Chairman Ajit Pai: click for press photo

Ajit Pai is the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He was designated Chairman by President Donald J. Trump in January 2017. He had previously served as Commissioner at the FCC, appointed by then-President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in May 2012.

Regulatory Philosophy

Chairman Pai’s regulatory philosophy is informed by a few simple principles. Rules that reflect these principles will result in more innovation, more investment, better products and services, lower prices, more job creation, and faster economic growth.

  • Consumers benefit most from competition, not preemptive regulation. Free markets have delivered more value to American consumers than highly regulated ones.
  • No regulatory system should indulge arbitrage; regulators should be skeptical of pleas to regulate rivals, dispense favors, or otherwise afford special treatment.
  • Particularly given how rapidly the communications sector is changing, the FCC should do everything it can to ensure that its rules reflect the realities of the current marketplace and basic principles of economics.
  • As a creature of Congress, the FCC must respect the law as set forth by the legislature.
  • The FCC is at its best when it proceeds on the basis of consensus; good communications policy knows no partisan affiliation.

Selected Issues


Broadband is critical in modern American life. Especially when it comes to innovation, the Internet has leveled the playing field. It’s created a phenomenon that Chairman Pai calls the “democratization of entrepreneurship.” With a good idea and a broadband connection, entrepreneurs anywhere can compete in ways unthinkable a generation ago.

Yet too many Americans still don’t have broadband.  They are left on the other side of the “digital divide.” Chairman Pai has seen this for himself, from Barrow, Alaska to Fayetteville, West Virginia.

That’s why he has proposed a comprehensive plan to promote broadband deployment to all Americans. The federal government must make it easier to for broadband providers to retire increasingly obsolete copper lines in favor of next-generation technologies like fiber. It must enable rural residents to have the same choice for stand-alone broadband typically found in cities.  It must create a roadmap for state and local governments so that companies that want to compete in the broadband market don’t have to jump through unnecessary regulatory hoops in order to lay fiber to consumers.  It must promote common-sense policies like “Dig Once” and reform pole attachment rules to reduce the costs of building digital networks. It must streamline the process for deploying wireless infrastructure, from big towers to small cells.  It must free up more licensed spectrum for use by wireless carriers and more unlicensed spectrum for things like Wi-Fi.  And it must preserve Internet freedom here and abroad, so that the online world can flourish free from heavy-handed government intervention.

First Amendment

Chairman Pai has been an outspoken defender of First Amendment freedoms. When the FCC proposed to send researchers into newsrooms to question why reporters cover some stories and not others, Chairman Pai sounded the alarm. Soon after, the FCC canceled the study. Chairman Pai has also spoken out about threats to free speech here and abroad and has warned against government efforts to regulate the marketplace of ideas.

Public Safety

Public safety is a top priority for Chairman Pai. He took action to ensure that consumers can reach emergency services whenever they dial 911. He has also called on the FCC to help law enforcement combat the rising threat posed by contraband cellphones in our jails and prisons. And he’s pushed for the advancement of Next Generation 911, an Internet-based system which will help keep Americans safe.

Fiscal Responsibility

Chairman Pai has fought to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs. He was the first commissioner to demand an end to corporate welfare in a recent major spectrum auction; the agency ultimately agreed, saving taxpayers over $3 billion. He has been outspoken against the waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program, leading an investigation into the issue. And he wants to make sure that every federal program under the FCC’s purview gets the most bang for the buck.

Taking the Initiative and Getting Results

In addition to the accomplishments mentioned above, Chairman Pai was the first member of the FCC in over two decades to call for revitalizing the AM radio band; the basic reforms he proposed were adopted in 2015. He also urged the FCC to create a task force to study the “Internet Protocol Transition” and report on obsolete rules that could be repealed; that task force was created. He proposed a way for the FCC to address petitions filed by the public much more quickly; that “rocket docket” is now in place and has dramatically sped up the agency’s decision-making. With respect to outside review and oversight, in at least half a dozen high-profile cases in which he dissented, federal courts of appeals have upheld his position. And in other such cases, one or both Houses of Congress has passed legislation consistent with his position.


