Meet The Team


Brian R. Mefford

CEO and Chairman

Brian Mefford is recognized as a leading resource by global corporations and policy makers designing and executing digital investment strategies. He has been featured in CSPAN’s “Communicators” series and has been profiled in The Economist and The Wall Street Journal for efforts to expand broadband to underserved areas of the United States. Brian serves as the CEO of CNX, and is the former Chairman & CEO of Connected Nation, Inc., a global nonprofit organization he led for a decade.

Brian regularly provides testimony before the United States Congress and state legislatures and he serves on numerous boards including the New York Academy of Science’s Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council. Internationally, Mr. Mefford serves as a consultant to the Prime Minister of Malaysia advising on technology and wealth creation issues. He is the lead U.S. advisor to IRMA India, which works to establish Community Technology Centers in some of the poorest villages across southeast India.

Brian received a B.S. in Economics from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and an International M.B.A. from Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, in Arizona. He studied English literature at Regents College in London, England and participated in the Legislative Studies Program at Georgetown University.

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Michael Shafer

Vice President of Engineering and Program Management

Mr. Shafer provides technical and strategic guidance for Connected Nation Exchange’s broadband utilization and aggregation initiatives. His most recent experience includes involvement in the design and execution of California’s CAPSNET and CAPSCOM projects, both public safety modernization programs targeting state-wide microwave, fiber optic, and land mobile radio network upgrades. CAPSCOM, in particular, included a multi-agency; unified telecommunications needs assessment and strategic evolution plan requiring the input and agreement of some 10 key state and federal agencies.

Michael has had significant management and direct field engineering experience with analog, digital, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks, wireless, fiber optic, and microwave; systems used by commercial telecom companies as well as the unique networks utilized by the public safety and electric utility industries. In addition, international business development experience in Japan, China, India, and Korea. In addition, as employee #103 of Sprint PCS, he has significant business start-up experience, he successfully grew the telecommunications organization from just a few engineers to now over 50 for Burns & McDonnell, North America’s largest Transmission and Distribution Engineering firm, and a proud employee-owned company founded almost 118 years ago. (more…)

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Casey Clements

Managing Director, National Accounts

Casey has primary responsibility for national sales, both in the development of strategic partners in the private arena, targeting companies with regional and national assets, as well as in the management of sales, market to market, in the public sector.

Casey has more than 25 years of experience, primarily in healthcare sales and operations.  Among the earliest employees of Vencor, Casey spent almost 4 years developing their Chicago and Atlanta markets, helping make them their most successful at the time.  He was recruited away from there by Integrated Health Services, one of Vencor’s then largest competitors, and served as their VP of the Hospital Services division.

Casey then stepped into the entrepreneurial world, raising money to co-found PBS Med-Request, a Medicare reimbursement consulting firm based in Louisville. He sold his interest in that successful company to be the first investor in the newly established company, Data Advantage. 

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Johnny Allen

Managing Director, Investor and Strategic Relations

Prior to joining CNX, Johnny co-founded Venture Forward Advisors, LLC, a strategic business development advisory and financial firm, in 2009. For over 25 years, John has provided successful business development strategies for companies of every developmental phase. As he guides a growing network of investors and entrepreneurs through the challenges of today’s economic landscape, Johnny brings a wide range competencies to CNX including market research and analysis, strategic planning, management team development, investment banking advisory services, and capital raising. Prior to co-founding Venture Forward Advisors, Johnny worked with Pine South Capital, Professional Bank Services, Ernst and Young, Community Physicians Network, Darwin Networks, Healthcoast, Louisville Trust, and Icarus Associates, which he founded as well.

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Terry Holmes

Terry J. Holmes

Senior Engineer

Most recently, Mr. Holmes was the Sr. Engineer of the Engineering & Technical Services department at Connected Nation, Inc., providing engineering support for Connected Nation and its subsidiaries as it relates to broadband mapping, broadband adoption strategies, field validations and broadband deployment in multiple states. Prior to this role, Terry was the Senior VP of American Telecasting, Inc., a public company with fixed wireless operations in 54 markets throughout the U.S.

Terry has extensive technical and operational experience in cable, wireless, telephony and satellite-centric ecosystems. He has led advanced technology field trials that involved Microsoft, AT&T, WorldCom, Nokia and others. He has also participated in collaborative efforts with divergent entities that resulted in FCC regulatory rulings enhancing national broadband advancements.

Throughout his 38-year career in telecommunications, Terry has been a frequent speaker at national and international venues where he addresses operational issues and the value of business relationships.

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Meet The Board

Richard A. Anderson (2012 – 2015)


Dick Anderson has held executive leadership positions in both the public and private sectors with a long and distinguished career in telecommunications rising from account executive to Vice Chairman of BellSouth and then Group President for AT&T running a $30B business serving global business clients as well as serving as a director for Cingular, Adtran, Metro PCS, and Computer Services, Inc.

