Flora M. Castillo became the 2012-2013 Chair of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), officially assuming the office at the start of the APTA Annual Meeting on October 1 in Seattle, WA. Castillo is APTA’s first Latina chair. Castillo is a member of the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors, having been appointed by the governor to the NJ TRANSIT Board in 1999, and reappointed by three governors. She also serves as the Vice President of Corporate Public Relations at AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies (AMFC), one of the largest Medicaid Health Plans in the United States.
In her remarks to an audience of 1,800 public transportation leaders, she shared that she was an immigrant who came to the United States as a teenager from El Salvador and her family depended on public transportation.
“Public transit was something that my family depended on in El Salvador and the United States,” said Castillo. “I know firsthand the value of public transportation and how important it is to those who need it most. That’s why my theme for the year will be ‘Public Transportation: It’s All About the People’.”
Noting that she is passionate about the employees that keep public transit services operating, Castillo said, “My experience on the New Jersey Transit Board has given me exposure to all aspects of the public transportation industry, and it has given me deep respect for the dedicated women and men who provide these services.”
Castillo announced that one of her initiatives in the next year would be focused on the development of the next generation of public transportation workers and leaders. A second initiative will focus on improving public transportation to health services. Finally, a third initiative will be to establish a baseline of the policies and plans on diversity in the public transportation industry.
As Castillo added a personal note in her inaugural remarks, “As the first Latina chair, I have such a sense of pride, because this tells people who look like me that this is an industry that has a place for them and other minorities around the country.”
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.