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Zayo’s Kitty O’Connor Brings Business Background, Government Experience to the SHLB Board


Earlier this month, the Schools, Health, & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition welcomed Zayo Head of Healthcare and E-rate Compliance Kitty O’Connor to their board of directors

A public interest group focused on advocacy, SHLB works with government policymakers to develop programs and legislation to bring communities high-capacity broadband throughout the U.S. Its focus is on anchor institutions – places like schools, libraries, healthcare providers, public housing, and community recreation centers – and the surrounding communities. 

“Traditionally, anchor institutions have been left out of the broadband conversation,” John Windhausen, Executive Director of SHLB tells us, “The government tends to focus on either residential or business users alone. Our aim is to be the voice of anchor institutions in DC and with state broadband leaders.” 

In the past few years, SHLB has taken on many successful regulatory and policy-related projects. During the pandemic, they convinced the FCC to extend E-rate deadlines and funding for rural applicants, pushed for gift rule waivers, and worked with schools and libraries to extend wireless broadband networks to the home for remote learning. 

The coalition also worked tirelessly to get anchor institutions built into the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act framework, passed in 2021. Thanks in part to SHLB’s hard work and advocacy, thousands of anchor institutions will get enhanced broadband connections under the Act. 

More recently, the group has been working with the White House to improve the quality of wireless networks, with an aim to serve low-income consumers in a more affordable way. SHLB supports what it calls deploying broadband “to and through” anchor institutions to provide affordable last-mile connectivity to unserved households.  SHLB’s motto is “to solve the digital divide one anchor institution at a time.” 

The expertise and background Kitty brings to the SHLB board will significantly contribute to the group’s success. Formerly a staffer to United States Senator Lamar Alexander during his tenure as Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, O’Connor brings a diverse, deep background in policy and business and a passion for SHLB’s mission to her new role. 

“I’m looking forward to joining the SHLB board to help achieve digital equity,” Kitty shares, “Making sure that all people have access to technology is the mission of SHLB, and being part of furthering that is exciting.”

As a member of the board, Kitty will help elevate SHLB’s visibility and effectiveness in advocacy. “Kitty will be an enormous asset to SHLB,” Windhausen shares, “She’s a great spokesperson for SHLB and Zayo and has great credibility with policymakers on Capitol Hill. She knows how to get things done.” 

Zayo, too, remains committed to closing the digital divide. With $92.9 million recently awarded as part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) federal grant program, Zayo aims to bring critical middle-mile connectivity to underserved communities across the country. Learn more about our new federally funded routes and how these routes support healthcare, education, and other anchor institutions nationwide here.