Women's Day 2021

Meet the Women Making a Difference in the Wireless Infrastructure Industry

Women's Day 2021Every year, it is an honor to learn more about the women of the wireless infrastructure industry as WIA celebrates International Women’s Day March 8 and Women’s History Month throughout March.

This year, WIA asked women at our member companies to reflect on their most memorable achievement during their career in the wireless infrastructure industry. We heard from women who have been actively engaged in the industry over many years, as well as those who are new to it. We heard from women who are influencing regulations that impact the industry, those who are shaping the technologies that make connections happen, and those who are building relationships that will allow the industry to grow.

It’s a testament to the character and spirit of these women that so many chose moments to share that exemplified teamwork, lifted others in their careers, or helped those in need across the country and around the world. In addition, many of the women who were nominated this year spoke of the value of persistence, tenacity and having confidence in achieving success and growing into leadership roles within the industry.

With smart, determined and selfless women like these building wireless networks, the future of our industry is bright indeed.

Jennifer Alvarez Aurora InsightJennifer Alvarez

Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Aurora Insight

“Working in this industry has been full of highlights but looking back, the decision to found Aurora Insight will always be a defining moment of my career. I left a traditional career path that promised stability and security, and I ventured into new territory in the world of tech startups. Although I was lucky to take that leap of faith with my fellow co-founders, it was still a huge decision that was pivotal for my career. Today, we have a team of 24 employees and we are growing quickly. When I look back on that decision, I have no doubt that it was the right move and I encourage anyone else in that position to embrace the risk and take that leap of faith if you feel that you have something impactful to bring to the world.”

Melissa Ashurst JMAMelissa Ashurst

Vice President, Business Development, JMA Wireless

“The wireless industry’s ability to impact people has always stood out as unique to me. I am fortunate to have been a part of many large impact projects throughout my carreer at AT&T and JMA. The one project that stands out above all others is our most current win with the city of Tucson, Arizona. My niece was unable to finish her school year due to the impact of the pandemic and this was something I just couldn’t accept. If Marconi could send the first wireless message in 1895 from over a mile away, we could certainly do better in 2020! I started asking friends and co-workers their thoughts on using CBRS to solve the digital divide, and after being laughed at on several calls, I set out to prove that we could in fact leverage this new technology. It took meeting a couple of innovative Chief Information Officers to add the much-needed fuel to my fire. When I met Collin Boyce, CIO for the city of Tucson, I knew I had found the right partner to prove the concept. With the initial phase of our city-wide project, we will have provided connectivity to thousands of students. The bigger success is that we have created a template for other cities and school districts to replicate this solution and increase digital equality in the U.S. This project is why I am in this industry and is a perfect example of why you should continue to push, even when others say it can’t be done.”

Cecilia Bersani JMACecilia Bersani

Director, Design Engineering Team, JMA Wireless

“When I look back, it’s hard to believe everything that has happened. When I joined TEKO — an affiliate of JMA Wireless — twelve years ago, there was no design team. TEKO was only a manufacturer, and the company was made of the R&D and production departments. During my interview, I introduced myself and proposed a set-up of a new technical support team that could create a solution for the customer, rather than just selling parts. That was the first key moment of my career.

Telecom Italia opened the biggest bid of their history: cellular data coverage of the high-speed railway tunnels across Italy. Of course, all DAS OEMs bid and plenty of middle-aged well-dressed men went to the Telecom Italia HQ in Rome to meet the customer. Meanwhile, I was just a 25-year-old young female engineer who had graduated less than a year before. However, I was full of energy, self-confidence, curiosity, and fresh competence, and I was accompanied by another ambitious and brilliant young sales engineer: a 25-year-old Gilberto Brizzi, who is still my co-worker today. The happy ending is that the two of us — who are still remembered in Telecom Italia as the youngest and most charismatic engineer bidding team — won the tender. I can’t tell you how much satisfaction I had!

A couple of years later, I realized that the best way for me to do something valuable and make a difference for the company was to create the best RF design team ever. The team would consist of high-skilled engineers who could take care of RF details as well as the project, which involved resource management. Now, many years later, what I’m most proud of is my team. We have designed the DAS for the biggest stadiums, ballparks, and arenas in the U.S.

As many people know, JMA is recognized to be the best supplier when it comes to stadiums and complex venues and to be part of this company’s success makes me feel like we are on the right track. I thank my team spirit, my passion, and my intuition and I call on other women in wireless to do the same … because that’s what makes us special!”

Becky Bobzien-Simms FederatedBecky Bobzien-Simms

Senior Vice President of Operations, Federated Wireless

“One of my most memorable achievements is the most recent – the day in September 2019 when we started commercial operations of our shared spectrum CBRS network – an industry milestone but also a personal milestone. All of the many years spent in research and design, certification, evangelizing, and expanding the ecosystem had finally come to fruition.  Just over a year earlier, I was brought into Federated to build a world-class operations team from scratch. By launch day we had our Network Operations Center up and running in our Arlington headquarters and we were able to invite guests to join in our launch celebration.  I’m so proud that since then we’ve been able to achieve our customer commitment to running a highly available network that operators big and small can rely on for their businesses. Spectrum sharing is a game-changer for the wireless industry, one that will have an impact for years to come as enterprises roll out their own private 4G/5G networks over CBRS, and it is a true honor to be part of that history.”

