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American Public Transportation Association


The CEO/Deputy-only seminar will focus on key transit CEO leadership, personal development, and mobility issues. Discussions will include relationships with the transit agency board, building the CEO brand, life after the C-Suite, mentoring, the changing mobility environment, and the impact of homelessness on ridership. This event offers opportunities for CEOs and Deputies to exchange ideas and experiences as a group and with colleagues.​​​​​​​

Please note that this schedule is preliminary and subject to change.​

Last Updated: Feb. 11


Saturday, April 13


8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Bus & Paratransit CEOs Committee

9:15 - 10:15 a.m.
Chair, Karen H. King

Rail Transit CEOs AND Commuter Rail CEOs Subcommittees

10:15 - 11:15 a.m.

Chairs, Nuria I. Fernandez & Jeffrey D. Knueppel, P.E.

Opening General Luncheon with Keynote Speaker

11:30 a.m. - 1:15 p.m.

What Makes Great Transit? It’s Pretty Basic!

What are the attributes of a great transit system? Despite all the hype today about the latest innovations, it really is not about the technology or the mode, but comes down to quality and frequency of service, meeting the specific needs of all types of transit riders, the role of buildings, streets and sidewalks, and above all, getting transit in and to the right places.

Keynote speaker Christof Spieler, author of Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, will discuss how geography, politics, and history all conspire to define – and complicate – our very different transit systems, but that the ultimate goals for all remain pretty much the same.

  • David M. Stackrow, Sr., CPA, Chair, APTA; Immediate Past Chair, Capital District Transportation Authority, Albany, NY
  • Paul P. Skoutelas, President and CEO, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC
Keynote Speaker
  • Christof Spieler, PE, LEED AP, Senior Lecturer at Rice University; former Board Member, Houston METRO; Vice President & Director of Planning, Huitt-Zollars, Inc., Houston, TX

General Session: Homelessness, Affordable Housing, and Ridership - Three Converging Challenges

1:45 - 3 p.m.

TOD is credited with transforming transit station areas into thriving mixed-used developments that attract big-name retail, corporate offices, and posh new residential areas. Rising land values and rents, however, can push those most dependent on public transit further away, and make housing even less affordable. The result can be growing homelessness near transit stations, negatively impacting ridership and the transit experience. A panel of transit CEOs on the front lines of addressing homelessness offer best practices and options for meeting these converging and interrelated challenges.

  • Peter M. Rogoff, Chief Executive Officer, Sound Transit, Seattle, WA

Leadership Session: Building and Protecting the CEO Brand

3 - 4:15 p.m.

In today’s world of instantaneous “breaking news!” and relentless social media, the transit CEO’s reputation can go from good-to-bad (or bad-to-good) in an instant, often based on factors entirely outside the control of the CEO. How can the transit CEO build, maintain, and protect his or her personal brand while navigating the challenges of operating a complex, multi-headed organization? This session explores the issue of one’s personal brand – expert advice on how to create it and CEO lessons-learned on how to immunize it from the threats inherent in the job.

CEO Coordinating Council

4:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Interim Chair, Leanne P. Redden

Welcome Reception

5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Renew friendships and introduce yourself to your colleagues at this high energy gathering that is sure to set the tone for a week of professional development and networking.


Sunday, April 14


7 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Breakfast: CEO Mentoring Program

7:30 - 8:30 a.m.

During breakfast, Paul Jablonski will discuss the unique opportunity for one-to-one APTA CEO mentoring, teaming highly experienced CEOs with newer CEOs or their Deputies.

  • Paul C. Jablonski, Member, APTA Board of Directors; Vice Chair, Public Transportation CEO Coordinating Council; Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), San Diego, CA

Labor Issues Update

8:30 - 9:45 a.m.

Greg Dash returns to discuss and analyze recent trends in U.S. labor and labor relations. Please bring the labor reports, provided at the APTA registration desk, with you to the session. 

  • Gregory Dash, President, John A. Dash & Associates, Havertown, PA

Technology Session: When is the Right Time to Commit to New Technology?

10 - 11:30 a.m.

Technology advances relentlessly, and no sooner do you buy one model, the next model arrives. For major technology decisions – electric versus CNG buses; financial and management software; ticketing and scheduling apps – how to choose and when to commit to new technology can have profound and expensive consequences. In this session, CEOs discuss the factors that drove their big technology decisions, and how they turned out.

Luncheon: How Changing Demographics Will Impact Transit and Cities

11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m.

