PRESIDENT, AT&T VIRGINIA, RICHMOND
Apruzzese joined AT&T more than two decades ago in accounts payable and has served in roles ranging from legislative affairs to domestic and international corporate security. As president, he helps set and implement AT&T’s public policy and philanthropic initiatives in Virginia.
When the pandemic scrambled everyone’s plans, he says, employees and customers had to pivot quickly. Apruzzese puts into perspective what the soaring demand for virtual connections has meant for his company: “On an average day now, about 468 petabytes of data cross our network, up 40% year over year. That’s the equivalent of streaming nearly 100 million 2-hour-long movies in HD.”
Apruzzese serves on the board of directors for nonprofit Jobs for Virginia Graduates, which supports youth initiatives such as Boys to Men Mentoring Network of Virginia and Girls on the Run Hampton Roads.
EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree, Georgia State University
FIRST JOB: Paper carrier for The Sentinel in Carlisle, Pennsylvania
HOBBY/PASSION: Playing the guitar, visiting Virginia’s great wineries and cooking on my Big Green Egg
MATTHEW J. DESCH
CEO, IRIDIUM COMMUNICATIONS INC., McLEAN
Desch’s company operates a constellation of 66 satellites providing communications services such as broadband, voice and data communications.
As the pandemic pushed his staff to telework, Desch connected with his approximately 600 employees via a regular videocast, saying, “You can’t overcommunicate with a remote workforce.”
The coronavirus pandemic “tested the kind of culture our company really has, and who we were as an employer,” he says. The company changed the way it worked but still grew its bottom line: Total revenue in 2020 reached $583.4 million, up 4% from 2019.
A member of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee and the board of Unisys Corp., Desch has been with Iridium since 2006. He sees a company responsibility to inspire student interest in space and STEM subjects.
EDUCATION: The Ohio State University (B.S.) and The University of Chicago (MBA)
HOBBY/PASSION: An active private pilot, I’m passionate about anything that elevates us above the Earth. You can see why I love the satellite business.
CHRISTOPHER E. FRENCH
PRESIDENT AND CEO, SHENANDOAH TELECOMMUNICATIONS Co. (SHENTEL), EDINBURG
This summer, French marked the end of an era for the company he has led since 1988. After decades of providing wireless mobile service, Shentel sold its wireless operations to T-Mobile for $1.95 billion.
The deal provided a return of $936.6 million to shareholders via a special dividend of $18.75 per share, with about $19.6 million reinvested in shares of the company’s common stock.
The sale also is resulting in a company restructuring that will bring a workforce reduction of about 30%, or 340 employees, across its six-state, mid-Atlantic service area.
In the deal’s aftermath, Shentel is focused on expanding broadband access through its Glo Fiber fiber-optic service and Beam, its fixed wireless broadband service. Amid the pandemic, Shentel worked with school systems to ensure the availability of broadband service to student households.
Among other civic roles, French serves on the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education board.
EDUCATION: University of Virginia (B.S., MBA)
VACATION SPOT: An uncrowded beach
J.D. MYERS II
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND REGION MANAGER OF VIRGINIA OPERATIONS, COX COMMUNICATIONS INC., CHESAPEAKE
Myers sees the pandemic as both the biggest challenge and greatest accomplishment of the last year for the 2,400 employees he oversees at Cox Communications.
“As providers of critical infrastructure, we had to stay on,” he says. His employees worked to provide the reliable broadband connection that families, businesses and hospitals needed “to stay connected, to continue to serve their own customers and to fight to keep people alive.”
A former U.S. Army officer active in mentoring and civic organizations, Myers is a trustee for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and serves on the GO Virginia Region 5 Council.
EDUCATION: American University (B.A., dual master’s degrees)
PHILANTHROPY: Maya Angelou said, “When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” I remember going to school hungry, but have worked hard to ensure my daughters will never know that feeling. Therefore, it’s my obligation and privilege to support organizations like Virginia’s food banks, especially this past year. I also recognize the gift of time and never turn down an opportunity to mentor when given the chance.
HOBBY/PASSION: Philanthropy, golf and weight training. Golf offers a mental challenge, and weight training challenges my body. So they’re a perfect balance.