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American Public Transportation Association

 Leadership APTA

Leadership APTA is committed to identifying and selecting a diverse, broad-based group of highly motivated and dedicated industry professionals from among our membership to participate in this industry-recognized senior and executive leadership program.

Leadership APTA Class of 2019
Leadership APTA is the American Public Transportation Association’s premier professional development program designed to develop and support those experienced managers and leaders aspiring to hold senior and executive leadership positions in APTA, their organizations, and the public transportation industry. 

Candidates for Leadership APTA should show the promise and potential to be part of executive teams, the chiefs' suite, and other senior leadership positions.

Leadership APTA is committed to identifying and selecting a diverse, broad-based group of highly motivated and dedicated industry professionals from among our membership to participate in this industry's highly recognized senior and executive leadership program. Leadership APTA has become the path to prepare you to join the next generation of senior and executive leaders of APTA and the public transportation industry​.

Each year, the Leadership APTA Committee selects 25 individuals from among APTA member applicants to participate in an intensive year-long program that includes skill-building workshops, conferences, executive roundtables, team leadership projects, teleconferences, online meetings, and web-based events. 

Leadership APTA Class of 2018
  • COMMIT to an intensive and rewarding year-long program that connects you with APTA's executive and senior leadership, national and international public transportation industry leaders, leading university professors, and expert faculty. 
  • DEEPEN your understanding of the public transportation industry and APTA, strengthen and sharpen core leadership competencies and expand your network of colleagues and friends.
  • DEVELOP your​ knowledge and skills through customized leadership workshops, executive roundtable sessions, small team assignments, site visits, and mentoring.
  • CHANGE how you listen, think, respond and lead as senior executives.
  • ADDRESS current and new leadership challenges facing the industry and collaborate with classmates to develop and recommend solutions. 
  • BENEFIT from opportunities to be a featured speaker at APTA and industry conferences, committee meetings, workshops, and events.
  • PROMOTE APTA's mission to strengthen and improve public transportation.
  • GIVE BACK to your organizations, APTA, and the industry.
  • BE PART of​ a prestigious group of 25 individuals selected from a competitive pool of APTA member applicants, and, upon graduation, join the program's illustrious alumni. 
​  ​
Doran Barnes 
2017-2018 APTA Chair, Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr. addresses the Class of 2018

Preparing Transformative Executive Leaders
For APTA and the Public Transportation Industry

Leadership APTA - A national industry program for aspiring senior and executive industry leaders

A letter from the 2017-2018 Leadership APTA Committee Chair, 
Doran J. Barnes

Leadership APTA is the American Public Transportation Association’s flagship program to develop and support those experienced managers and leaders aspiring to hold senior and executive leadership positions in APTA, their organizations, and the public transportation industry. Our commitment to select the best set of applicants that represents the rich diversity of our industry stands firm. 

Leadership APTA has long earned the industry's respect and recognition for its program excellence and the contributions of its over 500 graduates. Numerous graduates of the program serve on APTA's Executive Committee, Board of Directors, as well as in leadership positions across our many committees, task forces, and working groups. Many graduates lead transit organizations, serve in executive leadership positions at our many private sector members, as well as other industry organizations. As a graduate of Leadership APTA, I can personally attest to the value of the program.

Each year we work to ensure the program's content, sessions, and projects are of the highest caliber. The Committee and staff regularly review the curricula, improve sessions, refine workshops, and launch new sessions on relevant topics for today's executive leaders. We witness extraordinary discussions and exchanges with class members, industry leaders, and guest speakers. We see extraordinary transformations in each participant over the course of the program year.

We ensure the curricula, programs, and executive speakers address those challenges and priorities faced by today's executive leaders in both the public and private sectors. We ensure that the sessions, projects, and discussion topics align with the priorities of the APTA Chair, APTA, and the industry.

We continue to reap the benefits of on-going improvements to the application and selection process. Last spring, application essays were clearer, resumes were sharper, and letters of recommendations​ were more substantive. As such, Committee members could make more informed decisions in selecting the incoming class.

The class leadership projects address challenges of modern-day Chief Executive Officers, General Managers, and executive leaders. Their related research provides an excellent venue for class members to engage in conversation with top leaders inside and outside of the transit industry. Each year, APTA features graduating class members sharing highlights of their project topics and presentations at the APTA Annual Meeting and Leadership APTA graduation. These presentations and written reports have become excellent industry resources.

The Leadership APTA program is also about growing the future leadership of APTA, giving back to APTA, and the industry. Applicants must possess the drive and determination to serve on APTA committees and task forces. All class graduates must commit one year of active service to APTA immediately upon graduating from the Leadership APTA program, and their organizations need to uphold and support their commitment.

We have a responsibility to develop and transform future senior and executive leaders of our industry. Invest in the future of the public transportation industry, your own organization and APTA.

Thank you for your continuing support of Leadership APTA.

Program Highlights

Eligibility Requirements

Only employees of organizations that are APTA members are eligible to apply.

Target Audience

Candidates need to be proven experienced managers having the drive, dedication, and promise to join the ranks of senior and executive leadership positions. They may come from other positions having strong leadership potential working for public transportation systems, private sector businesses supplying goods or services to the public transit industry, or other organizations related to the industry including small businesses. Candidates might be new general managers of small to mid-sized organizations; transit agency assistant general managers or assistant general managers working for public transit services providers. They might be rising business and private sector program and project senior managers with a track record of recognized success and plans for senior and executive leadership.

