Dug Begley

Dug Begley is the transportation reporter for the Houston Chronicle. Previously, he has covered various beats at five newspapers or alternative weeklies, and freelanced for more than a dozen regional, national and international publications.

For 15 years he has covered transportation, reporting on everything from Texas and Southern California’s freeway expansion to off-road desert racing, high-speed rail in two states, development of Houston’s light rail system and redesign of its bus network and the time a woman trashed paratransit service in her obituary.

Vera Bumpers

Chief Bumpers has been with the Houston Metro Police Department for more than 30 years and currently leads a team of 194 sworn personnel and 93 non-sworn personnel. She was a pioneer from the beginning, becoming the first woman to be promoted in every rank within the department.

Chief Bumpers received a bachelor of science degree from Texas State University and a master’s degree from Prairie View A&M University. She is a graduate of the 230th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Chief Bumpers has been recognized as a 2016 Top 50 Black Professional and Entrepreneur and has been featured in African American News and Issues and Houston Women Magazine.

Chief Bumpers is the chair of the Houston Community College Police Academy Advisory Board and a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Texas Police Chiefs Association, Houston Area Police Chiefs Association, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executive, Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, Women Transportation Seminar, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and The Links Incorporated.

Andrew Byford

Andy Byford is a transport professional whose thirty-year career has spanned three continents. He currently serves as Executive Vice President, HSR Development at Amtrak.

Andy joined London Underground in 1989 as a uniformed Station Foreman before working his way up to General Manager of the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines.

After a spell as Operations and Safety Director of two mainline train operating companies, Andy’s career took him to Sydney as Chief Operating Officer of Australia’s largest railway network then on to Canada where he headed up the Toronto Transit Commission. Between 2018 and 2020, Andy served as President of New York City Transit, the busiest and largest transit system in North America.

Andy returned to Transport for London in June 2020 as Commissioner, in which capacity he led TfL through the pandemic and rebuilt its finances. He also oversaw the successful opening of London’s transformative Elizabeth Line. He returned to the US at the end of 2022 and now heads up the development of high-speed rail programs at Amtrak.

Andy grew up in Plymouth, England and is a graduate of the University of Leicester.

Greg Dash

Greg Dash has been a full-time labor relations consultant to the transit industry since the firm of John A. Dash & Associates was formed in 1968.  He has assisted managements in hundreds of labor contract negotiations.  He has been “on site” at transit systems throughout the country.  He has acted as chief spokesman for management in negotiations, as well as a member of management’s committee.

Mr. Dash has been responsible for maintaining the data base of the firm and has analyzed thousands of transit labor contracts and settlements.

Mr. Dash has been an advocate and expert witness in interest arbitrations in the transit industry and has also acted as the employer-appointed arbitrator in interest arbitrations with tripartite panels.  He has personally participated in a majority of all interest arbitrations that have occurred in the industry in the last 50 years.

Todd Dorfman

Since joining Krauthamer & Associates in 1993 and becoming a principal in 1997, Mr. Dorfman has recruited for public and private sector clients throughout a variety of industries including financial and professional services, real estate, technology, manufacturing, distribution and healthcare. His clients include Fortune 100 organizations, middle market operating businesses, private equity firms, investment banks and early-stage ventures. He has helped assemble both corporate and advisory boards as well as identifying key additions to management

Mr. Dorfman’s prior experience includes several years in real estate finance, development, and dispositions, first at LaSalle Partners, a global provider of comprehensive real estate and investment management services, and subsequently at Oxford Realty, a national multi-family real estate developer and asset manager.

In 2009, Mr. Dorfman was one of the founding partners of Virgo Investment Group, a Private Equity firm that has raised over $1.8 billion to date. In his role, he builds strategic sourcing relationships, assesses the team leading potential investments and identifies talent to help execute on the investment thesis and building the information edge in investment due diligence.

Mr. Dorfman has been a member of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and is a member of the Turnaround Management Association. He graduated with honors from the University of Michigan with a concentration in economics.

