Management & Operations

Interesting People in Transit

Posted on July 1, 2005 by METRO Editorial Staff

In this special report, we profile transit professionals from all over the U.S. and Canada, on both the public and private sides, from small businesses to large municipal agencies. Their interests and accomplishments are varied (though a healthy number seem to enjoy playing golf), and their backgrounds each share a different story. But they all represent the industry with hard work and dedication. This crop of personalities was selected by METRO’s editorial staff, with input from our friends around the industry. We hope you enjoy.


J. Barry Barker

Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, Ky. Born: Wigan, Lancashire, England.
Home: Scottsburg, Ind.
Years in industry: 31
Previous occupations: Engineer with United Way of Cleveland.
What are your current job duties?
As executive director of TARC [Transit Authority of River City], I do everything from budgeting and hiring to picking up trash in the parking lot. My passion is for the community work and creating partnerships. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Working at three transit authorities and feeling that I’ve been able to energize people to think, create and in general do a good job. I’ve been lucky to be able to devote a great deal of time to my career and still have a wonderful family life. I am very proud of two recent awards TARC won here in Louisville. After being runner-up for two years, we received the labor-management award from the University of Louisville. A large part of this was because management and labor were able to work together to develop a set of shared values for the entire TARC family. TARC was also awarded the statewide Psychologically Health Workplace award in 2002 and 2003. What are your interests outside of work?
Horses, family and books. What’s your favorite movie or book?
Casablanca is my favorite movie because it combines romance, intrigue and politics. It also provides some of the greatest lines: “I’m shocked, shocked!” Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been.
The Grand Canyon, where I hiked 16 miles in six hours. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
My parents, John and Kathleen Barker. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
They’ve all been strange. To quote the Grateful Dead: “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

Ronald Barnes

Deputy Director, Miami-Dade Transit Born: Walstonburg, N.C.
Home: Miami
Years in industry: 30
Previous occupations: President of Central Ohio Transportation Authority, Deputy GM of Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation Authority, GM for Madison Metro and vice president of ATE Management and Service Co. Inc.
What are your current job duties?
I am responsible for delivering quality transportation services to the residents and visitors of Miami. I oversee Miami-Dade Transit’s Metrobus and Metrorail operations and maintenance, customer service, special transit services and field engineering and systems maintenance. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
In life one of my top achievements was serving as the Steward Chair Pro-Tem of SS Morris AME Church in Madison, Wis., following the passing of our pastor. On a professional level, it would have to be my nomination as chair of APTA and having served as past chair of the National Conference of Minority Transportation Officials. My top personal achievement is finding and keeping my soulmate Dannie. She has been with me through the years and has been a constant support and rock during my successes and failures. What are your interests outside of work?
When I am away from the office, I enjoy playing golf and exercising. What is your favorite book or movie and why?
My favorite book is John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Every time I read it, I learn something new. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been.
Rome was one of the most interesting places that I have been. It is filled with history, culture and great food. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
While I was still in high school, I managed and operated the family enterprise, which included a food and gas station and tobacco farm. Who has had the greatest influence on your professional career?
One of the many big influences in my professional career is John Potts. He introduced me to transit by offering me an internship with ATE M&S Inc.

Thomas Costello

Assistant Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Champaign-Urbana (Ill.) Mass Transit District Born: Chicago
Home: Urbana, Ill.
Years in industry: 32
Previous occupations: Chicago Transit Authority "L" rail conductor, university instructor.
What are your current job duties?
Assistant Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District in Illinois. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
I have three — working for a nationally recognized and award-winning transit system, teaching at a world-class university and raising two sons who recognize the important role of public transportation. My youngest son worked for and rode the GCRTA [Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation Authority] this summer. He worked with Steve Bitto, the GCRTA marketing and communications director. My oldest son is a daily Washington Metro [Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority] user as he attends law school in Washington, D.C. What are your interests outside of work?
Community service, volunteer work and travel. What’s your favorite movie or book?
The Godfather, both the book and the movie. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
My parents. Each of them gave me incredible insight into the most difficult part of any managerial position — how to deal with the many different people with whom you interact daily. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Spending the night on a bridge over the Chicago River as a flagman for a two-man CTA rail repair crew.

