OUR STORY

How We Connect

Crosstown Fiber stands at the forefront of digital infrastructure in Chicago with our state-of-the-art underground fiber network. Our infrastructure, entirely subterranean, is meticulously designed to ensure full diversity and utmost reliability. This modern approach not only enhances network resilience but also paves the way for future technological advancements within the city.

Our team, bringing over a century of combined experience, is committed to deploying and operating a network that exemplifies Chicago’s vision for a connected future. We are not just constructing a network; we are laying the foundation for Chicago’s technological evolution.

As an owner, operator, and developer of this cutting-edge fiber network, Crosstown Fiber serves a broad spectrum of clients. Our clientele includes state and local government bodies, educational institutions, and a variety of commercial enterprises. Our commitment extends throughout the greater Chicago market, ensuring top-tier connectivity solutions for a range of needs and sectors.

Crosstown Fiber

Our high-capacity, underground network features unique and diverse routes, utilizing a redundant ring structure to cover the entire Chicago-land area comprehensively. With decades of experience in the telecommunications industry, Crosstown Fiber’s executive leadership team brings invaluable expertise and connections to the forefront in leasing, operating, and developing fiber optic networks in the Chicago metro market.

We’re on a mission to provide exceptional fiber connectivity solutions to a wide array of clients. This includes serving hyperscale providers, datacenter operators, enterprise and wholesale clients, municipal and government bodies, small cell networks, education entities, and more, ensuring everyone has access to faster and more reliable connectivity.

Leadership Team

Michael Underdown
President & CEO

Michael Underdown, President & CEO of Crosstown Fiber, is a seasoned executive with nearly 30 years in the telecommunications infrastructure industry. Prior to his current role, Michael enriched his expertise as the COO of Comdesco Group, Inc., focusing on construction management and consulting for fiber networks and data centers. He also founded and presided over Chicago Fiber Systems, reflecting his dedication to the technological advancement of the industry. Michael’s career is a blend of strategic leadership roles, from operations engineering to new market development in the data center and telecommunications sectors. His acumen extends to real estate, financial consulting, and venture capital, with a keen interest in nurturing early-stage startups and companies navigating pivotal growth phases. Specializing in new market development, real estate, network construction, and channel sales development, Michael melds his broad experience and innovative approach to steer companies toward success.

John J. Hemmer
Director of Network Development

John J. Hemmer, Project Management Professional (PMP), holds over 25 years of expertise in the telecommunications industry, specializing in various facets from Outside Plant Fiber engineering and construction management to Data Center and Central Office capacity management. Currently serving as the Director of Network Development at Crosstown Fiber and acting as the interim Vice President of Construction, John spearheads a substantial 400+ mile dark fiber project for the Chicago Public School system. His proficiency extends to high-level design, dark fiber routing, and refining corporate project management and GIS processes. Prior to Crosstown, John held a pivotal role as a Senior Manager at Verizon, overseeing their expansive 600-mile OneFiber build in the Chicago metro area, managing small cell, and Enterprise fiber projects. He also consulted for ComEd on fiber projects for generation and substation SCADA connectivity. John, a Bachelor of Arts in Management graduate, seamlessly blends strategic leadership and technical prowess, ensuring project and operational triumphs.

Kariann Alexander
Chief Financial Officer

Kariann Alexander, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), possesses over 25 years of progressive accounting and management experience and joined the Crosstown Fiber team in September 2022. Before this, she held the CFO position at Fullstream Energy, a start-up midstream energy company, and was the Vice President of Accounting and Financial Reporting at Howard Energy Partners. Kariann has been pivotal in scaling businesses, notably aiding Howard Energy in expanding from 2 businesses and 15 employees in 2011 to 20 business units with 200+ employees in 2017. Her career is marked by various accounting and management roles, where she spearheaded process improvements, system implementations, and transaction integration projects. A graduate of The University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, Kariann is also licensed as a certified public accountant in Texas, blending her academic and professional expertise to drive financial leadership.

Stephanie B. Jonkers
Controller

Stephanie B. Jonkers, CPA, has recently embraced the role of Controller at Crosstown Fiber, bringing with her a profound expertise in comprehensive accounting operations and financial management within the energy sector. Her prior experiences include a pivotal role in managing daily operations of general accounting, ensuring the precision of financial statements, and establishing robust accounting policies and procedures at Fullstream Energy Holdings LLC. Stephanie has also overseen audits for both public and non-public companies, managed energy clients navigating through initial public offerings, and ensured meticulous compliance with financial regulations. Her approach to financial management is not only rooted in the operational aspects of accounting, but also extends to strategic financial management and compliance, ensuring a holistic and robust financial operation in the organizations she serves.