Jerome Gray

Jerome Gray leads METRO’s Communications Department. He serves on the Executive Leadership Team and also counsels the CEO, the METRO Board, and senior managers on press and public relations.

Since joining METRO, Jerome’s many accomplishments include serving as communications lead for the METRONext Regional Transit Plan, serving as partnership lead for METRO’s 2017 Super Bowl effort, and co-chairing the Houston Super Bowl Traffic and Transportation Communications Committee. Gray was responsible for developing unique communications strategies for the launch of the 2015 New Bus Network.

Before joining METRO, Jerome was best known as an award-winning broadcast journalist at KHOU-TV. He was also senior news editor and anchor at KPRC-TV and worked at TV stations in California and Virginia.

Jerome has covered hundreds of major events such as the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, the 1993 Los Angeles earthquake, Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, and the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s president. Gray was there for Pope John Paul II’s 1999 visit to Mexico, President George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration, and President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

Jerome has garnered more than three dozen awards for his on-air work and more than 200 awards for his civic and charitable work.  He is the winner of two Emmy Awards, three National Telly Awards, the UPI International Award and the Houston Press Award.  He is a graduate of Temple University.

Polly Hanson

To strengthen and improve public transportation, Ms. Hanson coordinates with APTA stakeholders to develop transit security, risk and emergency management standards and policies. Hanson performs peer reviews and assists with safety audits and serves as an advocate for transportation security as well as a source matter expert on transit security, risk and emergency management issues and concerns. Ms. Hanson serves as the Vice-chair of the TSA Surface Transportation Security Advisory Committee and represents passenger rail and mass transit on the DHS cross-sector coordinating council.

 Previously Ms. Hanson was the Chief of Police for AMTRAK where she led a national police department responsible for protecting over 30 million passengers and 20,000 employees.

Polly began her career at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) where she progressed through the ranks of the Metro Transit Police Department. As the Chief of the Metro Transit Police, Polly led a tristate police department and directed the response to the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London.

Polly received her Masters degree in Applied Behavioral Science from Johns Hopkins and her Bachelors degree in Communications from Temple University. Polly has her FTA TSSP and PTSCTP certifications.

Polly is the recipient of WMATA’s Carmen E. Turner Award, was a COMTO Women Who Move the Nation. Ms. Hanson is a member of the Operation Lifesaver, Inc Board of Directors.

Deirdre R. Jones

Appointed as Chief of Police/Director of Security of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Police Department in 2021, Deirdre R. Jones demonstrates the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with the community by employing enhanced police engagement tactics and creating partnerships with social services agencies and other neighborhood resources. In 2022, Chief Jones introduced new programming to GCRTA, including the Transit Ambassador Program, a progressive policing and community engagement initiative that reduces the law enforcement footprint on the transit system by integrating unarmed professionals to handle non-criminal issues; and the Civilian Oversight Committee, a citizen advisory board responsible for the review of public complaints filed against Transit Police Department employees.

Chief Jones retired from the Cleveland Division of Police after more than three decades, holding the rank of Acting Deputy Chief of Administrative Operations where she oversaw all administrative facets of the Division. In addition to streamlining the hiring process, she oversaw the development and implementation of new training under the mandates of the Department of Justice Consent Decree.

In 2018, Chief Jones was appointed as the City of Cleveland Department of Public Safety’s first-ever LGBTQ Liaison for police, fire, and EMS

Chief Jones acts as a nationwide Assessor for promotional exercises for law enforcement agencies and shares best practices with the goal of refining promotion and retention processes.

The first female to ever supervise CDP’s Homicide Unit, Chief Jones also served as Sergeant in the Integrity Control Section and the Domestic Violence Unit. In addition to holding several instructor certifications, she is a federally certified Domestic Violence Master Trainer through the Department of Homeland Security and has taught locally and nationally on a myriad of domestic violence-related topics at churches, schools, civic and government agencies, and professional organizations including the Cleveland Browns. She is also a Master Trainer in Active Bystander for Law Enforcement (ABLE) training, a nationally recognized police peer-intervention program.

