Alumni Spotlight is pleased to announce The Top 50 University Alumni in the Telecommunications and Media Industries of 2022. Big trends shaping the industry, from more competitive broadband markets to cybersecurity in the 5G era, have given new opportunities and challenges within the field. This year’s awardees have thrived in their roles and have confronted those challenges head-on. Their dedication is shifting how their respective organizations operate all while undergoing digital transformations.
Among this year’s awardees are Tim Spillane, Senior Vice President of Univision Communications, who has developed and implemented strategies to secure distribution of networks across hundreds of millions of subscribers; Adam Ostrow, Chief Digital Officer of TEGNA, who is responsible for driving transformation and growth across digital consumer experiences for more than 100 million people each month; and Chris Levendos, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Crown Castle, who works alongside his teams to build and maintain the infrastructure behind the world’s most revolutionary technologies.
We acknowledge these individuals for their expertise and commitment to the complex and diverse field. Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 University Alumni in the Telecommunications and Media Industries of 2022.
1. Conal Byrne
Chief Executive Officer, iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group
Conal Byrne is the Chief Executive Officer of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. In his roles, Byrne leads the digital media segment for iHeartMedia, overseeing all digital products and properties for the largest audio company in the United States. Byrne first joined the company in 2018 when he served as the president of iHeartPodcast Network, overseeing all content, strategy, and operations for the biggest podcast network in the world.
Byrne first got his start in 2009 as a VP of digital media at Discovery Inc before eventually rising to become the president and CEO at HowStuffWorks, his most recent position prior to joining iHeartMedia. Byrne graduated from Columbia University in the City of New York with a master’s degree in literature and from Georgetown University with an undergraduate degree in English.
2. David Steinberg
Executive Vice President, Sony Pictures Entertainment
University of California, Los Angeles
David Steinberg is an Executive Vice President of Sony Pictures Entertainment. He first joined the company in 2009. Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Group Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; digital content creation and distribution; worldwide channel investments; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services, and technologies; and distribution of filmed entertainment in more than 130 countries.
Previously, Steinberg was a VP of business affairs and legal at Paramount Vantage and before that, a VP of legal affairs at Columbia Pictures. Earlier in his career he worked with Hill Wynne Troop and Meisinger as an associate. Steinberg earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and an undergraduate degree in economics and international studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.
3. Tim Spillane
Senior Vice President, Univision Communications
University of California, Santa Barbara
Tim Spillane is a Senior Vice President of Univision Communications. He first joined the company in 2000. Univision Communications is the leading Hispanic media company in the U.S. It entertains, informs, and empowers U.S. Hispanics with news, sports, and entertainment content across broadcast and cable television, audio, and digital platforms. The company’s top-rated media portfolio includes the Univision and UniMás broadcast networks, as well as 10 cable networks including Galavisión and TUDN, the No. 1 Spanish-language sports network in the country. Locally, Univision owns or operates 61 television stations in major Hispanic markets across the United States. The company’s prominent digital assets include Univision.com, streaming service Univision Now, the largest Hispanic influencer network and several top-rated apps. Spillane has nearly thirty years of experience in the television distribution business.
Previously, Spillane was a regional sales manager at Fox News Channel and before that, an account executive at Turner Network Sales Inc. He earned an undergraduate degree in communication and media studies from UC Santa Barbara.
4. John Dwyer
President, Cricket Wireless & AT&T Prepaid
University of Chicago
John Dwyer began his professional career 26 years ago. Today, he is the President of Cricket Wireless. Dwyer leads the nationwide prepaid business for AT&T consisting of the Cricket Wireless business as well as the AT&T Prepaid brand.
Dwyer has spent the past 22 years with AT&T in various roles including SVP of customer experience, VP of customer service, and GM of the Pacific Northwest. Dwyer first got his start in 1996 as a director of marketing and ED operations at Pacific Bell Mobile Services. He graduated from the University of Chicago with an MBA in finance and from Wisconsin School of Business with an undergraduate degree in marketing.
7. Meherwan Polad
Chief Commercial Officer of Global Mobility, Viasat
University of California, Davis
Meherwan Polad is the Chief Commercial Officer of Global Mobility for Viasat, a communications company that provides networking systems and satellite broadband services for the defense and aviation sectors. Viasat is building the ultimate communications network, to enable great, global connectivity to homes all over the world. Polad has 28 years of experience. He began his career in 1993.
