Brian Snider is responsible for overseeing the overall business, ensuring the resources are in place to meet the needs of the company’s staff, investors, communities, customers, and partners. He also serves as a thought leader for Lit Communities, representing the firm in public-facing settings such as conferences, project meetings, and investor relations.
Brian leads Lit’s Board of Directors and communicates with investors and counsel on any critical issues and corporate actions. He works closely, too, with the finance and business development teams to build broadband project budgets and assemble optimal capital stacks for funding.
Brian founded the company in 2019 after more than 18 years of experience in wide-area network deployments, including leading the Southeast U.S. build-out of AT&T’s U-verse release; Google Fiber’s builds in Austin, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and Huntsville; and Verizon’s network densification in Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland, Nashville, and Knoxville.
Brian and his wife have two children and live in the Birmingham area. He tries to golf when he can but spends most of his time away from the office running around to baseball, basketball, football, cheer, and whatever other activity the kids are doing.
“My business priorities center on setting our strategy and direction while engaging with our executive team to model our critical values, culture, and behavior. That’s what ensures we execute each project successfully for all our stakeholders, especially our municipal partners and the people they serve.” – Brian Snider, Chief Executive Officer
Chief Strategy Officer
Rene Gonzalez leads the development of Lit Communities’ long-term strategic planning efforts across all business areas, strategies in potential markets, and integration with broadband funding opportunities.
He also leads the company’s federal and state broadband policy engagement, which involves awareness and advocacy of the network’s development, funding needs, and alignment with state and regional plans.
Rene co-founded Lit Communities in 2019 after nearly two decades of experience developing infrastructure projects and creating state and federal grant strategies while working in both the private and governmental sectors.
He has been deeply engaged in Lit Communities projects in Florida, Ohio, Texas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.
Rene holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX, and a master’s degree in project management from St. Edward’s University in Austin. He lives in San Antonio with his spouse, daughter, and son. He’s a fan of live music and vinyl, and he enjoys making music himself on classical and electric guitar and keyboard.
“Lit Communities has a clear understanding of the potential of local fiber broadband markets, and we collaborate daily with our clients to coordinate and advocate on funding and policy opportunities and issues on the state and national level.” – Rene Gonzalez, Chief Strategy Officer
President of Market Strategy
Lauren Bender is responsible for guiding Lit Communities’ decisions on where to build new networks, start new ISPs, acquire existing operations, and the company’s general direction.
Lauren co-founded Lit Communities in 2019 and has been engaged with every project since. She also leads the company’s Steering Committee, charged with ensuring their decisions make strategic and financial sense while, critically, providing the fiber optic broadband service to communities that most need Lit’s help in bridging the digital divide.
Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning from Texas State University, where she also earned her certification in geographical information systems. She began her career as a designer for Google Fiber projects in Austin, San Antonio, and Kansas City, and has worked on Fiber to the Home (FTTH) projects in Jamaica, Trinidad, Tobago, Guyana, and Bermuda.
Her experience also includes work with FTTH projects in more than 20 communities across the country, as well as middle mile fiber experience with municipalities across Colorado.
Lauren is engaged to be married in 2023. She and Dan have a black lab, Tucker, and enjoy the hiking, skiing, kayaking, and other opportunities that living in Denver offers. Lauren says her biggest passion outside her family and Lit Communities may actually be cooking.
“I help drive Lit Communities to go to the places other incumbent providers simply can’t make the business case to go to. We can go there. We have and we will.” – Lauren Bender, President of Market Strategy
Chief Technology Officer
Chris Skelton is responsible for overseeing all technical aspects of Lit Communities’ projects, using his deep background in broadband infrastructure to address the technological, financial, and operational challenges of building cutting-edge networks.
Chris joined Lit Communities in 2021 with nearly three decades of experience in telecommunications technology, engineering, operations, and special project initiatives. That includes many years as Director of Engineering for Comcast, with responsibility for 68 technical facilities supporting state-of-the-art voice, video, and data services across six southern states.
He also was Director of Engineering for a fiber network project for Huntsville Utilities in Alabama and since joining Lit Communities has worked with projects in Ohio and Kentucky.
