A Bittersweet “Goodbye” to SHLB’s First Employee

Posted By: John Windhausen Blogs,

Of all the challenges I’ve faced throughout my career, this one might be the hardest: I’m sad to share that our wonderful Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff Emily Olson is leaving the SHLB Coalition on April 28. But as much as our team will miss her, we’re incredibly excited that Emily is being appointed to serve as a Broadband Program Specialist at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), effective May 23. 

We couldn’t allow SHLB’s first employee to leave us without honoring her phenomenal contributions to our work. At our Annual Reception last Tuesday, SHLB Board Chairwoman Rachelle Chong and I presented Emily with an Award of Appreciation to acknowledge her impact. While our camera operator was too emotional to capture the whole presentation, she did record my comments lauding Emily, which I invite you to watch below. (Please keep reading to find Rachelle’s and my written remarks at the end of this page.)

The most important thing to know is that all of SHLB’s successes have only been possible because of Emily. She joined SHLB right after graduate school as a program manager, and has since risen to become our COO and chief of staff, growing the entire organization along with her. While my heart is heavy at Emily’s departure, I’m so proud that she will continue to advance broadband access in her new role at NTIA. 

Emily, we are forever grateful to have had you here at SHLB. Alicja, Eric, Meghan, and I are cheering you on from down the street as you begin this new chapter!

If you’d like to join me in thanking Emily for her contributions to the SHLB Coalition and wishing her well, her Linkedin inbox is open.

Remarks from John Windhausen

As prepared for delivery on April 19, 2022.

Thank you all for coming. I hope you enjoy this conversation we are about to have. This is supposed to be the time for me to provide some opening remarks about the SHLB Coalition mission. But, we are going to interrupt your regularly-scheduled programming for an important announcement. Emily, I would like to invite you back onto the stage for a moment…

Our dear Emily informed us last week that she will be leaving the SHLB Coalition staff to take a new and very exciting job at – wait for it – NTIA! We are so proud of her, but of course we will miss her terribly. Even if she is going to be right down the street.

You may not know it but Emily was actually the first full-time SHLB employee. We hired her right out of grad school in 2013, and more than anyone else, she has built the SHLB Coalition into a strong, secure organization that will last for a long time. 

Before coming to SHLB, Emily worked for two years in Morocco in the Peace Corps, and she also worked at the Red Cross in chicago. She brought all of her tremendous talent to SHLB.

Emily, we would not be standing here today without your dedication, hard work, and overall grace and charm. I know it can be unprofessional to express too much emotion, but we love you, and wish you all the best in your exciting future at NTIA. We would like to give you a special award of recognition for your tremendous service to SHLB and the public interest.

Remarks from Rachelle Chong

As prepared for delivery on April 19, 2022.

Emily was SHLB’s very first employee. She handled the many challenges of a new organization with skill and dedication for a decade. As SHLB grew, so did Emily’s talents and expertise. Besides her deep dedication, Emily has been dependable, diligent, diplomatic, and detail-oriented, all the while being delightful!

Given your understanding of the digital divide and the importance of internet for all, I know SHLB’s loss is NTIA’s gain. Best wishes for success at your new role for NTIA!