Our Leadership Team

Deb Socia

Deb Socia

Executive Director

@dsocia

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

@communitynets

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.

Cat Blake

Cat Blake

Policy and Program Manager

@cat_hannah_b

Cat developed a passion for broadband policy and digital equity at the University of Virginia, where she earned a B.A. in Media Studies. At Next Century Cities, she supports members through policy research, event planning, resource creation, membership management, and more. Cat’s goal is to ensure that all Next Century Cities members have the tools and information they need to bring fast, affordable, reliable broadband to their constituents.

Leigh Crenshaw-Player

Leigh Crenshaw-Player

Development Manager

@iamLeighCP

Leigh brings more than 10 years of experience in the nonprofit and for profit sectors to her work at Next Century Cities. Prior to joining the NCC team, she served as the Director of Consulting at Elevate, a DC-based nonprofit services firm. At Elevate, she led a team of 12 fundraising professionals serving diverse nonprofits with budgets ranging from $250,000 to more than $25 million annually, while helping the firm develop new systems to support the recruitment and professional development of managers. During her career she has raised nearly $30 million for nonprofits, with a focus on grassroots advocacy and systemic change.

Leigh recently re-entered the social sector after serving as a paralegal at Delaney McKinney, LLP. Outside of NCC, she gives back to the community by producing shows, performing stand up and improv comedy, and partnering with organizations in need of strategic guidance. She is currently pursuing her coaching certification through the Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy as part of her mission to support the liberation of LGBTQUIA+, low-income, and of-color people. Her most recent project is a podcast, Unconvenient Truth, an audio playground for curious nerds that love Black queer culture. Leigh is a graduate of Bradley University and holds a B.A. in Communications with a focus on Radio and Television production.
Jessica Del Fiacco

Jessica Del Fiacco

Communications Specialist

@jessdelfiacco

Jessica splits her time as a communications specialist between Next Century Cities and one of their partner organizations, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She received a B.A. in geography from Macalester College, where she focused on rural economic development. In her position with Next Century Cities, Jessica manages press outreach and social media strategy. She also assists with member communications, event coordination, and other projects.

Our Advisory Board

Our Advisory Board is comprised of seven local leaders from member communities across the country. The Board offers valuable guidance on issues relating to Next Century Cities policies. Find our full Advisory Board here.