Monday, August 17

2:30 PM – 3:15 PM

Company Branding and Integration

Discussion of the importance of company branding and the integration of that brand across company activities and platforms.

Presented by Andy Johns, Director of Marketing & Business Development, WordSouth
Andy Johns is the director of marketing and business development at WordSouth — A Content Marketing Company. Before coming to WordSouth in 2011, Andy was an award-winning newspaper writer. He studied communications with a concentration in journalism at Berry College and earned his MBA with a marketing focus from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. At WordSouth, he works to help telcos tell their story, market their services and train their people. He’s been honored to deliver more than 30 presentations at industry conferences around the country in the last 5 years.

3:30 PM – 4:15 PM

Tax & Accounting Considerations with Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions involving telecommunications/broadband companies have been on the rise the past few years. This session will provide a high-level overview of tax and accounting issues that should be considered when evaluating M&A opportunities.

Presented by Mitchell McCoy, CPA, Audit Manager, Curtis Blakely & Co., P.C.
Mitchell McCoy is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Professional Accountancy. He joined the firm in 2013, and is active in the firm’s audit, tax, and consulting services.

Presented by Rebecca VanNattan, CPA, Audit/Tax Manager, Curtis Blakely & Co., P.C.
Rebecca VanNattan is a graduate of LeTourneau University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration. She joined the firm in 2014, and is active in the firm’s audit, tax, and consulting services.

3:30 PM – 4:15 PM

Fire, Aim… Ready? Panel Discussion Navigating Concealed Carry in Rural Telecom

Attendees will hear from managers of similarly situated (mostly rural ILECs) companies how they contend with balancing a citizen’s right to carry with an employer’s need to satisfy the needs of customers.

Moderated by Sheila Gladstone, Principal, Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C.
Sheila Gladstone heads up Lloyd Gosselink’s Employment Law Practice Group and has over 30 years’ experience assisting employers with all aspects of employment law. Sheila uses a direct approach and gives practical advice to help employers deal with personnel issues and employment regulations, so they can focus on their core mission or business. For several years running, she was among the five percent of Texas attorneys selected for the Texas Super Lawyers list, which recognizes outstanding professional achievement, and was selected for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Sheila graduated with high honors from the University of Arizona College of Law in 1987, where she was an editor of the Law Review.

Panelist Jennifer Prather, Vice President and General Manager, Totelcom
Jennifer Prather, CPA is the Vice President and General Manager of Totelcom Communications, LLC, a rural broadband and telecommunications company headquartered in De Leon, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington and her Masters of Accounting from Texas Christian University. Prior to joining Totelcom in 2010, she worked at the accounting firm of Saville, Dodgen & Company in Dallas, Texas where she specialized in tax and business planning and compliance for the firm’s closely held business and high net worth client group. In addition to her role at Totelcom, Jennifer serves as a board member of National Telcom Corporation and Telcom Insurance Services Corporation and as a trustee on the NTCA Retirement and Security Program and Savings Plan trust committee. She serves as a board member and officer of TTA.

Panelist Billy Colston III, General Manager, Riviera Telephone Co., Inc.
Billy Colston, III is General Manager of Riviera Telephone Co., Inc. in Riviera, Texas. Situated approximately 100 miles North of the Texas/Mexico border in the Texas Gulf Coast, Riviera Telephone Co., Inc. serves approximately 1,000 square miles of mostly farm and ranch land.  Colston has spent time as a firearms instructor, training civilian, law enforcement and military in the pistol, carbine and rifle arenas. 

Panelist Bill Rakowitz, General Manager, YK Communications
Bill Rakowitz served 17 years as a licensed peace officer working 2 years with a municipal police department and 15 years with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.  Bill is a fourth-generation member of management at YK Communications, where he currently serves as General Manager and is the Licensed Manager of the company’s Private Security Business. He has an Associates of Applied Science degree from Wharton County Jr. College.  He is a licensed Amateur Radio Operator and enjoys adding new technologies into an old hobby.