Biographical Information

Jenner & Block, LLP. Partner, 2011 – 2012 

Federal Communications Commission. Deputy General Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and Special Advisor to the General Counsel, 2007 – 2011

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Chief Counsel, Chairman Sam Brownback, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights, 2005-2007

U.S. Department of Justice. Senior Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, 2004 – 2005

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Deputy Chief Counsel, Chairman Jeff Sessions, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Court, 2003-2004

Verizon Communications Inc. Associate General Counsel, 2001 – 2003

U.S. Department of Justice. Trial Attorney (Attorney General’s Honors Program), Antitrust Division, Telecommunications Task Force, 1998 – 2001

Hon. Martin L.C. Feldman, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Law Clerk, 1997 – 1998

Chairman Pai graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1994 and from the University of Chicago Law School in 1997, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas R. Mulroy Prize. In 2010, Pai was one of 55 individuals nationwide chosen for the 2011 Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a leadership development initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The son of immigrants from India, Chairman Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas. He now lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Janine; son, Alexander; and daughter, Annabelle.

Matthew Berry

Matthew Berry

Chief of Staff

Matthew Berry serves as the Commission’s Chief of Staff. He has previously served as the Commission's General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel. In those roles, he was responsible for providing legal advice to the Commission and managing the Commission's litigation docket. Prior to joining then-Commissioner Pai’s office in 2012, he was a Partner at Patton Boggs LLP, where he was a member of the firm's Technology and Communications practice group. Mr. Berry has also worked at the United States Department of Justice, serving as Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy and an attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel. During his tenure there, he earned the Department's John Marshall Award for providing legal advice related to counter-terrorism policy.

Mr. Berry has also served as a law clerk for United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge Laurence Silberman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Additionally, he has worked as a staff attorney at the Institute for Justice. Mr. Berry graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College and received his J.D. from Yale Law School.

Nicholas Degani

Nicholas Degani

Senior Counsel

Mr. Degani has served as Chairman Pai’s Senior Counsel since January 2017, except for a six-week period during which he served as the agency’s Acting General Counsel. From June 2012 through January 2017, Mr. Degani served as then-Commissioner Pai’s Wireline Legal Advisor. He joined the office from a detail to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he served as counsel under Chairman Fred Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden. Before his detail, Mr. Degani served as an Attorney Advisor in the Wireline Competition Bureau’s Telecommunications Access Policy Division and Competition Policy Division, as well as the Commission’s Office of General Counsel. Mr. Degani entered the Commission through the Attorney Honors Program. Earlier in his career, Mr. Degani clerked for Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and magna cum laude from Yale University, where he studied Electrical Engineering/Computer Science and History.

Michael Carowitz

Michael Carowitz

Special Counsel

Michael Carowitz recently served as Acting Chief of the Enforcement Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission, where he led one of the Commission's largest organizational units, including its field offices around the country. For two decades, Mr. Carowitz has held positions within the communications law field, including an association with a leading Washington DC law firm and service as in-house legal counsel for a start-up provider of broadband and other telecommunications services. While at the Commission, from 2013 until January 2017, Mr. Carowitz was Deputy Chief of the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau. Prior to that, he served for seven years (2005-2012) as Associate Chief/ Chief of Staff of the Commission's Enforcement Bureau. He received his J.D., cum laude, and his B.A, from the University of Michigan.

Nathan Leamer

Nathan Leamer

Policy Advisor

For the past two years, Mr. Leamer served as the Outreach Manager and a Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute, a free-market think tank at which he managed the institute’s government relations and wrote extensively on emerging technology, innovation policy, and public safety. Mr. Leamer has also worked at Generation Opportunity, a millennial advocacy organization. Prior to these roles, he served as a legislative aide for U.S. Representative Justin Amash as well as a legislative assistant in the Michigan House of Representatives. Mr. Leamer received his undergraduate degree from Calvin College.

Jay Schwarz

Jay Schwarz

Wireline Advisor

Dr. Schwarz is an economist who will advise Chairman Pai on wireline issues. Dr. Schwarz joins the office from the Office of Strategic Planning, where he served as Acting Deputy Chief. Previously, he held positions as Deputy Chief in the Wireline Competition Bureau's Telecommunications Access Policy Division and as Supervisory Economist in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau's Competition and Infrastructure Policy Division. Prior to these roles, he worked as an economist in the Wireline Competition Bureau. In his time at the Commission, he has worked on a variety of topics, including universal service, broadband adoption, the IP transition, and spectrum policy. He has co-authored peer reviewed telecommunications research and received the FCC's 2014 Excellence in Economics award. He serves on the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) Program Committee and has taught graduate courses in Cost Benefit Analysis and Microeconomics at the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. and M.Eng. in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University.

