Founder & CEO
As Founder and CEO of Xaqt, Chris leads an amazing team of people bringing disruptive analytics solutions to market. Over the last two decades, Chris has developed a passion for early stage companies. He founded his first start-up in contact center analytics and successfully positioned the company as a global innovator; and ultimately led it through acquisition by Cisco Systems.
Today, Xaqt helps companies and cities understand and act on their data. Our platform creates Smart, Connected and Open Cities on a common Global Data Infrastructure.
Mr. Christensen received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah and a M.S. from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.
From 1997 – 2010, Christensen was the Chief Operating Officer of FVTech, a healthcare data management company. Christensen was one of three partners who managed the company and drove revenue growth. Under his leadership, Christensen managed the scaling of Operations which included growth in staff from 4 employees to more than 200 employees. Christensen’s responsibilities included Operations, I.T., Software Development, Customer Support, Human Resources, off-shore partnerships in China, and satellite offices in Los Angeles, California and Phoenix, Arizona.
From 2010 – 2012, Mr. Christensen was Vice President of Operations for Emdeon (A Blackstone Partners Company) and ran the Payment Automation Division of Emdeon in Salt Lake City, Utah and oversaw off-shore production in Noida, India. Division revenues grew by more than 400% in the three years Christensen managed the group.
Currently, Mr. Christensen is the President of EntryPoint and oversees Research and Development, Operations Planning, Strategic Partnerships, Customer Support, and assists with Strategy Development.
Illinois Municipal League
Brad Cole currently serves as executive director of the Illinois Municipal League, which is the statewide association of nearly 1,300 cities, towns and villages. The League’s mission is to educate, advocate for, and empower Illinois communities specifically related to state and federal government issues. He began in this position in December 2014.
Cole served as Mayor of the City of Carbondale, Illinois for two four-year terms, which followed one term on the City Council. He was first elected Mayor at the age of 31. As the chief elected official, he set policy direction for the leading regional municipality that was also the home community to a major public university.
Founder and President
Strategic Network Group (SNG)
For nearly two decades, Michael Curri and SNG have been at the forefront of maximizing the economic potential of broadband initiatives.
Curri has consulted as an economist and strategic analyst for public and private sector clients in more than a dozen states as well as globally. His guiding philosophy is that technology is only as good as how it is used, and that broadband used properly can have transformative impacts.
Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology
Essam El-Beik is a consultant with Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology helping expand broadband access throughout Illinois. Essam advises on E-rate policy and helps Illinois Century Network, the state fiber network, provide high speed broadband to community anchor institutions, municipalities and commercial service providers. Essam also helps facilitate Smarter Illinois and Smart Cities throughout Illinois and is currently working on Smart Street Lighting. Prior to Illinois Essam worked at Zayo Group for three years responsible for broadband stimulus applications, where Zayo was awarded $45M from federal stimulus funds for broadband in Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio. Prior to Zayo Essam spent 18 years working for Nortel Networks in wireline and wireless technologies in England, France and the US. Essam holds a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Computer Science from Imperial College, London, and holds 2 patents in the field of wireless network technology.
City Digital at UI Labs
Steven Fifita is the Executive Director at City Digital where he leads the National Innovation Accelerator focused on creating collaborations between government, industry, and academic partners around a common goal of leveraging Chicago as a test-bed for piloting Smart City solutions. Steven has had more than 20 years of experience in technology innovation, global strategy and commercial execution working for companies like Diebold Inc., Best Buy, Cisco Systems, and Hewlett Packard. Most recently, Steven was the Managing Member at ADG Holding where he advised companies on corporate development, strategy and innovation across a number of different industries including IoT/analytics, consumer electronics, health, finance, banking, and energy. Steven has also served as the Chairman of the Economic Advisory Board for the Stanford Project on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SPRIE) and the Stanford Project on Japanese Entrepreneurship (STAJE) and is a frequent speaker on topics of innovation and entrepreneurship clusters.
Jason Bennett Harris
Head of Client
Jason Bennett Harris works with leaders to seek, test, and deploy emerging technologies. His secret sauce is connecting people with ideas.
Harris formed a new venture, Obsidian, offering an on-demand, Innovation as a Service (IaaS) model. His thesis is that leaders need a two-pronged strategy: 1) Drive core execution, while 2) Exploring rapid development of new ideas, services, and business models.
Harris seeks like-minded leaders who are embracing lean innovation, rapid prototyping, and taking ‘purposeful risk’ across a portfolio of technologies. He can be contacted on LinkedIn.
Superintendent of Communications
Rochelle Municipal Utilities
Scott is a graduate of Rockford East High School and has over twenty-five years experience in voice and data communications. Scott currently serves as the Chairman of the Northern Illinois Technology Triangle INITT. Scott is a member of the Illinois Municipal Broadband Communications Association and has worked extensively on the Rochelle Business and Technology Park projects.
