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Posted: August 01, 2008

Qwest’s Chuck Ward spearheads telecom operations for the Democratic convention

Executive Edge

Lynn Bronikowski

Chuck Ward is overseeing construction of a little city smack in the center of the Pepsi Center parking lot — a city with no addresses, a clean slate.

"We’re treating the Pepsi Center parking lot like a new development," said Ward, who as president of Qwest Communications-Colorado, is charged with overseeing telecommunications operations for the Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center. That includes transforming the parking lot into a media center for some 15,000 journalists expected to descend on Denver.

"This is the most significant job I’ve ever had — a very challenging job and, in a lot of ways, a lot of fun," said Ward, a 34-year veteran to the telecom industry. He began his career with Southwestern Bell in St. Louis, holding various technical positions before divestiture took him to AT&T in 1984 in external affairs.

He joined Qwest in 2000 as region vice president of policy and law and in 2005 was named to his current position, overseeing Qwest’s public policy, operations, sales and marketing across Colorado.

Qwest is donating $6 million in services to the Democratic National Convention. Since July 8, when the Democratic National Committee moved in to the Pepsi Center, dozens of Qwest technicians have been installing 3,000 data lines, 2,500 telephone lines, 160 miles of copper and coaxial cable and more than a dozen miles of fiber-optic cable.

"In many ways we’ve already shown how capable and experienced we are in handling these kinds of events," said Ward, citing the World Series and the Summit of Eight as major events Denver has hosted. "This one is a little more intense, more complex because of the venue, but we’ve been planning months in advance, and Denver is well equipped to handle an event of this scope — even with the security issues. I’d love to be bored that week because we’ve laid the groundwork for everything to fall in place. But we’re planning so we can address any issues that come up."

The Democratic National Committee took control of the Pepsi Center on July 8, when Qwest quickly went to work building the telecom infrastructure for the Aug. 25-28 convention.

"At the same time we have to keep our regular business running, so it’s like we’re adding a second tier to handle the convention," said Ward, who expects to put in long hours during the convention.

"I’ll spend the day catching up and make my way to the Pepsi Center at 5 p.m. each evening, not only overseeing service-related issues but being an ambassador for Qwest," said Ward, who never planned a career in telecom.

"I was good in math, liked physics and was going to be a civil engineer, building bridges and roads," he said. "But in 1974, Southwestern Bell was the only company hiring so I took the job, got involved on the technical side and grew up in the business, finding success at all of the various jobs I’ve had."

A native of Pittsburgh, Ward received a bachelor of science degree from Penn State and an MBA from Southern Illinois University. He moved to Denver in 1996 with AT&T, assuming responsibility for regulatory and legislative initiatives in 14 states before joining Qwest and assuming the top Colorado job.

"Having grown up in the telecom business, I enjoy communicating with employees, going to our garages and visiting the technicians on the scene," Ward said. "I’m comfortable doing that, and I recognize the tools, what their jobs are all about."

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Lynn Bronikowski is a freelance writer in Denver.

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