VCUDA elects de Villiers new president

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VCUDA elects de Villiers new president

Tue, 01/17/2023 - 10:06am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Communications Union Districts Association (VCUDA) has elected new officers:

  • President: Ellie de Villiers, Maple Broadband
  • Vice President: Jonathan Baker, NEK Broadband
  • Treasurer & Secretary: F. X. Flinn, ECFiber

VCUDA consists of nine Communications Union Districts (CUDs), regional municipalities that have formed in Vermont to provide world-class broadband to unserved and underserved addresses in Vermont. Modeled on the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, VCUDA formed in November 2020.

Addison County native de Villiers steps into VCUDA leadership with deep experience in telecommunications, strategy, and policy. de Villiers received an MBA from Babson College before moving to South Africa in 2010, where she spent the better part of a decade working in telecommunications. While in South Africa, de Villiers volunteered as chair of the largest trade association in the telecommunications industry for a year, and as its treasurer and head of regulatory affairs for another two. She worked for a multi-national fiber operator leading its affordable access initiatives. 

“I am excited to bring my background in telecommunications and experience leading a trade association to VCUDA,” said de Villiers. “The next few years will be pivotal for the success of community-driven broadband in Vermont, and VCUDA plays a critical role. VCUDA facilitates collaboration between CUDs and is the platform which allows CUDs to speak with a single voice on relevant public policy matters. VCUDA also serves to amplify the public broadband mission of the CUDs.”

Danville resident Baker is a founding member of the executive committee of the state's largest and most rural CUD, NEK Broadband. He provided input to the legislature during the passing of Act 71. He brings over 16 years in software development to create tools that help solve broadband access and affordability challenges.

"The mission of the CUDs is to give Vermonters a say in how they are treated by their broadband provider," said Jonathan. "The national telcos had their chance over the past 20 years and they failed. Massively. Now, it’s time for our CUDs to step in and help those who have been left behind. VCUDA is here to drive that message home: Everyone deserves to be connected, no matter where they live, and that connection must be affordable. We're here to make sure Vermonters' broadband tax dollars stay in our state and build affordable community-owned fiber to every home on the grid.”

VCUDA would like to thank outgoing President F. X. Flinn for his service and commitment to broadband in Vermont, including his role as the driving force behind the formation of VCUDA. Flinn reflected on the history of VCUDA, “The pandemic hit just as I retired, and I was grateful to be in a position to devote far more of my time as chair of ECFiber's governing board to starting VCUDA and serving as its first President.” He continued, “It's important for the CUDs to have a leader who is from one of the new districts because that's where the policy action is right now, and my position with ECFiber, which has been a CUD since long before COVID and which has thousands of miles of network and customers, is entering a new phase of its development that requires even more of my time and attention. VCUDA is central to achieving the state's goal of bringing world-class broadband to all on-grid premises in the state -- the goal first enunciated by ECFiber at its creation in 2008.” 

This is an exciting time for VCUDA and the CUDs. Many of the CUDs are actively building out networks and connecting homes that have previously lacked broadband or been woefully underserved. The incoming leadership team will focus on collaboration between CUDs and with the Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB), identifying and working to solve issues encountered by multiple CUDs, development of best practices where needed, and collaboration with other groups with similar goals.

About Vermont Communications Union Districts Association (VCUDA):

VCUDA consists of the nine CUD municipalities that have formed in Vermont and is modeled on the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. VCUDA is a forum for CUDs to exchange ideas, seek opportunities, and develop programs for the mutual benefit of the districts.

1.17.2023. Vermont Communications Union Districts Association