Most recently, Anderson has been Chief Operating Officer at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.  As well, he served in the administration of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as Executive Director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

Anderson has long been involved in the Atlanta community, being named one of the 100 Most Influential Atlantans by the Business Chronicle and serving as the 2007 Chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce as well as serving on the boards of Children’s Healthcare, MARTA, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, Georgia Higher Education Facilities Authority, Clark Atlanta University, and Camp Twin Lakes.  He also led Atlanta’s most recent bid for the Super Bowl. (more…)

Hunter Bates


Hunter Bates has been involved in public policy and advocacy for many years and has served as legal counsel and chief of staff to current Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

From 1997 through 2002, Bates served as chief legal counsel and then chief of staff to Senator McConnell. He worked with McConnell and other members of the Senate and House on a wide range of issues from appropriations to election law to healthcare to labor law to civil justice reform, including medical malpractice reform. As chief counsel of the Senate Rules Committee from 1999-2000, Bates also advised McConnell on ethics and campaign finance issues.

In addition to serving as McConnell’s top adviser and speechwriter, Bates helped draft legislation and served as McConnell’s point person for weekly Senate leadership meetings. Bates also drafted op-ed articles with Senator McConnell that were published in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA today, Washington Times, Courier-Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader, among others. (more…)

John R. Farris

Chief Financial Advisor

John R. Farris is the Founder and President of Commonwealth Economics. He began his career as an economist at the Center for Economics Research at the Research Triangle Institute. Mr. Farris continued his professional career as a senior economics consultant with the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. From 2006 – 2007, Mr. Farris served as Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where he oversaw the collection, investment and distribution of over $8 billion dollars in annual tax revenue. Mr. Farris served as an adjunct Professor of Economics and Finance at Centre College in Danville, KY from 2008 to 2012. Mr. Farris sits on the Board of Directors for: Farmers Capital Bank Corporation (NASDAQ: FFKT), Kentucky Technology Inc. (KTI), Connected Patients Inc., and Secat Inc.

Mr. Farris also serves as an Advisor to the Board of the following companies: Video, Corporex Capital, 1020 Digital, Connected Nation, and International Network for Outcomes Research.

Mr. Farris received a full-tuition fellowship to study economics and finance at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, where he was awarded a Master’s Degree. Before attending Princeton, Mr. Farris studied economics and philosophy at Centre College from which he graduated, Phi Beta Kappa, attaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Philosophy. Mr. Farris is also a Series 65 Licensed Registered Investment Advisor.

Thomas Ferree


As Connected Nation’s President, Tom Ferree provides vision and leadership for all aspects of Connected Nation operations, which includes industry-leading policy and research operations helping shape national technology policy, groundbreaking community engagement and digital literacy efforts impacting thousands across the nation, and technical and mapping services as the largest federal State Broadband Initiative grantee.

Mr. Ferree also serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, a position he’s held since 2010. Under his leadership, the Connected Nation portfolio has expanded to include 30 states and thousands of communities, and being recognized as the national leader in broadband mapping, planning, and program implementation.

Among Connected Nation’s pioneering efforts to expand broadband to unserved and underserved communities is the development of the “Connected” community engagement program, where communities gather technology champions to evaluate the current state of adoption, access, and use of broadband in their area and then formulate an action plan with measurable, implementable solutions. When complete, the program provides a nationally recognized platform for spotlighting communities that are excelling across all broadband adoption, access, and use measurements. (more…)

W. James Host


Jim Host is serving as Chairman and CEO of, a Lexington, Kentucky based Sports Internet Company. He served as Secretary of Commerce for the Commonwealth of Kentucky under Governor Ernie Fletcher for two years, leaving in October 2005. He is the former chairman and CEO of Host Communications, Inc. (“HOST”) which he founded in Lexington Kentucky in 1972. HOST became IMG College, a subsidiary of IMG in 2007.

Host, a University of Kentucky graduate, played professional baseball after receiving one of UK’s first baseball scholarships. He worked with Procter and Gamble in sales and spent the early 1960’s with his own real estate, building and insurance company as well as doing play-by-play for several networks broadcasting UK sports.

Host returned to Lexington in 1972 and opened Jim Host and Associates, which began rapid development in 1974 with two contracts: a basketball and football radio agreement with the University of Kentucky and an executive management relationship with the National Tour Association.  Host began a long standing business relationship with the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1975 and is personally credited with implementing the first collegiate corporate sports marketing program for the NCAA in 1983. HOST handled all radio, publishing, marketing and corporate marketing for the NCAA for over 25 years. (more…)

Robbie Rudolph


Robbie Rudolph is the owner, founder, and president of Rudolph’s, Inc., an international tire and domestic wholesaler, established in 1981 with a home base in Murray, Kentucky and Rudolph Freight, Inc. a 48 state truck load carrier.

In 1988, Rudolph co-founded the Amazon Valley Mission Organization, AMOR, a volunteer mission organization that provides dental work, medical care and eyeglasses to Brazil. In 2008 he and his wife Lisa, established the Four Rivers Scholarship Fund a program designed to provide assistance and encouragement to students to pursue post-secondary education and vocational careers in four school districts in far western Kentucky.

Rudolph served as Kentucky’s Secretary of the Executive Cabinet under Governor Ernie Fletcher during 2006 and 2007 and as Secretary of the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet from 2003 to 2006.  Rudolph was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky in the 2007 election, running along with incumbent Ernie Fletcher. (more…)