George Dixon

President of the Board of Trustees, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Born: Cleveland
Home: Cleveland
Years in industry: 15
Previous occupations: Entrepreneur, restauranteur, nightclub owner, educator, man about town (don't tell my wife).
What are your current job duties?
I am president of the 10-member board of trustees of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), which has 2,700 employees, 55 million annual riders and an annual operating budget of $230 million. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
I have a fantastic family that I love and that loves me. I have two great children and a wife I simply adore. Being president of the GCRTA board has been the most rewarding time of my life. It has enabled me to be a world traveler, to dine with the president of the United States and to enjoy the honor of a presidential appointment, a gubernatorial appointment and a mayoral appointment. It has led me to be selected by my peers to be chair of APTA, the most renowned transportation association in the world. What are your interests outside of work? Special skills/talents?
I consider myself a gourmet chef, and when I am cooking for myself, I have fun. My father was a butcher, and he taught all of us how to butcher a whole calf — something that can come in handy late at night in a major city. And every now and then, I pick up a saxophone, which I have played since grade school, to see if I am still as great as I thought I once was. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been.
Russia — I learned much about the people we once thought of as our enemies. We both have similar problems, hopes and dreams. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
One of the first jobs I ever had was building walls inside a UPS delivery truck. Now, I have a job of tearing down walls that keep people from doing their jobs. My whole life has been about moving things, boxes or people. Considering my girth, I guess I qualify as a real mover and shaker.

Richard Ducharme

Chief General Manager, Toronto Transit Commission Born: Southwestern Ontario
Home: Toronto
Years in industry: 33
Previous occupations: Managing director of Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
What are your current job duties?
I oversee an organization of 10,500 employees responsible for the operation of the transit system in Toronto, which carries approximately 425 million riders per year. I report to a commission (board) consisting of nine city council members. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Overseeing the largest commuter rail system in Canada and now the largest city transit system in Canada. What are your interests outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy time with my wife and four children. From a leisure point of view, I enjoy golf, skiing and fishing. What is your favorite book or movie?
I have a few favorite books and movies. Depending on my mood and the pressures of my life, they can vary. But both allow me to unwind and, on most occasions, I prefer light reading and humorous movies. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
The most interesting places I have been were Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia. It was an eye opener as far as lifestyle. The most enjoyable trip I’ve taken was a Greek island cruise a few years ago. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
From a support point of view, my wife has definitely been the most influential. From a mentoring point of view, the two past chairpersons at GO Transit in Toronto (Eldred King and Lou Parsons) and my former boss Al Leach, who was the head of GO Transit and the TTC.

Fred Gilliam

President and CEO, Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Born: Potts Camp, Miss.
Home: Austin, Texas
Years in industry: 44
Previous occupations: Building material salesman, used car dealership owner, traffic checker.
What are your current job duties?
I direct all business at Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority in Austin, Texas. This includes our budgets, investments, community involvement, fleet operations, maintenance, paratransit and freight activities. I also oversee the project management teams heading up a new commuter rail system, which will start service in 2008, and the design and implementation of new rapid bus routes by 2007. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Having raised a beautiful daughter, who today is a wonderful person and mother of two children. What are your interests outside of work?
My wife and I love to travel. We’ve visited all 50 states. What is your favorite book or movie?
I like all of John Grisham’s books. I’ve lived in many of the cities and towns he’s written about. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been.
It’s hard to choose just one place — I’ve found Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore all to be really interesting cities. Visiting foreign countries and their diverse cultures, histories, languages, foods and philosophies are rewarding experiences that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
Joe Arnn. He was executive director of Tulsa (Okla.) Transit and recruited me to work there. He never missed an opportunity to promote public transportation. Emulating him has made me more of an extrovert. He also shared with me his secret of eating ice cream with vodka to avoid affecting his ulcer. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
When I was about 15, two politicians paid me to go with them on campaign stops in our county. Since I knew everyone in the district, I would prep them on who they were scheduled to meet.

Kim Green

President, GFI Genfare Born: Chicago
Home: Schaumberg, Ill.
Years in industry: 30
Previous occupations: Nothing outside the fare collection business.
What are your current job duties?
I am the president of GFI Genfare, a supplier of automatic fare collection to the transit market. We specialize in bus fare collection systems and make a variety of support equipment as well. I am also the chair of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors and APTA vice chair for Business Members. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
On a personal level, my family is at the top of the achievement list. I have enjoyed terrific support from them throughout my career. Professionally, I have had the pleasure of being involved in this industry for more than 30 years, working with some of the brightest, most committed people in any industry. My involvement in APTA over the years has also provided a great sense of accomplishment. What are your interests outside of work?
My wife and three teenagers consume all of my free time. We love to travel, especially to ocean locations. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
My first trip to China in 1987. China had begun its modern development and the transition from old to new cultures was striking. For a bus guy like me, it is impossible not to like a country that has more than 300,000 public transit buses. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
While it wasn’t necessarily a strange job, I worked as a production assembler building fareboxes as a summer job while going to college. After graduation, I went to work for the company as a marketing manager — and now I’m the president. Guess I worked my way up. Who has had the greatest influence on your professional career?
The one who had the greatest influence was the former president of GFI, Jim Pacelli. He had a way of treating people with respect and dignity while challenging and motivating them to perform at their very best.

