Session 1 – DISH Wireless: Anatomy of a Nationwide Network Build
Richard Leitao, Senior VP National Development – Wireless Operations
Richard Leitao is a transformational, multilingual senior executive with deep international profit-and-loss experience in the Telecom sector across several continents. He has worked in the Telecom sector with vendors and mobile network operators for the last 25 years and serves as Senior Vice President, National Development – Wireless Operations. Richard is a strategic thought leader who delivers operational implementation and oversight of data-driven, fact-based plans, processes and initiatives on the system level.
His significant Telecom sector experience includes: re-inventor of underperforming multisite operations with emphasis on building strong, collaborative cross-functional teams in matrixed environments; creating continual improvement cultures; and optimizing global processes, efficiencies, assets and expenses to achieve or exceed key performance indicators.
Reporting to the EVP Network Development, Richard is responsible for the national programs leading to construction of America’s first cloud native wireless network, including negotiation of national infrastructure agreements, definition of construction standards and deployment processes, governance of the national build schedule, line management of internal construction teams, and end-to-end supply chain ownership including sourcing, purchasing, and distribution of all materials for the project. Richard is highly respected in the Telecom and IT industries for business ethics, value system, and the proven ability to successfully lead culturally diverse teams.
Session 2 – View From the Field: State of the Industry from a Contractor’s Perspective
Craig Snyder, CEO
Craig Snyder got his start in the telecommunications tower industry in Sioux Falls in 1984 when he took a job as a tower climber to help pay for college. In 1989 he left college to form Sioux Falls Tower (now VIKOR Teleconstruction), a tower construction company specializing in the wireless and wired infrastructure construction of all types. He continues to work as CEO of VIKOR today.
In 1994, Craig formed AnchorGuard, after a tragic accident involving a tower failure due to anchor corrosion almost took the life of two VIKOR employees. AnchorGuard produces a product designed to mitigate underground corrosion of guyed tower anchors.
In 1995, Craig was one of a group of four tower contractors to form the National Association of Tower Erectors. After its formulation, he served on the board of directors for eleven years concluding his last four years of service as chairman of the board.
In 1999, Craig and a small group of investors formed Performance Development Group with a portfolio of towers located in the Dakotas. He continues to operate this company today.
In 2009, Craig broke from his long history in the tower industry to start a natural and organic grocery store named Pomegranate Market. The store continues its operations in Sioux Falls filling an important niche in organic and gourmet foods in the city.
Craig was born and raised in Sioux Falls South Dakota. He attended Utah Valley University studying business management. He married his wife, Kristin, an Augustana University graduate, in 1989 and together they have four children and five grandchildren. He is active in his church and enjoys camping and biking and other outdoor activities.
Melissa Acosta, President/Owner
Front Range Wireless
With more than two decades of excellence in business development and coordination within the telecommunications industry, Ms. Acosta has earned distinction as the president of Front Range Wireless. Since 2022, she has focused her efforts on making effective decisions for the entirety of the company, from human resources to ensuring her people are certified properly. She strives to grow and build her network to understand customer needs, building lasting relationships to lay a strong foundation for her company.
Prior to her current leadership role, Ms. Acosta began her career as a site acquisition coordinator for Consulting Group Inc. in 2002, earning promotions to a planning coordinator in 2003 and to a project coordinator later that same year. Following this time, she became an environmental planning manager for Alaris Group LLC in 2004, was promoted to a site mod coordinator in 2004 and became a site development specialist in 2005.
Ms. Acosta continued her career as a site development specialist for Sprint Nextel in 2005, becoming a project manager for the microwave project at BCI in 2008. She subsequently functioned as a business development manager for Top Tier Telecom in 2009 and was the director of sales for Smartlink, LLC in 2017. She served in a similar capacity for Talley, Inc. in 2017 until taking a role as the senior vice president of business development for Leaf Communications in 2018 and serving as the executive vice president of QualTek in 2021.