She holds a Master of Public Administration from Villanova University, is a graduate of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Leadership College and has completed the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center leadership programs. Chief Jones is a member the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE). She is the recipient of the Ohio Attorney General’s Mark Losey Service Award, the LGBT Heritage Award for public service, and numerous accolades from the Cleveland Division of Police including the Medal of Heroism, the Division’s second-highest honor.

Amanda Luther

Amanda Luther joined Boston Consulting Group in 2007. She is a core member of the Consumer, Technology and Digital Advantage, and Marketing, Sales & Pricing practices and a co-founder of BCG’s Austin office, where she leads the recruiting and people development efforts. She co-leads Digital Transformation globally and is a member of the Technology and Digital Advantage leadership team.

Amanda is an expert on digital, data, and advanced analytics topics, serving clients in industries including retail, restaurants, CPG, travel and tourism, and the public sector. Her client work typically involves both digital and data strategy, as well as end-to-end implementations, managing teams of product managers, data scientists, and software engineers to deliver transformative digital and analytics products.

Amanda has worked with clients on end-to-end digital transformations, AI at scale implementations, data-driven personalized marketing strategy, ecommerce strategy and build, loyalty programs, design and implementation, and data-driven store labor model rollouts.

Amanda earned her BA and BS, Phi Beta Kappa, in economics and computer science from Stanford University and her MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Courtenay R. McMillan

Courtenay McMillan Ms. McMillan currently serves as Manager for the Mission Integration and Operations office in the International Space Station (ISS) Program; this office oversees mission priorities, cargo integration, and flight program management for ISS.

Courtenay started at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in 1996 as a contractor on the flight control team supporting Shuttle/Mir operations and International Space Station development and assembly. She joined the ISS Program’s Moscow Technical Liaison Office as a civil servant, and subsequently progressed into increasingly responsible roles supporting human spaceflight operations for ISS and the Flight Operations Directorate (FOD). In 2007, Courtenay was selected and certified as a Flight Director, and chose the team name Tranquility.

Courtenay is a graduate in aerospace engineering from Penn State University.

Stephen Newton

Stephen Newton is a key member of the CEO & Board Advisory Partners and Education Practice Lead. He has previously held numerous other leadership roles in the firm. Steve has decades of experience leading searches for CEOs, COOs and board members of prestigious for-profit and nonprofit organizations, family businesses and public institutions. He works closely with clients across a range of industries and sectors, including but not limited to energy and natural resources, financial services and private equity and nonprofit.

Steve previously managed our business in Texas including both our Houston and Dallas offices. Steve has led numerous higher education searches including Chancellor of the UT System, President of Rice University, Barnard College and Trinity University. He has also led CFO searches for Cornell University and Rice University and the President of the Texas Medical Center.

Steve joined Russell Reynolds Associates in New York more than 30 years ago. After close to five years in the Paris office, he moved to Houston in 1995. Prior to joining the firm, Steve was with Bankers Trust Company in London, New York, and Paris, where he served as a Vice President in the Energy Group.

Steve received his BS in international economics from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He is fluent in French and English. Steve serves on the board of the NACD Texas Tricities Chapter, the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Houston Arboretum and Central Houston Inc. Steve is a Board member of the AESC, Americas Council. He is also a former board member of the Houston Zoo.

Keith T. Parker

Keith T. Parker is president and chief executive officer of Goodwill of North Georgia. One of the largest retail and nonprofit organizations in the southeast, GNG spans a 45-county territory, operating 67 stores, 52 attended donation centers and 13 career centers. Prior to transitioning into his leadership role at GNG, Keith has served as CEO of the largest transit systems in several cities, including San Antonio, Charlotte and most recently, Atlanta.

At the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Keith helped transform one of the most beleaguered transit agencies in the nation – with huge budget deficits and major public image issues – to a fiscally sound, award winning organization. Keith’s leadership established MARTA as an important player in Georgia’s economic development efforts, helping to attract/retain major employers.\

Throughout his career, Keith has received numerous awards and accolades as a transformational leader and transportation visionary. He was recognized as the nation’s Outstanding Public Transportation Manager by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in 2015 and METRO Magazine named Parker as one of its 20 Most Influential People of the Decade. In 2016, Parker was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC).

