Our Leadership Team
Previously the Vice President of Policy and General Counsel for the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Francella is a digital rights advocate who is committed to expanding access for unserved and underserved communities. Francella has worked on a variety of technology and telecommunications issues with a specific focus on assessing the impact of policy proposals on marginalized communities. Having worked for more than a decade with government and public interest organizations, she understands the challenges associated with getting various stakeholders to agree on connectivity solutions. Francella helps policymakers and lawmakers understand how broadband access can change socioeconomic outcomes and revitalize communities. It motivates her work to ensure that state and local leaders are given every opportunity to resolve their own connectivity issues and have a voice in shaping federal policies.
Francella is based in Washington, DC and is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. She earned a B.S. in Marketing from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland and a J.D. from John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois.
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, Chris 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.
Senior Program Manager
At Next Century Cities, Cat supports local leaders with the tools and information they need to bring fast, affordable, reliable broadband to their constituents. Specifically, she researches and writes policy briefs, profiles of successful broadband projects, and the Weekly Download newsletter. Cat has testified before municipal councils on the benefits of dig once policies and proactive small cell deployment ordinances. Recently, she helped lead the development of the Becoming Broadband Ready toolkit, a resource for local leaders to encourage broadband investment in their communities. Cat received a B.A. in Media Studies from the University of Virginia.
Jessica Del Fiacco
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.
Over the course of 12 years as a nonprofit professional, Abbie has proven success in fundraising, event management, financial planning, and database administration primarily for tech-focused nonprofits: from advocacy organizations to capacity builders to workforce development. She has overseen corporate and foundation giving, and launched and managed major donor programs, securing multiple five- and six-figure gifts from all three verticals. Abbie is a recipient of Georgetown University’s Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate, and has earned her Master of Public Administration from George Mason University, Master of Philosophy from American University, and Bachelor of Philosophy from Mount Saint Mary’s University. She is a lifelong resident of the Washington, DC area.
Our Advisory Board
Our Advisory Board is comprised of seven policy leaders from member communities and organizations across the country. The Board offers valuable guidance on issues relating to Next Century Cities policies. Find our full Advisory Board here.