Better Broadband Better Lives

Rural Telecommunications Congress Elects New Slate of Officers: Drew Clark as Incoming President; Jane Smith Patterson as Immediate Past President

in Press Releases/Rural Utilities Service/Universal Service by

AUSTIN, April 16, 2015 - The board of directors of the Rural Telecommunications Congress voted here on Wednesday to elect a new slate of officers to lead the organization, building upon its work over the last several years.

At its annual meeting held jointly with the Broadband Communities Summit here, the Rural Telecommunications Congress unanimously approved as new officers:

  • Drew Clark, President
  • Jason Whittet, Vice President
  • Frank Odasz, Secretary
  • Eric Ogle, Treasurer
  • Jane Smith Patterson, Immediate Past President

"It is a humbling experience to be entrusted with the leadership of an organization with the history and institutional knowledge of the Rural Telecommunications Congress," said Drew Clark, incoming President.

Drew Clark, Incoming President, Rural Telecommunications Congress
Drew Clark, Incoming President, Rural Telecommunications Congress

"I gained a passion for the vital role of broadband as the leader of the Illinois broadband authority, and while living in and traveling throughout rural Illinois.  I continue to experience the truth that better broadband leads to better lives through my work to help cities and rural communities build Gigabit Networks."

Clark is Of Counsel with the Salt Lake City-based law firm of Kirton McConkie.

"The RTC has played a vital role in rallying rural America's interest in broadband through its annual Rural Telecommunications Congresses," said Jane Smith Patterson, Immediate Past President, and who served as President from 2013 to 2015.

Patterson has played a legendary role in enhancing technology access and adoption in North Carolina, and nationwide, through her leadership of the Rural Internet Access Authority and e-NC Authority from 2000 to 2012.

"I'm confident that our new officers, including Drew Clark, Jason Whittet, Frank Odasz and Eric Ogle, will help to continue to enhance the voice of rural America on issues of better broadband," she said.

Jane Smith Patterson, Immediate Past President, Rural Telecommunications Congress
Jane Smith Patterson, Immediate Past President, Rural Telecommunications Congress

The RTC's roots date back more than 15 years, when a group of concerned citizens, local and state government officials, consultants, and others met under the aegis of the Aspen Institute in Colorado to discuss how the western states could benefit from the utilization of high speed broadband services.

The RTC has been the voice of rural America concerning broadband since 2002. Since then RTC has hosted events in locales including Des Moines, Iowa; Spokane, Washington; Lexington, Kentucky; Little Rock, Arkansas; Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont; and Springfield, Illinois. These events have showcased the importance of a strong broadband infrastructure to eliminate the digital divide, enhance the quality of life in rural America and encourage broadband adoption and education in rural America.

“The country’s economy and quality of life is enhanced with a strong an essential infrastructure to connect us all in a digital world,” said Keith Montgomery, former Vice President.  “RTC has been a strong voice for broadband adoption and education.”

Beginning in 2010, the RTC has been in a partnership with Broadband Communities Magazine and the Broadband Communities Summit to co-host the Rural Telecommunications Congress at its annual event held in Dallas and now Austin.

“I want to congratulate the newly elected slate on their leadership role with the RTC,” said Hilda Legg, former Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Vice Chairman of Broadband Communities Magazine. “I have observed this entity for 15 years: The hard work and energetic efforts has created one of the most significant organizations for deploying broadband in rural America.”

“The RTC can have an indelible mark on the rural communities and families through its advocacy, education and vigilant support toward the goal that every rural resident will have access to high-speed broadband connectivity,” said Legg.

At the Broadband Communities Summit in Austin this week, the RTC program of panels, seminars and plenary events was interspersed throughout the three-day conference.

The presentations, discussions and face to face encounters with the best and brightest technologists, policy advocates, and policy makers from all levels of government, armed attendees with today’s best practices in building capacity and adoption.

Besides the newly-elected officers, the other members of the RTC Board include:

  • Monica Lynn Babine, Kirland, Washington
  • Michael Curri, Ontario, Canada
  • Chris Janson, Newburyport, Massachusetts
  • Keith Montgomery, Northern Virginia
  • Joel Mulder, St. Charles, Illinois
  • Frank Ohrtman, Denver, Colorado
  • Galen Updike, Mesa, Arizona

About RTC

The mission of the Rural Telecommunications Congress is to facilitate the development of a reliable and sustainable rural broadband ecosystem to ensure a strong future for rural America. Incorporated in Tennessee, the RTC operates as a non-profit organization and has an application for 501(c)(3) status pending with the Internal Revenue Service. For more information, visit




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