Darla Braun CommScopeDarla Braun

Vice President, Global Sales and Business Development – DAS and Small Cells, CommScope

“Over the span of my career, I am very fortunate to have many memorable experiences in the wireless industry. However, I want to share a very recent experience. In 2020, a healthcare facility was trying to open a new hospital wing six months ahead of schedule to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. The whole CommScope team rallied (day & night) to obtain the required wireless equipment for our integrator. However, of particular note when we thought we might not have all of the required equipment, some of our partners that heard what we were trying to do also offered up some of their inventory to help out their competitor to make sure this hospital could open early (they also did not want their name used as they didn’t want any credit).  A powerful message about the selfless acts of our partners and our internal team members.”

Stephanie BrewerStephanie Brewer

Director of Telecommunications Safety & Compliance, USA Telecom Insurance Services/Insurance Office of America

“There have been so many but there are two specific achievements that are most memorable, as well as a challenge I overcame!

Being nominated to the National Wireless Safety Alliance (NWSA) Board of Governors in 2019. I was a part of the task force groups that created the Tower Technician & Tower Foreman credentials for the NWSA. Being invited to have a seat at the NWSA Board of Governors table as a contractor was truly an honor. Being able to give my opinion and contractor’s perspective was very important to me. Being a WOMAN at the table was an even greater honor.

Becoming the first CHAIRWOMAN of TIRAP in 2020. I have been a part of the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) since its inception and creation in 2013. I managed the committees throughout the years, helped in creating the positions and attended all the board meetings. In 2019, I was nominated to a board seat and in 2020 I was nominated to be the first chairwoman of TIRAP. It has been a huge honor and after many years of service, I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this program.

In 2016, I set a goal for myself. A friend of mine pushed me to take my career and industry involvement to the next level. I was involved in many industry things but I really wasn’t learning and growing the way I wanted to. He challenged me to read the standards. That sounds like such a small thing to do right?  Just read. I hate to read though, with a burning passion! After many conversations about it, I set a personal goal. I did not tell anyone, and I did not give any updates of where I was with my goals until I had accomplished them. I read them all: ANSI/ASSP A10.48, ANSI/TIA-222, ANSI/TIA-322, and many others. After completing all of this reading, my end goal was to tackle a huge fear of mine, heights. I had been working in telecom since 2007. I understood all of the equipment, I knew it was safe, and I sat through many, many new hire training classes, but I was afraid of heights. I told myself, if I finish reading all of these standards I am going to climb our training tower, and I DID! I climbed 40 feet. To many in this industry, that is not high at all. To me, it was 40 feet above my fear and to my personal goal. When I was halfway up, I looked around and realized that I wasn’t actually afraid of heights. My true fear was not being in control, but I realized then that I was in control while climbing. I was tied off 100% and I knew that even if I slipped, my equipment would save me.

Don’t ever compare your progress and goals to others. Focus on yourself, on your own goals and accomplishments.”

Justine Carbonell TilsonJustine Carbonell

Regional Director, Small Cell, Tilson

“The wireless industry has provided me with exciting opportunities across the nation to lead and develop strong teams building America’s information infrastructure. Often, new challenges arise that need resolution, and it is one of the reasons I love my job. Daily, I get to fuel my thirst for knowledge and facilitate problem-solving with my teams. One challenge that required me to step outside the bounds of my usual role was integrating a real estate and fiber project. It brought multiple teams at Tilson together and connected us in a different way by bridging the gap between two separate divisions into one. We fostered a unique learning environment where we got to stretch team members to think beyond their day-to-day tasks and look at the big picture of building a network, not just a piece of the network. People are the most important aspect of executing a successful program. Tilson empowers team members and provides educational opportunities for consistent growth and development, and I am so proud I am part of this mission.”

Pinder Chauhan CommScopePinder Chauhan

Vice President, Global Technical Support and Services – DAS, Small Cells and Outdoor Wireless Products, CommScope

“As I read this question, diverse examples flow through my mind that have had either a direct or an indirect impact on the business unit, the company, customers, or me. With that said, they all revolve around the ideas of passion, courage, and confidence. The most memorable experience of mine that highlights these traits has to be my start into the wireless industry. I moved my life from Canada to Texas about 22 years ago to chase this dream of mine to work in the wireless infrastructure industry, and I have come a long way from my first job starting with GSM, supporting the first CDMA network launch in Kansas city, leading the CDMA to LTE transition within my company across North America, and working on Small Cells and now 5G. From the start, I pursued my dream with passion, assumed new roles and responsibilities that often put me in challenging situations, and I made the best of each opportunity for my business unit, company, customers, and myself. It all started with the courage to leave my safe and familiar role in Canada working on wireline networks and stepping into the unfamiliar territory that is the wireless industry, a place that desperately needs more representation from women. My journey was not easy and did not always yield the results that I wanted or expected, but it is a journey that I am grateful for.  Not only was it a cultural shock moving from Ottawa to Dallas, but it was also a change that required adaptability, moving into the ever-evolving wireless infrastructure industry.  I am proud that I was part of the movement of increasing women in the wireless field.