4:30 PM – 5:15 PM

Chairman Citation

Tuesday, August 18

8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Keynote Address: Randy White’s Keys to Success

Presented by Randy White – Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Super Bowl MVP and Pro Football Hall of Fame, The “Manster” 

9:30 AM – 10:15 AM

Lessons Learned from COVID

This session will cover COVID-19 lessons learned specific to technology, operations and HR, and marketing/PR. With this being the first time companies have had to exercise their emergency operations plans for a pandemic, we will revisit what worked, what didn’t, what our new normal looks like, and how we can be better prepared for the future. Attendees will discuss changes their peers experienced, how they maximized efficiencies while maintaining safety, and how they used press releases and marketing tools to create positive buzz during the pandemic.

Presented by Laurie Simpson, Manager, Human Resources, Hill Country Telephone Company
Laurie Simpson is the Manager, Human Resources at HCTC in Ingram, Texas. Her role at HCTC includes recruiting, compensation and policy design, employee performance and engagement as well as workforce planning. Prior to joining HCTC in January of this year, Laurie was a regional Member Relations Manager for NTCA focusing on benefit analysis and retirement planning. Laurie began working in the telecom industry at GVTC, first in their accounting division and later joined the human resources team. Laurie has both PHR and SHRM-CP certifications in human resources and holds a BBA in Accounting from Texas Tech University.  Laurie lives in New Braunfels with her husband and son who is currently attending Texas Tech University.

Presented by Joey Anderson, General Manager/CEO, Nortex Communications
Joey joined Nortex Communications in 1998, and has been the CEO/General Manager for the last four years. During his tenure with Nortex, Joey is most proud of helping to unify the company under one corporate name, modernizing internal operations, deploying broadband services throughout the service area and taking the company beyond the traditional borders to succeed in neighboring communities. Mr. Anderson is a past chairman for TTA and has served on various industry committees. Locally, he was a two-term Mayor of Muenster and a city councilman for a decade. He also volunteers with both church and civic organizations. Mr. Anderson graduated with a bachelor and master’s degree from Texas A&M University. Prior to working for Nortex, Mr. Anderson held positions in health care strategic planning for companies in Nashville, Tennessee and Temple, Texas.

Presented by DeeDee Longenecker, Director of Business Development, Eastex Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Dee Dee Longenecker is Director of Business Development with Eastex Telephone Cooperative, Inc. In her role, she works to find new revenue opportunities for Eastex and its affiliates. Before joining Eastex, Dee Dee worked for over two decades consulting for JSI, where she managed a myriad of projects for rural telcos and ISPs covering the key areas of product and promotion development and regulatory compliance. Dee Dee has invaluable insights into both internal operations and customer relationship management, and believes that sustained business success requires excellent communication to both internal and external stakeholders, and careful but prompt execution to deliver excellent products and services. Dee Dee holds a BA in Business Management from Concordia University in Austin, and partially completed her MBA at St. Edwards University in Austin.

10:30 AM – 11:15 AM

Business Partnerships – Opportunities & Challenges Roundtable Discussion

Panelists from three telcos join in a discussion sharing unique insights from their different strategies and goals to increase their revenues, expand their brand and mitigate competition in commonly served areas. Learn about the motivations, challenges, culture shifts and rewards experienced when contemplating or entering a partnership or an acquisition to grow and diversify their business.

Opportunities and challenges with electric cooperative relationships

Robert Hunt, VP Regulatory Affairs and Business Operations, Guadalupe Valley Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Robert Hunt is GVTC’s Vice President Regulatory Affairs and Business Operations, overseeing the company’s public policy strategy, carrier interconnection, business operations and billing areas. In addition to his executive duties with GVTC, Mr. Hunt holds board positions with a number of prominent telecommunication organizations. Mr. Hunt is a current board member and past Chairman of the Board for the Texas Telephone Association (TTA). In 2011, the TTA recognized Mr. Hunt with the Neville Haynes Award — the highest honor given by the renowned association. The Haynes Award recognizes exceptional service by an individual to the TTA and the Texas telephone industry. Mr. Hunt serves as a board member of the USTelecom Association and served as chairman in 2016 and 2017, while focusing on universal service funding for broadband in rural areas. He also served as board member of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Texas Broadband Taskforce, formed to focus on broadband deployment and adoption in Texas. In addition, Mr. Hunt is a founding board member of the Texas Lone Star Network, a partnership of 38 Texas communications companies that provides wholesale telecommunications services throughout the United States. Through his service to those organizations, Mr. Hunt advocates for policy changes that benefit GVTC and its customer members. Prior to joining GVTC in 1993, Mr. Hunt provided engineering and consulting services to the telecom industry. A native of the Texas Hill Country, Mr. Hunt graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.

