Gov. Scott appoints Hallquist to lead state broadband board

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced the appointment of Christine Hallquist as executive director of the newly established Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB). The Board was created through Act 71, an act relating to accelerated community broadband deployment, to assist and accelerate community efforts to achieve universal access to reliable, high-speed broadband service.

 As executive director, Hallquist will supervise and help implement the Board’s work and policies. Specifically, she will manage the board’s administrative budget, hire staff or contractors as necessary, make recommendations to the board for grant awards and work with the board to support and assist Communication Union Districts (CUDs) in their planning, development and implementation of broadband projects.

 “Expanding access to broadband is critical in a 21st Century economy, and by increasing connectivity in rural and underserved areas in every corner of the state, we will take an important step toward increasing regional economic equity,” said Governor Phil Scott. “I cannot think of a better person to lead this important effort than Christine. Her experience as a cooperative executive and most recent experience with two CUDs as well as her long-standing commitment to expanding broadband in Vermont will be valuable to this work.” 

Hallquist has decades of experience in the energy and utility sectors, including top leadership roles. Most recently, she worked with NEK Broadband and Lamoille FiberNet, two CUDs working to expand broadband in Vermont. Prior to that she worked in Canada on a joint venture to build a new battery for the electric grid. From 2000 to 2018, Hallquist worked at Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC), starting as an engineering and operations manager, and serving as CEO from 2005 to 2018, at which time she stepped down to run for governor.

Hallquist started her career in Vermont working in manufacturing support services at IBM, then took a job in Williston with Digital Equipment Corporation and trained to become an electrical engineer. Hallquist left Digital in 1991 to serve CEO of a small electronics company and three years later started a consulting company helping manufacturers with process improvements.

 “I’m honored and eager to take on this role,” said Hallquist. “I have spent many years working in this space, and I truly believe Vermont’s future depends on getting everyone connected to fiber optic cable. The investment here is historic and I look forward to helping CUDs across the state deliver.”

 The board will consist of five members: Two will be appointed by the governor, one appointed by the Speaker of the House, one appointed by the Senate Committee on Committees, and one appointed by the Vermont Communications Union District Association. The board and its work will be supported by $150 million from the federal American Rescue Act Plan (ARPA), a proposal made by Governor Scott and supported by the Legislature.

 The new Board will be housed within the Department of Public Service. Commenting on the appointment, Public Service Commissioner June Tierney said, “Christine brings to the table a reputation for excellence as a seasoned utility executive with a proven record in Vermont for successfully meeting challenges and leveraging scarce resources. She has the ‘can do’ confidence and real-world experience needed to engage effectively with the infrastructure planning and market dynamics facing Vermont’s Communications Union Districts. I look forward to supporting the work she and the VCBB will be doing.”

 Hallquist starts Monday, July 26, and the first meeting of the Board will occur on August 9.

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