Change and evolution are all around us and more so in the wireless infrastructure industry than any others. As the whole telecommunication industry is trying to keep up with ever so expanding consumer demands, we need to focus on the role that women play in this transformation. It surely took me some time to start feeling comfortable in my own shoes, and I have enjoyed multiple roles in the wireless industry including R&D, product line management, sales support, and my current role of supporting customers in the field has been one of the most rewarding ones as it fuels my passion of making a difference. One of my most recent examples of taking on an assignment that is much larger than your role would be successfully leading CommScope’s ONECELL end-to-end global readiness across all functions including sales, order management, field deployments, technical support and training, resulting in 100+ sectors across 44+ buildings turn-up in less than 1 year of this new cutting-edge product GA introduction.

There remains so much to be done so that women are not underrepresented in the leadership roles for the ongoing wireless industry transformation that is all around us. As I adapted to my surroundings, took two steps forward and one step back, challenged myself, and joined CommScope’s Diversity and Inclusion Board, I continue my journey and am proud of the changes I have made for the industry.  The one piece of advice that I would have for the upcoming female leaders in the wireless industry would be to  find the drive from within yourself and not be afraid to take on challenges that may seem uncomfortable at the start.”

Aleksandra Cuprys Phoenix TowerAleksandra Cuprys

Global General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, Phoenix Tower International

“I have had many memorable achievements working in the wireless infrastructure industry, one that I am particularly proud of is working with Inter-American Development Bank during the COVID-19 pandemic to close financing that helped advance the independent market for telecommunications infrastructure in Ecuador. This project is meaningful to me for many reasons, including: the fact that PTI has the opportunity to improve infrastructure and connectivity in Ecuador during such a crucial time, the opportunity to collaborate with the IDB and the excellent professionals that represent the IDB, the fact that we were able to close during COVID despite numerous unexpected roadblocks that resulted from the pandemic, and because my team did extraordinary work to get the loan closed to meet the IDB’s important requirements. It’s been over six months since we completed the project and it is wonderful to see our growth and progress in the market.”

Iris Dawson inRangeIris Dawson

Executive Vice President, inRange Solutions

“In November 2019, I was nominated and chosen as a finalist for the Sitetracker Heroes of Telecom Awards category of Most Influential Woman in Telecom. Growing in my career as a woman in a traditionally male-based industry along with having been the first woman employee of inRange – this meant the world to me. Accepting this honor alongside women who are true powerhouses and that I have looked up to for years is a moment I often remind myself of as I push through the next obstacle or goal. inRange has always supported their women employees and I am so proud to say we are 47 percent women. The network, strength, and success of the women at inRange is my greatest achievement to date.”

Kelly Day Phoenix TowerKelly Day

Vice President of Human Resources and Community Initiatives, Phoenix Tower International

“Many of my most memorable moments in wireless infrastructure relate to the giving back that PTI accomplishes through our Wings Foundation. I have the great honor of spearheading our efforts to partner with deserving non-profit organizations in all the markets where we operate. Focused on improving childhood education and wellness, we have increased our giving each year, making more than $775,000 in donations since our founding in 2013. While we have not been able to venture out into the communities as much as we would like during Covid-19, we strive to involve our team members in volunteering their time and energy whenever possible. In late 2019, a team of more than 50 of us, including our CEO, traveled more than four hours from Santo Domingo to Santiago in the Dominican Republic via bus to support Club Cultural Y Deportivo Gregorio Urbano Gilbert. Along with the Club G.U.G team, led by former NBA player Felipe Lopez, we helped paint and clean their athletic facilities, ensuring that the hundreds of children they support would have a fantastic place to learn, exercise, and play.  After painting and cleaning, we had the opportunity to meet the children and many of their parents. We played basketball, talked coding with their girls’ coding club, and lost a number of games of chess. We left more exhausted than any day we could ever spend in the office, but ever more filled with the warmth and hope that only giving can produce. Our core values drive us to give back, make an impact, do more, and do better!”

Riley Dow TilsonRiley Dow

Project Manager, Tilson Technology Management

“My most memorable achievement has been crossing the finish line on my first 5G network deployment. Launching this network required system development, cross divisional collaboration, and a lot of ingenuity. Once the densification requirements were met for the launch area, I was overcome with pride. Pride not just in the deployment itself, but in the team we completed the launch with. Our industry is ever changing. Working in the wireless infrastructure industry requires one to be able to solve technical problems and create cutting-edge solutions. But most importantly, it requires the mindset and drive to take an ever-changing environment and use it to your advantage. The people in the wireless industry are strong, collaborative, and willing to take on any obstacle in their way. I am extremely grateful to work in this industry and endlessly humbled by continued progress we are able to make, together. Now on to 6G!”

