Stacey Leech – Senior Director of Events & Industry Affairs
Since joining ACA Connects (then SCBA) in 1998, Stacey’s primary focus has been on events and working with our vendor partners. In her current role as Senior Director of Meetings & Industry Affairs, she works on the production of the annual Summit and, in conjunction with NCTC, The Independent Show. Named to the CableFax 2020 List of Most Powerful Women, she has also been awarded a Faxie for most innovative press kit promoting our annual lobbying event. As the liaison between the association and our AMP vendor partners, Stacey works to develop marketing plans that maximize membership benefits and leverage sponsorship opportunities. In her spare time, Stacey enjoys attending college football games (#GoVols and #H2P) and spending time at her family camp with husband, Paul, daughters, Madison and Maressa, son-in-law, Nick and faithful, four-legged companion, Bentley. Stacey’s love of marketing and planning has carried over to her daughters, both of whom work in advertising and public relations.
Phone: 412.922.8300, Ext. 15
Caroline Persinger – Grassroots Manager
Caroline has over 15 years of experience working with ACAC members. As ACA Connects’ fourth employee, she has seen the small association grow into a nationally known voice for independent broadband providers where we are called upon for our opinions rather than saying who are you? Her “can do” philosophy helped in creating her current grassroots role. This critical role helps members with building relationships with their policymakers in Washington and develops good grassroots practices. She also takes the lead in expanding ACAC’s political arm with the ACA PAC. Caroline is an avid Pittsburgh Penguins hockey fan, which is the best part of winter and helps makes the cold months quickly advance. Her most important role is that of wife, mum and grandma, she has two sons and two grandsons.
Phone: 412.922.8300, Ext. 18
Tomeika Slappy – Assistant to the President & CEO
With over 20 years of broadly diverse experience encompassing executive support, Tomeika joined ACA Connects in 2015. As Assistant to the President & CEO, she skillfully manages a wide range of administrative responsibilities and assists with many aspects of ACA Connects member relations. She graduated Bradford School in Pittsburgh, PA, with a specialized associates degree. Tomeika enjoys traveling, spending time with close friends and family and prides herself in her two other titles – god mom and Aunt Meika. She is a die-hard fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and was the winner of a Steelers Nation Unite VIP weekend in 2018 which was an experience she will never forget!
Phone: 412.922.8300, Ext. 11
Karen Yochum – Senior Director of Administration & Finance
Karen’s long tenure at ACA Connects began in 1997, and she has performed many financial, HR and compliance functions on behalf of the Association during that time. She joined ACA Connects, formerly the Small Cable Business Association, after working as a legal assistant for Star Cable Associates, which was based in Pittsburgh and had cable television systems in multiple states. She graduated with a double major in Business Administration and Art from Washington and Jefferson college back in the day and her first job was as a paralegal with a large Pittsburgh law firm. Karen enjoys painting, reading and listening to music in her free time and is married with two grown children.
Phone: 412.922.8300, Ext. 16
Ted Hearn – Vice President of Communications
Ted Hearn joined the ACA Connects family in 2009 as Vice President of Communications. Based in Washington, D.C., Ted is responsible for interacting with media representatives as well as preparing and distributing nearly all ACA Connects external communications. These communications include: Press releases, statements, speeches, the ACAC Daily Media Sweep, and the biweekly ACAction Brief. Ted also plays a leading role in expanding ACA Connects presence on various social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. On the Twitter microblogging platform Ted’s handle is @TedatACA. Before joining ACAC, Ted was a Washington, D.C., journalist for 25 years, focusing on communications law and regulation at the local, state and federal levels. For his last 15 years in journalism, Ted was the Washington, D.C., News Editor of Multichannel News. Ted holds B.A. M.A. degrees, respectively, from Lake Forest College and the George Washington University. Ted’s daughter Michelle is a 2021 college graduate who lives and works in New Orleans, La.