Alison Nemeth

Alison Nemeth

Media Advisor

Ms. Nemeth will advise Chairman Pai on media issues. Ms. Nemeth joins the office from the Media Bureau, where she most recently served as a Legal Advisor. She came to the Commission through the Attorney Honors Program, and she has worked on a variety of legal and policy issues in both the Media and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus relating to broadcast television licensing, transactions, the broadcast incentive auction, privacy, and device security. Previously, Ms. Nemeth worked as an interim legal advisor for media issues in then-Commissioner Pai's Office. Ms. Nemeth received her J.D. from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and obtained a certificate from its Institute for Communications Law Studies. Ms. Nemeth received her undergraduate degree from Lafayette College.

Rachael Bender

Rachael Bender

Wireless and International Advisor

Ms. Bender will advise Chairman Pai on wireless and international issues. Ms. Bender joins the office from the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, where she worked on competition issues and efforts to streamline infrastructure deployment. Before coming to the Commission, Ms. Bender served for over five years at the wireless trade association Mobile Future—most prominently as Senior Policy Director—where her work focused on a broad range of spectrum policy matters. Ms. Bender graduated from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law with a certificate from its Institute for Communications Law Studies and from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she earned her B.A. in Government and Politics.

Zenji Nakazawa

Zenji Nakazawa

Public Safety and Consumer Protection Advisor

Mr. Nakazawa will advise Chairman Pai on public safety, homeland security, consumer protection, and enforcement issues. Mr. Nakazawa joins the office from the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, where he served as chief of the Policy and Rules Division. In that capacity, he oversaw several key portfolios, including Next Generation 911, emergency alerting, public safety spectrum issues, as well as issues concerning law enforcement and national security. Prior to that, he served as deputy chief of the division and as a staff attorney and acting legal adviser in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. He also worked in Japan as a Mansfield Fellow. Mr. Nakazawa graduated from the University of Richmond, T.C. Williams School of Law, and received his undergraduate degree in Economics from Bucknell University.

Nirali Patel

Nirali Patel

Special Counsel

Ms. Patel recently served as a Legal Advisor in the Office of Commissioner Brendan Carr, where she advised on media, wireless, public safety, international, consumer protection, and enforcement matters. Prior to that, she served as a Deputy Chief in the Competition Policy Division of the Wireline Competition Bureau. Before joining the Commission in January 2017, Ms. Patel was Counsel in the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications practice of Hogan Lovells US LLP. Previously, she practiced communications law at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and Sidley Austin LLP. Ms. Patel graduated summa cum laude from the American University Washington College of Law and received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Lori Alexiou

Lori Alexiou

Confidential Assistant

For the past four years, Ms. Alexiou has been Commissioner Pai's confidential assistant. She joined the office from the Commission's Office of General Counsel, where she was a Litigation Specialist. Before that, she served as Confidential Assistant to Commissioner Meredith A. Baker and Chairman Kevin J. Martin. Prior to joining the Commission, Ms. Alexiou worked at the law firms of Wiley Rein LLP and Fisher, Wayland, Cooper and Leader. She started her career working for a physician's practice in Pennsylvania.

Andi Roane-Wiley

Andi Roane-Wiley

Executive Assistant

Ms. Roane-Wiley assists Mr. Berry, Mr. Degani, Mr. Carowitz, and Ms. Patel. Since returning to the FCC in 2014, Andi has served in various roles, including most recently as staff assistant in the office of Commissioner Brendan Carr. In prior FCC service, Andi served as the special assistant to the chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. Previously, she worked as an executive assistant for more than two decades in the private sector.

Deanne Erwin

Deanne Erwin

Executive Assistant

Ms. Erwin will assist Dr. Schwarz, Ms. Nemeth, Ms. Bender, Mr. Nakazawa, and Mr. Leamer.  For the past four years, she has served as the staff assistant to the office of Commissioner Pai. Previously, she was the assistant for William Lake, Chief of the Media Bureau. Ms. Erwin began her career at the Commission in 2000.

Carlos Minnix

Carlos Minnix

Staff Assistant

Mr. Minnix joins the Chairman’s Office from the Enforcement Bureau’s Spectrum Enforcement Division, where he was a Staff Assistant. Mr. Minnix had served in that Division since 2007.

October 21, 2014

Commissioner Pai Remarks

March 30, 2017

Connect America Fund

October 21, 2014

Bios of Panel Witnesses

September 30, 2014

Pai Statement, Part 15 NPRM

October 26, 2017 - 2:50 pm

An Energetic November

Ajit Pai | FCC Chairman

During the debate over the ratification of the Constitution, a pseudonymous Alexander Hamilton...