Director of NIUNet Broadband Solutions, Northern Illinois University
Director of Business Development, iFiber Inc.
Herb Kuryliw is Director of NIUNet Broadband Solutions developing high speed networks used for research advancement, administrative resources, academic initiatives and economic development for over 20 years. He has development strategic partnerships with local governments, research facilities and private companies to share the costs of network infrastructures and promote the design of advanced networks in the Northern Illinois region. In 2010 Kuryliw was the program manager and grant writer for the iFiber grant valued at $62.5M installing over 700 miles of fiber developing a 100 Gigabit network used by over 500 community anchor institutions. Other successful grants Mr. Kuryliw has written are a $15M grant for a 143-mile fiber optic network for the DeKalb Advancement of Technology Authority (DATA) in DeKalb County and a $22M Illinois Rural HealthNet (IRHN) grant that provides a high speed fiber optic network for the State of Illinois healthcare facilities.
He is the Director of Business Development for iFiber through his affiliation with Northern Illinois University.
Kuryliw has successfully developed business solutions with middle mile network partners and regional public networks to deliver wholesale broadband to regional Internet Service Providers. This has allowed local quality ISP’s to deliver cost effective services throughout the Northern Illinois Region. With the unique concept of building an ISP virtual mall of internet and content services over broadband, rural communities are now able to introduce new competitive services for their local businesses.
Kuryliw’s background has thirty-four years of technical, managerial and administrative experience in advanced communication networks. He represented Northern Illinois University on the Governors Broadband Deployment Council, The Illinois Fiber Resource Group (iFiber), one of the Board of Directors, The Illinois Municipal Broadband Communications Association (IMBCA) as Secretary of the Board of Directors, The Illinois Century Network Advanced Engineering Taskforce (AET), and The Northern Illinois Technology Triangle Technical Committee (NITT). Herb’s educational background includes an Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences from McHenry County College and Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Computer Science at Northern Illinois University.
Sustainable Innovations Consultant
Greater Dubuque Development Corporation
David is an attorney focusing on public policy and business innovation. He specializes in public/private collaborations, works on a wide range of policy projects and serves on numerous public and private boards. Presently he serves as Sustainable Innovations Consultant with the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation. Some of David’s previous public roles include Director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Insurance Commissioner for the State of Iowa and Legal Counsel with the Iowa Legislature. Some of David’s previous private roles include Chief Business Development Officer for the Iowa Farm Bureau, President of The Iowa Institute and Chairman of CoOportunity Health. David has a long history of leading innovative and successful public/private partnerships in Iowa and has spearheaded numerous projects for both Republican and Democratic administrations.
David grew up on a family farm near Bernard, Iowa. He received his undergraduate degree from Loras College in Dubuque and his law degree from the University of Iowa. David and his wife Sandee live in Des Moines with their two daughters.
Chief Information Officer
City of Dublin
Doug holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo in Information Systems and Operations Management and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Notre Dame. He holds certifications in Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and as a Project Management Professional (PMP).
As CIO of Dublin, Ohio, Doug has taken an active interest in the Central Ohio Technology Community as well as developing expertise in Smart Cities, Intelligent Communities, Digital Government, and Broadband. The City of Dublin has formed the Global Institute for the Study of the Intelligent Community of Dublin, Ohio USA, which is currently working with communities throughout the State of Ohio to share best practices in leveraging Broadband for Economic Development. Administration of Dublink, the 125 mile Fiber Conduit system that serves as a broadband catalyst and economic development resource, is a core mission of the City of Dublin.
Prior to joining the Dublin team, Doug held positions within the State of Ohio Department of Public Safety, Department of Commerce, Industrial Commission and Department of Medicaid. Most recently he served as director of Information Technology for the City of Richmond, Virginia. He has worked as a project manager for Nationwide Insurance and Alcatel-Lucent.
Founder & CEO
Connected Nation Exchange (CNX)
Brian Mefford is founder and CEO of Connected Nation Exchange (CNX). In 2012, he led the spin out of CNX from Connected Nation, an internationally recognized non-profit broadband consulting firm that Brian founded and led as CEO for more than a decade.
In his first twenty years working to expand technology access, Brian recognized an emerging need to apply the Public-Private-Partnership model to drive investment in broadband. Today, CNX unites private broadband service providers with states and cities to expand and leverage their broadband assets for expanding fiber, small cells, 5g and related smart city infrastructure.
Brian envisioned and led the development of CNX’s patent pending asset software which provides a collaboration platform where cities and states can more efficiently manage assets, share strategic planning data, streamline inter-departmental processes, and conduct lease transactions with broadband service providers and others seeking to leverage public assets for expanding connectivity services. Service providers can use the platform to upload search rings, design new fiber paths and architect small cell networks, all overlaying available city assets that can accelerate their speed to market.