Among her professional accomplishments, Ms. Acosta was certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council in 2023 and was named one of the Top 20 of Top 100 Women in Telecom. The same year, she was also listed on Capacity’s Women to Watch list, which celebrates 20 women each year from across the wholesale telecommunications and technology sector who have reached major milestones in their respective fields while breaking down barriers across the industry. Looking to the future, Ms. Acosta intends to continue developing her company’s culture as a healthy and enjoyable place to work.
Shawn Clark, Director of Service and Small Cell
Murphy Tower Service, LLC
Shawn Clark has been in the telecommunications industry for more than 20 years. He started as a tower technician in 1999 and is now leading the service and small cell/C-RAN divisions for Murphy Tower Service.
In his current role, Shawn is responsible for planning, implementing and managing all day-to-day operations for his crews. He is also responsible for providing strategic direction for the divisions. Under Shawn’s leadership, Murphy Tower Service has grown its small cell and C-RAN business significantly.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Shawn has led Murphy Tower Service’s expansion efforts across the United States, opening multiple offices in the Midwest and Southeast regions.
Shawn’s passion for the industry has kept him on the road throughout the years, traveling to job sites and all major industry events in order to stay in-the-know regarding industry trends and advancements in technology.
Leticia Latino, CEO
NEPTUNO USA, Corp.
With over 25 years of experience in the Telecom Industry, Leticia Latino van-Splunteren went from working for Merrill Lynch and Telecom Giant Nortel Networks to accepting the challenge of extending the legacy of establishing her family business in the US back in 2002. Neptuno Group was originally founded by her father in 1972 in South America where they helped deploy some of the first Cellular Networks in the region and where they have built over 10,000 Towers. Neptuno is also credited for being the pioneer of Virtual Twins applications in the Telecom Sector and developing innovative AI powered solutions for Telecom Assets Lifecycle Tracking.
Amongst many other recognitions, Leticia is a recipient of the 2023 CEO Telecom (Americas) by UK’s AI-Publishing, 2023 Most Connected Women Short List by Conecta Latam, 2022 Revolutionary CEO’s by Aspioneer, 2022 “30 most influential Leaders in Tech List” by Insight Success to name a few. She chaired the FCC’s Broadband Advisory Development Committee, Jobs Skills and Training Working Group from 2019 to 2021, served on the Telecommunications Interagency Working Group that presented a report to Congress on the state of the US workforce on January 2023, and currently serves in the FCC Equity and Diversity Council (CEDC). She serves on the International Board of the Global Telecom Women’s Network, and also on the board of SmartCity Expo Miami, The Acceleration Project and the South Beach Jazz Festival. She is also an appointed member to the Board of Governors of the National Wireless Safety Alliance (NWSA).
In addition, Leticia is an Amazon Bestseller author, International speaker, mentor to young women and a big advocate of nurturing “Human Connections” through her Back2Basics Podcast. www.leticialatino.com.
Chris Memmott, President/Lead Project Manager
Triple M Enterprises
Chris Memmott began his career in the telecom industry in 1993 when he went to work for the natural gas company in Utah – Mt Fuel (Questar). It was there that he was first exposed to climbing towers and formed a passion for tower safety. Over the subsequent years, he has spent time at Sprint (Ubiquitel) as a carrier cell technician, worked as an install tech for turf vendors such as Ericsson and Black & Veatch, and served as an Associate Vice President of Wireless Operations at a small engineering firm in his home town of Nephi, Utah. In 2004, he formed a company called Triple M Enterprises in an effort to manage and build communication towers and to continue providing needed services to a network of clients.
Today, Triple M owns and operates a tower in Nephi, Utah as well as providing many services to its network of clientele.
Throughout his time in telecom, Chris has always had a passion for safety on and around towers and communication sites in general. He has spent much of his time as a competent climber/rescuer trainer at many of the companies he has been involved with as well as Triple M. It was through this passion that he has become involved with the NATE effort.