Use the input boxes below to send a message to Ajit Pai

Bridging the rural technology divide
Ajit Pai and Greg Walden
East Oregonian
July 10, 2018

FCC's Ajit Pai: What I learned about tech from Idaho miners, farmers and firefighters
Idaho Statesman
June 28, 2018

FCC chairman: Our job is to protect a free and open internet
June 11, 2018

In rural America, digital divide slows a vital path for telemedicine
Ajit Pai and Newton N. Minow
Boston Globe
May 21, 2018

Florida is on the leading edge of 5G
Tampa Bay Times
May 16, 2018

Hostile powers like Russia and China threaten US communications networks – enough
Ajit Pai and Tom Cotton
Fox News
April 16, 2018

Do you need state's permission to work?
Memphis Commercial Appeal
April 4, 2018

Cancer project also a bet on rural broadband's future
Lexington Herald-Leader
February 8, 2018

Fighting cellphones in prisons
Post and Courier
February 5, 2018

Wireless carriers must deliver emergency alerts more precisely
San Francisco Chronicle
January 29, 2018

Restoring a light touch to Internet regulations
Washington Times
December 5, 2017

How the FCC Can Save the Open Internet
Wall Street Journal
November 21, 2017

Expanded broadband can help combat rural flight
The Wichita Eagle
September 22, 2017

Bridging the digital divide
Herald-Mail Media
July 11, 2017

Another View -- Ajit Pai: Tech Week: How the U.S. can win the digital future
Union Leader
June 21, 2017

Why I'm trying to change how the FCC regulates the Internet
Los Angeles Times
April 26, 2017

No, Republicans didn't just strip away your Internet privacy rights
Washington Post
April 4, 2017

Bringing better, faster internet access to Iowa
The Des Moines Register
October 10, 2016

Capito & Pai: Bridge is a physical reminder of the digital divide in West Virginia
The Register Herald
August 2, 2016

Yoder & Pai: Passing the Kelsey Smith Act will Help Law Enforcement Save Lives
The Hill
May 25, 2016

Cellphones are Too Dangerous for Prison: Nikki Haley and Ajit Pai
USA Today
April 5, 2016

Eshoo & Pai: The Feds Have to Act to Get America Faster Wi-Fi
February 7, 2016

Gardner & Pai: Promoting a Digital Future
Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
September 11, 2015

Fischer and Pai: Midland Voices: It’s time to make broadband priority
June 29, 2015

Lifeline Opinion
National Review
June 17, 2015

The FCC Shouldn’t Enable More TCPA Lawsuits
The Daily Caller
June 16, 2015

Pai & Goodman: Internet Freedom Works
February 23, 2015

Pai & Wright: The Internet isn't broke. Obama Doesn't need to 'fix' it
Chicago Tribune
February 18, 2015

Ayotte & Pai: Ending Welfare for Telecom Giants
The Wall Street Journal
February 4, 2015

Opinion: The Government Wants to Study 'Social Pollution' on Twitter
The Washington Post
October 18, 2014

Long & Pai: The Case in Defense of JSAs
Broadcasting & Cable
September 22, 2014

Opinion: End the Sports Blackout Rule
Cincinnati Enquirer
September 13, 2014

Thune & Pai: Taxman, Won't You Please Spare The Internet?
The Wall Street Journal
July 17, 2014

Moran & Pai: Rural Students Deserves 21st - Century Education
The Wichita Eagle
July 4, 2014

Protecting Free Speech from FCC Regulation
Red State
May 30, 2014

Latta & Pai: Switching Off an Outdated Cable Rule
Washington Times
May 15, 2014

Giving Up the Internet: Still Risky
National Review
April 23, 2014

Johnson & Pai: Reform Federal Program to Connect Classrooms
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
February 21, 2014

The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom
The Wall Street Journal
February 10, 2014

Ayotte & Pai: Bringing the Rural Classroom into the Digital Age
New Hampshire Union Leader
February 1, 2014

L.A., Let Uber's Cars Share the Road
Los Angeles Times
July 9, 2013

Switching Wireless Carriers Shouldn't be a Crime
New York Times
June 5, 2013

Why We Need to Move Ahead on IP
National Journal
April 24, 2013

Robert McDowell: Champion of Liberty, Innovation, and Competition
Red State
March 25, 2013

Too Much Government, Too Little Spectrum
Red State
January 3, 2013

Winning the IP Future
Red State
October 25, 2012