Ken Hamm

General Manager, Lane Transit District, Eugene, Ore. Born: Waterloo, Iowa
Home: Eugene, Ore.
Years in industry: 36
Previous occupations: Bus operator, operations supervisor, facilities planner, chief of customer service, manager of marketing and public relations.
What are your current job duties?
I am the principal advisor to the Lane Transit District board. I provide leadership and overall direction for the district, ensuring effective policies and practices and sound financial stewardship of taxpayer resources. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
First and foremost, I am married to a wonderful woman, Cindi, and we have five beautiful children and seven awesome grandchildren. I’ve scaled several mountains over 14,000 feet, been on many softball and basketball championship teams and competed in Ironman events. But my favorite times were coaching 8-year-old kids in T-ball and seeing them begin to grasp some of the fundamentals of sports. What are your interests outside of work?
Living in the Pacific Northwest makes it easy to love the outdoor life. Skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, bicycling and golf are how I spend much of my free time. These are also activities that my wife and family share. My wife and I also enjoy our yard. I built a pond and waterfall and put in 20 trees. What is your favorite book? Why?
I still love the Sound of Music. It’s about a journey of incredible odds through incredibly scenic places. It’s a great love story, and the music is awesome. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been.
I was in Yellowstone National Park in the late 1950s camping with my parents and siblings. Because my sisters were scared, I had to sleep in the back of our family station wagon. During the night, I was wakened by the shaking of the car and growling. I sat up, peered out the window and there were three grizzly bears fighting over the food that was in the small trailer attached to the back of our car.

Cliff Henke

Senior Director, Weststart-CALSTART Born: Spokane, Wash.
Home: Arcadia, Calif.
Years in industry: 25
Previous occupations: Director of external affairs for North American Bus Industries, magazine editor and publisher.
What are your current job duties?
Handling bus rapid transit research and development programs. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Father of two accomplished, beautiful daughters; married for 20 years (to the same woman who has put up with me despite her own talents, attractions and accomplishments). What are your interests outside of work? Special skills/talents?
Ensuring that the conditions of the previous question remain the same. Spending time with my family, reading and watching movies. What is your favorite book or movie?
Most favorite book lately is How the Scots Invented the Modern World, by Arthur Herman. How a small peninsular, backward nation that was steeped in superstition and bent on cutting itself off from the rest of the world reversed course and engaged the world, thereby transforming both itself and the world in the process. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
Bangkok. Not the most fun or the most enjoyable, but the most different from my own experience before; an ancient culture grappling with the 21st century, and doing so with a warmth and optimism that is engaging. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
Outside of my wife, Frank Di Giacomo, who has been a great balance between skepticism of my outrageous ideas, a great friend and a terrific promoter of me in my career. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Scriptwriter for a documentary on Utah’s Boy Scouts, which was to be narrated by Robert Redford, but the scout council withdrew the offer because he wasn’t “the right image.”

John Inglish

General Manager, Utah Transit Authority Born: Phoenix
Home: Draper, Utah
Years in industry: 30
Previous occupations: Systems planning engineer for the Utah State Highway Department, director of transportation for the Wasatch Front Regional Council, several different capacities for the Utah Transit Authority.
What are your current job duties?
Managing one of the nation’s most successful transit systems with the help of a 15-member appointed board, a superb staff, elected officials, planning partners and the public. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Every bit of growth at UTA is a gratifying accomplishment. One top achievement was helping UTA successfully provide transportation for 4 million people during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Marrying my wife and having four successful children is up there, too. What are your interests outside of work?
I have “cowboy DNA.” I love to ride my horses every chance I get and spend time with family. They also know me by my first name at the Home Depot. I’m always building something. What’s your favorite movie or book?
I’ve read all the Louis L’Amour westerns ever written, but I also read a lot of different genres. I’m currently on the sixth volume of the History of Civilization by Will Durant. My favorite movie is Lonesome Dove or any western movie with Hop-A-Long Cassidy and Gene Autry. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
At the beginning of my career I worked with Howard Latham at the Utah state highway department. He taught me that even if I don’t have all the pieces in place to build, I don’t have to wait. If the project is important, the money will come. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Planting grass in a cemetery in El Paso, Texas, one summer in high school.

Art Leahy

CEO, Orange County Transportation Authority Born: Glendale, Calif.
Home: Santa Ana, Calif.
Years in industry: 34
Previous occupations: General manager of Minneapolis Metro Transit, executive director of operations for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, bus operator for Southern California Rapid Transit District.
What are your current job duties?
I direct Orange County’s transportation planning, funding and operating authority, which, among other things, provides bus and commuter rail services. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
I am very proud to have increased bus service quality and ridership in Orange County and in Minneapolis-St. Paul. I am also proud of the design-build reconstruction of the Garden Grove Freeway — a showcase effort as well as the largest road construction project in California. On a personal level, my most important achievement is raising two sons, Arthur and Tim. What are your interests outside of work?
I like to read, watch the USC Trojans win football games, attend Dodger and Angel baseball games, and travel with my wife, Leilia. I am a member of the Magic Castle and the Academy of the Magical Arts in Hollywood. What is your favorite book or movie?
My favorite movie is Field of Dreams because of its depiction of the dilemma of trying to make wrong things right while going on with one’s life. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
In my opinion, Southern California is the most interesting place on the planet. In addition to having a great climate with mountains and beaches, it is dynamic, growing, economically robust, diverse, rapidly changing and facing immense challenges. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
Jack Gilstrap, the former general manager of the Los Angeles transit system and president of APTA, had a great impact on me. Jack is a great leader and teacher and he gave me an opportunity to learn and grow under his direction.