Keith has a long history of service to nonprofit, charitable, and corporate boards. He serves on several prominent national boards including The Eno Center for Transportation and continues his work with NIAC. On the corporate side, Parker serves on the Fifth Third Bank Advisory Board as well as the VHB Architecture and Engineering Board of Directors.

Amanda Rico

Dr. Amanda Rico specializes in resume building, editing, and career solutions for senior and executive-level professionals. With 15+ years of experience ranging from crafting materials for TEDx speakers to optimizing profiles for Oil, Gas & Clean Energy professionals, she is passionate about helping forward-thinking leaders level up.

A career columnist for the Houston Business Journal and Oilwoman magazine, Dr. Rico has a proven track record of working alongside public officials, career diplomats, and corporate E&P executives such as Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, Jeff Immelt, Jeff Shellebarger, and Jeff Miller.

She is also an official SunCast Clean Energy Career Mentor, NASA workshop presenter, and was recognized as one of the Top 15 LinkedIn Experts in Houston 2023 and Transition Economist’s 2021 Top 100 Women in the Energy Transition. Dr. Rico earned her Ph.D. in English at Texas A&M University, and her M.A. and B.A. in English from the University of Oklahoma.

Chris J. Sablynski

Dr. Chris John Sablynski is an award-winning professor, author, keynote speaker, executive coach, and mentor. He is a tenured professor in the Eberhardt School of Business, University of the Pacific with locations in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Stockton, CA.

Chris holds a Ph.D. in HR Management and Organizational Behavior from the Foster School of Business, University of Washington, Seattle where he won the Ph.D. Program Teaching award as a doctoral student. Chris teaches MBA, MS in Business Analytics, and undergraduate courses such as Leading the Analytics Organization, Management Skills, Leadership & Change, Conflict Resolution, and HR Management. Over the last 20 years, Chris has received 15 additional teaching, mentoring, and advising awards for his work on campus. His top-tier peer-reviewed journal articles have been highlighted internationally in the The Economist, TIME, and on NPR. Dr. Sablynski’s research on the employee experience from selection to retention has been cited over 9,000 times in the academic literature.

Chris teaches executives, managers, supervisors, and staff in dozens of transit agencies via his work with the University of the Pacific’s Westgate Center for Leadership and Management Development. Within this Center, he facilitates the Transit DEI Certificate Program and the Enhancing Leadership Effectiveness course.

Chris is an active keynote speaker impacting thousands of leaders via his work with a Fortune 500 defense contractor, California’s Franchise Tax Board, Department of Finance, Department of Water Resources, Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance, a large healthcare provider, and many other for-profit and public sector organizations.

Honorable Sylvester Turner

Elected in December 2015 and overwhelmingly re-elected in December 2019, Sylvester Turner is serving his second four-year term as Houston’s 62nd mayor. In his final year as Houston’s top leader, Mayor Turner’s theme is “execution and implementation,” as he focuses on finishing major projects and initiatives.

Since taking office, Mayor Turner has expertly managed significant challenges facing the nation’s fourth-largest city, including the COVID-19 global pandemic, budget deficits, homelessness, and natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey. Amid national unrest and calls for improving the community and police relations, the mayor signed an executive order restricting the use of force and created a Task Force on Policing Reforms.

Mayor Turner has passed seven balanced budgets within the city’s fiscal constraints. He also oversaw Houston’s remarkable rebound from Hurricane Harvey, championed historic pension reform, cheered on the 2017 and 2022 World Series Houston Astros, and hosted a successful Super Bowl LI. He also launched Houston’s first Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, meet the Paris Agreement goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and lead the global energy transition.

In February 2022, Mayor Turner released his One Safe Houston initiative to combat the increase in violence resulting from the pandemic, domestic violence, mental illness, and the proliferation of guns on the street. The plan has resulted in a decrease in the year-to-year number of homicides and overall violent crime rate.