Chris has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama. He says he loves mechanical things and spends way too much time in his shop working on UTVs and other projects.
“By using the most current and relevant technologies to build ultra-fast and ultra-reliable networks, we’re creating exciting new ways to develop broadband infrastructure for improving local communities.” – Chris Skelton, Chief Technical Officer
Chief Deployment Officer
Roger Wilson leads deployment planning and construction for Lit Communities, with responsibility for vetting and choosing fiber network construction partners and for interviewing and selecting the company’s own market deployment staff.
Roger has been involved with every Lit Communities’ project – particularly in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – since he joined the firm in 2019 with 30 years of telecommunications experience. Roger is also a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel with 23 years of military service.
A lifelong learner, Roger has a master’s degree in counseling and two bachelor’s degrees in education. He and his wife have three children and a granddaughter that he looks forward to teaching to play golf. Their plans also include trips to the wine country, our coasts, and the Caribbean.
“Our daily interaction with our partners is totally transparent, and open communications flow in both directions. That means our focus must be on selecting deployment partners that share our vision and goals rather than just performing work as contractors...” – Roger Wilson, Chief Deployment Officer
Chief Client Officer
Jessica Fowler supervises the team performing the critical Community Assessment work that typically begins each engagement and then she guides each client community’s move into their next phase of broadband connectivity.
Jessica ensures that each Lit Communities client clearly understands the scope of work and their individual road map, and she’s responsible for budgets, partnerships, and contracts, as well as engaging in federal, state, and local outreach to advocate for clients and broadband expansion.
Jessica has led a group of 21 towns and cities in Connecticut in exploring fiber network opportunities, testified to state and local panels, and worked as COO of a family-led construction company.
She joined Lit Communities in 2019 and has worked on projects in Connecticut, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree in public administration from Baruch University.
She has two grown kids, two grown cats, a husband, and a dog. They live in the beautiful Berkshires in Connecticut and enjoy the outdoors there and on their visits to Colorado. She also loves to visit her client communities so she can learn more about how to help them achieve their broadband goals.
“As an elected leader here in my own town, I understand the level of support municipalities must have to leverage the opportunities and overcome the challenges they face in creating connectivity in their communities. We’re here to advise. We’re here to help.” – Jessica Fowler, Chief Client Officer
Chief Innovation Officer
John Sullivan is responsible for bringing together community stakeholders to understand their strategic plans and needs for connectivity and to then point them to the high-speed broadband tools and services to meet those needs.
John joined Lit Communities in 2020 with a background in technology startups, connected technologies, and fiber and autonomous vehicle mapping. Since then he has been engaged in Lit Communities projects in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas as well as nearly all the company’s ongoing business development efforts.
John enjoys spending time with his family, as well as drawing and painting and drinking a good cup of coffee.
“We’re driving both internal and external innovation. All things smart city, smart home. We’re committed to helping communities leverage high-speed broadband to meet their needs and goals well beyond basic internet.” – John Sullivan, Chief Innovation Officer
Chief Financial Officer
Andrew Massey supports all financial activities at Lit Communities. His broad responsibilities include accounting, financial management, planning, risk management, reporting, and investor relations.
Andrew joined Lit Communities in 2022 with 20 years of progressive financial experience. For the past 16 years, he has been with Astound Broadband, most recently as vice president of commercial finance. In that role, he helped lead merger/acquisition integration, profit/loss management, and strategic capital deployment.
Andrew has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and lives near Philadelphia with his wife, four sons, and two dogs. They spend their time with children’s sports activities, mountain biking, and enjoying the parks near their Bucks County home.
“My goal is to bring clarity and financial vision that will help our team make the most of the amazing opportunities that are out there. Together, we’ll find creative ways to leverage and grow our tools and knowledge as we work to empower as many homes and businesses as possible with all that broadband fiber has to offer.” – Andrew Massey, Chief Financial Officer
Chief GIS Engineer
Maria Gamo is responsible for the Lit Communities’ team that uses advanced geospatial information systems (GIS) to help ensure successful deployments and the continued development of fiber infrastructure networks.
