Rising FCC Leader: Meet Jessica Rosenworcel

Jessica Rosenworcel has been nominated to become the first woman to lead the Federal Communications Commission, and she is quickly rising as a leader in her field. She currently serves on the FCC’s 2-member commission and is Obama’s nominee for chairman of the agency. Jessica Rosenworcel was born and raised in New York City, where she attended public schools. She graduated from Brown University with a Bachelors degree in International Relations in 1991 before attending law school at Yale University. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1994, she went on to work at law firms representing major telecommunications companies including AT&T, Verizon, Clear Channel Communications Inc., National Geographic Society and others before becoming an attorney advisor for former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns. Rosenworcel then became a communications counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation before joining the FCC in 2012 as a legal advisor to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. In 2013, she was nominated by President Obama to become a member of the Federal Communications Commission after representing her home state of New York in the United States Senate. Rosenworcel is married to Dr. David Sohn, who currently serves as Senior Counsel for Policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and was formerly Chief of Staff of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). They live in Washington, D.C., with their son. Jessica Rosenworcel is running for the highest office in the FCC against President Obama’s nominee Tom Wheeler, who currently serves as a lobbyist for major telecommunications companies.

If Rosenworcel’s nomination is confirmed by the Senate, she will be the second woman in history to lead the agency. The FCC regulates interstate commerce in broadcasting, cable, telecommunications, and wireless communications using authority delegated by Congress. Established in 1934 as an independent federal regulatory agency under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, it was originally intended to regulate the telephone monopolies and carefully consider any telecommunications company’s request for new or modified regulation. The FCC has expanded its authority through numerous statutes and rulings over time and currently regulates all devices that use radio-frequency spectrum in the United States, including wireless phones, television, radio broadcasters, air traffic control systems, cell towers, emergency call boxes, and GPS devices. It has also become a resource for consumers, Congress, other government officials, the media, and many organizations who want information related to communications services in the United States. Currently, mobile phones can only be used on one of five national carriers: AT&T Mobility LLC (formerly known as Cingular Wireless LLC), Cellular South, Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Corporation and T-Mobile USA. The FCC is divided into five bureaus that investigate on a variety of consumer complaints related to telecommunications services in the United States. If Rosenworcel becomes chairman of the agency, she will have to address issues involving broadband, including expanding access to mobile wireless broadband for low-income Americans, the creation of a faster Internet service for federal agencies, and promoting public safety in emergencies. She may also face opposition from her Republican colleagues on certain issues such as net neutrality, which was proposed by former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski but has never been enforced due to concerns over how much control ISPs should have in regulating their networks.