Brian is the Chief Executive Officer for Lit and has previously worked as Director of Fiber Delivery at Byers Engineering in addition to creating the Network Design Practice Area at Foresite Group. Brian started out working in drafting and design at the Dothan Technology Center and interned at an architecture firm in Dothan, AL while pursuing an early golf career. Brian shifted to the telecommunications industry in 2003 working as a drafter and quickly grew to managing all aspects of the project as a contractor for AT&T in Birmingham, AL. Brian has over 15 years of experience in wide area network deployments, having led the build-outs of the entire Southeast US for AT&T’s Uverse release, Google Fiber’s builds in Austin, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and Huntsville, Verizon’s network densification in Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland, Nashville, and Knoxville, in addition to numerous municipal projects throughout the country. Brian has worked with a core team to create the process that brings community broadband into the 21st century. Our team started on a mission 4 years ago to connect people to information, to ideas, and to each other, and Lit continues to carry that torch to each community we work with.
President of Market Strategy
Lauren Bender is a native of Austin, Texas, but now resides in Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning while also obtaining a Certification in GIS.
Lauren started in the telecommunications industry as a Network Designer working on the Google Fiber build outs in Austin, San Antonio, and Kansas City. Her next voyage was working on some fun Fiber to the Home projects in the Caribbean. Lauren was a Project Lead for the OSP Design of communities throughout Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Bermuda – talk about some Make Ready issues! Lauren’s next role as a Business Development Director helped create her passion to bring better connectivity to rural America. This ultimately led to her co-founding Lit Communities in 2019 with a group of people who share that same goal. At Lit Communities, she works with municipalities across the country to develop and implement their broadband goals. Lauren oversees all planning, engineering, and deployment operations across all markets.
When Lauren is not working, she enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking, skiing…pretty much all of the things beautiful Colorado has to offer!
Chief Technology Officer
Chris Skelton, Chief Technology Officer for Lit Communities, has supported the telecommunications industry for over 27 years. He has served in various roles including Area, Regional, and Corporate leadership positions. Chris has an extensive background in technology, engineering & operations, and special project initiatives. He was responsible for over 68 state-of-the-art technical facilities and services across seven states during his tenure with Comcast Communications. After leaving Comcast, he worked as the Director of Engineering for the Huntsville Utilities fiber network deployment in Huntsville Alabama. That network supports Huntsville’s municipal fiber requirements as well as those of Google Fiber, who provides gigabit data services for the area. Today, Chris serves as the CTO for Lit Communities. His vast experience in broadband provides unique insight into the technological, financial, and operational challenges of building cutting-edge networks.
Justin Rolling, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Justin is a native of Alabama and lives in the Birmingham area with his wife and their 4 daughters where the Lit Communities headquarters is located. After graduating from Troy University in Troy, AL with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Accounting and his MBA in Accounting and Finance he went to the into the public accounting sector for 3 years jumping into the corporate accounting sector as a controller for a large Orthopedic Surgery group and became their CFO after a year and then spent the next 10 years as a CFO in the healthcare sector for hospitals and health systems. In 2016 he was offered a Vice President of National Sales position for a pharmaceutical software company that was a vendor of his while at his last health system. During this time he covered the western 25 states and enjoyed being the company’s top sales person for his company until he was recruited to join the Lit Communities family in mid 2021. Justin is a licensed CPA since 2012.
Chief Strategy Officer
Rene Gonzalez is the Chief Strategy Officer and a co-founder of Lit Communities, which provides a full, turnkey solution for building broadband infrastructure for communities of all sizes, enabling them to create digital equity for their residents, businesses, and municipalities. As CSO, Rene leads the development of Lit Communities’ long-term strategic planning efforts across all business areas, strategies in potential markets and integration with federal and state funding opportunities. He received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas in 2004 and a Master of Science in Project Management from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas in 2008. Rene has over 17 years of experience in project management, strategic planning, project development and federal and state grant consulting for public works and infrastructure projects. He has worked in both the private and governmental sectors, which provides a unique ability to strategically align the needs of clients with opportunities to leverage financial assistance from the federal and state governments. Over the course of his career, he has assisted various municipalities and government entities on obtaining more than $38 million in grant funding for critical infrastructure projects. Rene is a strong supporter of efforts to curtail the digital divide in communities across the United States and is the former Chair of the Digital Inclusion Alliance of San Antonio’s Steering Committee.
