I always find the end of a calendar year entertaining as everyone puts out their “Top 10” lists—top 10 movies, top 10 songs, top 10 cereals, top 10 political mishaps, etc. There is even a top 10 list of the top lists! (I’m not even kidding!) While the lists are a tad sobering since I’ve usually seen one of the 10 movies listed, or can hum three of the top 10 songs, I’ve decided that the only way to really enjoy a top 10 list is to come up with my own. So here it goes:
NTCA’s 2015 Top 10 List
1) Continued to maintain a leadership role, while also coordinating with our rural allies, to create regulatory certainty for our members. NTCA managed a multi-association coalition effort in seeking common-sense, clear-cut reforms of universal service, including finding consensus on a package composed of targeted updates to existing USF mechanisms paired with a voluntary path to model-based support. Still working on the FCC seeing that this path will cause the least disruption to this industry.
2) We are set to go live at midnight on our new Association Management System (AMS). The AMS will upgrade our service to members, establish a single portal for association business, consolidate legacy systems and provide data feeds to several other association systems. The team is hard at work as I type!
3) Completed the merger between the Foundation for Rural Service and FRED (the former OPASTCO foundation). This merger will give even more resources to ensure the future vibrancy of rural communities, and the timing works well with Jessica Golden taking over her new responsibilities with us as the FRS Executive Director.
4) NTCA had a record year on the consulting side of our operation and conducted the most executive placements we have ever done since getting in the business. I love our executive search service since it gives us a wonderful way to work intimately with our member companies, and it allows us to build a great relationship, from the ground up, with new CEOs and executives coming to work for NTCA telcos.
5) All of our other advocacy initiatives, which included 176 members of Congress pushing the FCC on a solution for standalone broadband, a delay in implementation of the “Cadillac tax” on health care plans, securing a rural telco bidding credit as part of the 600 MHz incentive auctions to take place in the coming year, call completion leadership, moved the FCC toward revisiting key components of the existing retransmission consent regime, record-setting contributions to our political action committee, and at least 500 grassroots visits conducted on Capitol Hill and back in the states.
6) Hitting all of our standard of service targets with our SMC operation. The team in Asheville takes their mission of member-service very seriously and met all of their service standards, which allow claims to be processed and paid in a rapid manner and all member and provider inquiries to be handled ASAP. Folks don’t know what they have until they leave our benefit plans and work with a commercial provider. I’m always amazed by the number of folks who come back into our programs.
7) I cannot count the number of Wawa meals eaten by our Member Relations Team while they have been on the road, but they have also had a record-breaking year in bringing folks into our benefit plans, working to provide excellent support to those already in the plans, and still being on top of current FCC developments!
8) Began the first stage of our website redesign that will be completed when our AMS is up and running. Conducted a terrific branding campaign for our members as well.
9) Positioned NTCA and our members through our Smart Rural Community initiative as drivers of innovation and broadband. In our third year, we made new awards and also made three new grants in our Collaboration Challenge, thanks to the support of some of our association members. We also implemented a new nationwide gig certification program to recognize NTCA members and their commitment to their communities and infrastructure. It’s another platform we developed to allow NTCA members to tell their story to policymakers and to market their services and service territories. I believe that I signed off on over 50 certificates by year-end!
10) Last, and certainly not least, we continue to recruit and retain some of the best staff across the country. We have implemented a new internal review, conducted an employee satisfaction survey (a product we also offer to our members!), centralized our training budgets, and remain focused on staff growth and retention. This team has also kept us operating in budget, kept technology innovation as a priority in our office, worked with members, conducted high-quality meetings and trainings, and made sure we could keep the lights on. But time was also made to ensure that we had good staff retreats, a few ice-cream happy hours and gave back to our respective communities.
That is what I would call a successful 2015! Now on to “sweet” 16!