Opportunities and challenges with anchor institution partnerships

Rusty Moore, COO and General Manager, Big Bend Telephone
Russell A. (Rusty) Moore was named general manager and chief operating officer in 2012, after helping guide BBT (Big Bend Telephone Company) through two decades of growth, technological and policy evolution. As GM, Rusty oversees the daily operations and implementation of the company’s strategic vision and the management team, keeping in stride with the constant evolution of technology and policies impacting rural communications companies. Rusty currently serves as chairman of the USTelecom Board of Directors, president of the Texas Telephone Association Board of Directors, and was elected to serve on the NTCA Board of Directors representing the Southwest Region commercial companies. He is also a participating member of the NECA Rate Development Task Group and both the Texas Telephone Association’s Legislative and Regulatory committees. Rusty previously served on the NTCA Industry committee, is a former president of TSTCI, and has completed the inaugural Telecom Executives course sponsored by the United States Telecom Association and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Program. In his twenty-nine year tenure with BBT he has been involved in all levels of operations and management. Rusty is a native of Alpine, where he currently resides with his wife Ginger and also where he received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business from Sul Ross State University in May 1990.

Opportunities and challenges with mergers and acquisitions 

Kirk Petty, General Manager, Santa Rosa Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Kirk Petty has had the privilege to work in the Independent Telephone industry for 40 years. His career began as an Installer/Repairman, and he has worked in all areas of the business except Accounting. He served as general manager since 1997, and has been the CEO/GM of Santa Rosa Telephone Cooperative, Inc. since 2007. He has served on and been Chairman of the Board for both TSTCI and TTA. Currently he serves on the Oklahoma Telephone Association Board and serves on the Governors Rural Broadband Council. 

11:15 AM – 12:00 PM

Define your Leadership DNA 

Are you passionate about leadership and personal growth? If you are, this is a session you don’t want to miss; if not, this might change your mind. Take a journey with Larry as he shares his experiences working at Etex from student worker to Director of Sales. While looking at defining moments in his life, career, and what drives him to succeed, Larry will also identify leadership qualities that define his leadership DNA.

Presented by Larry Montgomery, Director of Sales and Marketing, ETEX Communications
Larry Montgomery has been an employee of Etex for over 20 years. During this time, he has gained extensive knowledge of telecommunications and is eager and committed to share his knowledge and bring the most updated technology to East Texas. Larry began his work with ETEX through the Gilmer High School VOE program in 1998. He has served Etex customers in various positions, including Customer Service Representative, Central Office Technician, and an Internet/Video Technician. Currently he is the Director of Sales and Marketing, leading a team of telecommunications sales professionals in determining and deploying communications solutions to grow area businesses and improving the quality of communications for residents by sharing the benefits of ETEX services. His attention to detail and intense focus on customer satisfaction make him an invaluable asset to the ETEX team.

Larry has been a lifelong resident of Gilmer, Texas, still calling the community home. He and his wife Laurn have two children and one grandchild. Dedicated to helping his community, Larry, along with his family, founded 4SAM Foundation in August of 2018. The foundation was created to celebrate and honor the life of Larry’s mother. 4SAM focuses on community donations to help the less fortunate. Larry loves spending time traveling with his family, is an avid sports fan, enjoys running, and recently completed his first marathon.

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM

Game On! Opportunities in Gaming

This educational session will present three unique perspectives of gaming opportunities for broadband providers. Discussions will cover key ingredients to hosting gaming tournaments or events, growth and partnership opportunities with collegiate esports teams, and how broadband providers can help VFWs make gaming connections with younger soldiers. Attend to learn how the world of gaming is changing, how digital platforms are bringing new energy into gaming communities, and how broadband providers are uniquely positioned to connect with gamers in new and exciting ways.

