Our Leadership Team

Deb Socia

Deb Socia

Executive Director


Prior to her role as the Executive Director of Next Century Cities, Deb was the Executive Director of the Tech Goes Home program whose mission is to ensure digital equity. Previously, Deb spent 32 years as an educator and administrator. She was the founding principal of the award winning Lilla G. Frederick Middle School, a Boston Public School where she led the one-to-one laptop initiative. Deb has been the recipient of many awards for her work, including recognition as the NATOA Community Broadband Hero in 2013, the 2013 Pathfinder Award from MassCUE (Mass Computer Using Educators), and the 2010 Leadership and Vision award from CRSTE (Capitol Region Society for Technology in Education).

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

Policy Director


In addition to his role at Next Century Cities Chris serves as the Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis. Chris is a leading national expert on community networks and speaks at conferences across the United States on telecommunications policy. He runs the online clearinghouse of information about community broadband, MuniNetworks.org. In 2011, Chis released the Community Broadband Map, a comprehensive map of community owned networks. He was honored as one of the 2012 Top 25 in Public Sector Technology by Government Technology, which honors the top “Doers, Drivers, and Dreamers” in the nation each year. That same year, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors named ILSR the Broadband Organization of the Year.

Katie Watson

Katie Watson

Policy and Program Manager


Katie worked previously as a Google Public Policy Fellow at New America’s Open Technology Institute where she assisted in writing comments to the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She also served as a Policy Analyst Intern at the Benton Foundation where she published a paper on Data Caps and Vulnerable Populations. At Next Century Cities, Katie has been responsible for the research, coordination, and creation of several assets, including the Guide to Pole Attachments and fact sheets on One Touch Make Ready, Small Cells, and the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order.

Katie received her B.A. from the University of Virginia, where she majored in both Foreign Affairs and Media Studies with a concentration in Media Policy and Ethics.

Our Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board is comprised of eight mayors from member communities across the country. The Board offers valuable guidance on issues relating to Next Century Cities policies.

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