Marrianna Fabbri CommScopeMarianna Fabbri

Director of Product Line Management, CommScope

“I truly love my job because it enables me to follow the development of new solutions from the concept definition to the delivery. I feel truly rewarded when, looking back, I see the evolution we have been driving in the technology through the migration from 3G to 4G and now to 5G and how this is being enthusiastically accepted by our customers. In the last 20 years, I have gone through multiple platform’s definitions from simpler to more and more complex ones with the objective to overcome customer challenges and offer a more and more user-friendly product to our customers. This pays off by seeing products I worked on being deployed in multiple high-profile venues around the world over the last many yearsfrom stadiums that host the Super Bowl to World Football (Soccer) Championships.”

Tracy Ford

Executive Director, Member Services, Wireless Infrastructure Association

“Being part of the wireless ecosystem has given me a front-row seat into history being made. From the PCS auctions in the 1990s to the C-band auction completed last month, the industry is leading the way people connect with people, content and – especially during the last year – work. As a society, we simply expect wireless connectivity – and we get it – which is a pretty awesome testament to the dedication of the wireless infrastructure workforce.”

Danielle Garrity NB+CDanielle Garrity

Vice President, Mid-Atlantic, Network Building + Consulting

“During the last 12 months, the pandemic has certainly created many professional challenges and everyone in the wireless industry has been forced to adjust the way we work, communicate, and collaborate. My team and our clients are all navigating the realities of remote work, virtual school, reduced childcare, health worries and family caretaking commitments. However, it’s been incredibly gratifying to see how our NB+C team has pivoted and handled each hurdle with grace and creativity. Our company culture foundation is so strong that we have been able to make it through this time as a team supporting one other. There is starting to be some light at the end of this tunnel and I’m looking forward to some more normalcy ahead!”

Morgan Gola SBAMorgan Gola

Operations Support Manager – Tower Network Operations, SBA Communications

“As a relative newcomer to the industry, I found that I had to dedicate myself and my time to learning as much as I could about wireless and our systems and processes. That deep dive into our practices, accomplished by accompanying a Regional Site Manager on daily rounds, enabled me to see our organization from a unique perspective. Being empowered to speak up about my day-to-day findings enabled me to truly make a difference in our operations as manager of our workforce management tool. In early 2020, I was asked by our International Operations to lead and implement our domestic workforce management system into their daily processes. At first, this project was overwhelming; at times, I even wondered if I was in over my head. Perseverance and focus prevailed. Within six months, after building out and adapting the management tool for the majority of our international markets and their business operations, I realized my work provided insight into the workforce and valuable recommendations on how to better manage our teams across multiple markets.

As a woman and early career professional, I entered the industry with no knowledge of wireless infrastructure and worried that the odds would be stacked against me. However, just 15 months later at SBA, I know that I am valued by the people I look up to in the industry and that I am trusted and empowered to make decisions that have an impact. My professional development and success at SBA is a great reminder that there is always an opportunity if you work hard and make your voice heard.”

Iba Jafri FullertonIba Jafri

Senior Director of Operations, Fullerton

“My most memorable challenge, was when I was asked to take on a Program Director role managing A&E; an area that admittedly I had little experience with, and certainly not on a nationwide scale. After meeting with the client to gain a comprehensive understanding of their needs and expectations, I quickly began building the support team. Utilization of daily video conferences (long before COVID) and encouragement of open lines of communication were the foundation of our ability to create a true ‘team’ atmosphere. Ultimately, it was that ‘common goal environment’ that enabled us to be successful and deliver total customer satisfaction. While the process was filled with tremendous challenges and lessons learned, it was truly an amazing experience.”

Elin Katz TilsonElin Katz

Vice President of Utilities, Tilson

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous hardships for families around the country, as we navigate the juggling act of working from home, connecting for telehealth appointments, and helping our school-age children manage Zoom classrooms, online assignments, and social isolation. My most rewarding time in wireless has come during this pandemic, as we work with communities to develop options for connecting their residents quickly and reliably.  The mayors, town councils, and school superintendents we engage with all prioritize bandwidth and speed of deployment for their projects.  In these circumstances, a wireless solution is often the best means of connecting unserved neighborhoods rapidly, reliably, and affordably.  It has been gratifying to see how the wireless industry has stepped up:  swiftly designing and deploying wireless networks in some of the most impacted communities in the country; removing or increasing data caps; forbearing on residential disconnections for non-payment; and donating or discounting millions of hotspots and Wi-Fi enabled laptops to schools across the country.  It underscores just how essential our industry is to everyday life and our economy, and I am gratified to be part of the solution.”

Kompella Purnima CommScopePurnima Kompella

Engineering Manager, CommScope (Bangalore, India)

“We had to make improvements on critical parameter Drop Rate KPI in an already deployed system at a prominent venue where a series of events were lined up for the next few months. I used a few clauses in the 3GPP specifications to proactively schedule uplink grants to the UEs and removed the tight dependency on SR channel-detection for connection-success. My team coded, tested and delivered the solution in just three weeks. The next event at the venue had Connection Drop Rates as low as 0.05 percent. This was immensely satisfying as I could use my experience and my long association with the product to solve a problem that could have impacted the field acceptance by this new customer. It is my very first patent application (as author) too.”