Bill Lochte

Consultant, Trinity Consulting and Business Solutions Born: Milwaukee, Wis.
Home: Northern Wisconsin
Years in industry: 28
Previous occupations: President and part owner of a transportation seating company, vice president of sales and marketing for Bombardier Transportation.
What are your current job duties?
I recently retired and formed a consulting company, Trinity Consulting and Business Solutions, to help share my experience and enthusiasm with friends and colleagues in the industry. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
I have always succeeded in growing market share and generating wealth for my employer — a fact that I am very proud of. I led an international team to secure America’s first high-speed train contract, and I’ve always felt a duty to contribute to our industry. Most recently, I completed a two-year term as chairman of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors, where I was the 2005 recipient of APTA’s Outstanding Public Transportation Business Member award. Personally, I’m most proud of being a husband and father and witnessing the grace and integrity of my family. What are your interests outside of work?Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
Witnessing the Great Wall of China was amazing. However, I guess recently living for two years in London was a unique and challenging experience. What’s your favorite book or movie ?
My favorite book is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini — a story about Afghanistan, which many people do not realize was a wonderful place before the rule of the Taliban. Who has had the greatest influence on your professional career?
My wife Mary is my sounding board and helps give me a broader perception. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
In my early years, I worked a summer in a slaughterhouse. That provided me a lot of motivation to find a better lot in life. I still remember that smell!

Mark Magaldi

President, Transit Marketing Group Inc. Born: Brownsville, Pa.
Home: Boulder, Colo.
Years in industry: 24
Previous occupations: Worked for American Seating, Gillig, Neoplan, MKF.
What are your current job duties?
As president of Transit Marketing Group Inc., I represent products for bus and rail to North American transit systems. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Professionally, co-founding Magaldi & Magaldi/Transit Marketing Group with my wife and having the opportunity to introduce leading-edge safety products — bringing them from exception to norm. On a personal level, watching my children develop professionally and personally into their own people and sharing business ideas and activities with my wife. What are your interests outside of work?
Golf, which is my passion; losing and winning a few bucks with my friends. I also enjoy boating, skiing and spending time with my family. What is your favorite book or movie ?
My favorite movie is American Graffiti. When I was growing up, I always wanted those types of cool cars, and I used to hang out at a place like Mel’s Drive-In. I like both of Jack Welch’s books on his management style at General Electric. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
London — seeing all the sites I read about in history classes. The old burial sites, the tombstones peeling from the rain and the sense of human history made for a fascinating experience. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Loading trucks full of empty glass containers; watching people load broken bottles without caring that they were broken or empty. I witnessed a complete lack of pride in work, with no sense of accomplishment. Who has had the greatest influence on your professional career?
Claude Robinson, former president of American Seating Transportation Products Group.

Raymond Miller

Executive Director, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority Born: Bethlehem, Pa.
Home: Tampa, Fla.
Years in industry: 25
Previous occupations: Executive director of Delaware Transit Corp., assistant general manager of the Central Ohio Transit Authority, marketing manager for the Utah Transit Authority.
What are your current job duties?
Everything. A lot of my time is spent working with the 12-member board of directors and political leadership throughout Hillsborough County, Fla. On a daily basis, my job can vary from an employee meeting to a meeting with an editorial staff of a local newspaper to riding a bus. I do my best to stay scheduled and structured, but most times it does not work. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Professionally, I am very proud of the position that I currently hold with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) in Tampa. It has always been a goal to be the executive director of a transit organization, and I have been able to achieve it both at the Delaware Transit Corp. and at HART. I enjoy the profession because it is a great marriage of business and the ability to help people out on a daily basis. What are your interests outside of work?
At the top of my list is my wife Julie. I am a golfer. I like to ski and bike, and I enjoy the outdoors very much. What is your favorite book or movie?
My favorite author is Carl Hiaasen. I’ve read all of his books. Hiaasen has written a number of novels based in Florida, and maybe that is why I landed here. He is also a columnist for the Miami Herald. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
Yucatan, Mexico. I am really impressed with the geography and the architecture of the Mayan culture. It is a very interesting place to visit and to try to place yourself in that particular era.

