Biden taps Windstream CEO for infrastructure advisory council

Windstream CEO Anthony Thomas was one of more than two dozen executives named to U.S. President Joe Biden’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), with the chief of Louisiana broadband provider REV also snagging a seat at the table.

Thomas told Fierce in an emailed statement he is "honored" to serve on the council. "In the telecommunications industry, we are acutely aware of the need to be constantly on guard against cybercriminals targeting the nation’s critical infrastructure. I look forward to sharing Windstream’s experience combating these threats and to learning from my fellow council members," he added.

Founded in 2001, the NIAC is tasked with conducting studies and advising the president on issues related to the security and resilience of critical infrastructure. More specifically, the council proposes and develops ways to encourage industry to perform risk assessments and implement risk reduction programs. It also works to boost partnership efforts between the public and private sector with an eye toward securing functional systems, physical assets and cyber networks.

Appointees generally come from a range of industries, including agriculture, banking and finance, education, healthcare, telecom and transportation. The council meets on a quarterly basis and reports to the President through the Secretary of Homeland Security.

The newly appointed council will be led by chairman Abedayo Ogunlesi, who is CEO of private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners. The company’s portfolio includes investments across the energy, transportation and digital markets. Its holdings in the latter category include stakes in Ascend Telecom Infrastructure and CyrusOne. GHD executive Maria Lehman will serve as the council’s vice chair.

Thomas and REV CEO Joshua Descant will be among the 20-plus other members comprising the council. Thomas has served as Windstream’s CEO since late 2014 and prior to that was CFO from August 2009 to September 2014. Descant, meanwhile, was promoted to CEO of REV in late 2020 after spending five years as a president at the company. He also currently serves as a member of industry group USTelecom’s leadership committee.

"The deep expertise that Tony and Josh have will be an asset to NIAC as it works to find solutions to defend against potential attacks on our critical infrastructure,” USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said in a statement. “Our nation is better protected when government and industry at all levels and across all sectors work together to guard and defend our infrastructure. I am proud that Tony and Josh will represent the broadband industry to work toward solutions to help protect our digital ecosystem."


This story has been updated with a statement from Windstream's CEO.