Angela Kung MintzAngela Y. Kung

Member, Mintz,  Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

“My most memorable achievement this past year was helping a client – a well-established cable operator – break into the wireless industry and acquire the resources it needs to deploy a new wireless service offering.  In particular, I assisted the client with securing nearly $30 million in FCC licenses for mid-band spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band and the opportunity to bid on up to $16 billion in federal subsidies from the FCC in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction. Using the spectrum and RDOF support it won, the client intends to expand its coverage and deploy broadband in unserved areas.  And it will do so through its fiber network and existing towers as well as through newly constructed towers and infrastructure. This work has been particularly meaningful on a personal level because I was a lead attorney at the FCC for the Connect America Fund Phase II auction, which was the predecessor to RDOF. I was excited to see the FCC implement a similar auction process for RDOF. More importantly, I am thrilled that new providers are leveraging these programs to offer new wireless services, particularly to unserved and underserved areas. Their efforts mean that we are getting closer to closing the digital divide and ensuring that all U.S. consumers have affordable access to broadband and next-generation services.”

Leticia Latino NeptunoLeticia Latino van-Splunteren

President and CEO, Neptuno USA Corp.

“Next year I will mark 25 years in the telecom industry, so as you can imagine, I have so many experiences, good and bad, that have been meaningful to me because in each one of them a seed of professional and personal growth was planted. Since I’m a big advocate of living in the present moment, I’ll highlight one project that I am currently involved in, and that I feel extremely proud of. In July 2019, I was appointed to the FCC’s Broadband Development Advisory Committee (BDAC) and asked to chair the Jobs and Skills Training Working Group. Last October, after 15 months of very hard work by an extraordinary group of people, our working group was able to present, for voting by the BDAC, our recommendations report on the main challenges and proposed solutions with regards to bridging the skills gap and workforce shortage that our industry is facing. Despite the challenges that producing the work during pandemic times posed, the report was unanimously approved by the Committee and was extremely well received. Since then, I’ve continued my commitment to raise industry awareness on specific actions all stakeholders can take to help ease the problem and foster industry collaboration, which to me is the key to success. I’ve become a big advocate of apprenticeship programs, such as the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP), because they really are  a win-win solution. You create ‘earn as you learn’ jobs for the unemployed while having a standardized training and process that will ensure technicians a clearer career path, and giving employers tangible financial incentives to ease training cost impacts. I’m definitely proud of the work being done and of being part of it. To me, it’s all about creating impactful and meaningful change.”

Jeannette Lee CommScopeJeanette Lee

Senior Director, Technical Marketing & Solutions, CommScope

“If one person can achieve anything, imagine what the right team can do. The best project and most rewarding decision I’ve ever made was to advocate within my company for the creation of a team focused on how to translate the company’s technical excellence into meaningful and impactful ways to have conversations around wireless technology. It started with a small team which, after a few years, almost tripled in size. Many tasks are easier when tackled as a team, but the work that goes into building and the day-to-day demands of a team are often not well recognized. A team is, in many ways, one of the greatest things that can be created. As an engineer, I have designed and built many networks; building this team has been more rewarding, both in scope and the number of lives impacted, than any other project I have had the privilege of working on. The reward is not just in knowing a task has been done well but in knowing a group of people were able to come together and creatively solve a compelling problem.”

Gilliam Leytham ZayoGillian Leytham

Senior Director, Underlying Rights & Government Relations, Zayo

Gillian joined Zayo’s team just over a year ago. She immediately came aboard with the task of leading fiber optic deployment efforts across 32 states and parts of Canada. In one year’s time Gillian has successfully managed more than 200 projects that connected small cells with fiber optic cables across North America. Notably, in Central Florida, Gillian championed efforts to deliver 930 small cell network nodes. Her efforts have made it possible to connect people and businesses in an unparalleled way by transforming how telecommunication services critically support everyday life.

Kristie Lokken FullertonKristie Lokken

Vice President, Site Development, Fullerton

“Although there have been many throughout my career, the most meaningful and memorable moments are when my team succeeds as a whole. One challenge people often face as they progress through their career is determining what type of leader they want to be. For me, that was an easy decision; I wanted to create an environment that truly enables others to thrive and excel. A workplace that encourages and fosters teaching, coaching and mentoring. As a result, I have been extremely fortunate to have helped educate, train and elevate many talented new young leaders, who now lead their own teams. It’s an amazing, gratifying sense of accomplishment, for both my team and me.”

Abby Mazzetti

Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CitySwitch

“I have been fortunate to work with so many great teams over the years. My most memorable achievement is related to the positive impact I’ve had on women that have looked to me for guidance. It can be hard to maneuver through challenging situations or stick with your intuition when you’re the only woman in the room. The opportunity to share my past experiences, help others work through obstacles and provide encouragement and support has and continues to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.”

