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Press Release -- February 14th, 2024
Source: ncta

NTCA Celebrates Talented, Dedicated and Innovative Excellence Award Winners

Tampa, Fla., (February 14, 2024)—During the 2024 RTIME, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association recognized 10 rural telecom leaders who have shown exceptional commitment to their communities and the broadband industry. 

The NTCA Excellence Awards recognize broadband providers who have exceeded expectations to support their customers and community members and to advance communications services in rural America. Winners are selected by the association’s Awards Committee comprising NTCA members. The 2023 NTCA Excellence Awards are sponsored by JSI and Mid America Computer Corporation. The awards ceremony can be viewed in full on the NTCA Facebook page. 

The rural telecommunications industry is home to thousands of talented, generous and accomplished individuals and today I am delighted to recognize some of the very best,said NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield.The 2023 Excellence Award winners exemplify the values of dedication, service and innovation in their work and communities. I want to congratulate and thank each of them for their contributions to our industry and their communities.” 

The winners of the 2023 Excellence Awards are:   

Associate Member Outstanding Achievement Award: Nancy White, vice president at National Cooperative Services Corporation (NCSC), for her more than 25 years of distinguished service to the rural broadband industry. White works with NTCA members across the country to support the building of fiber-to-the-home networks in rural communities and previously served as CEO of North Central Telephone Cooperative (Lafayette, Tenn.), and is the Chair of the Smart Rural Community Advisory Council. 

Community Outreach Award: Karla Krause, project coordinator at Lynxx Networks (Camp Douglas, Wis.), for establishing a Christmas “Giving Tree” program to provide gifts to local children in need. Krause started the program 16 years ago and works with staff at local schools to gather gift ideas for around 75 children per year. 

Heroism Award: Nikki Harless, accountant at RiverStreet Networks (Wilkesboro, N.C.), for her quick actions that helped save the life of one of her coworkers. Harless and her husband were driving and noticed a vehicle in a ditch on the side of the road. When they pulled over to investigate, she found a fellow RiverStreet employee unconscious and showing signs of distress. Harless called emergency services and her colleague’s spouse and also stayed with her colleague until assistance arrived. 

James L. Bass Director Life Achievement Award: David Redman, board president at RTC Communications (Montgomery, Ind.), for his 28 years of service at RTC. During his tenure, RTC set in motion an aggressive growth plan, and it has achieved record-breaking gains, including deploying nearly 1,000 miles of fiber, increasing top-line revenue from $6.8 million to $16 million, increasing internet subscribers by 400% in the last five years and more than doubling the number of employees in the last 10 years. He also served on the NTCA Awards Committee for 10 years and the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) board for five years. 

James L. Bass Manager Life Achievement Award: Gary Johnson, CEO of Paul Bunyan Communications (Bemidji, Minn.), for his 35 years at Paul Bunyan, working his way up from computer programmer to CEO. Johnson led the charge to develop Paul Bunyan’s all-fiber network and other initiatives including the Bemidji Technology Park, 218 Relocate program and GigaZone Gaming Championship and TechXpo. He has also served on several NTCA committees, the NISC Board, Calix Leadership Advisory Board as well as many local boards focused on healthcare and economic development. 

Key Employee Award: Jake Fostvedt, sales and service technician for Mosaic Technologies (Cameron, Wis.), for 17 years of service and hundreds of installations completed for customers. Fostvedt is known to spend extra time with customers, explaining how to use each product and practicing using the technology, which has led to customers requesting him by name. His work has helped establish Mosaic as a friendly, community-focused service provider within the communities it serves. 

Innovation Award: Leo Anderson, technology experience manager, and Brian Bissonette, marketing supervisor, for Paul Bunyan Communications (Bemidji, Minn.), for teaming up to create and lead the GigaZone Gaming Championship and TechXpo. The GigaZone event not only highlights Paul Bunyan’s all-fiber network, but it also brings innovation to the forefront in how it connects the cooperative to school-aged gamers by showing them that the potential for successful careers in tech exist at home. This past year, Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, was the keynote speaker, thanks in large part to Anderson and Bissonette’s outreach efforts. 

Innovation Award: Shawn Grosz, chief technology officer of SRT Communications (Minot, N.D.), for his work on 911 services in North Dakota. SRT was the pilot telecommunications company involved in deploying North Dakota’s first end-to-end Internet Protocol 911 service, paving the way for the state’s transition to Next Generation 911. This statewide IP-based system increased 911 service speed, flexibility, efficiency, and reliability for North Dakota citizens and first responders. 

Outstanding Marketing Achievement Award: Russell Kacer, president at YK Communications (Ganado, Texas), for his expertise, creativity and innovation in video marketing. YK has an entire video library of content about advocacy, reliability, storytelling, education and entertainment that speaks to customers, industry peers and local and national leaders. The company’s YouTube Channel has also reached 1 million minutes of video content viewed. 


About NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association 

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing over 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovative change in smart rural communities across America. In an era of transformative technological developments, regulatory challenges and marketplace competition, NTCA members are advancing efforts to close the digital divide by delivering robust and high-quality services over future-proof networks. Their commitment to building sustainable networks makes rural communities fertile ground for innovation in economic development, e-commerce, health care, agriculture and education, and it contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy each year. Visit us at 

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