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Hudson Visiting Fellow Robert McDowell was a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) until 2013. He was appointed by presidents George W. Bush (2006) and Barack Obama (2009), and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate each time. His second nomination in 2009 made him the first Republican appointed to an independent agency by President Obama. Prior to joining the FCC, he worked in senior positions in the telecommunications industry for 16 years. His strategic vision combined with his business, legal and political acumen have made him a highly effective leader with proven results.
For nearly seven years, Commissioner McDowell has served as one of only five policymakers on the FCC, which regulates approximately one-sixth of the U.S. economy and shapes domestic and international commerce in the information, communications and technology (ICT) sectors. His leadership has produced policies directly affecting all aspects of: the Internet, wireless technologies, broadband competition, communications equipment and devices, as well
as television, radio and satellite services.
McDowell has also been an official member of U.S. diplomatic delegations working on treaty negotiations and international conferences governing global spectrum and telecom policies. His work at the FCC has touched on national security, cybersecurity, and privacy matters. He holds a high-level security clearance.
He has consistently and methodically worked to forge bipartisan consensus in adopting policies to promote economic expansion, investment, innovation, competition and consumer choice. The Washington Post has called him, "an independent force at the FCC," while Broadcasting & Cable magazine described his tenure as "statesmanlike." Examples of his accomplishments are:
Immediately prior to joining the FCC, Commissioner McDowell was senior vice president for the Competitive Telecommunications Association (CompTel), an association representing competitive facilities-based telecommunications service providers and their supplier partners. There he led advocacy efforts before Congress, the White House and executive agencies. He has served on the North American Numbering Council (NANC) and on the board of directors of North American Numbering Plan Billing and Collection, Inc. (NBANC).
Prior to joining CompTel in February 1999, McDowell served as the executive vice president and general counsel of America's Carriers Telecommunications Association (ACTA), which merged with CompTel at that time.
McDowell was graduated cum laude from Duke University in 1985. After serving as chief legislative aide to a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, he attended the College of William and Mary's Marshall-Wythe School of Law. Upon his graduation from law school, McDowell joined the Washington, D.C., office of the national law firm of Arter & Hadden.
His involvement in civic and political affairs spans four decades. He was appointed by the Governor of Virginia to the Governor's Advisory Board for a Safe and Drug-Free Virginia, and to the Virginia Board for Contractors, the Commonwealth's largest regulatory board, where he served for eight years. A veteran of several presidential campaigns, his work during the 1992 election cycle is cited in the Almanac of American Politics, 1994. Among many other endeavors, McDowell has twice been a candidate for the Virginia General Assembly. He is a former Chairman of the Board of the McLean Project for the Arts, which strives to connect emerging artists with communities in the Washington region.
McDowell has published numerous articles and opinion-editorials. He is a frequent public speaker and often appears on television and radio. He has received several awards in recognition of his service on the FCC. He is admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court, the courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia, First, Fourth and Fifth Circuits, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
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