First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) President TJ Kennedy plans to leave the organization at the end of this year, the authority announced today. “After more than four years with FirstNet, TJ Kennedy has decided the time is right to pursue other opportunities in the private sector and take on new challenges in his career,” FirstNet said. “He has been with FirstNet from the startup days and into our current operational phase – fulfilling his promise to us and to public safety. TJ will be staying with FirstNet through the end of the year enabling a smooth transition of responsibilities.”
Mr. Kennedy was hired by FirstNet in 2013 as deputy general manager (TR Daily, July 31, 2013), joining the organization from the Raytheon Company, where he was an executive after a career in public safety. He served as acting GM and then acting executive director, the new title for the top staffer job, after the departure of Bill D’Agostino Jr. (TR Daily, April 14, 2014), and was hired as FirstNet’s first president in 2015 when Mike Poth was hired to the newly named post of chief executive officer (TR Daily, Aug. 17, 2015). Mr. Kennedy had sought the top job permanently.
Mr. Kennedy told TR Daily late this afternoon that he hasn’t made any announcement about where he is going next, adding that he is working on the transition for his departure.
Asked whether he planned to join AT&T, Inc., FirstNet’s network partner, as some former FirstNet state points of contact (SPOCs) and other state officials have done, he replied, “Not at all on my radar screen.”
“I feel it’s a good time,” he said of leaving FirstNet, noting the progress that it has made on its strategic road map and the fact that AT&T is now moving to build out the nationwide public safety network in a growing number of opt-in states and territories. “We’ve built a very smart team … and that team is now executing the operational phase,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Asked if he expected someone to be hired for his position, he said it would not be a “one-for-one replacement.”
Asked whether FirstNet would fill the president’s position, a FirstNet spokesman told TR Daily, “We’ll consider the needs of public safety and the FirstNet organization as we go forward. The organization will always continue to recruit, hire and retain the best talent to help FirstNet meet its mission goals for public safety.”
Mr. Kennedy was asked how he and Mr. Poth got along. “It’s not a personal thing,” he said, adding that he plans to “really advocate for public safety from the private sector side.”
“TJ will be missed,” said Andy Seybold, a wireless industry consultant and public safety advocate, adding that “the public safety community has come to trust him, which is special since they are generally not prone to welcome newcomers, but TJ earned their respect.”
In a statement, Chris Sambar, AT&T’s senior vice president–FirstNet, said, “It’s been a pleasure working with Mr. Kennedy to develop the first nationwide network for first responders. He is a tremendous visionary, partner and advocate for public safety in America. We sincerely thank him for his service and wish him the best of luck.” —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org