In celebration of the 2023 Leadership Academy's graduating class and scholarship winners, Latinos In Transit (LIT) hosted an awards reception Oct. 9 at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, Fla.
Sponsored by National Express Shuttle & Transit, the event brought together emerging professionals and industry leaders to recognize the outstanding efforts aligned with LIT's mission.
“A lot of thought and effort has gone into curating these programs to help equip the next generation of leaders. We expect great things from our scholarship recipients and academy graduates. Of course, none of this would be possible without the dedication and commitment from our board, committee members, sponsors, and industry leaders,” said LIT Board President Alva Carrasco.
LIT’s Leadership Academy
The event commenced with a celebration of the 2023 Leadership Academy graduates. In its second year, LIT's Leadership Academy provides training and development opportunities to organizational members aspiring to grow within the transit industry.
The academy's curriculum consisted of three tracks with five intensive professional development sessions focused on the specialized technical expertise required for advancement in the sector. As a culmination of their learnings, participants were required to complete a capstone presentation.
“It’s an honor to join Latinos In Transit for our second year as exclusive sponsor of this event celebrating Latinos and other minorities achieving new heights in their education,” said Erick Van Wagenen, president & CEO, National Express North America Shuttle & Transit. “We congratulate Leyden Mendez from our Operations team and all the graduates and scholarship recipients and wish them success leading the future of transportation.”
The LIT Board of Directors proudly announced and congratulated the Leadership Academy's Class of 2023, which included the following graduates:
New Careers in Transit
Ana Rodriguez, New Orleans RTA; Caleb Losey, TransitGuard; Vanessa Meza, CapMetro; Anitra Honore, New Orleans RTA; Micheal Candelaria, TransitGuard; Carmen Ruby Galvan, Sunline Transit; Lawrence Trevino, CapMetro; and Eder Sanchez, Rocky Mountaineer.
Leading in Middle Management
Jose Vega, AC Transit; Jennifer Lopez Ibrahim, GHD; Abel Ruiz, MARTA; Jesus Valenzuela, MV Transportation; Leyden Mendez, National Express; Marco Zhanay, Transdev; Fabian Campos, WSP; Ricardo Vega, AC Transit; Donato Perez, Nelson/Nygaard; Clara O’brien, Sound Transit; Jorge Quintana, Foothill Transit; Roberto Lopez, New Orleans RTA; Elizabeth Martin Maldonado, Sound Transit; and Bryan Ochoa, L.A. Department of Transportation.
Making of an Executive
Hilda Mercedes, CSI Compliance; Inmer Hernandez, Transdev; Julio Badia, Transdev; Niorka Mendez-Almonte, MEVA Transit; Norma Zamara, Transdev; Vincent Parker, MV Transportation; Yolanda Rodriguez, New Orleans RTA; and Erika Finnestead, Ozark Regional Transit.
LIT also honored 12 scholarship recipients during the program.
In 2022, LIT initiated a scholarship program to support Latinos and other minorities in their pursuit of educational advancement. The scholarship's purpose is to create opportunities for underserved and/or underrepresented individuals pursuing degrees and/or certifications from accredited educational institutions in a public transit-related field of study.
Out of more than 80 applications received, an evaluation committee selected 12 individuals for a scholarship. The 2023 scholarship recipients are:
- LIT Scholarship - Bobby Gomez: $1,500
- LIT Scholarship - Daniel Segura: $1,500
- LIT Scholarship - Sergio Lopez: $1,500
- LIT Scholarship - Ron Rodney: $1,500
- LIT Scholarship - Jesus Hinojosa: $1,500
- LIT Scholarship - Emily Cadena: $1,500
- LIT Scholarship - Catalina Arreola: $500
- LIT Scholarship - Andrea Gavilanes: $500
- LIT/PRT Scholarship - Lourdes Alvarez: $2,500
- LIT/PRT Scholarship - Zoe Rodriguez: $2,500
- LIT/PRT Scholarship - Joyce Lewis: $1,500
- LIT/NATA Scholarship - Dominique Vitti: $2,500
The APTF Scholarship Program
Since 2019, LIT has collaborated with MV Transportation Inc. to contribute funds to the American Public Transportation Foundation (APTF) scholarship program. Rodrigo Gutierrez was awarded the LIT/MV Transportation scholarship in the amount of $10,000. Gutierrez is a senior at UCLA and is majoring in Urban & Regional Planning.
Marking a successful year for the organization, LIT has expanded its programs to serve minorities across the U.S. To continue its mission, LIT's strategic plan focuses on increasing accessibility for advancement and development opportunities for its members.
Planning for the 2024 Leadership Academy and scholarship program is already underway, and the organization invites those in the transit industry to become a member of the organization to take advantage of these opportunities.