Strategic use of GIS data is critical to the complex work of identifying routes and other geographic factors that can maximize efficiency and minimize costs for the company and its client communities.
Maria’s team supports Community Assessments, engineering, business development, operations, and corporate administration functions, and she has been involved with projects in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Texas, Connecticut, Louisiana, and California.
Maria joined the company in 2020 with more than a decade of experience in geospatial project management in the public and private sectors in Canada, Spain, and the European Union. She holds four degrees earned in her native Spain including a Ph.D. in geomatics engineering from the University of Madrid.
Maria says her passions are her family as her pillar and life motor, a continuous and unstoppable curiosity to learn about many different disciplines, music (especially flamenco dancing), plants, documentaries, and healthy Spanish cooking.
“My focus every day goes beyond my critical technical roles to helping to build and preserve the essence of our biggest asset at Lit Communities: a culture of innovation based on freedom, respect, and responsibility.” – Maria Gamo, Chief GIS Engineer
VP of Market Strategy
Beth Fowler is responsible for providing accurate cost and demand data for use in evaluating markets and directing construction of new and expanding broadband networks.
Beth joined Lit Communities in 2020 with more than 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, including as an outside plant engineer with BellSouth and then more than 20 years as an independent design contractor.
Beth is a licensed professional engineer and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama. Since joining Lit Communities, she has focused on projects in Ohio, Texas, and Virginia.
Off the job, she enjoys reading, gardening, scuba diving, and boating, and she is a married mother of three adult children.
“Our goal is to maximize the effective use of our resources to provide high speed – and high quality – internet to as many people as possible. By making smart decisions we stretch our funding as far as it will go to serve communities that often go overlooked.” – Beth Fowler, Vice President of Market Strategy
VP of Connectivity
Alan Blythe is responsible for evaluating technology and for the design and implementation of scalable, manageable, and reliable network systems.
Alan focuses on creating simple, cost-effective, high-performance solutions that can be seamlessly transitioned to team members at Lit Communities, and on forging long-term relationships with top-tier vendors to help ensure stable broadband delivery.
Since joining Lit Communities in 2021, he has been deeply involved in projects in Ohio and Kentucky. He first began working with computers in 1984, graduated in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Memphis, and earned his Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) designation in 2002. His experience includes engagements with major firms such as Comcast and AutoZone.
Alan is a married father of three children. The family enjoys traveling the country with their trailer in search of new adventures.
“I’ve had the privilege to work on many innovative telecommunications and other networking projects over the past 25 years. Joining Lit Communities to help bring fiber broadband to small and rural communities across the country is truly a highlight.” – Alan Blythe, Vice President of Connectivity
VP of Special Initiatives
Chris Kirkland works closely with Lit Communities’ executive staff, business developers, and the deployment team on strategies for new markets and determining architecture and staff to launch those markets successfully.
Chris joined Lit Communities in 2021 after five years as a program manager with Foresite Group and three years as project manager with Byers Engineering, working on Verizon and AT&T fiber deployments across the Southeast and in Ohio and Washington state.
Since joining Lit Communities, he has worked on market startups in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Texas.
Chris and his wife and daughter live in the Birmingham, Alabama, area and enjoy spending time outdoors with family and friends.
“We strategically select local resources to build and operate the new network. That’s a key to a successful market start up and long-lasting success for our local ISP partners.” – Chris Kirkland, Vice President of Market Startup
VP of Client Development
Aaron Jackson is responsible for the Community Assessments and digital inclusion efforts that ensure each Lit Communities client has the data, knowledge, and action plan to provide the best in broadband services to close the digital divide in their community.
Aaron joined Lit Communities in 2021 after two decades of IT experience, including as a third-party project manager serving the U.S. Department of Justice and the founder of his own firm that provided IT infrastructure and other managed services to municipal, corporate, and non-profit clients. He has worked with Lit Communities engagements in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Connecticut.
Aaron enjoys sports, traveling, and the arts, and is a self-described foodie.