At CNX, Brian leads a diverse team of broadband professionals enabling cities and states to modernize public policies and practices that encompass the technical, legal, regulatory and financial aspects of leveraging public assets for accelerating intelligent connectivity.
Vice President of Sales
Mr. Joel Mulder is the Vice President of Sales for eX2 Technology LLC. Over the years he has worked with multiple entities to design, construct, operate and maintain both wireless and fiber networks. Many of these networks have been public/private partnerships (P3) that enabled rural areas to receive advanced communications services on an open access basis. His background includes working with middle mile, tele-health and FTTH networks as well as physical security systems for our nations critical infrastructure.
eX2 Technology LLC was specifically formed by long-term industry experts to fill an industry gap that delivers multi-faceted solutions and services to your network project with greater efficiency, less cost, and a streamlined acquisition process. We specialize in financing, designing, installing and maintaining robust broadband, intelligent transportation and critical infrastructure networks for government agencies, consortiums and public/private partnerships (P3). Our business is a single source solutions provider for communities and public agencies seeking to build or enhance their intelligent infrastructure.
eX2 Technology LLC is a premier member of the FTTH (Fiber to the Home) Council. Joel is the company representative to the Council as well as serving as a Board Member for the Rural Telecommunications Congress. In 2010, he was appointed by then Governor Pat Quinn to the Illinois Broadband Deployment Council.
Joel holds a Master’s Degree in Education from South Dakota State University.
Senior Vice President, Enterprise Markets
Landmark Dividend LLC
Steve Peloso is responsible for Landmark’s Enterprise Markets vertical business line which includes Government (State and local), Higher Ed and select commercial businesses. Steve comes to landmark with a unique mix of experience rooted in technology and real property.
Steve has over 20+ years of experience in developing strategy and delivery models for businesses focused on consulting and technology services for technology deployment. He has previously held management positions in Fortune 500 companies such as Lucent Technologies and NCR.
He has also held senior leadership positions in four unique start-ups offering services ranging from SaaS-based analytics for retail, security and governance consulting for enterprise and technology feasibility and assessment consulting. As an early entrant into the technology consulting marketplace in the 1990s, Steve initiated and developed the western US marketplace for International Network Service (INS). INS was sold to Lucent Technologies in 2000 for $3.5B, a record sale for a services-only company at the time
Steve also has 8 years of commercial brokerage and development experience. He held the position of Partner/COO in a highly respected, 25-year-old boutique commercial brokerage company. During that time, he also held Managing Partner positions in several private project companies formed to fund, entitle and build Class A industrial and office properties within the southern CA marketplace.
Steve’s understanding of technology deployment and commercial real estate provide a complement to Landmark’s model for funding and capitalizing real property-based assets like broadband fiber and “Smart” infrastructure.
Steve has both his BS in Business and MBA in Business Management from Providence College.
Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Dr. Sokwoo Rhee is Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He is currently leading the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) which aims to create a replicable and scalable model for collaborative incubation and deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) and Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) solutions to improve the quality of life in smart cities around the world. He previously served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow on CPS, a program by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. During his fellowship, he co-led the SmartAmerica Challenge, which brought together IoT technologies and CPS across the nation to demonstrate how they can provide concrete examples of the socio-economic benefits. Prior to joining US government, he was Co-founder and CTO of Millennial Net, Inc., which was one of the first to successfully commercialize low-power wireless mesh/sensor network and Internet of Things technology from academia. His work and achievements have been recognized through awards including MIT Technology Review’s Top Innovators under 35 and Red Herring’s Top 5 Innovators. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Senior Project Engineer
City of Batavia
Mr. Rogde has been working in the municipal electric utility business for over 30 years. He is presently a Senior Project Engineer for the City of Batavia. Mr. Rogde has worked in distribution, generation, and transmission of electricity up to 345,000 volts. Electric Utilities are a major user of communication networks and for over 20 years Mr. Rogde has been working in communications also. Mr. Rogde was instrumental in helping communities start their efforts in communication and fiber optic networks. Mr. Rogde has served on many boards, associations, and task forces helping municipalities provide much needed communication infrastructure to their constituents.
Principal, Director of Active Transportation Planning
Ryan has been recognized as a leading international expert in active transportation planning. He has prepared numerous transportation plans focusing on pedestrians, bicycles, and transit throughout California and has been involved in lawmaking at the state level and ordinance drafting at the local level. He teaches the national Pedestrian Safety Design course for the Federal Highway Administration and is a Nationally Certified Safe Routes to School Instructor. He currently teaches a graduate course on transportation planning at the UCLA Urban Planning Department. Ryan coordinated the development of the Model Design Manual for Living Streets, used as the basis for street design manuals in many cities across the US. He also serves on the Bicycle Technical Committee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Ryan is an active member of the Congress for the New Urbanism, the American Planning Association, and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Planners.