Prior to his current role, Polad held various positions with Viasat including senior systems engineer, senior director of business development, and VP of global sales. Polad graduated from the University of California, Davis with an MS in electrical engineering and from Brown University with an undergraduate degree in engineering and economics.
9. Chris Levendos
EVP & Chief Operating Officer of Network, Crown Castle
New York University
Chris Levendos began his professional career 33 years ago. Today, he is an Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Network at Crown Castle. Since 1994, Crown Castle has worked around the country to build and maintain the infrastructure behind the world’s most revolutionary technologies. This comprehensive portfolio of towers, small cells, and fiber gives people and communities access to essential data, technology, and wireless service and opens the door to countless opportunities and possibilities. Crown Castle continues to work closely with wireless carriers, businesses, technology companies, governments, and communities to make sure these transformative ideas and innovations find their way to the people who rely on them.
Levendos first got his start in 1989 as a field technician at Verizon. From there, he went on to Google before eventually rising to become an EVP of field operations at Frontier Communications, his most recent position prior to joining Crown Castle. Levendos graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with an MS in telecommunications management, from New York University with an MS in urban planning, and from State University of New York College at Plattsburgh with an undergraduate degree in history.
10. Paul Choiseul
VP & CTO, American Tower
Paul Choiseul is a Vice President of Innovation, Transport and Networking, and Chief Technology Officer at American Tower. He first joined the company in 2014. American Tower is a Fortune 500, S&P 500 and Forbes Global 2000 company that provides the infrastructure for modern digital communications. Starting in 1995 with 2,700 towers, its global portfolio today includes over 220,000 owned or managed sites around the globe. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, the company has operations throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Previously, Choiseul was a CTO at Cima Telecom and before that, a technology manager at Digitas, LLC. Earlier in his career he worked with NEC America as a manager of information systems. Choiseul earned an MS in computer science from Boston University and an undergraduate degree in management information systems from Florida International University.
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14. Phill Amaya
Vice President, Infinera
University of Colorado Boulder
Phill Amaya began his professional career 27 years ago. Today, he is the Vice President of Infinera, a global supplier of innovative networking solutions that enable enterprises, governments, carriers, and cloud operators to scale network bandwidth, accelerate service innovation, and automate network operations. The Infinera end-to-end packet optical portfolio delivers industry-leading economics and performance in long-haul, submarine, data center interconnect, and metro transport applications.
Amaya first got his start in 1995 as a VP and GM at SDL, Inc. From there, he went on to JDSU, before eventually rising to become the VP of global fab operations at Lumentum where he was responsible for the leadership and integrated performance of the company’s owned wafer fabs in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Amaya graduated from UC Irvine with an MBA and from the University of Colorado Boulder with an undergraduate degree in engineering physics.
15. Terri Burrier Natoli
Associate Bureau Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission
George Washington University
Terri Burrier Natoli is the Associate Bureau Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) at the Federal Communications Commission. She rejoined the agency in 2016 as Deputy Chief of WCB’s Competition Policy Division and in 2018 was promoted to the Office of the Bureau Chief. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.
Natoli has over 43 years of experience in the communications regulatory and policy field, starting her career with Sprint’s predecessor company, SPCC, which was later acquired by GTE where she held regulatory positions for over fifteen years before leaving to enter private law practice and representing a diverse base of telecom, satellite, and wireless clients. She has held corporate vice president positions for Time Warner Cable, a major MSO that was subsequently acquired by Charter; Clearwire, a facilities-based wireless broadband provider; and Teligent, a fixed-wireless competitive LEC and ISP. She joined the FCC for the first time in 2002 spending more than three years in the Competition Policy Division, where she last served as Acting Division Chief. Natoli earned a JD with Distinction from George Mason University Law School, an Masters of Science in telecommunications from George Washington University, and an undergraduate degree in economics, summa cum laude, from Trinity College, Washington, DC. Natoli is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a 2011 recipient of a Women in Cable & Telecommunications Touchstones of Leadership Award.
