, his excellence in working at OET and with Comm. Ness on spectrum policy issues shows that what is essential in technical policy is a real interest in the topic as well as a willingness to learn.

Here is her official FCC bio:

Susan Ness was appointed to the Federal Communications Commission by President Clinton in 1994. She chaired the Federal-State Joint Board charged with addressing universal telephone service issues, and served as the FCC's senior representative at the 1995, 1997, and 2000 World Radiocommunication Conferences.

Commissioner Ness promoted measures to advance competition domestically and globally, spur new technologies and services, expand economic opportunities, eliminate unnecessary regulation, and reduce regulatory uncertainty. She played a key role in shaping policies for efficient management of the radio spectrum and was a lead member on international matters. She helped forge agreement on the digital television standard and on guidelines to improve the quality and quantity of children educational television programming. She worked to facilitate delivery of advanced telecommunications services to the classroom and community libraries, so that every child -- urban and rural, rich and poor -- can participate in the telecommunications and information revolution.

In recognition of her achievements, Commissioner Ness was chosen as one of four 1999 recipients of the International Radio and Television Society Foundation Award, received the Consumer Electronics Association 2000 Digital Television Leadership Award, and was selected as one of Electronic Media's "12 to Watch in 1997." She has also been honored by Women of Wireless and by the American Women in Radio and Television for her efforts on behalf of women. Rutgers University inducted her into its Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1998, and Douglass College selected her as a member of the Douglass Society.

Prior to her FCC appointment, Commissioner Ness was a senior lender to communications companies as a group head and vice president of a regional financial institution. She served as Assistant Counsel to the Committee on Banking, Currency and Housing of the U.S. House of Representatives, and she founded and directed the Judicial Appointments Project of the National Women's Political Caucus.

Commissioner Ness is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' Committee on Communications, the Federal Communications Bar Association, and Leadership Washington (Class of 1988). Before she joined the FCC, she served in many civic leadership roles, including chair of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Charter Review Commission; vice chair of the Montgomery County Task Force on Community Access Television; and president of the Montgomery County Commission for Women.

Commissioner Ness is a graduate of Douglass College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree. There she served on the board of directors of WRSU Radio (Rutgers University). She received a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Boston College Law School, and a Masters in Business Administration from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.

Commissioner Ness is married and has two school-aged children.

From 2005 to 2007, she was the founding president and CEO of GreenStone Media, LLC, which produced talk programming targeting women for syndication on radio and other platforms.

She is a member of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, having been appointed to that position by President Barack Obama in September 2011. She serves on the board of Vital Voices Global Partnership, a nonprofit organization that identifies and invests in extraordinary women worldwide. She is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and an affiliated expert of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF).

She was Distinguished Visiting Professor of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, where she taught graduate seminars on domestic and global communications policy, and was Director of Information and Society at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. She is a member of the board of Gannett Co., Inc, (NYSE-GCI). Previously, she served on the corporate boards of LCC International, a global technology firm, and on the post-bankruptcy petition board of Adelphia Communications Corporation. She is vice chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, which oversees the Fulbright scholarship program. She also serves on the board of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an NGO that identifies and invests in extraordinary women worldwide.

Susan, you are missed at FCC and I hope whoever wins the election this year will appoint more people like you to FCC. Maybe as a convention delegate you can add that to the platform!
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