Albany, NY – October 8, 2013 – FirstLight Fiber (formerly known as Tech Valley Communications), a facilities-based telecommunications service provider operating fiber optic networks in Upstate New York and Northern New England, announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed Kurt Van Wagenen as its President and Chief Executive Officer, and that he will also become a member of FirstLight’s Board. After 13 years successfully leading the organization, Kevin O’Connor, co-founder and current CEO, has chosen to retire and will transition to a role of strategic advisor to the Board. These changes are effective immediately.
“We are very pleased to have Kurt leading the team,” said Steven F. Kaplan, General Partner at Riverside Partners and Chairman of FirstLight’s Board of Directors. “Kurt was selected after a very rigorous recruitment process. He is an experienced, growth oriented telecom executive with strong leadership skills and an especially relevant track record leading fiber-based companies in the New York and New England regions. Kurt’s mission is to accelerate FirstLight’s growth while emphasizing continued outstanding customer service to our carrier, wholesale and enterprise customers.”
Mr. Van Wagenen was President and Chief Executive Officer of FiberTower from April of 2008 until November of 2012. Prior to that, he was the President and CEO of NEON Communications from January of 2007 until NEON was acquired by RCN Corporation. He also served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Globix Corporation. Mr. Van Wagenen began his career at Verizon Communications and its various predecessors, holding positions of increasing responsibility. Mr. Van Wagenen earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst.
“I am excited to join FirstLight as it enters its next phase of aggressive growth. Given my local roots and experience operating fiber networks in the Northeast, I am familiar with the market and understand the needs of customers in the region,” said Kurt Van Wagenen. “The Company has a broad fiber footprint, a history of organic and strategic growth, access to capital for continued network expansion and a talented team. My goal is to make FirstLight the preeminent fiber-based provider serving the communications needs of carriers and business customers throughout Upstate New York and Northern New England.”
“The Board would like to thank Kevin O’Connor for his many years of success building FirstLight into the solid organization it is today. He is a strong entrepreneur, and he recognized the benefits of bringing in a leader to manage the day to day operations of the Company, allowing him to transition to a role of strategic advisor with a focus on continued acquisitions for the Company,” said Kaplan.
“As a co-founder, long-time leader of the Company and a continuing shareholder, it is gratifying for me to step back and see how far we have come, including the acquisitions of segTEL, which added New Hampshire to our fiber footprint, and TelJet, which further added Vermont to our fiber footprint,” said Kevin O’Connor. “I have every confidence that Kurt Van Wagenen is the right guy to take FirstLight to the next level.”