Kim Morrison KGPCoKim Morrison

Vice President, Solutions Architecture – Wireless, KGPCo

“After Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico in October 2017, a phone call received 48 hours post destruction from a friend in Puerto Rico was all it took. ‘Kim get down here as soon as you can!’ And three days later I landed in San Juan. So many unknowns were soon to be figured out – how my industry friends of 20+ years and their families were all doing, where can I help, what are the needs of the customers and the networks, and then my own housing and local transportation. This was by far the worst disaster-stricken conditions I had personally experienced. Puerto Rico was now a military effort. Helicopters, Hercules planes, the National Guard, FEMA and many other government and nonprofit organizations all enlisted to help the people of Puerto Rico.

This wasn’t my first trip to Puerto Rico. I had traveled there many times before. My first million-dollar sale was in 2004 in Puerto Rico – microwave gear to one of the carriers. Later in my career I opened and ran a CommScope (then Andrew product) distribution center in Carolina, just outside of the San Juan airport while I was employed by a Canadian company. Then in 2009, I went back to Puerto Rico representing a U.S. tower and steel component manufacturer. Beyond sharing a quality product with standards that can’t be matched, I spent a great deal of time with one of the publicly owned tower companies modifying and strengthening their towers all throughout Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria later tested the strength of that steel and engineering – and it passed with flying colors.

Hurricane Maria collected all the relationships, friendships and experiences I had gained working in Puerto Rico over decades and challenged me personally. Adversity I had never experienced before. Through a local and stateside team effort at KGPCo, we supported Tier 1 Customers to stand up emergency recovery warehouses across Puerto Rico to receive, manage, and tender all equipment required for restoring network connectivity across the island. In addition, we had crews restoring service: new site builds, RF, generator deployment, microwave link alignment/restore, and any electric job. We performed hundreds of break/fix projects: electric jobs to restore cell sites on air, sector reconstructions and azimuth, and down-tilt work generators deployed. We also completed site acquisition and landlord negotiations and generator relocation projects due to hazardous conditions. Our team handled “special projects” involving non-standard customer requests, including use of riggers to install generator exhaust pipes to 15-plus story buildings, other special equipment projects and KGPCo-managed generator refuel service across the island to keep Tier 1 Customer equipment operational; thousands of gallons of diesel have been distributed by KGPCo to Customer generators since hurricane. I had lots of long days and late nights. Hotel lobbies and restaurants soon became our war room. I led the contractual efforts with the carriers. Inking thoughts together on the back of napkins with the customer over a quick bite to eat late at night was very common.

I left college with a degree in international business and a minor in Spanish. A position at the World Trade Center consulting for Tessco in Baltimore was my entrance into the industry. Several years  and many meaningful relationships later, Hurricane Maria challenged it all. Fortunate to be with KGPCo at the time, a nimble company whose values and desire to help matched my own. I have since taken the skills gained through experiences in Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America and applied them to my current role at KGPCo. The importance of relationships, a true understanding of the overall plan, and being an authentic leader who cares, translates to any situation, even Hurricane Maria – #PuertoRicoStrong!”

Alice Moy-Gonzalez AnterixAlice Moy-Gonzalez

Senior Vice President of Strategic Development, Anterix

“The announcement of Anterix’s first customer was certainly a breakthrough moment for the energy and wireless telecom industries, as well as Anterix itself. But for me, it represented a notable milestone in my career, the culmination of a journey that followed the evolution of these two industries.

For more than a decade, I’d been guiding my career toward a breakthrough moment between energy and wireless telecom. More than a dozen years ago, I had the opportunity to work on a ‘smart grid’ solution that showed me how the integration of telecommunications technologies could make the grid not only smarter and safer but more resilient, secure, and sustainable, too. It had become a passion and I was determined to help make it possible.

Once, I accepted a job that was 100 miles from my home rather than the alternative that would have been a much shorter commute. It afforded me the opportunity to apply my experience in wireless telecom to enhance the reliability and safety of grid solutions. A bonus was that it featured a renewable energy portfolio of products and intelligent applications for smart cities. I am grateful that I had such experiences that resulted in building blocks in my career.

Getting Anterix to this moment was a journey that went well beyond engineering and technology. When you’re developing a breakthrough solution, there is no playbook or how-to video on how to do it. Our first task was to gain support as we (successfully) navigated the FCC process to reconfigure the spectrum band – no easy task in itself. We worked through numerous pilots, leveraged expertise where it was needed, developed industry alliances and worked hard to get to that first customer.

In my role at Anterix , I have the opportunity to meet and work with wireless and energy industry pioneers, as well as the young leaders who will drive innovation into the future. As a woman, I want to share with girls and young women that they can follow their passions and that they should use their voices and bring their unique, authentic experiences to the table because true collaboration and strong partnerships do more than just make the moment happen. They make the journey all that much better, too.”