“My role is to lead and oversee our Community Assessments and digital inclusion efforts, ensure each client reaches their set goals, stakeholders are engaged and supported effectively, and to coordinate with Lit’s team of subject matter experts to execute deliverables at the highest standards and on time.” – Aaron Jackson, Vice President of Client Development, Lit Communities
Vice President of Market Deployment
James Phillips is responsible for overseeing the operational setup of new markets while overseeing deployments on the company’s existing fiber optic networks.
James joined Lit Communities in 2021 with nearly 40 years of telecommunications experience in technology, engineering, operations, and special initiatives roles. He was responsible for multiple offices in two states for Comcast before serving as Director of the WOW! internet service in Augusta, GA, and Charleston, SC.
He also served as President of Medina Fiber for Lit Communities before a local executive was hired to assume management of that Ohio project.
James and his family live in Georgia, where they love camping and going to the beach, and he kayaks and fishes as much as he can.
“I have a passion for taking care of the customers, to make sure they have the best experience they can have. I want Lit Communities to lead the way in new technologies which will help us serve the undeserved in the communities we’re in.” – James Phillips, Vice President of Market Deployment
Vice President of Market Operations
Ron Frye is responsible for the internal organizational structure that Lit Communities brings to each market, working to ensure that each new network is installed in a timely, efficient, and professional process that meets company standards.
Ron has been involved in fiber optics installations for more than 15 years, including as founding leader for the LUS Fiber project in Lafayette, LA, the nation’s largest city-owned fiber-to-the-home (FFTH) system. He also is vice chair of planning committee for the annual national Fiber Connect conference.
Since joining Lit Communities in 2021, he has helped oversee projects in Ohio and Kentucky.
Ron has an AAS degree in electric technology from Lamar University, was presented the Kentucky Colonel award in 2015, and is a single father of three boys – including twins with cerebral palsy – who says that gaming is his main bonding time with his sons.
“We engage deeply with each of our client communities to build a local team that will deliver on their local goals as we focus on our company vision: to bring affordable high-speed internet to everyone in rural and small-town America.” – Ron Frye, Vice President of Market Operations
Director of Business Development
Dexter General focuses on the Community Assessment process at Lit Communities, working step-by-step with customers to determine if their communities are ready to deploy and support fiber broadband.
Dexter joined the company in 2021 and already has worked with local markets in Ohio, Texas, West Virginia, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. He has more than 20 years of experience that includes serving as a business sales manager and major accounts executive with Sprint and Qwest Communications, respectively, the latter with a specialty in government and education technology solutions.
He also coached football at Hamline University in Minnesota and Howard University in Washington, D.C. and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota. He also expects to complete his doctoral degree in performance psychology in 2023.
Dexter and his wife, Kristi, live in Madison, Wisconsin, with their three daughters, and he loves attending their sporting events, golf, football, and listening to music.
“The crucial first step for any community is determining their level of need for broadband connectivity and their capacity for providing it. That’s how we maximize our value to every customer we serve.” – Dexter General, Director of Business Development
Director of Training Services
Keisha Smith is responsible for developing training courses for Lit Communications’ employees and for workforce development initiatives and other external training opportunities in client communities.
Keisha has 15 years of experience designing and evaluating processes, programs, and policies in settings ranging from K-12 through graduate school and at corporations and non-profit organizations. She is adept at delivering training technologies and motivation to both groups and individuals.
Keisha holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in adult and continuing education from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Xavier University of Louisiana.
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.
“I believe in the power of education to change one’s life circumstances at any stage of life. I’m passionate about using technology to decrease the digital divide and create pathways to educational opportunities for everyone, particularly to the most underserved communities.” – Keisha Smith, Director of Learning and Performance
Dan Kupratis works across departments to drive profitability and financial efficiency at Lit Communities, with responsibilities for daily cash and general ledger management, partner relationships, accounts payable/receivable, corporate expenses, and full-cycle bookkeeping.
Dan joined Lit Communities in 2020 after 12 years in the securities industry with Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan, and Neighborly. He holds two FINRA licenses and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University, and is an avid gym and mental health enthusiast who enjoys working out at his local CrossFit box.
“My passion for making a difference in the world and being a part of something bigger led me to Lit. I’m eager to help transform the country and close the digital divide one expense at a time.” – Dan Kupratis, Controller