16. Adam Ostrow
Chief Digital Officer, TEGNA
University of Maryland
Adam Ostrow is the Chief Digital Officer at TEGNA, which operates a portfolio of broadcast television stations and digital properties in 51 local markets in the U.S. In his role, Ostrow leads an organization responsible for driving transformation and growth across TEGNA’s digital consumer experiences, which are accessed by more than 100 million people each month through the station's websites, mobile apps, and OTT channels. He oversees the company’s digital content, product development, and partnership teams, which are responsible for local/national storytelling, social media, web/app development and UX, and relationships with key platform partners including Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. He also oversees the Locked On Podcast Network and VERIFY businesses within TEGNA, and is a member of the internal committee that makes investments and forms commercial relationships with emerging startups.
Prior to joining TEGNA, Ostrow was chief strategy officer at Mashable (acquired by Ziff Davis), where he led the development of the company's video offerings, branded content studio, international expansion, ecommerce business, and strategic partnerships. He also worked closely with the CEO and CFO in raising $46 million in capital and served on the company's board of directors. Ostrow joined Mashable as its second employee and editor in chief in 2007, a role in which he directed day-to-day news coverage, authored more than 2,500 articles, and built and managed the editorial team. Ostrow is a graduate of the University of Maryland, where he earned an undergraduate degree in journalism.
20. Joel Daniels
Deputy Chief Information Officer, Universal Service Administrative Co.
Joel Daniels is the Deputy Chief Information Officer of Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), a company that is dedicated to achieving universal service. The principle suggests that everyone in the United States deserves accessible, affordable, and pervasive high-speed connectivity. USAC helps communities across the country to stay connected, schools to better educate, libraries to better serve the public, and health care providers to reach more patients. With the guidance of policy created by the FCC, it collects and delivers funding through four programs focused on places where broadband and connectivity needs are critical. These programs serve people in rural, underserved, and difficult-to-reach areas. Daniels is responsible for enterprise architecture, application design, development, support, and delivery of software platforms across four major Universal Service Programs.
Before joining Universal Service Administrative Company, Daniels was a CIO and VP of information technology at UDP, Inc. and before that, a senior manager of information technology at KPMG Consulting. Earlier in his career he worked with ICG Communications as a VP of systems implementation, customer care and billing IT. Daniels graduated from Misericordia University with an undergraduate degree in accounting.
22. Jessie Agostino
SVP & Chief Financial Officer, Schurz Communications
University of Notre Dame
Jessie Agostino began his professional career 33 years ago. Today, he is a Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Schurz Communications, a news and information company that consists of broadband, newspaper publishing and digital media operations. Reporting to the CEO, Agostino works closely with the board of directors and the management team to further Schurz' business strategies. He is responsible for the company's credit relations and overall financial structure, including accounting, treasury, finance, tax, internal controls, and related compliance. As CFO and a key member of the executive team, he partners with the CEO, Schurz executives, and the operating company executives to determine the company's strategic direction and also leads a broad scope of financial and operating activities.
Agostino first got his start in 1989 as a staff auditor of tax at Crowe Chizek. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with an MBA and an undergraduate degree in accounting.
23. Leo MacCourtney
President & CEO, Katz Television Group
University of Notre Dame
Leo MacCourtney is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Katz Television Group. Katz Media Group is the largest media representation company in the United States. With the on-air and digital assets of more than 3,000 radio stations and 700 television stations, Katz Media Group provides advertisers and agencies one point of access to over 200 million active consumers across the country. They specialize in providing locally relevant solutions for national marketers that resonate with consumers where they live.
Previously, MacCourtney was a president and CEO at Blair Television. He earned an undergraduate degree in business administration and management from the University of Notre Dame.
25. Maura Mahoney
Chief Marketing Officer, FirstLight Fiber
Maura Mahoney is the Chief Marketing Officer of FirstLight Fiber, a fiber-based company with networks and people all throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. It provides service to enterprise and carrier customers in six states using its high-capacity, low-latency fiber optic network, data centers, and full suite of managed security, cloud, and IT services. FirstLight Fiber prides itself on providing reliable, dedicated connectivity, along with a suite of comprehensive services to bring organization's IT strategy to life. Mahoney has over 20 years of experience developing and implementing successful strategies for companies in the communications industry.
Mahoney first got her start in 1989 as a marketing manager at NYNEX. From there, she went on to Priority Call Management/SEMA Group, before eventually rising to become a VP of marketing and business development at Sidera Networks, her most recent position prior to joining FirstLight Fiber. Mahoney graduated from Boston University with an MBA in business administration and management and from Bentley University with an undergraduate degree in finance.
