May 15, 2017

Former FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy Returns to Wilkinson Barker Knauer

Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP is pleased to announce that former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy is returning home to Wilkinson Barker Knauer. Ms. Abernathy’s unmatched combination of top-level government and corporate experience makes her uniquely suited to counsel WBK’s clients throughout the media, communications, energy, and technology sectors. Ms. Abernathy will provide strategic guidance on business, legal, and policy issues, navigating the firm’s clients through a fast-changing regulatory environment, both domestically and around the world.

Ms. Abernathy recently retired from Frontier Communications, where she first joined the company as an independent Board member and then moved into the role of Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President, External Affairs as the company pursued major strategic acquisitions. At retirement she was EVP, External Affairs, overseeing all state, federal and external relationships. During her time at Frontier, she guided the company through the regulatory aspects of three major acquisitions of properties from AT&T and Verizon, and was also a key player in the company’s advocacy at the FCC, including recent opposition to the Commission’s business data services (BDS) proposal. Ms. Abernathy also sits on the board of ISO New England, a regional energy transmission organization authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ensure the constant availability of competitively-priced wholesale electricity.

Nominated by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Abernathy served as FCC Commissioner from May 2001 until December 2005. As part of the Republican majority during her time as a Commissioner, she advocated for a light regulatory touch as she helped craft policies for broadcast television, cable, satellite, domestic and international telecommunications, wireless telephony, consumer protection and education, and general enforcement of Commission rules. She also chaired the Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service and participated in international bilateral and multilateral negotiations, including the 2002 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference and the 2003 ITU World Radiocommunications Conference. In 2004 she was selected by the ITU to Chair the Global Symposium for Regulators. Ms. Abernathy was a partner at WBK both before and after her time at the agency.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Abernathy worked in a variety of private and public sector roles, including advising prior Commissioner Sherrie P. Marshall and Chairman James H. Quello, working for several telecommunications companies, and serving as an adjunct professor at both Georgetown University Law Center and Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law. Ms. Abernathy is an active member and former President of the Federal Communications Bar Association. She is a graduate of Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law and of Marquette University.

Bryan Tramont, Managing Partner of Wilkinson Barker Knauer, said, “Kathleen’s unmatched experience fighting for more limited, thoughtful regulation makes her the perfect catalyst for developing relationships with clients who face federal and state regulatory issues in communications, media, and energy. At a personal level, Kathleen has been a mentor, boss and friend for many years. I am excited to team up again—as they say, the third time’s the charm!” Ms. Abernathy added, “The fun, positive culture and exciting, growing practice areas at WBK consistently pull me back. I have known these people for many years and very much look forward to returning to my WBK team.”

Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, one of the largest law firms in the nation dedicated primarily to the practice of communications and energy law, is ranked as a “first tier” firm by Chambers USA (Telecom, Broadcast, and Satellite: Regulatory), and Legal 500 (Telecoms and broadcast: regulatory), and was twice named “Law Firm of the Year” in communications law by U.S. News - Best Lawyers (2012 & 2014). The firm, with offices in Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado, advises clients ranging from global Fortune 100 companies to small start-ups in regulatory, transactional, privacy/cybersecurity, consumer protection, intellectual property, corporate and litigation matters involving all aspects of communications and energy law, at both the state and federal levels.

Ms. Abernathy will be resident in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office and can be reached at 202-383-3399 and at Additional information about Ms. Abernathy can be found at

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