Chief Deployment Officer
Roger is the Chief Deployment Officer for Lit Communities and has been involved in telecom deployments and network operations for the last 25 years. Roger has led three national network deployments as well as several regional- and market-level construction projects for both wireline and wireless broadband technologies. Roger is recognized as an experienced and seasoned executive with over 45 years of leadership experience in both the military and telecommunications industry. Roger was also overall responsible for the success of the Huntsville Utility/Google Fiber project in Huntsville, Alabama. This experience has provided a unique management perspective on how to provide network services that meet and exceed expectations. Prior to 1995, Roger served his country in the United States Army and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 23 years of service. Roger holds a B.A. from Texas Christian University and a M.S. from Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY (at West Point).
Chief GIS Engineer
Maria Gamo leads the Geospatial Information System (“GIS”) and Engineering efforts for Lit Communities. Maria has professional experience competencies based on decision making, leadership, human resources management, and interdisciplinary team leadership related to Geospatial Information. Maria is an analytical and high-impact professional with extensive demonstrated research and market experience in GIS and Geomatics. Her career has encompassed several leadership roles, where she has leveraged her GIS expertise to implement process improvements. Maria’s passion for her chosen field of Geomatics Engineering (pioneer engineering in Big Data science) has been developed in research positions at York University and the Technical University of Madrid. While these skills have been further honed when working in industries such as Telecommunications, Waste Management, Real Estate, and Information Technologies. She is consistently recognized as a GIS specialist and innovator, having pioneered the advancement of Geomatics Engineering in her native Spain as the first academic to achieve a Ph.D. distinction in this field. Maria demonstrates a high-level proficiency in GIS, Remote Sensing, Photogrammetry, Mapping, CAD, Land Surveying, Fiber Network Design, Geospatial Data and Imagery, Cartographic Graphic Design, and Database applications. Furthermore, Maria completed an Executive MBA in 2021 at one of the most prestigious and recognized business schools in the world becoming the valedictorian of her class. Due to this achievement, Maria is a current member of the Beta Gamma and Sigma Society (The International Business Honor Society).
VP of Market Strategy
Beth is VP of Engineering for Lit Communities. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Industrial Engineering from The University of Alabama and holds a professional engineer’s license in that state. Beth began her career with a regional telecom provider as an Outside Plant Engineer and eventually began her own contracting company, providing telecom companies with outside plant engineering, database management, and various other services for almost 20 years. Her role at Lit includes developing processes that maximize efficiency and quality while managing available resources. Beth was attracted to Lit Communities because of their passion to provide high-speed internet service to underserved areas and believes the open access model will best facilitate that goal. She loves the team at Lit and appreciates their creativity, their commitment, and how they support each other like family.
VP of Connectivity
Alan Blythe, Vice President of Connectivity, has worked with network, security, and computer systems for over 35 years and has extensive technical experience from the earliest dialup modems to the latest Cloud technologies. Venturing into the telecom world as a Solutions AE at BellSouth Business in 2000, Alan was responsible for providing managed networking and security solutions for large business customers across Arkansas and Tennessee. Moving on to Comcast supporting a national BGP network, Alan designed and implemented resilient network topologies and environmentally hardened the existing 23 Memphis facilities and ended his tenure as Manager of Network Engineering for the Memphis / Little Rock markets. Since leaving Comcast, Alan has continued to seek out new challenges and has deployed cutting edge datacenter SDN (software defined networks), security, and SDWAN architecture across 5 continents. As VP of Connectivity for Lit Communities, Alan brings together the best technical resources and technology to ensure we build a bullet-proof world-class network.