Kimberly Nason Phillips LytleKimberly Nason

Partner, Philips Lytle LLP

“As an attorney working in the wireless infrastructure industry, one of my most memorable achievements involved assisting a national carrier with network upgrades across New York State following the implementation of Section 6409. Section 6409 is federal legislation intended to streamline local government review of modifications to existing wireless structures.  The federal statute (and eventually, the ensuing regulations) was relatively new to everyone at the time, and it took time to work with municipalities to explain what it meant in terms of the new, limited review context for processing applications for simple collocations and upgrades. We worked with municipalities to explain the key role that rapid deployment of telecommunications infrastructure would have on the improvement of the network for its residents. While this work resulted in many significant “wins” for the carrier on individual applications, perhaps more importantly, it laid the groundwork for an expedited review process in multiple municipalities, statewide, for years to come.  We see the benefits of that effort to this day as the carrier continues to build and upgrade its 5G network.”

Kris Owens Garrett QCommunicationsKris Owen Garrett

Program Manager – Broadcast Engineering, QCommunications LLC

“Having spent the last 3 years assisting in the program management of nearly 100 successful transmitter installs for the FCC Repack project, I could not be more proud.  This was a huge endeavor for myself and my work associates at Qcomm. I transitioned back into the industry in 2018, after working with Qcomm during the Sprint 2 GHz Relocation project, with very little knowledge of the technical side of these types of installs. Navigating my way through the learning process of the repack, while keeping up with the schedule is something that I feel exceptionally good about. I always enjoy a challenge and this project did not let me down. I look forward to broadening my horizons with the upcoming C-Band repack project where myself and Qcomm will certainly go above and beyond for our clients.”

Sheri Sheri Palazzo

Vice President of Engineering, Altaeros

“Covid-19 forced much of the global community to work and school remotely, and this really amplified the unfairness of the digital divide. Altaeros’s new rapidly deployable SuperTower, the ST-Flex, is designed to help close the digital divide. Not only is it portable and quick to set up, but since a single system can cover up to 2000 square miles, it is ideal to quickly bring data communications to rural communities. Creating a product that can positively impact so many people is one of the most rewarding achievements of my career.”

Soriant Perez FloresSoriant Perez Flores

Sales Manager – Outdoor Wireless Products, CommScope (France)

“I think my most memorable achievement is jumping from Radio Engineer to Sales Manager having almost zero background regarding sales. The key: I was not afraid of change, because this is something constant in the telecommunications industry. With a lot of work and the support of a super team, I’ve been able to grow in this role and bring some key success to the company.  The biggest and most recent example is breaking into one of the biggest European telecommunications groups to sell our products. I heard the client and built strong relationships. It required a lot of perseverance and consistency, but the goal was achieved. This experience helped me to overcome.”

Karen Rohrkemper CrownKaren Rohrkemper

Vice President, Regional Design & Construction, Central Region, Crown Castle

“When I first joined Crown Castle, I was tasked with enhancing the largest small cell project in the Central region, which included more than 2,000 nodes. It was a nearly 2-year process to understand all aspects of the project, build the appropriate cross-functional team and turn the project into one of the region’s top-performing developments. The team worked together to discover cost efficiencies and create a plan to pivot the deployment to address implementation barriers. Our work enabled Crown to not only deliver for our customers on this project, but also opened new opportunities to do similar work in the market.

Being new to an organization and taking on a task like this was certainly a challenge, but it was inspiring to see everyone work together as a larger team to accomplish and chase the same goal together. As a result of that cohesion and collaboration, we accomplished something that even I was initially cautious to believe we could achieve.  It reinforced for me that when we work cross-functionally with amazing people we can accomplish just about anything. ”

Minyan Shi CommScopeMinyan Shi

Senior Principal Engineer, DAS and Small Cell Businesses, CommScope

“Many years ago, I led an advanced development team to develop the BTS and RNC prototypes that supported EvDO RevB carrier aggregation (CA). The technology was so new at the time that the two-carrier testing ‘handset’ from Qualcomm consisted of two single-carrier test devices connected to a PC running the device-side CA protocols, via an Ethernet switch. The cellular network operators were skeptical about the high data rate promised by the technology. But my company staked its name and reputation on becoming the first RAN vendor in the industry to support EvDO RevB and scheduled a lab demo for Verizon and a field trial with Sprint. I and my team encountered problems every step of the way: connection setup with two carriers, downlink data flow through two carriers, throughput degradation under different RF conditions, handoff failure due to inter-carrier interference, etc. There were days and nights of testing, log analysis, debugging, enhancements, retesting. Every time we achieved a milestone, we uncovered new problems, but we kept at it. During the Verizon lab demo, as we were showing the superb data rate achieved on a two-carrier connection, our director did something we hadn’t tested. By unplugging the ethernet cable from one of the single-carrier devices and then plugging it back in, he demonstrated not only the high data rate of EvDO RevB, but also the reliability and robustness of our system. It felt like a miracle that the Verizon demo went flawlessly. We then completed an equally successful EvDO RevB field trial in the Sprint network, with smooth two-carrier handoff, and optimal throughput under various RF conditions. This experience solidified my conviction that every technical roadblock has its root causes and solutions, and the path to success is traversed one step at a time, with diligence and persistence. Since then I have delivered many projects with bigger technical challenges and higher profiles, but the lessons I learned from this early challenge have never failed me.”