Chris is a native of Nephi, Utah where he now resides and does business. After high school he went on to study Electronics Engineering Technology at Utah Valley University. It was during this time that he married his high school sweetheart Traci. They have three boys, two of which are still at home and the oldest at Utah Valley University.
Session 3 – Tower Edge Evolution
John Celentano, Business Editor
John Celentano, Inside Towers Business Editor, is a highly-regarded analyst and consultant with years of engineering and business experience in telecommunications.
He regularly writes and speaks on issues and trends in wireless and wireline infrastructure markets, and advises investors on telecom mergers and acquisitions.
John has worked with telecom equipment manufacturers and service providers in developing and executing product launches and strategic marketing campaigns with customer-focused content.
John holds a B.Eng. degree in Electrical Engineering from McMaster University and has studied Marketing at the University of California-Santa Barbara. A Canadian-American (Canada, eh!), he now resides in Baltimore, Maryland.
Pathmal Gunawardana, VP – Strategic Sales
SBA Communications Corporation
Mr. Gunawardana joined SBA Communications in 2021 and currently serves as Vice President, Strategic Sales, responsible for alignment with core customers, working with them to explore new lines of business and establishing SBA as their preferred partner for their wireless infrastructure needs. Mr. Gunawardana has over 20 years of global experience in sales executive leadership in the telecom, cloud/SaaS, and data center/sub-sea fiber industries.
Before joining SBA, Mr. Gunawardana served as Senior Vice President – Americas at Tata Communications. He was responsible for driving the go-to-market strategy and development of near- and long-term regional business execution in the Americas region in enterprise industry vertical markets, telecom, and for hyper-cloud scalers. Previously, he served as Vice President and General Manager for the Global Mobility Industry Vertical at Juniper Networks, managing a global cross-functional team. He began his career with Nokia, leading the North America sales development team.
Mr. Gunawardana holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics and an MBA in International Business from the University of Denver. He has gained executive education at Columbia Business School and the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.
Session 4 – Use of Powered Ascenders on Telecom Structures
JP Jones, President
Bryant Bertrand, CEO
Ronin Revolution Corporation
Doug Mercier, General Manager
SKYLOTEC North America, LP
Tom Wood, President
Tom Wood is the Brand Manager for Harken, an Elevated Safety Instructor, and has served on many NATE committees over the years. Most recently he served on the SEMC Ad Hoc Committee and also as a member of the group that revamped the NATE CTS. He has been a member of the Alpine Rescue Team in Colorado for 24 years, and he is the Mountain Rescue Association’s Terrestrial Rescue Delegate to the International Commission for Alpine Rescue. He is former president of the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) and is also a SPRAT Evaluator. A lifelong caver, he is certified as a Level 3 cave rescuer and Instructor by the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC). A published author and photographer, Tom wrote his memoir, “Trading Steel for Stone: Tales of a Rustbelt Refugee Turned Rocky Mountain Rescuer” in 2016.
Tom has a Bachelor’s Degree in Photojournalism from Kent State University, and served in the United States Marine Corps Reserves as a Combat Photographer. He lives in Evergreen, Colorado.
Session 5 – Communications Infrastructure and the Digital Divide: All Hands on Deck!
Dan McVaugh is a wireless telecom industry veteran who began his career as a radio frequency engineer in the early 90s and has worked in various roles since. Currently working as an independent consultant and developer of telecom infrastructure projects, Dan taps into his various engineering and leadership roles as well as his entrepreneurial experience to advise clients on business, technology, and leadership.
Dan began his career as an RF engineer, manager and director for various wireless service providers including Sprint and US West Wireless. Dan later co-found ATECS, a professional services firm. ATECS grew to offer all aspects of professional services designing, implementing, and maintaining wireless networks to include RF engineering, site acquisition, A&E, and project management. ATECS later rebranded as Centerline Solutions and grew to a full-turnkey professional and construction services firm. With nine offices in eight states, Centerline Solutions designed, built, modified, and maintained networks for every major wireless service provider in the US, as well as numerous other wireless network operators.
