It was so fun hosting our (now) third annual Women in Telecommunications fly-in to Washington DC this past week with 28 women from NTCA member providers coming to Washington DC to talk policy with women policymakers in our nation’s capital. I was impressed at how many of our female executives were game to come out to DC during the hottest and most humid month of the year but I do think that “big hair” aside, everyone found the trip to be worthwhile.
We kicked off the adventure with Senator Shelley Capito from West Virginia. Not only a member of the Senate Commerce Committee but also a founding member of the Senate Rural Broadband Caucus, Senator Capito has really made a mission out of connectivity for rural Americans and just hosted FCC Commissioner Carr out to her neck of the woods last week. The discussion ranged from Senate activity to support STEM initiatives for young women and the Senator gave a special shout out to her constituent company, Hardy Telecom, for the excellent service that they are providing to their rural consumers and businesses.
We then traveled across town where we had FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel join the group for a discussion. The Commissioner has made it a priority meeting with this crew every year and she certainly has a special place on our agenda.
Denise Grant, a highly regarded expert in the world of executive recruiting, dropped in to share some insights on how women executives might better promote themselves in c-suite searches and battle the implicit gender biases that might arise in an executive search process. Fascinating and insightful, the discussion with Denise ran twice the amount of time we scheduled but it was exciting to hear so many probing questions from the women in the room.
Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) then joined us for an event we hosted for the Senator and a chance for her to catch up not only with Nebraska companies but also to talk about what she sees on the Senate Commerce Committee’s horizon in the months to come. The Senator started her interest in rural broadband issues back to her state leadership days and we are delighted that her voice is key around that committee table.
To wrap up the evening, life and professional development coach Jen Coken joined the group to share the famous story of explorer Cortez having his crew “burn the ships” as they went in to steal the wealth and riches from the invaded Venezuela. Burning the ship meant no turning back (for some reason it always reminds me of the lyrics of Springsteen’s “No Retreat, No Surrender” but with a dated twist!) and she had our group thinking about what ships we might need to burn…excellent food for thought and a great way to get a conversation started.
We then wrapped up our time together with a breakfast we hosted for Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). The Senator is one of the newer members of the Senate Commerce Committee and it was a great opportunity for her to not only hang out with our very cool Wisconsin GMs, but we also were able to do a quick recap from all of the attendees on the incredibly cool and life altering things they are doing for their communities with their investments, fiber deployments, pilot projects, connection of all of their schools, fixed wireless opportunities for those who have been impossible to reach to date and their efforts to CLEC into underserved communities. A long chat on mapping also helped set the stage for further work with the Senator and we’re excited to continue to build on this working relationship.
All in all – a great 24 hours and we’re already excited about next year’s fly-in!