The world was a stationary place for a long time, but that’s not the case today. Demographic shifts are dramatically changing where people live, how they live, how long they live, and their quality of life. Mike Alexander, Director of the Center for Livable Communities at the Atlanta Regional Commission, explores the shifts that are shaping, and reshaping, our world and, importantly, those that use and depend on public transportation.

  • Mike Alexander, Director, Center for Livable Communities, Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), Atlanta, GA

Leadership Session: Creating & Maintaining a Strong CEO-Board Relationship

1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

One of the most challenging issues for any CEO is his or her relationship with their board of directors. What is the role of the board, and how can that relationship be best nurtured and managed? David Stackrow, APTA Chair, has served on the board of directors for the Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany NY for nearly 25 years,including three terms as chair. Doug Eadie is an expert on navigating the CEO-board relationship. Together they will lead an interactive discussion on roles, relationship building and best practices, with a focus on what works best - even with different types of governing boards.

30-second Scrum: Big versus Small - Contrasting Worlds

3:45 - 4:45 p.m.

On many issues, large and small transit systems see the world very differently, reflecting the type of services provided, their ridership and customer needs, and the underlying politics that impact funding and public perceptions. This session will contrast big and small through rapid-fire questions, and a max of 30-second responses, to a CEO of a small system and a CEO of a large system on a wide range of professional, personal, and serendipitous issues, with a dose of audience peppering as well.


Monday, April 15

Deputy CEOs Breakfast with Paul Skoutelas

7 - 8:30 a.m.

Continental Breakfast

7:30 - 8:30 a.m.

Legislative Update

9 - 10:15 a.m.

Congress is in session and the potential for major legislative action is high, including reauthorization of the Fast Act, a new infrastructure bill, and a myriad of other initiatives. APTA’s Ward McCarragher will provide an update on the latest activities in Washington, APTA’s approach and plans to advance the public transportation agency agenda, and the challenges ahead.

  • Ward W. McCarragher, Vice President - Government Affairs, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC

Innovation Session: Staffing Innovation - The Role of the Chief Innovation Officer

10:30 - 11:45 a.m.

With the ever-increasing pace of change, many transit agencies and DOTs are looking to the Chief Innovation Officer for guidance and new ideas. The success of the CIO position, however, often depends on driving innovation down into the organization. A panel of the nation’s top CIOs discuss how they are staffing innovation across their organizations.

Luncheon: The New Media - Where Younger People Get Their News

11:45 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Long gone are the days when the family sat down before Walter Cronkite to hear the evening news. Media-savvy Millennials look to Reddit, Facebook, Vox, and Twitter for information on the events shaping their world, media sources many older Americans know little about. Michael Barthel, Senior Researcher at Pew Research, and speakers from several new media outlets, will discuss how younger people today get their news, what news gets reported, and what it means for transit agencies that often are impacted by the news.

  • Michael Barthel, Senior Researcher, Pew Research Center, Washington, DC

Who Owns the Data: Have We Reached the Tipping Point?

1:45 - 2:45 p.m.

One of the most potent challenges in the new mobility environment is the ownership and control of data – from maps and route planning to trip histories and travel patterns. How long will Goggle Maps be free and what happens when, as appears to be the case in some instances, Goggle starts charging for data about a transit agencies own customers? Should data be public or is it appropriate for a technology company to sell access to its data? Should APTA lead an effort to define the rules for transit data? This will be a candid strategy session to discuss how public transportation agencies, and APTA as the voice of the industry, can and should tackle this issue.

APTA's New Strategic Plan: Next Steps

3 - 4 p.m.

With the guidance of APTA's Strategic Plan Steering Committee, the Executive Committee, and Board of Directors, and with input from many members and APTA committees, the new APTA 2020-2023 Strategic Plan is advancing. This discussion will solicit input on the new Purpose Statement, priorities, and core functions for APTA as it seeks to focus on preparing its members for future change, while supporting current needs and priorities.

  • Petra Mollet, Vice President - Strategic & International Programs, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC
  • David J. Carol, Chief Operating Officer, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, DC

Moving On - Life After the C-Suite

4:15 - 5:15 p.m.

All transit CEOs eventually must consider whether to remain in a current position, switch to a new transit property, or leave the CEO role for a new position in or out of the industry. When is the right time to leave? What factors should be weighed when considering a new job? Speakers will discuss the professional and personal factors they considered in making fundamental career decisions, whether changing to a new transit CEO position or to something entirely different, including retirement.

Closing Reception

5:15 - 6:15 p.m.

Join your fellow CEOs as you reflect on the lessons learned at the 2019 Transit CEOs Seminar, and take this time to make connections to strengthen your leadership and agency.

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