After 17 years leading ATECS/Centerline, Dan stepped away and started his consulting practice and continues to independently develop various telecommunications infrastructure projects. He also has served four years as the president of the Colorado Wireless Association (COWA), and currently serves as the education chair for COWA. You can also keep up with his thoughts on wireless technology and industry topics through his podcast 5G Guys.
Brett Bonomo, CEO
Castle Rock Microwave
Brett Bonomo has decades of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining communication networks. As CEO of Castle Rock Microwave, a turnkey regional system integrator headquartered in Colorado, he leads a team of expert solutions architects, operations engineers, and implementation specialists. He’s also a regular speaker at industry events, championing safety and security through connectivity.
Brett graduated from Purdue Polytechnic Institute in Electrical Engineering Technology with an emphasis on wireless and fiber technologies. He started his career at one of the nation’s largest Wireless ISPs in 2000. He later transitioned to working for wireless equipment manufacturers, including Western Multiplex, Proxim, and Exalt Communications.
Duke Horan, President
Bonfire Infrastructure Group
Prior to joining Bonfire, Mr. Horan held multiple positions at Mears Broadband, which is a Quanta Company, Henkels & McCoy, Adesta, which is a G4S Technology company, MFSNT, Ecklebe Building, Inc, and has led deployment of over a billion dollars of broadband infrastructure throughout his career. Other notable accomplishments include managing city-wide fiber builds in Austin, TX, Beverly Hills, CA, and Sandy, OR. On top of managing all aspects of construction, his team was responsible for material procurement, permitting, and working with all city entities throughout the entire engineering and construction process.
As President of Bonfire Engineering & Construction, Duke is responsible for growth, operations, and management of the business unit to support our customer base. Mr. Horan has spent over 24 years in the telecom engineering and construction industry. He has worked across the United States on last mile, middle mile, longhaul fiber, and wireless networks. He also has significant experience in government funded networks, education, and healthcare.
Cory Crenshaw Moffat is a 2001 Graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science. Ms. Moffat has spoken at IWCE (International Wireless Communications Exposition), ENTELEC (The Energy and Telecommunications and Electrical Association), UTC (Utilities Telecom Council), NATE (National Association of Tower Erectors) and NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) on various topics of regulatory compliance applicable to each sector.
Since 2014 she has been chairperson of ENTELEC’s Regulatory Compliance Sub-Committee and currently serves as co-chair of ENTELEC’s Regulatory and Technology Committee. Ms. Moffat is frequently brought in by engineering firms and law firms alike to assist in compliance for their clients. Ms. Moffat occasionally guest lectures at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas when regulatory compliance is being discussed. Additionally, Ms. Moffat has worked as an expert consultant in arbitration cases. With focuses on several aspects of compliance (including licensing, waivers, authorizations, tower construction compliance, equipment certification processes and other areas) Ms. Moffat’s working knowledge of both technology and regulatory compliance allow her to function competently in several sectors of industry. Ms. Moffat frequently recommends viable solutions on both the technical side and regulatory side.
Scott Wendland, Director of Construction
NICX: Network Infrastructure Construction Co.
Mr. Wendland has worked at the forefront of cutting-edge technology deployment and construction in the telecommunications industry for over 20 years. Mr. Wendland started his career as an electrical engineer for a defense contractor until 2005 when he launched several successful startups focused on the deployment of telecommunications and technology. In 2012 Mr. Wendland joined the EPC industry leader Black and Veatch Inc. as a Construction Manager and eventual Director of several national programs in 5G deployment, Smart Cities planning, and Public Safety. In 2020 Mr. Wendland launched NICX Construction, a general contracting company focused on public infrastructure where he has leveraged his experience to construct wireless and fiber network infrastructure throughout the United states for both public and private entities.
Mr. Wendland is a nationally recognized leader and expert in the telecom construction space and Public Contracting as well as a thought Leader for associations such as: The Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, and the National Wireless Safety Association.