Alliance for Innovation
Greg Stopka is the Membership Director with the Alliance for Innovation, a community of local governments inspiring innovation to advance communities by sharing emerging practices, building cultures of innovation and connecting thought leaders. The Alliance is accessible and valuable to all levels of local government. The Alliance has over 300 members across the country and Canada. In total Greg has worked in the local government industry for 8 years including 5 years at the Alliance. Outside of the Alliance he served as the Assistant to the City Administrator in Yuma, AZ and in the Budget Office in Olathe, KS. He received his Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Kansas and is a graduate of the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia.
Founder and CEO
Smart City Media
Tom is an acclaimed media and new market innovator, whose career includes a highly successful tenure as Executive Producer of NBC’s Today Show when it was the most profitable show in network TV history.
Tom also personally led the creation of the fastest growing ‘Smart City’ segment: his $1M funded NYC payphone pilot grew to a $1B NYC payphone-WiFi RFP. Tom was a founding member and sits on the Steering Committee for the IOT World Forum. He was CEO of City24/7 through December 2014, where he was named one of the Pioneers of IOT by CIO Magazine and awarded the prestigious ADA Sapolin Award by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He led the start-up from powerpoint to private pilot to contract and market-changing deployment with New York City.
Prior to that, Tom was Executive Producer of the Today with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. His final year at the helm, the broadcast grossed more than $750M, believed to still be the highest annual sum ever on network television. He has multiple Emmy awards, Gracies and he won the George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of September 11th while at ABC News with Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson.
City Council President
City of Westminster, Maryland
As an elected official of a small town in Maryland, Dr. Robert Wack advocated for, planned, and led the implementation of the first community-wide gigabit fiber network in the Mid-Atlantic region, the award winning Westminster Fiber Network (WFN).
The WFN is regarded as an innovative example of a Public Private Partnership model with potential national application.
Robert also has experience in telecom policy, franchise negotiations, and as a telecommunications entrepreneur. Through Arcus Solutions, Robert provides strategic and business planning, advocacy, and political consulting for municipal fiber projects around the country. He also is a board certified Pediatrician and practices in a community hospital Pediatric Emergency Department.
Greg Whelan has over 20 years of international telecommunication and cable networks experience. He’s a thought leader in merging Service Provider business drivers and leading edge technologies. His research focus in virtual access networks, Open Broadband Access, Gigabit Broadband, Community Broadband, and IoT networking. He’s a pioneer in the broadband telecommunications area and drove the first global DSL standards and was a co-founder, and Vice President of the Broadband Forum. He has worked in technical marketing roles for large technology firms including Cisco Systems (San Jose, CA) where he lead award winning global marketing campaigns in telecommunications and cable markets and Analog Devices (Norwood, MA) where he created and lead their successful entrance into the broadband telecommunication market. He’s also spearheaded marketing and products for a number of early stage SP Focused venture-backed start-ups in the Boston area, three of which were acquired by larger tech companies.
He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and an MBA in Innovation from Northeastern University. He has also studied Digital Video Networking at the MIT MediaLab.
David E. Wilson
Chief of Operations
Illinois State Toll Highway Authority
David E. Wilson is currently the Chief of Operations for the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority. In this capacity he oversees all toll collection and facility maintenance operations throughout the 287+ miles of toll roads in northeast Illinois. Prior to serving in his current position he served the Tollway for 20+ years as a Senior Assistant Attorney General. In that role, in addition to many other responsibilities, he was principally involved in the development of the Tollway’s fiber optic and tower co-location programs and the negotiation of all related agreements. He received his B.A. from Monmouth College in 1987 and his J.D. from Northern Illinois University College of Law in 1992. He is currently licensed to practice in the State of Illinois.
Vice President of Digital Innovation
Jory Wolf joins Magellan following a 35-year career with the City of Santa Monica, California. Jory spent 22 years as the Chief Information Officer for Santa Monica, where he led the development of Santa Monica City Wi-Fi sm, an extensive network providing free wireless Internet services to the public, and Santa Monica CityNetsm, an acclaimed 100 gigabit broadband initiative supporting an environment for local businesses to compete in the global economy with cutting edge broadband solutions, and for affordable broadband for digital inclusion and fiber to the home. Jory was the thought leader behind Santa Monica’s Smart City initiatives, Open Data Portal and led the development of Silicon Beach, a Santa Monica/LA metro Westside economic development area where a large community of startups, incubators, and tech companies thrive.