VP of Special Initiatives
Chris is a seasoned outside plant and fiber-optic program manager, with years of experience overseeing large-scale network deployments. Chris started his career as a project manager at Byer Engineering, then transitioned to Foresite Group as a program manager. During this time Chris was managing dynamic teams through multi-state fiber-to-the-home deployments, 5G distribution for tier-one providers in Cleveland, OH, and Seattle WA, as well as business development. At Lit Communities, Chris serves in the pivotal role of VP of Market Deployments. In this position, Chris works closely with the executive staff and deployment team members on market strategies, staffing of new markets, and determining architecture in order to successfully launch markets
VP of Client Development
Aaron’s professional career has spanned 20 years in the information technology industry. He served for several years as an IT Services Project Manager with an information technology solutions company for the Department of Justice. In this role, he oversaw data and network infrastructures for large scale projects. In 2014, he founded the IT consulting company, Jackson Solution Services, LLC. Servicing the municipal, corporate, and non-profit sectors, JSS provides IT infrastructure, network design and implementation, and professional managed services to its clients.
Aaron has a deep-rooted passion for addressing the digital divide and providing broadband solutions that mitigate inequities in unserved and underserved communities. He is committed to working with communities to develop opportunities to build out fiber networks that benefit the municipality and its residents. Aaron serves as Lit Communities’ Vice President of Client Development.
Director of Business Development
Dexter will lead the charge in bringing broadband services to municipalities by offering consulting assessment, grant services and smart city applications. His career in technology solutions began with Sprint, as a Business Sales Manager; after years of dedicated service, he advanced to a Major Accounts Executive position with Qwest Communication. During his tenure at Sprint his primary focus was building relationships with major companies throughout Minnesota and assisting them with wireless solutions. In his transition to Qwest Communications his primary role was focused on Government and Education technology solutions.
Chief Client Officer
Jessica serves as Lit Communities’ Chief Client Officer. She has over twelve years of experience serving as a municipal leader with five years of work in the fiber network space advocating for community-owned networks. She has appeared on several panels representing leaders and has testified at governmental hearings on issues of access for rural communities. Jessica understands how important fiber is and the urgency of having it available and affordable for cities and towns overlooked by incumbent carriers. She carries this passion throughout Lit’s community assessment work with all of Lit’s clients and is dedicated to making sure each client has an individualized plan specific to their environment and circumstances and the tools to make a municipally supported network a reality for residents. In addition to her government work, Jessica served for three years as COO for a construction management firm developing health centers in several areas of the country. She has a Masters in Public Administration, two grown up kids in their 20’s, two cats, one dog and one husband.
Chief Innovation Officer
John Sullivan started his career in a California tech start-up and has spent the last decade selling technical solutions into the public and private market. John has first hand experience in digital transformation projects including fiber, 5G and autonomous vehicles. His focus is in applying technological approaches and systems to bring consistency, quality and savings to projects.
Director of Training Services
Keisha Smith has spent 15 years working in various education settings including adult education, corporate training, graduate-level teaching, and K-12 advocacy and policy work. She also has over 10 years of experience in nonprofit leadership and organizational management. She has designed, developed, and evaluated multiple processes and programs for a variety of education, corporate, and non-profit organizations. Keisha believes in the power of education to change one’s life circumstance at any stage of life and is passionate about using technology to create pathways to educational opportunities for everyone, particularly those who are most disenfranchised. Keisha loves animals and the outdoors; her happy places are the zoo, the aquarium, or anywhere with plants and water. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her partner and two dogs, and chauffeuring her three boys to soccer practice and games. Keisha holds a Master’s in Adult Education and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Research with a concentration in instructional technology.