Commissioner Geoffrey Starks believes that communications technology has the potential to be one of the most powerful forces on Earth for promoting equality and opportunity. To unlock that potential, however, all Americans must have access. From combatting internet inequality to advocating for diversity in employment, entrepreneurship, and media ownership, Commissioner Starks fights for policies designed to ensure that modern communications technology empowers every American.
Because high-quality broadband is essential to participating in our economy and society, Commissioner Starks has been a champion for the millions of Americans who lack access to or cannot afford a home internet connection. As a native Kansan, he understands the communications needs of rural America. He has consistently advocated for broadband deployment that helps rural communities tap into economic and educational opportunities that may not be close to home, which both encourages young people to stay and attracts new residents and employers.
Bringing a wealth of enforcement experience to the Commission, Commissioner Starks advocates for consumer protection and accountability, particularly in managing the Universal Service Fund. Before he was appointed Commissioner, Starks helped lead the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, handling a wide variety of complex investigations. At the Department of Justice, he served as a senior advisor to the Deputy Attorney General on a variety of domestic and international law enforcement matters and received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service—the highest honor award a DOJ employee can receive.
Commissioner Starks is also a leader on national security policy, working to eliminate untrustworthy equipment from America’s communications networks. His Find It, Fix It, Fund It initiative brought national attention to the urgent need to support small and rural companies as they work to make their networks more secure. With regard to personal data security, while Commissioner Starks fully supports the promise of advanced wireless service and other cutting-edge technologies—and works to ensure that all communities share in the benefits of these advancements—he also fully appreciates the potentially intrusive powers of some communications technologies and is vigilant to ensure against any uses of those powers that would promote illegal discrimination or compromise personal privacy.
Before he entered federal public service, Commissioner Starks practiced law at Williams & Connolly, clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, served as a legislative staffer in the Illinois State Senate, and worked as a financial analyst. Commissioner Starks graduated from Harvard College with high honors and Yale Law School. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Lauren, and their two children.
Chief of Staff & Senior Legal Advisor for Wireless and International
In addition to his duties as chief of staff to Commissioner Starks, Mr. Davenport also advises the Commissioner on wireless and international matters. Mr. Davenport has a long record of federal service, having served most of his career in the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, beginning as a staff attorney then moving to management positions and ultimately serving as the Deputy Bureau Chief responsible for the Commission's spectrum enforcement matters. Most recently, Mr. Davenport served as Senior Vice President, Federal Regulatory, for Ligado Networks. Earlier in his career, Mr. Davenport also worked at two DC-area law firms, specializing in litigation and communications issues. Mr. Davenport is a two-time co-chair of the Federal Communications Bar Association's Enforcement Committee and a member of the Endorsements committee of the DC chapter of the National Hispanic Bar Association. Mr. Davenport is a graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Legal Advisor for Media and Consumer Protection
Ms. Holland advises Commissioner Starks on media and consumer protection matters. Ms. Holland returns to federal service after a brief period in the private sector, where she most recently served as Senior Advisor for Technology and Telecom at the Washington Bureau of the National Urban League, a historic civil rights organization dedicated to the economic empowerment of underserved urban communities. She also served as Vice President, Law and Policy at USTelecom – The Broadband Association, during which she was appointed to serve as Vice Chair of the FCC's North American Numbering Council. In her previous tenure at the FCC, Ms, Holland served in various leadership roles including Deputy Associate General Counsel for Administrative Law and Chief of Staff in the Office of General Counsel, and Associate Bureau Chief, Chief of Staff, and Division Chief in the Wireline Competition Bureau. She also currently serves as Assistant Treasurer of the Federal Communications Bar Association. Ms. Holland is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Howard University School of Law (J.D., cum laude), and Georgetown University Law Center (LL.M.).
Legal Advisor for Wireline and Public Safety
Ms. Bonner was most recently an associate with the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire, & Grannis LLP ("HWG"), where she practiced with the Communications and Appellate Litigation groups. At HWG, Ms. Bonner's practice covered a wide range of matters involving regulatory challenges, constitutional law, and statutory interpretation, with a particular focus on complex technologies and telecommunications. She has served as a co-chair of the Federal Communications Bar Association's Judicial Practice Committee and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center. Ms. Bonner also regularly teaches courses for attorneys on issues in administrative law and appellate advocacy. Before entering private practice, Ms. Bonner clerked for Judge D. Michael Fisher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Dr. Valentin advises Commissioner Starks on broadband access and adoption matters that impact communities of color, low-income communities, and other marginalized groups. She also advises the Commissioner on matters related to the future of work and prison phone justice. Dr. Valentin joined the Commission from her position as the Communications Justice Fellow at Public Knowledge. Prior to her work at Public Knowledge, she served as a Legislative Fellow in the Office of Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY). She has also taught communications and women’s studies courses at Howard University, Trinity Washington University, Montgomery College, and Northern Virginia Community College. Dr. Valentin received her Ph.D. in Communications from Howard University. She also holds an M.S. in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a B.S. in Telecommunications from the University of Florida.
Rhonda Hill is the Staff Assistant for Commissioner Starks’ office. She previously served in the Office of the General Counsel/Administrative Law Division as a Legal Technician for 29 years. Rhonda will now assist with meeting requests, invitations and all related matters for Commissioner Starks Legal Advisors, William Davenport, Austin Bonner and Diane Holland. Her email is Rhonda.Hill@fcc.gov and she can be reached on 202-418-2500.