Presented by Sam Elizondo, Co-Owner, LFG Cybercafe
Sam has 10 years of Lan Center Management experience. He is an avid gamer and esports enthusiast as well as a community developer.

Presented by Travis Yang, Head Esports Coach, Texas A&M
Travis Yang is the inaugural head esports coach for Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Prior to San Antonio, Yang served for two years as the assistant esports coach at Ashland University and helped establish one of the first 100 varsity esports programs in the nation.

Presented by William “Bill” Smith, Commander, VFW Post 8541

Wednesday, August 19

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Membership Meeting, Legislative and Regulatory Update 

Members only
TUSF, reg mandates on horizon (SHAKN/STIR), legislative issues

Presented by Rusty Moore, COO and General Manager,
Big Bend Telephone
See Bio above.

Presented by Wes Robinson, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Eastex Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Wes Robinson is the Director of Regulatory Affairs for Eastex Telephone Cooperative, Inc. He studied at Lamar University and the University of Texas at Austin where he received a B.A. in Economics.  He started his career in the Texas Senate, where he organized the Senate Messengers in the 72nd Legislative Session. He worked his way up from the mailroom to administrative clerk to legal assistant at the law firm of Clark, Thomas & Winters helping gas, electric and telecom clients with state regulatory matters. He consulted with rural telecom clients for more than two decades with JSI, building trust and providing his expertise. Wes has served as the chair of the Texas Telephone Association’s Regulatory Committee since 2018.  He was the recipient of the Texas Telephone Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2019, the Association Member of the Year Award in 2002, and has received 8 Chairman Citations for his service to TTA’s members since 2000.

Presented by John Hubbard, Founding Partner, Premier Legislative Consulting
John Hubbard has 30 years experience in the public policy arena. He was first exposed to public policy when earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin, before going on to receive his Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University. He also completed an internship at the prestigious l’Ecole Nationale d’Administration (National School of Administration) in Paris, France.

After his education, John returned to Texas to work at the Texas Sunset Commission, which makes recommendations to the Legislature on whether to continue operating state agencies, and if so, how to improve those operations. The Sunset process in Texas has resulted in more than $750 million in savings to Texas taxpayers.

John then went on to become a legislative advisor to State Senator David Cain. While working for Senator Cain, John was responsible for advising the Senator on a number of policy areas including economic development, electric utilities/alternative energy sources, taxes, environmental protection, the state budget, education, health and human services, animal welfare, thrift regulation, and veterans’ affairs. He developed effective bi-partisan consensus-building strategies to ensure passage of the Senator’s legislative initiatives in these areas. He also served as the Senator’s senior speech writer.

In 2003, John began his career as an independent lobbyist and policy consultant. He has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of policy areas. His clients have included alternative energy advocates, telecommunication associations, healthcare providers, public education groups, occupational associations, and child development organizations. These groups have ranged in size from multinational Fortune 500 companies to small non-profit organizations. He has been named in the top ten lobby power rankings by Mike Hailey’s Capitol Inside website.

Presented by Ian Randolph, Principal, Premier Legislative Consulting
Ian is a highly respected and trusted fixture at the Texas Capitol with over two decades of experience working in both the House of Representatives and Senate. He is a long-time legislative and political advisor, most recently serving as Chief of Staff for Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville. Prior to that, Ian worked for Senators David Cain of Dallas and Ted Lyon of Rockwall. During his career, Ian has worked for members in both Chambers, all of whom have been chairs of major standing and special committees.

Throughout his time in public service, Ian has held most every possible legislative policy position, from Policy Analyst, Committee Analyst, Legislative Aide, Committee Director, Legislative Director, to Chief of Staff. He has working experience with all aspects of the legislative process from appropriations to the Senate Floor. Additionally, Ian has worked on thousands of bills covering nearly every major issue facing Texas.

As a result, he has developed a superior understanding of the legislative process and has earned a reputation for his bi-partisan results-orientated approach, effective policy work, integrity, and thorough knowledge of parliamentary procedure. He also has extensive communications experience particularly in press relations and speech writing.

Ian joined Premier Legislative Consulting in 2012.