Program Goals

APTA’s Emerging Leaders Program will equip you to advance as a public transportation professional.

  • Understand the overall breadth of the public transportation industry — public and private sectors; industry partners – federal, regional, municipal; business community, academic institutions, and other intersecting industries.
  • Gain insight into the industry’s overarching components — its many successes, challenges, and opportunities.
  • Develop the knowledge, skills, and insights that general managers, CEOs and executive leaders seek when identifying industry talent and promoting from within.
  • Develop relationships with mentors inside and outside your organization and benefit from their knowledge, experience, and feedback regarding work issues and career planning.
  • Build and expand your network with transit leaders, industry experts, and peers.

Program Highlights

This program provides a number of opportunities for members of the Emerging Leaders Program to grow, bond, and develop as public transportation professionals. We will maximize in-person and virtual events so that participants have many opportunities to learn about the industry, engage in dialogues with middle and senior management, and develop/sharpen a core set of skills related to communications, managing people and projects, and leadership, which are key to the success of an emerging professional.

Kickoff/Opening Workshop

In the spring of 2024, participants will attend a three-day in-person workshop preceding the APTA Rail Conference. The workshop will feature training and skill-building in goal-setting, communications, project management, career development, as well as round-table sessions addressing transit industry challenges.

Participants will engage in various dialogues with industry leadership, meet their national mentors and program alumni, and benefit from a customized industry tour.

Participants are highly encouraged to attend the APTA Rail Conference and related APTA committee meetings to better understand and appreciate the scope and impact of the transit industry.

Mentor Program

Participants will work in small groups with national leaders (mentors) to learn the full scope of our industry. This personalized guidance will be a great benefit to participants and encourage developing talent and strengths from within. The national mentors will also support their mentees in developing and completing their capstone project.

In​ addition, participants will work with a mentor from their own organization or an affiliate. This “local mentor” will assist in their career development from a perspective of intimate understanding of the particular challenges and opportunities of public transportation within their respective communities.

Individual Project Presentation

Participants will present an 8- to 10-minute presentation, with 3-4 minutes for questions and answers, on a project from their own team/organization. Each participant will be asked to sign up for a monthly webinar from September through February. These webinars provide an opportunity for the participants to practice their presentation skills and share their experience and expertise to broaden the class’ understanding of current industry trends and projects.

Mid-Year Sessions

In the fall of 2024, participants will continue to build their skills and networks in a two-day in-person workshop preceding the APTA TRANSform Conference. The mid-year session provides additional access to industry leaders, skill-building sessions, and networking opportunities. The National Mentor Groups will engage in team-building activities and start planning their capstone projects.

Participants are strongly encouraged to attend the APTA TRANSform Conference and related APTA committee meetings.

Capstone Project

The National Mentor Groups will work as a team to develop a topical industry-related presentation. The participants will select a topic among key issues facing the public transportation industry that reflects their common interest or common type of project from their organizations. They will develop and implement a methodology that may include collecting data, interviewing industry leaders, or developing case studies. Their findings will be shared in a series of industry webinars, at their Capstone Session and Graduation, and with relevant APTA committees.

Capstone Session and Graduation

The capstone session in the spring of 2025 will showcase the capstone project presentations, skills, and experiences the participants developed during the program year. The class will work with industry leaders to develop additional skills and reflect upon career next steps. We will celebrate the achievements of each participant at a graduation program held in conjunction with the APTA Mobility Conference.

*Note: Participation is required at all above sessions. While we fully understand that unforeseen circumstances do occur, participant must notify Program Manager, Karen Donald immediately as well as provide written notice (with their employer’s acknowledgement of the absence) no less than 30 days in advance of the session.

Additional Benefits

Members of the Emerging Leaders Program w​ill receive complimentary registration for the APTA Rail Conference, TRANSform Conference, and Mobility Conference.

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