Patrick S. Sullivan
Business Development Executive

Patrick S. Sullivan, Business Development Executive, with nearly 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, brings a wealth of knowledge and innovative, results-driven strategies to Crosstown Fiber, having joined in October 2022. His extensive career, primarily centered in the Chicago area, has seen him excel in various roles, including as a Business Development Manager, where he was instrumental in closing dark fiber solutions and private dedicated network sales. Patrick’s expertise spans a range of verticals, such as Carrier, Hyperscale, Data Center providers, Enterprise, and SLED customers, and he is celebrated for consistently exceeding company goals and expanding market share through his customer-focused selling strategies and robust client relationship building. His technical acumen encompasses Microsoft Office, Salesforce, and Google Cloud Platform, ensuring a technologically adept approach to sales and market development.

Advisory Board Members

Dave Daigle
Board Member & Strategic Advisor

Dave Daigle, CEO and Founding Member at American Dark Fiber, brings over three decades of expertise in the telecommunications sector. With a vision to enhance connectivity across the Southwest US, he established American Dark Fiber, a company dedicated to offering dark fiber solutions to cities, carriers, data centers, and high-capacity bandwidth users. Beyond public market solutions, the firm caters to content developers, financial networks, healthcare systems, and other sophisticated private network users. Dave also leads Broadband Asset Strategies, a consultancy aiding municipalities and institutions in harnessing high-speed network capabilities. His entrepreneurial spirit is evident in his previous ventures: he co-founded the CA-based CLEC Wilcon, which was acquired by Crown Castle for $600 million in 2017, and FTI, a rapidly growing CLEC in California, acquired by Pamlico Capital. Dave’s journey began in corporate sales at Motorola and Sprint in the 1980s, laying a foundation for his subsequent executive roles at Cogent Communications, PathNet Telecom, and West Coast Radio Communications.

Laurance Lewis
Board Member & Chief Commercial Officer at AVAIO Digital Partners

Laurance Lewis, Chief Commercial Officer at AVAIO Digital Partners, possesses over two decades of expertise in the Data Center, telecommunications, and commercial real estate sectors. His vast experience encompasses site selection, acquisition, investment, operation, construction, and development of data centers and related digital infrastructure. Before AVAIO, Laurance served as a Principal/Director at Microsoft Corporation, where he executed over $6 billion in hyperscale data center leases globally. He also played pivotal roles in government data center leasing and global Edge Data Center leasing. Earlier, as President of Comdesco Group, Inc. Laurance was integral in securing major clients such as Google Fiber and AT&T. He also led Corporate Site Selectors, Inc., overseeing the acquisition of substantial office and industrial properties worldwide. As a co-founder of Aggregate Networks in 2001, he championed broadband networks for underserved areas. An alumnus of the University of Iowa, Laurance also holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Minnesota School of Law, specializing in International, Real Estate, and Contract Law.

Derrick W. Smith
Board Member & Business Development Strategist

Derrick W. Smith, Business Development Strategist, boasts an extensive background in business development, strategic planning, and organizational design. Founding Grand Central Ventures LLC in 2017, he offered strategic consultancy to middle-market firms. Previously, Derrick dedicated 31 years to CSX Transportation, overseeing 55+ bulk rail transfer terminals, directing industrial development, and managing international sales. He also held multiple Vice President roles within CSX, spanning finance to sales and marketing. Derrick’s academic credentials include a Civil Engineering and Public Policy degree from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. Additionally, he completed an advanced program at Harvard Business School. Beyond his corporate journey, Derrick has been active in nonprofit sectors, notably mentoring for the Jacksonville chapter of SCORE and ascending to Chapter Chairperson in 2021. Derrick’s blend of leadership and expertise ensures consistent business growth and development.

The Crosstown Team

From back left to right:
Chris Johnson, Michael Cruz, Nicholas Lopez, Michael Dashut, Michael Underdown, John Hemmer, Joseph Campos,
Patrick Sullivan, Thomas Philbin,
Stephanie Jonkers, Sandra Autry, Kariann Alexander

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