  • Candidates need to demonstrate the potential to be a strong and effective leader. Candidates need
    to be at a director-level/equivalent position or higher, department or division head/equivalent, and at a high enough level in your organization where he or she can speak with confidence to the goals, priorities, and major issues your organization is addressing. Candidates might also be principals of small businesses.
  • Candidates for Leadership APTA need at least 10-15 years of significant work experience from the public or private sector/other, including at least three years  of transit experience, plus a proven track record of demonstrated successes.
  • Candidates applying for the Leadership APTA Class of 2019 need to be able to become actively involved in APTA immediately upon graduation. They need to have the drive and desire to serve on APTA committees and task forces in areas of interest and benefit to them and their organizations. They need to be willing to eventually assume leadership roles in committees, working groups, and task forces.

Please note: APTA member organizations can submit only one candidate as your applicant for the Leadership APTA Class of 2019. Organizations submitting more than one applicant run the risk that all their organization's applicants are disqualified from consideration.

What To Expect

  • Highly recommended attendance and full participation in the 2018 APTA Annual Meeting including Leadership APTA orientation program and customized workshops for incoming class members; participation in committee meetings, conference sessions, and Class of 2019 introduction during the Class of 2018 graduation program.
  • Required attendance and participation in multi-day workshop sessions in November/December 2018, March 2019, and July 2019.
  • Required attendance and full participation at the 2019 APTA Legislative Conference.
  • Required attendance at the 2019 APTA Annual Meeting to present class team leadership projects at committee meetings, conference sessions, and the Leadership APTA graduation program.
  • Full and active participation in class workshops, activities, assignments, presentations, leadership team projects, teleconference and online activities, and other related program events.
  • Active participation in an APTA committee, task force and/or special initiative upon graduation.

Additional Benefits

The program tuition fee is $6,000. Tuition fees include Leadership APTA workshop sessions, related workshop books & materials, and some meals. Fee also includes complimentary registrations for the 2018 Annual Meeting, 2019 APTA Legislative Conference, and the 2019 APTA Annual Meeting.

Agencies and organizations sponsoring participants are responsible for the following: tuition fees; travel costs to and from: the Leadership APTA sessions and workshops; 2018 Annual Meeting; 2019 Legislative Conference; 2019 Annual Meeting; hotel expenses; some meals; and related miscellaneous expenses.

Members of the Leadership APTA Class of 2019 receive complementary registrations to attend the 2018 APTA Annual Meeting, 2019 Legislative Conference, 2019 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference*, and the 2019 APTA Rail Conference*. 

*Note: No formal Leadership APTA workshop sessions are held at either of these modal conferences.


Leadership APTA participants are sponsored by the public transportation system or organization where they are employed. An organization’s sponsoring a candidate, providing the monetary resources, and allowing the time necessary for their candidate to participate in the related events, activities, and project work are critical to the success of Leadership APTA.

Sponsoring Organization Commitment 

General managers, presidents, executive directors, and chief executive officers sponsoring candidates recognize that sending participants to Leadership APTA is extremely valuable to their organizations. Since the first Leadership APTA Class of 1998, public transportation leaders have watched their investments in this program return great dividends.

The executive leadership of sponsoring organizations also understands that their commitment and support means allowing their Leadership APTA participant to attend the required workshops and conferences listed below:

  • 2018 November/December workshop session
  • 2019 APTA Legislative Conference and class workshop sessions
  • July 2019 capstone session
  • 2019 APTA Annual Meeting that honors the graduating class and features them at committee meetings, conference sessions, and their graduation program to present their executive leadership projects.

The Leadership APTA Committee highly recommends that incoming class members attend the 2018 APTA Annual Meeting, including related class workshops and orientation programs.

Executive leaders from sponsoring organizations need to recognize that their Leadership APTA participants will spend time over the year, from March to September, working on their executive leadership projects and will participate in related conference calls, online meetings, and web-based events. Upon graduation, Class of 2019 members will also serve as program coaches and mentors for the incoming Class of 2020.

Committee Participation: One of the goals of Leadership  APTA is to develop future leaders of APTA. The Leadership APTA program requires that each sponsoring organization actively supports at least one additional year of APTA involvement from its Leadership APTA participant immediately upon graduation through work on APTA committees, task forces or special projects.

APTA thanks and recognizes our industry members who leverage their Leadership APTA graduates as valued leaders within their organizations and the industry. 

Class of 2018 members hear from Leadership APTA Committee, federal, and industry executive leaders​
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 Get Started


Ready to apply? Visit How to Apply to access the online application.


 Leadership APTA Class of 2019 Timeline


May 11, 2018: application deadline

End of June 2018: participants selected and notified

Early-September 2018- October 2019: participants participate in online meetings, participate in intensive workshops and other events, and complete class projects

October 2019: Leadership APTA graduation program at 2019 APTA Annual Meeting 


 Members-Only Resources




If you have questions about Leadership APTA, please contact:

Joseph Niegoski
Senior Director-Educational Services

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