John Higginbotham – Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
John Higginbotham serves as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for ACA Connects. Higginbotham is responsible for all of the daily operations of the organization and directly oversees the development and implementation of the marketing and growth strategy for member and associate member companies. Higginbotham holds a BA and MA in Communications from Morehead State University. Before joining ACA Connects in 2020, Higginbotham spent nearly 25 years as a member-operator with the Frankfort Plant Board, a municipal utility in Kentucky. John retired as the Assistant General Manager – Telecom, in 2017. John and his wife reside in Winchester, KY and are the parents of two adult sons. Higginbotham talks way too much about Kentucky Basketball, Kentucky Bourbon, the Civil War and Ford Mustangs.
Phone: 412.922.8300, ext. 34
Brian Hurley – Vice President of Regulatory Affairs
Brian Hurley is Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. In that position, he leads ACA Connects’ advocacy at the Federal Communications Commission in a wide variety of regulatory proceedings—on broadband deployment and adoption, public safety, robocalls, and more. He also produces a substantial volume of member advisories, webinars and other materials to help ACA Connects members understand and comply with their regulatory obligations. Before joining ACA Connects in 2018, he served 10 years as an attorney at the Federal Communications Commission. He graduated from Duke Law School and holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from DePauw University. Hurley lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and a very spoiled cat. He enjoys cooking new recipes and watching old movies.
Mike Jacobs – Vice President of Regulatory Affairs
Mike Jacobs serves as ACA Connects Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, representing small- and medium-sized broadband, video, and voice providers before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal agencies. Before joining ACA Connects in early 2020, he spent several years as Vice President, Regulatory Affairs at another trade association, overseeing its FCC advocacy on behalf of rural broadband providers. Prior to that, Mike held various senior positions at the FCC, and obtained experience in private practice handling a breadth of communications law matters. He holds a law degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Duke University. Mike was Head Manager of the Duke Basketball Team and contributed to three Final Four appearances. His wife, Rachel, two daughters, Isabel and Aviva, and dogter, Ethel, all share in Mike’s continued enthusiasm over Blue Devil hoops.
Ross Lieberman – Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
Ross Lieberman serves as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for ACA Connects. Lieberman leads the development and execution of the trade association's advocacy before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies, and the courts. Before joining ACA Connects in 2007, Lieberman directed congressional and state affairs for EchoStar Communications Corporation, parent company of DISH Network, for seven years. Lieberman holds a Juris Doctor degree from American University’s Washington College of Law and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the Johns Hopkins University. He resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife, two boys, and his Basenji dog Scamp. Lieberman is an avid fan of the New York Mets and New York Jets and an independent craft beer drinker.
Nathan Penrod – Digital Media Specialist
Nathan Penrod, a talented digital specialist with a diverse background in media production, joined ACA Connects as its Digital Media Specialist in September 2020. His experience in videography, photography, graphic design, content management systems and social media add to our strategic communications initiatives. Nathan resides in the Versailles, Kentucky with his wife and two daughters. During Nathan's free time he enjoys woodworking which includes the creation of cutting boards, small furniture pieces, and decorative items using his CNC machine. Nathan is an alum of the University of Kentucky and enjoys watching the UK basketball and football teams. His favorite TV show is The Office.
Matt Polka – President and CEO
Matt Polka is the President and CEO of ACA Connects – America’s Communications Association. Matt has been with the organization since it was founded by independent operators as a volunteer organization in 1993 after Congress re-regulated the cable industry and Matt’s small cable company and 150 others realized they had no voice in Washington, D.C. He became its first President and CEO when the group professionalized in 1997. Matt was named a Cable TV Pioneer in 2009 and a Mid-America Pathfinder in 2019, along with being named to the Cablefax 100 for many years. Matt is married (Sharman) and has two adult daughters, all who became teachers like their Mom! Matt used to be a firefighter and sang barbershop quartet music, among other hobbies and pursuits. Today, he enjoys all things Marvel, binging and streaming, social media, family fun, working on the house, and time with the family’s good friend and companion, #AndyBeagle.
Phone: 412.922.8300, ext. 14