Donna Garofano, Longtime Cable Franchise Expert, Dies

Donna F. Garofano, the senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs at Atlantic Broadband, died unexpectedly on Dec. 31.

She was 56 years old and had a distinguished 20-year-plus career as a cable franchise negotiator, starting at Cablevision Systems, where she secured the company's first urban franchise, in Boston.

Later, at Ameritech New Media, she obtained the first cable franchises ever for a "Baby Bell" telephone company. That Ameritech unit grew to become the 14th largest U.S. cable MSO in the mid to late 1990s. SBC Communications bought Ameritech and sold the cable systems in 2001.

She then joined American Broadband, a prospective cable "overbuilder" in 2000 and 2001, where she initiated and negotiated competitive franchises and secured licenses for more than 650,000 homes. ABI was forced to cancel its development plans after funding fell short.

After that Garofano joined fellow ABI (and Continental Cablevision) executive Edward Holleran at Atlantic Broadband. Backed by ABRY Capital and other investors and headed by CEO David Keefe, another ex-Continental executive, Atlantic Broadband got off the ground by buying 235,000 subscribers from Charter Communications in 2003.  ABB is currently ranked 15th on the list of top cable MSOs, with 283,800 subscribers, according to the NCTA.

Holleran, Atlantic Broadband's president and chief operating, said: "Donna was a much valued and loved member of our management team and she will be deeply missed by all her colleagues and friends at Atlantic Broadband. Her passion, talent and dedication for her work were extraordinary. They were matched only by her personal qualities and the friendship she had for all who knew her. She was very special."

Holleran said Garofano apparently suffered stomach pains during a recent business trip to Maryland and was hospitalized. She later was examined by doctors in Boston and on Wednesday, Dec. 30, was stricken while at her lakeside home in Salem, N.H., and died on Dec. 31, according to her published obituary.

Garofano also was known for a love of politics and was a veteran of campaigns on the North Shore in Massachusetts and in Boston, Chicago, New York, Connecticut (where she supported U.S. Senate hopeful and Democrat Ned Lamont in 2006) and New Hampshire.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Annual Fund Scholarship, Donna Garofano Class of '74 Fund, Wheaton College, Alumni Relations, 26 East Main St., Norton, MA 02766 or to Donna Garofano Scholarship Fund, St. Mary's High School, Office of Institutional Development, 35 Tremont St., Lynn, MA 01902.

At Wheaton, she was president of the Class of 1974 and later was an active fundraiser and recruiter.

Her funeral will be held Thursday, Jan. 7, in Lynn, Mass.

More information about funeral arrangements and survivors can be found here.