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27. Amir Kashfi
President, Valor International
Penn State University
Amir Kashfi is the President of Valor International. He first joined the company in 2003 and has been committed to its success ever since. Valor International is an innovative industry leader that provides a variety of services from manufacturing certified refurbished devices, to performing inventory management and product procurement for our customers. Partnering with Valor International enables businesses to increase profits and grow market share. A true entrepreneur at heart, Kashfi leverages technology to drive efficiency and productivity to its fullest.
As President of Valor International, Kashfi is dedicated to keeping up with the ever-changing and developing wireless industry and committed to staying ahead of the curve. Prior to joining Valor International, Kashfi was the director of marketing and general manager for TDF Group. He graduated from Penn State University with an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering.
31. Ahmadreza Rofougaran
Founder & Chief Technical Officer, Movandi
University of California, Los Angeles
Ahmadreza Rofougaran is the Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Movandi. He founded the company in 2016. Movandi is a leader in 5G millimeter wave technology. It designs and develops deep semiconductor technology powering 5G and beyond interconnecting their world and enabling AI applications across multiple industries. Movandi solves the difficult 5G technology, cost and operational issues with patented semiconductor, smart relays, intelligent software, and system architectures. Movandi is disrupting 5G by using a radically different approach that is yielding tremendous benefits over existing networks.
Previously, Rofougaran was an SVP of engineering at Broadcom Inc. and before that, he founded Innovent Systems where he served as the CTO. Earlier in his career he worked with TriQuint Semiconductor (now Qorvo, Inc.) as a senior engineer. Rofougaran earned a PhD, an MS, and an undergraduate degree in electrical and electronics engineering, all from the University of California, Los Angeles.
33. Bruce Crair
SVP & General Manager, Boingo Wireless
University of California, Berkeley
Bruce Crair began his professional career 38 years ago. Today, he is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Boingo Wireless, the world's leading Wi-Fi software and services provider, making it easy, convenient, and cost-effective for people to enjoy Wi-Fi access on their laptop or mobile device at more than 325,000 hotspots worldwide. With a single account, Boingo users can access the mobile Internet via Boingo Network locations that include the top airports around the world, major hotel chains, cafes, and coffee shops, restaurants, convention centers, and metropolitan hot zones.
In 1985 Crair served as the president of Sprint PCS. From there, he went on to eVoice before eventually rising to become president and COO at Local.com Corporation, his most recent position prior to joining Boingo Wireless. Crair graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with an MBA in corporate strategy and from United States Naval Academy with an undergraduate degree in physics.
36. Art Fallon
President, Fallon Communications
The Ohio State University
Art Fallon is the President of Fallon Communications. Founded in 1981, Fallon Communications is a leading provider of call center services for emergency response, telephone receptionist, customer/employee hotline, automated voice, marketing support, customer service support, and telephone answering services. Fallon has over 41 years of experience. Fallon graduated from The Ohio State University with an undergraduate degree in computer and information science.
38. Betsy Henderson
Chief Strategy Officer, Radio Free Asia
Betsy Henderson began her professional career 35 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Strategy Officer of Radio Free Asia, a private, nonprofit news corporation informing audiences living in places with few alternatives to state-controlled and -influenced media through uncensored, in-depth journalism. RFA broadcasts in nine Asian languages including Mandarin, Tibetan, Burmese, Vietnamese, Korean, Lao, Khmer, Cantonese, and Uyghur. RFA also operates websites carrying original news content in nine Asian languages, plus English, and several additional dialects.
Henderson first got her start in 1987 as a newswoman at The Associated Press. She graduated from Stanford University with a master’s degree in East Asian studies, from Columbia University with an MS in journalism, and from the University of Michigan with an undergraduate degree in political science.
39. Ariel Roblin
President & General Manager, KCRA 3 / My58 of Hearst Television
University of Miami
Ariel Roblin began as President and General Manager of KCRA 3 / My58, a Hearst Television Station, on July 1, 2020. Her and her team’s passion for community engagement and support for those in need is what drives the success of the television stations she leads. In 2020, KCRA and My58 held fundraisers generating over a million dollars to help survivors of the California Wildfires rebuild. The community focused work of KCRA / My58 was recognized internationally with a Communicator Award for documentary work (2021), nationally with 3 Promax gold awards for promotional work (2020 and 2021), and regionally with multiple Regional Emmy Awards, including Overall Excellence.