Michael Monteferrante

President, Optima Bus Corp. Born: Vancouver, B.C.
Home: Wichita, Kan.
Years in industry: 25
Previous occupations: VP sales and marketing for Morrison Knudsen Rail Systems Group, CEO of J.T. Nelson Co., CEO of ALSTOM Canada Transport, Sr. VP and founding offiver for iRail LLC.
What are your current job duties?
Responsible for growing and managing Optima to its fullest potential. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
I have a great family and wonderful personal and industry friends who are always there for me when needed most. I also have a good track record of growing firms’ profitability. What are your interests outside of work?
I have a host of hobbies that keep me energized, like boating, fishing, golf, sporting events, table games, entertaining friends and Boise State football. My real passion is barbecuing and smoking a great Cuban cigar with Bushmills close at hand. What is your favorite book or movie?
Execution by Larry Bossidy and The Goal by Eli Goldratt. Papillon with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman — a great movie about determination and survival. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
Spending first and second grade in northwest Australia with Aborigines while my dad was the track superintendent for a rail construction project. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
George Johnson, the GM for Morrison Knudsen during the 1980s, who believed in me early on. Bill Karol, the owner of KODA Enterprises, who believed in my ability to run a company. Andre Navarri, then CEO of ALSTOM Transport and current head of Bombardier Transport, who is the definition of a driven leader with compassion for his employees. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Lead man on a spike gang on a power project for Neosho Construction in Delta, Utah, in 1982.

Faye Moore

GM, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Born: Castalia, N.C.
Home: Philadelphia
Years in industry: 15
Previous occupations: CPA.
What are your current job duties?
As GM of SEPTA, I am chief operating officer and chief executive officer responsible for the entire agency. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Passing the CPA exam, which at the time lasted two and a half days, ranks as a top achievement, but my greatest achievements are more personal. I have been married to the same man for 28 years. We have one daughter who just happens to be a sports enthusiast. She played varsity basketball and field hockey. I missed one game in the four years that she played both sports. My mother describes me as a great mother. What are your interests outside of work?
I love crossword puzzles and use them to relax. Also, our family likes to travel. I enjoy dancing — ballroom, country western, modern — and have developed a strong appreciation of yoga. What’s your favorite movie or book?
I am a big sci-fi fan. I am not ashamed to admit that I was a “Trekkie.” But the only movie that I have watched multiple times is Dr. Doolittle (both the Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy versions). Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
The place is not as interesting as the event. My family and I were vacationing in the Caribbean. At the end of a relaxing day, my husband and were watching world events. There was a disturbance in the Middle East. As was our daily ritual, the next morning we went on the balcony of the hotel, looked toward the ocean and spotted two American warships. The pride I felt was indescribable.

Phillip A. Pagano

Executive Director, Metra, Chicago Born: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Home: Crystal Lake, Ill.
Years in industry: 32
Previous occupations: Director of program development and grants for the Regional Transportation Authority in Illinois, positions with St. Louis Metro, Toledo Area Transit and New York City Transit.
What are your current job duties?
As the executive director of Metra, I provide management direction for the operational, financial and administrative planning and implementation. Specifically, I serve as the chief executive officer of the organization and am directly responsible for corporate programs, policies and procedures as approved by Metra’s board of directors. I also provide oversight to all matters concerning commuter rail operations and services throughout the six-county metropolitan region of northeastern Illinois. I have overall management responsibility for nearly 3,000 employees. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Professionally, becoming executive director of the best commuter railroad in the country. Personally, raising my two daughters. What are your interests outside of work?
Golf. Good times with the family. What is your favorite vacation destination?
Any warm-weather area. What is your favorite cuisine? Restaurant?
Italian. Gibson’s Restaurant in Chicago. Who has had the greatest influence on your professional career?
Jim Cole, former executive director of Metra. If you had to describe yourself in only one word, what would it be?
Confident.

Karol Popkin

Chief of Staff, American Public Transportation Association Born: Olympia, Wash.
Home: Washington, D.C.
Years in industry: 25
Previous occupations: Assistant to the transit director for Seattle Metro, employee with Washington Education Association.
What are your current job duties?
As chief of staff, I function as deputy chief operating officer to APTA’s president. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
I am most proud that I have been able to contribute in a meaningful way to the transit industry. Growing up in Olympia, Wash., without the opportunity of a college education, I never dreamed that I would become chief of staff for the largest public transportation association in the world. On the personal side, I am quite excited that I recently visited my 50th country. What are your interests outside of work?
My passions outside of work are spending time with my husband Richard, especially our fabulous travel worldwide. What’s your favorite movie or book?
My favorite movie and my favorite book are, coincidentally, one and the same: Like Water for Chocolate by the Mexican writer, Laura Esquivel. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
Bar none, it was northern Laos, which Richard and I visited in 1994. We experienced the primitive culture of the ancient hill tribes that occupy that region. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
Jerry Haugh brought me into public transportation at Seattle Metro in 1981, and he and Sherry Ullom mentored me early in my career. Ron Tober (who followed Jerry as director of Seattle Metro) deserves much credit for grooming me for management and leadership positions. Subsequently at APTA, Bill Millar’s leadership has enabled me to fulfill my professional objectives.

