Joe Wassel named FirstNet Authority Executive Director (CEO); DoD exec oversaw public safety comms, cyber operations


RESTON, VA – The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) announced today that Joseph M. Wassel has been named Executive Director (CEO) of the FirstNet Authority. He joins the FirstNet Authority after serving in senior executive positions at the Department of Defense (DoD), where he oversaw global technology and communications systems during his 34-year career.

“After conducting a thorough search, the FirstNet Authority Board is pleased to welcome Joe Wassel as our new Executive Director,” said Stephen Benjamin, FirstNet Authority Board Chair. “The FirstNet Authority has built a strong foundation for the nationwide public safety broadband network. Now, as we embark on a new phase in FirstNet’s growth, Joe’s leadership and passion for innovation will help us build upon that foundation and prioritize the emerging needs of our nation’s first responders.”

“Joe is the right leader for the next phase of FirstNet,” said Chief Richard Carrizzo, Vice Chair of the FirstNet Authority Board. “He has the experience and forward-thinking vision to lead the organization, bring people together, and deliver the best, most reliable network for public safety. Joe’s proven track record with network operations — and his expertise in cybersecurity, resiliency, and public safety communications — make him uniquely qualified to drive the future of FirstNet.”

As the founder and chair of DoD’s Global Public Safety Communications Working Group, Mr. Wassel was responsible for ensuring that DoD’s more than 150,000 first responders — including police, fire, and EMS personnel — had access to reliable, next-generation communications, including the FirstNet network. In this role, he collaborated with the Services, Joint Staff, National Guard, U.S. Northern Command, and other DoD partners to implement FirstNet, 911 services, and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) communications.

Mr. Wassel most recently was the Executive for the Cyberspace Operations Directorate in the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). He also served four Secretaries of Defense as the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Communications and as the Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In that capacity, he was the Secretary’s principal liaison and single focal point to all agencies providing global communications support.

“I am honored and excited to be joining the FirstNet Authority,” said Mr. Wassel. “The organization has a proven approach and a talented Board and management team that enables it to deliver an innovative network for America’s first responders. I look forward to working closely with public safety stakeholders at all levels of government to ensure FirstNet evolves and provides the tools they need for their lifesaving mission.”

A retired U.S. Air Force officer, Mr. Wassel commanded troops during several tours in the United States and overseas and deployed as a reservist in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as the Chief of Command and Control Operations, International Security Assistance Force at the Combined Joint Operations Center in Kabul, Afghanistan. His military and civilian decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, and the Secretary of Defense Meritorious and Exceptional Civilian Service Medals. He was decorated for his actions during the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

About the First Responder Network Authority

The First Responder Network Authority is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chartered in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities. Learn more at is external) and follow the FirstNet Authority (@FirstNetGov) on Facebook and Twitter for updates.


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