Our Leadership Team

Francella Ochillo

Francella Ochillo

Executive Director

francella@nextcenturycities.org

Twitter: @franochillo

Francella’s vision for Next Century Cities is simple – elevate the voices of local officials who are working to expand high-speed connectivity. An attorney and digital rights advocate, Francella has worked on a variety of technology and telecommunications issues with a specific focus on assessing the impact of policy proposals on unserved and underserved communities. Breaking through to various audiences in keynote presentations, government agency filings, podcasts, and news outlets like Axios or The Washington Post, Francella helps policymakers and lawmakers recognize the importance of ubiquitous broadband. She is committed to creating opportunities for local leaders to participate in a national dialogue about how to connect every resident in every community. 

A member of the District of Columbia Bar and Federal Communications Bar Association, Francella serves on the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee and served on the 2020 Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s Disaster Response and Recovery Working Group. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, and her Juris Doctor from UIC John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois.

Learn more about Francella and her favorite cities here.

Brittany-Rae Gregory

Brittany-Rae Gregory

Communications Director

brittany-rae@nextcenturycities.org

Brittany-Rae is a communications expert with a passion for using storytelling, research, and advocacy to address issues plaguing urban communities. As Communications Director, Brittany-Rae fields all media requests and communications-related inquiries. In addition to managing external communications and providing support for member programming, she creates monthly newsletter and bi-weekly bulletins to keep NCC members and supporters abreast of developments in the broadband landscape. A long-time advocate of minority-serving institutions, Brittany-Rae has highlighted their role in addressing the nation’s digital divide, most recently in her piece in Blavity

Before joining the Next Century Cities team, Brittany-Rae served as a press secretary in the U.S. House of Representatives. Brittany-Rae has also held communications roles within the federal government, nonprofit organizations, corporate communications departments, and higher education. She previously taught in the communications departments at the University of Maryland and Howard University. 

Brittany-Rae completed her Ph.D. in Communications, Culture, and Media Studies at Howard University where she examined the intersection of urban development, community relations, and higher education. She received her M.S. in Mass Communications from Middle Tennessee State University and her B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Wellesley College. 

Learn more about Brittany-Rae and her favorite cities here.

Ryan Johnston

Ryan Johnston

Policy Counsel, Federal Programs

ryan@nextcenturycities.org

Ryan is responsible for NCC’s federal policy portfolio, building and maintaining relationships with Federal Commissions Commission officials, members of Congress and staff, and public interest allies. Working with various federal agencies, Ryan submits filings on behalf of NCC members on technology and telecommunications related issues that impact the digital divide such as broadband data mapping, benchmark speeds, spectrum policy, content moderation, privacy, and others.

In his latest report, Communities Responding to Natural Disasters Through Network Resilience, Ryan documents efforts undertaken by communities across the nation to neutralize threats and improve redundancies. His advocacy extends to broadband deployment issues, evidenced by a discussion that he moderated on the impacts of the Portland. v. FCC Ninth Circuit decision. Ryan works to document community-level perspectives into federal proceedings and educates local leaders, like those in the City of Detroit, about the impact that federal programs can have in their communities. 

Before coming to Next Century Cities, Ryan completed a legal fellowship with the Computer and Communications Industry Association. During his fellowship, Ryan focused on issues involving telecommunications, intellectual property, and data privacy. Additionally, he completed an internship with the Competition and Infrastructure Division of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission. He also interned with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 

A member of the Pennsylvania Bar, Ryan received his Juris Doctor from American University Washington College of Law where he served on the editorial board of the National Security Law Brief. He completed his undergraduate degree at Franklin & Marshall College where he studied Government and Business Management.

Learn more about Ryan and his favorite cities here.

Corian Zacher

Corian Zacher

Policy Counsel, State & Local Initiatives

corian@nextcenturycities.org

Twitter: @CorianZac

Corian Zacher’s portfolio focuses on supporting and elevating the many local and state leaders who work tirelessly to expand broadband access and adoption in their communities. Corian creates resources for our members, tracks state and local broadband policy initiatives, and collaborates with local leaders, identifying and elevating policy barriers and opportunities.

Before coming to NCC, Corian researched and worked on telecommunications policy issues at the University of Colorado Law School, where they earned their J.D. While at Colorado Law, Corian studied telecommunications law and policy, serving as Editor-in-Chief of the Colorado Technology Law Journal. In their student note, Paving the Road to Fiber, readers will learn about federal technology policy’s impact on local broadband deployment. 

Corian also has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Oklahoma State University.

Lukas Pietrzak

Lukas Pietrzak

Program Manager, Partnerships and Campaigns

lukas@nextcenturycities.org

Twitter: @Ltpietrzak

Lukas manages member relations, external partnerships, and campaigns for Next Century Cities. His work includes developing working relationships with partners across the country to elevate the work of the organization and local officials in its members. He seeks out new and innovative ways to elevate member stories while bringing local leaders together to develop solutions to their most pressing connectivity challenges. Lukas also provides subject matter expertise on digital redlining, community broadband networks, civic engagement, and more.

Lukas has helped address technology policy issues for the last three years as a student, research assistant, and policy fellow. A graduate of the University of Virginia, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies and conducted research on local government solutions to the digital divide. In May 2021, he graduated with a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University in May 2021. At Georgetown, Lukas delivered a lecture at TEDxGeorgetown about the history of municipal networks from electric grids to fiber-optic networks and published a thesis entitled “Washington, D.C.’s Homework Gap: Exploring the Relationship Between Connectivity and Student Success In District of Columbia Public Schools.”

Learn more about Lukas and his favorite cities here.

Medvis Jackson

Medvis Jackson

Researcher

medvis@nextcenturycities.org

The newest member of the New Century Cities team, Medvis Jackson is uncovering stories that highlight the impact of high-speed internet access in American cities. He is a social capital expert who specializes in connecting individual community members with critical resources. 

In addition to co-founding the music and technology content series, #TheDigilogue, his background in digital marketing, research and program management has, within two years, aided projects in Detroit to raise over $1.3 million of financial investment into local startups, as well as to administer over $50,000 of publicly-funded technical assistance to early-stage entrepreneurs. In his free time, he volunteers with brick-and-mortar business owners in Detroit’s Northwest side, helping them to strengthen their online presence and to access additional public resources.

Medvis completed his undergraduate studies at Colgate University and is an avid cricket player. 

Our Advisory Board

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