Larry Salci

President and CEO, Metro Born: Greenvillw, Mich.
Home: Caseyville, Ill.
Years in industry: 35
Previous occupations: President of Morrie Knudsen Transit Group, president of bombardier Corp., president of Budd Transit Group, GM of Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority, accounting manager for Chrysler Corp.
What are your current job duties?
I am president and CEO of Metro in St. Louis. Metro owns and operates the region’s bus and light rail systems, the downtown St. Louis airport and the Arch for the National Park Service. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Professionally, the financial restructuring of Morrison Knudsen that resulted in creation of American Passenger Rail Car Co., later sold to Alstom, and MK Engineering Co. sold to the Washington Group. I helped complete delivery of several troubled major railcar contracts to Chicago Transit Authority, Amtrak, Caltrans and others. These new companies are now leaders in their markets. In addition, several thousand jobs were saved and a creditor-forced bankruptcy of MK was avoided. Personally, I was named to a high school All-American basketball team in 1964, which led to a basketball scholarship at the University of Detroit. What are your interests outside of work?
Golf. I have a 2 handicap and enjoy competitive amateur tournaments. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
Hong Kong. It’s a fascinating city with the different cultures of the East and West in total co-existence. Who has had the greatest influence on your professional career?
Hans Wolf, former chairman and CEO of Budd Transit Group, whom I reported to while I was president of Budd Transit. Under Mr. Wolf, I developed key operating executive disciplines and skills necessary to plan, organize and control large manufacturing facilities in complex design-to-order, build-to-order businesses.

Patrick Scully

Executive VP/CCO, DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses North America Born: Toronto
Home: Greensboro, N.C.
Years in industry: 17
Previous occupations: President/CEO of Setra North America, VP of worldwide bus sales for Detroit Diesel, general sales manager for Orion Bus Industries.
What are your current job duties?
My role includes all sales, product support, warranty and aftermarket parts responsibility for Orion city buses, Setra motorcoaches and Dodge Sprinter conversions sold in the U.S. and Canada. We are part of a dynamic and responsive team that works closely with our customer base as well as with our DaimlerChrysler colleagues around the world to bring innovative products and services to the North American market. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
My most important achievement is being able to be a part of a great family both personally and professionally. My personal family includes a beautiful and understanding wife as well as two great kids — my daughter Alexis and son Ryan. My professional family includes my customers, coworkers and suppliers who are rewarding to work with on a daily basis. I continue to achieve a good balance between my personal and professional families. What are your interests outside of work?
My interests outside of work mainly include spending time with my wife and kids. We enjoy golf, tennis, waterskiing, boating, baseball, soccer, hockey and snow skiing. What is your favorite book or movie?
One of my favorite movies is Caddyshack because it is so downright funny, and one of my more favorite recent books is Good to Great because it provides excellent insights into what makes companies successful. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
Ireland. Friendly people, great golf courses. In addition, it’s the greenest country I’ve ever seen. The biggest influence in your career?
My parents, who taught me one overriding principle — be honest!

Rick Simonetta

CEO, Valley Metro Rail Inc. Born: Pittsburgh
Home: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Years in industry: 35
Previous occupations: First lieutenant with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
What are your current job duties?
I am the chief executive officer of Valley Metro Rail Inc., which was created in 2002 to plan, design, build and operate light rail in the Phoenix metropolitan area. We are currently constructing a 20-mile LRT line that is scheduled to open in December 2008. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
I am very proud to have been the general manager/CEO of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) from 1994 to 1999. During that time, we successfully planned and operated the Official Spectator Transportation System for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. MARTA performed phenomenally under tremendous pressure and carried 25 million passengers in 17 days. What are your interests outside of work?
Golf, traveling and being a grandfather. What is your favorite book or movie and why?
The Godfather series, because of the strong characters, the scenes from Sicily and the use of the Italian language. I have been traveling to Italy regularly during the past 15 years and can truly identify with the places shown in the movies. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
The Kremlin in Moscow, as part of the executive board of the UITP (International Association of Public Transport). We were able to see things and places that would never be available to a typical tourist, let alone an American. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
Being a laborer at the Edgar Thomson Steel Works in east Pittsburgh. Who has had the greatest influence on your professional career?
All of the fine people I have worked with over the past 35 years.