Prior to her move to Sacramento, she served as the president and GM of KETV for 10 years. During her tenure at KETV, they earned multiple awards, including two National Edward R. Murrow Awards, and several Regional Emmy Awards. Most notable was the Edward R Murrow Award for Overall Excellence. In 2015, Ariel and Hearst Television leadership led the charge to revitalize the 117-year-old Historic Burlington Train Station after 40 years of vacancy, transforming it into a new home for KETV NewsWatch 7. This project earned several national and local awards, including the 2016 Nebraska Preservation Award. With a strong emphasis on community improvement, Ariel has served as a board member for numerous projects and committees. Currently she serves on the California Broadcasters Board, California Chamber of Commerce, and The Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, and the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition. She has experienced a well-rounded career that began in Miami, FL (WAMI-TV) and has taken her across the country to places like Dayton, OH (WRGT-WKEF), Honolulu, HI (KGBM), Chico-Redding, CA (KRCR) and Eureka, CA (KAEF.), Omaha, Nebraska (KETV) and Sacramento (KCRA/My58). Prior to becoming President and General Manager she held positions in legal, production, creative services, programming, and sales.
40. Reab Berry
Chief Information Officer, Morris Communications
Georgia Institute of Technology
Reab Berry is the Chief Information Officer of Morris Communications. He first joined the company in 2003 as an information technology director. Morris Communications is a privately held media company with diversified holdings that include newspaper and magazine publishing, outdoor advertising, radio broadcasting, book publishing and distribution, visitor publications and a variety of online services. With the business footprint rapidly changing at Morris following the sale of their newspaper division in 2017, Berry was asked to transition from leading business and digital strategy in one of our divisions into the role of CIO for the entire organization. In a very short timeframe, the team was able to transform the technology landscape to more closely align with a much smaller and more nimble organization.
Berry earned an MBA from Emory University - Goizueta Business School and an undergraduate degree in building construction from Georgia Institute of Technology.
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43. Todd Sperry
VP & Executive Editor, NFL Media
The University of Texas at Austin
Todd Sperry is a Vice President and Executive Editor of NFL Media. NFL Media's team of engineers produce creative content, overseeing the league's presence online and on mobile devices. NFL digital products see 100’s of millions of users worldwide and their mobile applications are installed on 10’s of millions of devices. Sperry has 30 years of experience. He began his career in 1992.
Before joining NFL Media, Sperry was a senior producer at CNN and before that a control room technical director and producer at Prime Sports Group. Earlier in his career he worked with CBS Radio as a field and studio producer. Sperry graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with an undergraduate degree in radio television film.
46. Calvin Harrison
President of Video Quality and Analytics, Telestream
The University of Texas at Austin
Calvin Harrison is the President of Video Quality and Analytics at Telestream. He first joined the company in 2017. For nearly 25 years, Telestream has been at the forefront of innovation in the digital video industry. The company develops products for media processing and workflow orchestration, live capture, streaming, production, video quality assurance, virtual events and video hosting, content management, and video and audio test solutions. Available on premises or in the cloud as well as in hybrid combinations, Telestream solutions make it possible to reliably get video content to any audience, regardless of how it is created, distributed or viewed.
Harrison is responsible for the integration of IneoQuest into a standalone business unit of Telestream Inc. He previously served as acting VP of sales and engineering for the business unit while managing synergy transition and delivering record earnings. He is currently responsible for the P&L, product strategy, and engineering development. Previously, Harrison was a president and CEO at IneoQuest Technologies and before that, an operations manager at Freescale Semiconductor. Earlier in his career he worked with Zilog as a director of strategic development. Harrison earned an MBA in business and an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.
47. Dave Isenberg
Chief Executive Officer, Opensignal
Dave Isenberg began his professional career 26 years ago. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer of Opensignal, the leading global provider of independent insights and data integrating network experience and market performance across converged, wireless, and broadband operators. Its customer-centric holistic approach allows communication providers to improve their network and maximize commercial performance.
Isenberg first got his start in 1996 as a director of product development of high-speed internet at Continental Cablevision. From there, he went on to Engage before eventually rising to become a chief customer officer at Comlinkdata, his most recent position prior to joining Comlinkdata. Isenberg graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA and from Yale University with an undergraduate degree in history.
View the complete list of awardees.