Together, Sallet, Riedl, and Benton Working for Fast, Fair, and Open Broadband for All

Benton’s mission depends on collaboration. No one can communicate en solo, nor can any single organization determine what the public interest truly is. These are activities we must do together. So, Benton’s mission encompasses a range of activities to both inform and engage a growing community to shape our communications future.

Many people learn of Benton because we curate and distribute the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest of media and communications news. I hope you’re already a Headlines subscriber. If not, click here.

In addition to Headlines, Benton also connects stakeholders through analysis and research to frame and promote conversation and a more inclusive debate around communications policy, particularly about what “in the public interest” means in the Digital Age. Our Weekly Digest analyzes the most important communications policy story of the past week, the Digital Beat provides unique perspectives on communications policy debates written by Benton and guest contributors, and our publications explore the intersection of communications and the public interest.

And, finally, since 1981, Benton has supported legal and policy experts who preserve and strengthen the public benefits of America’s communications environment, who can nourish and protect democratic values, and who can communicate to the public why all this matters. So, it is with great pleasure that I announce two new experts joining the Benton team today.

Denise Linn Riedl, Program Analyst at the Smart Chicago Collaborative, is the newest Benton Fellow. During her tenure, she will be writing and speaking about broadband, digital inclusion, and emerging smart city technologies.

Denise is a recent graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School. Her professional experience, thus far, has revolved around closing the digital divide, increasing broadband competition, and implementing city-level internet access projects. Throughout 2014 as an Ash Fellow with the Gig.U project, and as a member of the Berkman Center Fiber Team, she assisted local leaders seeking to build or extend next generation fiber-optic networks to spur economic development. Denise and Blair Levin, the architect of the National Broadband Plan, co-wrote The Next Generation Network Connectivity Handbook: A Guide for Community Leaders Seeking Affordable, Abundant Bandwidth which Benton was proud to publish in 2016.

"In the realm of advocates fighting for a world of robust, faster, cheaper and better broadband for everyone, Denise stands out as someone who can collect and analyze the data, and translate that analysis in a way both policymakers and advocates can understand and make use of," said Levin.

Before graduate school, Denise was an Economics Research Assistant for the Auctions and Spectrum Access Division of the FCC. She is also an alumna of the AmeriCorps VISTA program and spent a year of service working on broadband access and digital literacy projects with One Economy in North Carolina. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Former Federal Communications Commission General Counsel Jonathan Sallet, who successfully defended the FCC’s Open Internet rules in court, is the new Benton Senior Fellow.

“Typically, a general counsel is like an administrator,” said Reed Hundt, a former Chairman of the FCC. “But in Jon you have an administrator who is also a policy maven and political strategist.”

Former FCC Chairman Wheeler says of Sallet, “There wasn’t a single decision while Jon Sallet was at the FCC during my tenure that did not bear his fingerprints. Not only is Jon a multi-faceted talent with the ability to see all angles of an issue and provide sage counsel, but, as evidenced by his winning advocacy for the Open Internet Order before the DC Circuit, he is a deep legal thinker and eloquent advocate.”

After serving at the FCC from 2013 to 2016, Jon went to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division for two years where he was deputy assistant attorney general for Litigation. “Jon Sallet practices competition law at the highest level, marrying his deep knowledge of both law and policy with a common-sense perspective on how best to ensure that American consumers reap the benefits of competitive markets. With Jon, you will get not only a thoughtful advocate who has made it a priority to serve the public, but also a person who believes in the importance of intelligent discourse. The importance of supporting the presence of such a voice in the broader debate about the state of the American economy cannot be underestimated,” said Renata B. Hesse, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice (2012-2017).

From 1993 to 1996, Jon served in the Clinton Administration as assistant to the secretary and director of the Office of Policy & Strategic Planning at the Department of Commerce, focusing on economic and technology policy. He was a member of the small group of administration officials who met regularly with Vice President Gore to address the telecommunications issues that became the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and he headed the first White House working group on the deployment of educational technology.

Jon was a law clerk for United States Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Jr. from 1979 to 1980, and he was a law clerk for Judge Edward Tamm on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1978 to 1979. Jon received an A.B. from Brown University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.

As a Benton Senior Fellow, Jon will be continuing his work to protect an open and competitive internet.

Recently, a colleague asked me what the difference is between a Benton employee and a Benton fellow. Our employees, including myself, work to advance Benton’s mission to ensure that everyone has affordable access to a fast, fair, affordable, and open internet. But Benton also works to support our fellows, giving them a publishing platform, administrative support, and other resources they need to make the digital revolution benefit the people and communities that have too often been left behind.

Benton’s believes that we can improve everyone’s life, if we can connect and engage them in addressing our common problems. Denise and Jon will help ensure that more people will participate in the network revolution that is transforming society – and that traditional American values like access, diversity, and equity are upheld in the Digital Age.

Welcome Jon and Denise. Now let’s get to work!

By Adrianne B. Furniss.