Jacob Snow

General Manager, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada Born: Boulder City, Nev.
Home: Henderson, Nev.
Years in industry: Since college
Previous occupations: Assistant director of aviation at McCarran International Airport.
What are your current job duties?
The Regional Transportation Commission is a transit agency, an MPO and a street and highway agency. Also, we recently took charge of the local intelligent transportation system agency, where we are responsible for coordination of all the area’s traffic signals and a new freeway management system. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
I think it’s important to note that first and foremost I am proud of my successful marriage and partnership, and to be raising three free-thinking, compassionate and independent children with strong values and moral standards. On top of that, I am an Eagle Scout and an accredited airport executive. What are your interests outside of work?
I’m an avid bicyclist and have enjoyed participating in the local 100-mile century ride in Las Vegas for the past few years. To stay in practice, I often commute to work on my bike or ride to a bus stop, load my bike and get on board. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
I lived in Hong Kong for two years and learned to speak Cantonese and appreciate the hard-working people. They had so many forms of transit that I used so often. Jitneys, double-decker buses, streetcars, trams, heavy and commuter rail, ferries and even a funicular tram to ride to and from Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island. Transit is such a part of life over there, and they do it so well. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I worked at a gas station for boats one summer at Lake Mead. All sorts of people would stop to fill up — celebrities, rich people, poor people, you name it. At least once a day people would accidentally drop something into the lake and part of my job was to dive the 20 feet down to reclaim it.

Gary Thomas

President/Executive Director, Dallas Area Rapid Transit Born: Mystic, Conn.
Home: Garland, Texas
Previous occupations: Washing dishes at Boy Scout camp, draftsman, consultant engineer on transportation, water and waste projects.
What are your current job duties?
The simplest answer is I work to make sure Dallas Area Rapid Transit is a good place to work, that we adequately maintain the infrastructure, that we meet our commitments to our member cities and, most importantly, that we provide safe, efficient and effective transportation choices for the north Texas region. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Having a close and supportive family. What are your interests outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my family, woodworking, hunting with my son, visiting and getting to know small Texas towns and working on my 1953 Chevrolet five-window pickup truck. (The truck is actually a long-term goal but it’s become a part of the family — just ask my wife and kids.) What is your favorite book or movie?
My favorite author is Louis L’Amour. He piqued my interest in reading at an early age, and the heroes in his books were always the good guys who stood for honor and integrity. My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz — not sure why, just always has been. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
My wife Kay. She always gives me the practical advice. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I’ve had several interesting jobs, including working as a field sports director at a Boy Scout camp and working on a large coal power plant in Electra, Texas. What is your favorite cuisine/restaurant?
I love seafood on the East Coast and I always enjoy a good steak, but my favorite cuisine is Tex-Mex. Anyone who’s eaten lunch with me more than once in Dallas knows that my favorite lunchtime restaurant is the Y.O. Ranch in downtown Dallas, and my favorite meal is Monterey-style chicken-fried steak.

Ronald Tober

CEO, Charlotte Area Transit System Born: Cleveland
Home: Charlotte, N.C.
Years in industry: 36
Previous occupations: Garbage man, cement mixer, pizza chef.
What are your current job duties? As CEO, I’m responsible for providing long-term direction and oversight of day-to-day operations of the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), including strategic planning, organizational development, policy development and implementation, performance management, intergovernmental relations, community relations and, of course, taking care of the money. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Establishing CATS basically from scratch and then achieving an FFGA (full funding grant agreement) for our first rapid transit project within five years. Personally, together with my wife, helping our oldest daughter to escape an abusive relationship, overcome her addiction to alcohol and establish a stable home life for her four children. What are your interests outside of work?
Travel; reading “escape” fiction by Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler or Robert Ludlum; and home improvement. What is your favorite book?
Clancy’s Red Storm Rising because of the detail in describing the strategy employed and the role technology played in defeating superior numbers. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
Paris. Like so many people, I found it to be irresistible. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
My parents gave me my basic value structure and my education. Bob Kiley, former chairman of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, showed me how a truly professional and compassionate public manager can be successful in a highly charged political environment. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
When I was in school, I worked as a garbage collector/sanitation worker.

Michael Townes

President and CEO, Hampton (Va.) Roads Transit Born: Richmond, Va.
Home: Hampton, Va.
Years in industry: 25
Previous occupations: Prison guard at Virginia State Penitentiary, cab driver, mail cleark, worked for insurance company.
What are your current job duties?
I am the president and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit, which is the regional transit authority that serves the area of Hampton Roads, Va. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
My top professional achievement was my role in merging the two former regional authorities that served Hampton Roads (TRT and Pentran) into one larger regional transit authority, which came to be known as Hampton Roads Transit. In 1994, before the birth of Hampton Roads Transit, Pentran, where I was executive director, was named the outstanding transit authority of its size by APTA. What are your interests outside of work?
I enjoy my family. I am dedicated to them; they are my main motivator. I also enjoy sports. I’m an avid fan of the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers, Oakland Raiders and the Chicago Blackhawks. I’ve also been bitten by the golf bug. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
I’ve been fortunate in my life to have traveled to many places. I think the most interesting place, having lived there for a couple of years, was Saudi Arabia. The folks there have a lot of passion for their religion — Islam. A major difference between Saudi Americans and Americans is the way they express love for one another. It is also the place I met my wife. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
My job as a prison guard at the Virginia State Penitentiary. There, I saw things I hope to never see again. I met people who were clearly of a high level of intelligence that didn’t know how to apply it in positive ways and had landed themselves in prison. I saw the electric chair that was used to execute people.

