Doreen Bogdan-Martin Elected First Woman Head of ITU

Doreen Bogdan-Martin of ITU
Doreen Bodgan-Martin speaks in Bucharest, Romania, following her election as secretary general of the ITU. (Image credit: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has elected American Doreen Bogdan-Martin to lead the United Nations agency as secretary general, the first woman to hold the post.

The ITU coordinates global spectrum and standards and advances broadband access.

President Joe Biden had called for her election as someone who would help close the global digital divide while promoting an “inclusive and accessible digital future, particularly in the developing world.”

Bogdan-Martin was the first woman to hold one of ITU's five elected positions in 2018 when she was elected director of the ITU's Telecommunications Development Bureau

She is a former official with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), the chief telecom policy adviser to the White House and the agency overseeing government spectrum use.

Both Democrats and Republicans had backed her. “It is critical to have a leader with a proven commitment to an inclusive, open internet and universal connectivity as the next Secretary General for the International Telecommunications Union," Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, said in supporting her nomination in advance of the vote Thursday (September 29). “Doreen Bogdan-Martin has the values, expertise and extensive experience on the global telecommunications stage necessary to help guide our digital future and I strongly support her.”

Kudos also came from the other side of the aisle. “With 30 years of experience in the telecommunications sector, Ms. Bodgan-Martin has shown a deep commitment to achieving universal connectivity and has a proven track record of strategic and innovative leadership,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said. “She is the right person to lead the ITU, and I am proud to endorse her."

Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), said: “We applaud the election of an expert veteran to lead the ITU, and support global efforts in maintaining internet freedoms that promote access to information and democracy. The ITU plays an important role in facilitating international connectivity in communications networks, and we look forward to working with ITU leadership to carry out the organization’s important mission.”

Jessica Rosenworcel, the first woman to be permanent leader of the Federal Communications Commission, also endorsed the decision. “I commend the ITU membership on electing Doreen to be secretary general, a proven leader who is dedicated to achieving universal connectivity for all people," she said. 

“At a time when almost one-third of the world lacks broadband access, she has the experience, skills, and dedication to help the ITU drive greater broadband access in all countries,” Rosenworcel added.

“Ms. Bogdan-Martin’s tireless work for universal connectivity and Internet openness makes her a proven leader in international telecommunications policy,” Joe Kane, director of broadband and spectrum policy for the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, said. “Her election by ITU member states shows the international interest in ensuring the technology and the policies that surround it empower individuals rather than become a tool of control for authoritarian regimes.”

FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks also applauded the news. “Her election, confirmed with the overwhelming support of the international community, shows her vision for our collective digital future is the right one,” he said. “Additionally, I want to celebrate the fact that Doreen is the first woman elected to lead the ITU since its establishment in 1865. She made history today.” ▪️

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.