Women in Transportation Whether it’s building rail facilities or securing funding for capital investment, women continue to play a major role in the transportation industry. This year we chronicle the achievements of five women who have used skills in finance, construction, contract negotiations, planning and entrepreneurship to make their mark on the industry.
City: Laguna Beach, Calif.
Her graduate studies in urban planning helped position her for a career in transportation.
Before the concrete for a highway is poured, before the first bus rolls out of the station, before a light rail line takes its first commuters to work, capital has to be raised. That’s where Sharon Greene comes in.
Greene is the president of Sharon Greene & Associates, a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based firm that specializes in transportation finance. She works with transit agencies to “look at their whole stream of capital” and the costs they can expect to incur over the next 20 years as they develop the systems that will best serve their transportation needs.
“I help identify existing revenue sources, as well as potential new sources of revenue,” says Greene. “I also help transit agencies see how they can use resources more creatively.”
With more than three decades of transportation experience, Greene can point to successful projects from California to Tel Aviv, including work on the Pasadena (Calif.) Gold Phase II Line Light Rail Transit Project; the Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Transit Program and the Jerusalem (Israel) Transportation Master Plan.
With a bachelor’s degree in economics from Tufts University and an advanced degree in urban and regional planning from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Greene had the training she needed for her first professional position. While a graduate student, she began working in 1968 for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, gaining valuable experience in transportation corridor planning.
Her next position was with the Boston Transportation Planning Review, which analyzed and re-designed the entire area-wide transit and highway system in the 1970s. Headed by Alan Altshuler, this task force devised the 3C Planning Process, which is still considered the model for public transportation. During the last 30 years, it also became the prototype for other metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. that have completed comprehensive studies of their transportation systems.
Greene’s firm is currently working on projects in San Francisco, Utah and Los Angeles. In San Francisco, Greene is helping the Metropolitan Transportation Commission assess the feasibility of a free-fare transit system. She is also working with the Utah Transit Authority on its 2015 Program, which includes a commuter rail line to link Weber and Davis Counties with Salt Lake City. For the Regional Goods Movement Program in Los Angeles, Greene is coming up with a financial plan to address transportation of goods and people in and out of Southern California, including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are two of the busiest in the world.
Despite her hectic schedule, Greene finds time to serve as the first vice chair of APTA’s Board of Governors and as chair of the legislative and government affairs committees. What’s more, she co-founded a nonprofit organization that empowers Ethiopian weavers by finding markets for their goods and uses some of the profits to fight poverty in Africa.
Greene is not one to sacrifice relationships for the sake of her career. “I really enjoy working with clients and staff who are committed to collaborative problem solving,” she says, adding that her biggest success is “having a happy family even though I’m a compulsive worker.”
Her passion for transportation is shared by her husband, Michael Schneider, who founded InfraConsult, a firm that, among other things, operates and maintains infrastructure, and her daughter Anna, who is a capital grants manager for San Francisco’s Department of Public Works. Greene, however, is equally proud of her two other daughters — Hava, an associate director for development at Human Rights Watch, and Miriam, a product marketing manager for Google.