Dave Turney

Chairman, President and CEO, Digital Records Inc. Born: Northwest Arkansas
Home: Dallas
Years in industry: 21
Previous occupations: Industrial engineering, materials management, operations management in aerospace, telecommunications and consumer electronics.
What are your current job duties?
I am chairman, CEO and president of Digital Recorders Inc., a public company traded on the NASDAQ. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
Starting up two new businesses, more than a dozen successful new technology product launches, achieving major business growth with a good team of people in three career positions, being a part of enabling and encouraging personal growth of team members and a great family. What are your interests outside of work?
The outdoors in general and, specifically, exploring, hunting and fishing as well as landscaping, construction projects and auto mechanics. What is your favorite book or movie?
I have read and seen many great books and movies. Recent experiences include the book Execution because it takes one back to management basics of getting the job done versus just talking about it. Ahead of that, and ahead of all, my favorite book is the Bible because it is a source of never-ending wisdom and guidance. As for movies, The Passion of the Christ was very moving. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
Two areas in Mexico — Guanajuato and the Yucatan. Also, many fascinating sites and experiences that I have had while exploring caves when on spelunking expeditions in Arkansas. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
Ross Carney, the very first man who I worked under at General Dynamics, and the superintendent of my high school back in Arkansas, Mr. Barnett. Both drove home the points to respect others no matter what their walk of life and to not take yourself too seriously.

Mike Wehr

Director of Maintenance, Milwaukee County Transit System Born: Waukesha, Wis.
. Home: Muskego, Wis.
Years in industry: 39
Previous occupations: Fleet attendant with trucking company.
What are your current job duties? Since 1990, I have been the director of maintenance for the Milwaukee County Transit System. In this position, I am involved in the maintenance of 725 bus shelters, six buildings, a fleet of 475 buses and everything that has wheels in between. In addition to those duties, I am a past chairman of the APTA’s Bus Equipment Maintenance Committee, have been involved in several Transportation Research Board projects, am the most recent chair of the “Guidebook for Developing and Sharing Transit Bus Maintenance Practices” (E-5 Project) and I have been a member of the METRO Editorial Advisory Board for many years. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
My top achievements are mentoring my two sons to pass me by educationally and professionally. Professionally, it appears I am being successful. What are your interests outside of work?
My interests outside of work are home construction and remodeling boats and Corvettes. The design and construction of a solar envelope home is probably my largest accomplishment. Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
The most interesting place I have been was Gwinnett County, Ga., for the 1996 Olympics. I volunteered to work in bus maintenance for a week. Working from an office trailer in the parking lot of a technical college in 90-degree-plus temperatures for 14-hour-plus days was a unique experience. Who has had the greatest influence on your professional career?
The greatest influence in my professional life was a former manager. His supervisor’s philosophy was: Know who your customer is, service your customer completely and never give them a chance to look elsewhere, because if they do, they may find someone better and you will lose their business.

Chuck Wochele

Vice President of Business Development, ALSTOM Transport Born: Philadelphia
Home: Hornell, N.Y.
Years in industry: 29
What are your current job duties?
I’m responsible for the business development and sales of all ALSTOM Transport activities in the NAFTA Region. What are your top achievements in life, professional and/or personal?
For many years my focus has been to enhance the standards in the passenger rail industry. I believe this is extremely important to the goal of keeping a quality workforce employed. In this effort, I have become very involved in APTA and serve on various committees. I have been a member of APTA’s Business Member Board of Governors since April 2000 and an active member of APTA since 1983. This is a relatively small industry, and I truly enjoy the people with whom I get to work. What are your interests outside of work?
I enjoy birdwatching, bone fishing, hiking, golf, boating and collecting Roseville pottery. What’s your favorite movie or book?
My favorite movie is The Day the Earth Stood Still. The statements made about our society in this 1950s sci-fi movie hold true today. My favorite book is Dune, which examines the nature of good vs. evil. Can you tell that I like science fiction? Tell us about the most interesting place you have ever been to.
The interior jungles of Belize in Central America. Who has been the biggest influence in your professional career?
George Johnson, ex-General Electric and Morrison Knudsen executive. Mr. Johnson taught me that persistence, hard work and integrity are the most important things in and out of work. What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
I once had a summer job working in the concession stand of a drive-in theater (remember those?). I got to see, well, actually hear, the movie M*A*S*H approximately 80 times. I think I can still recite the movie’s dialogue.
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