Mayor Turner’s signature priorities include Complete Communities, an initiative designed to revitalize and improve Houston’s most under-served neighborhoods by partnering with local stakeholders to leverage resources to create a more equitable and prosperous city for all Houstonians. He also created the Hire Houston Youth program to provide jobs and internship opportunities for thousands of young people each year. He forged public-private partnerships to improve neighborhood parks and expand Houston’s technology and innovation footprint.

As the chief executive of the world’s energy capital, Mayor Turner brings a performance-driven approach to the job, creating a more responsive, streamlined, and efficient delivery of city services while shoring up Houston’s financial future. Thanks to his leadership, the Texas Legislature, and local voters approved the pension reform package that reduced the city’s liability by billions of dollars and provided a “fix” that had eluded the city for 17 years.

As a nationally recognized leader, Mayor Turner is a trustee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and serves on the Audit and Finance Committee. He is Chairman of the Resilient Cities Network, a member of the C40 and Global Covenant for Mayors for Climate and Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Government Advisory Committee, and Chairman of the Resilient Cities Network. Mayor Turner is the immediate past Chair of Climate Mayors and the immediate past president of the African American Mayors Association.

Before serving as Houston’s mayor, Turner served for 27 years as the Representative for Texas House District 139. He worked on the House Appropriations Committee for 21 years and served as Speaker Pro Tem for three terms. He was appointed to several Budget Conference Committees to balance the state’s budget and served on the Legislative Budget Board.

In 2017, Mayor Turner received the Ohtli Award, the Mexican government’s highest honor. In March 2020, the University of Houston’s Master of Public Administration Program honored Mayor Turner with the Pioneer of Public Service Award

Jennifer Vides

Jennifer Vides is Metro’s first Chief Customer Experience Officer, responsible for driving the enhancement of riders’ overall experience with Metro. In this role, Jennifer taps her expertise in organizational change and strategic communications to advance a customer-first culture, and her deep experience in customer-focused branding to ideate and launch new initiatives.

Jennifer joined Metro from Southern California’s regional rail service Metrolink, where she launched high-touch customer programs including the SoCal Explorer loyalty program, the 5-Day and 10-Day Flex Passes targeted to those now telecommuting since the pandemic, and a customer opinion panel to put customers at the center of decision-making. At the same time, she updated the brand’s positioning and identity to reflect its shift from commuter rail to a regional passenger rail operator that connects people to work, family, friends, and fun.

Jennifer previously led marketing, communications, and brand at the Public Media Group of Southern California, LA’s flagship PBS station formed following the merger of PBS SoCal and KCET. She also brings private sector experience, having directed marketing and communications at retailers Hot Topic, Torrid and Gymboree, as well as leading regional and global teams for communications firms Burson-Marsteller, Weber Shandwick and the MSL Group.

Jennifer is of Salvadoran descent, was raised in El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, and is bilingual (English and Spanish). She holds a B.S. in Communications with a double-major in French from the University of Miami (Fla).

Andrew Wilson

As Executive Director of Safety & Security for the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), Andrew Wilson has spearheaded significant growth in a diverse security presence. Andrew has introduced actions to maximize public safety presence on the system and to address a wide range of inappropriate behaviors and criminal activity, despite a lack of law enforcement personnel in the Portland Metro area.

Prior to accepting his current role, he served as Interim Director of Safety and Environmental Services, leader of the Virus Leadership Team during COVID, and Incident Commander during the 2020 wildfire/hazardous air quality events that threatened the Pacific Northwest. Andrew began his TriMet career in 2016 as Director of Risk Management, quickly becoming the agency’s go-to source for insurance questions, risk analysis and expert assessment during construction planning processes. He created TriMet’s first Enterprise Risk Register, a comprehensive online portal cataloguing hundreds of high-impact risks and their associated mitigation strategies, and led the completion of TriMet’s first Carbon Audit, guiding its environmental plan and climate actions.

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