Julie Song ADRFJulie Song

President, Advanced RF Technologies Inc. (ADRF)

“I have been working in telecommunications for over 20 years, many of which have been filled with meaningful implementations and exciting innovations in the rapidly changing wireless industry. However, my most memorable accomplishment was when Advanced RF Technologies, Inc. (ADRF) successfully deployed an in-building distributed antenna system (DAS) for the Empire Polo Club in 2018, home of the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals that gather 335,000 people across three weekends. While this partnership involved high-stakes challenges, such as meeting tight deadlines and working with limited space in a difficult radio frequency (RF) environment, we were able to overcome the issues to ensure an enhanced festival experience for attendees with increased wireless capacity and coverage. Although the pandemic has put a halt to entertainment events at the moment, I’m happy to say that we are a part of providing great wireless connectivity and helping advance digital initiatives for a large, globally recognized event.”

Melissa Stanislaw ZenFi

Melissa Stanislaw

Director of Marketing Strategy and Sales Enablement, ZenFi Networks

“As a career marketer, I’m always growing and learning about new technologies, innovative ways to reach future customers and contribute to the bottom line. As 2020 came to a screeching halt, I found myself challenged with going beyond a conventional marketing strategy, but really had to reinvent how we reached people in the absence of face-to-face interactions and tactics that had become customary. Pivoting became essential – not just once, but throughout 2020 and through trial and error. As new strategies and tactics were rolled out, data had to be analyzed quickly for effectiveness and shifted if they weren’t yielding the results I expected. I found that through a combination of ongoing personalized organic outreach to really understand what our customers’ and prospects’ core challenges were and how we could help, as well as different takes on digital ads and new innovative content really kept us relevant. Getting and keeping ZenFi Networks out there had become (and still is) more essential than ever. The challenges of 2020 ultimately made me a better listener, taught me patience and stamina in the midst of the unknown and ultimately helped me even better understand how important the wireless infrastructure industry is to keeping us all connected.”

Elaine Tarkington SBAElaine Tarkington

Senior Director, Site Marketing, SBA Communications

“Looking back at my experiences in wireless infrastructure, one recent project stands out. When Dish Network first came onto the scene with their NBIoT buildout, they were new to the tower business and new to the industry. They had many highly qualified people on board, and they also had some employees who moved over from the satellite division and were just learning the business. We quickly realized that they would need a dedicated SBA representative to help them navigate the build, and I volunteered to manage this new and growing relationship. I looked forward to the opportunity to focus on a new carrier that was building a brand new nationwide network. As expected in such a large project, there were challenges and triumphs; however, we were able to form a mutually beneficial partnership that ensured success for both companies. Working with a new carrier was a memorable experience, enabling me and others on the team to develop lasting relationships and watch Dish grow and succeed in their new venture.”

Victoria Weidenthaler SBA CommunicationsVictoria Weidenthaler

Corporate Counsel II – Land Use & Legal Affairs, SBA Communications

“One of my recent memorable achievements occurred during 2020 when the FCC clarified that Section 6409 includes compound expansion at existing telecommunication facilities. I was able to participate in the advocacy efforts as a representative of SBA through the Wireless Infrastructure Association. This was a collaborative effort at SBA both internally and externally as I worked with SBA team members to identify SBA sites actively involved with compound expansion that could benefit from the rule change. I also participated with organizations such as the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties to ensure a balance was struck between industry and municipalities. This was meaningful to me because clarifying that Section 6409 applies to compound expansions results in a more streamlined and speedy deployment by allowing for an easier collocation and site modification process – which is critical in the race to 5G and rural broadband deployment. Additionally, this rule change has a nationwide impact that would allow for further streamlined collocations and upgrades on over 15,000 existing SBA towers. This was a huge win for SBA and the entire industry!”

Heather Mo Williams CommScopeHeather “Mo” Williams

Network Solutions Analyst, Solutions Engineering Team, CommScope

“I gave a talk recently titled ‘Unapologetic Confidence: Accidental Courage.’ To be honest, I picked that topic because the other suggestion was to talk about how to ask for a raise and get it (and I’m absolute rubbish at that). The biggest challenge I’ve overcome has got to be my own Inner Voice. That’s the one that I heard over my shoulder every time I tried to write up three projects so that I could apply for my Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE) certification. For three years I listened as it told me that none of my project summaries were CWNE worthy. I ended up having to retake almost all of the pre-requisite certifications because they expired. Today I am CWNE #264 and the first female to serve on their Board of Advisors. Have I made mistakes and failed? You bet! I once crashed a network in the middle of a live radio broadcast. It really is true that it’s not about how you fall, but how you pick yourself back up. And quit listening to that Inner Voice. She’s a bitch.”

See also:

A Celebration of Women in the Wireless Infrastructure Industry

Celebrating the Women of the Wireless Infrastructure Industry