Railway Age’s 2019 10 Under 40

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Photo by Jack Lindquist

One of the North American railway industry’s most valuable assets is the vast amount of institutional knowledge held by its people. Railroading, freight or passenger, is a complex undertaking, from many angles. We owe these young people, and countless others like them, the best of who and what we are. Railway Age and Nick Little, Director of Railway Education at Michigan State University’s Center for Railway Research and Education, have selected our Fast Trackers–10 Under 40 honorees. These rising industry stars are making an impact in their respective fields, and represent the “best of the best.”

“We had many outstanding submissions covering the full breadth of the North American railway industry. It was difficult to select just 10 honorees,” said Little. “It’s great to see such diversity, and heartening that so many good, younger people are coming forward to carry our industry into the future.”

This year’s 10 Under 40 award recipients will be recognized at the annual Railroader of the Year Dinner, March 12, 2019 at the Union League Club of Chicago, honoring Railway Age’s 56th Railroader of the Year, Jean-Jaques “JJ” Ruest, President and CEO of CN.

Stephanie Anderson, Attorney, Safety Law Division, Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Railroad Administration

Stephanie Anderson is a talented, dedicated and engaging public servant who has made significant contributions to railroad safety by supporting FRA initiatives. She graduated from the University of California at Berkley with Distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center in 2014. Following law school, Anderson joined FRA as an Honors Attorney. Since joining FRA’s Office of Chief Counsel in 2015, She has played a critical role in the agency’s development and implementation of a program to carry out Congress’s mandate to implement PTC. Anderson has carried out her responsibilities in an exemplary manner, coming up to speed on the highly complex area of PTC implementation in an astonishingly short time frame, becoming FRA’s most trusted legal advisor in the rapidly evolving area of PTC. She works tirelessly to support FRA’s effective implementation of the statutory requirement by routinely providing excellent and timely advice and guidance to DOT and FRA leadership and the rail industry, often under extremely tight deadlines.

Lucas Brewer, P.E., Project Manager, Bergmann Associates

Lucas Brewer is responsible for leading his company’s support of CSX Engineering Services for Construction and Inspection. He is also the project manager responsible for the Short Line and Regional Railroad Grant Writing and Administration program, where he has helped railroads obtain more than $10 million in state and federal funding over the past nine years. Brewer holds a B.S. from Houghton College and an M.B.A. from Grantham University. He has served for 22 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, and has received numerous certifications and honors, among them the Security Fundamental Professional Certification, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with one Bronze Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Mobilization Device and Silver Hourglass Device, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, and Overseas Service Ribbon.

Jonathan Corley, Director of Transportation, Ontario Northland

An experienced railroader with more than 17 years on the job, Jonathan Corley started his career as brakeman, and has worked every assignment on the road. He spent many years as a union leader, working with all levels of management. He is Canadian Railway Operating Rules qualified. In 2015, Corley moved into management as a Manager of Train Service before becoming Director of Transportation in 2016. He has been improving his railroad’s freight services in northern Ontario by implementing transload services, and has lowered operational costs by optimizing freight schedules and increasing revenue. Corley is focused on securing new business and implementing a culture of continuous improvement, and has been a leader within the Rail Division for many years. As a multi-generational railroader, he continues to apply his “old school” mentality with a “new school” approach. He strives to continue to improve communication lines within the division and ensure its long-term success. Corley is a graduate of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont., with a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering.

Michael Garlasco, Assistant Superintendent Port Operations, Canadian Pacific

Michael Garlasco is a true team member who played an important role during evaluations for Canadian Pacific’s Terminal of the Year award at two separate locations, St. Paul Yard in 2015 and the Port of Vancouver in 2017. While a member of the most recent Terminal of the Year award team at the Port of Vancouver, Garlasco was an intrical part of the facility’s turnaround story, specifically in Port Operations. For his outstanding efforts in helping CP to retain business in its busiest and most important service corridor, Garlasco was presented with the CEO Award for Providing Service from CP President and CEO Keith Creel. In the little amount of time Garlasco has been with CP, starting out as an Operations Management trainee (last year marked only his fourth in the rail industry), he has gained the respect of union and management employees. Garlasco comes to work with a humble approach and is willing to listen and learn from those with more experience. Doing this has allowed him to continue to learn the railroading business while developing his natural leadership qualities with all the people he interacts. He’s faced some difficult situations in his short time at CP. In the winter of 2016, the Port of Vancouver was nearly shut down due to unprecedented traffic volumes and extreme congestion. Garlasco was brought in, with a team of others, to help remedy the situation. Within three months, the problem was resolved, and throughout the remainder of 2016 and into 2017 and 2018, CP’s Port of Vancouver terminal and its customers have seen increased volumes and record productivity. Annually, Garlasco has been involved in the communities that CP serves, participating in the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train and the quarter-scale Mini Train (the Litttle General and the Puffer Belly Express). He has also participated multiple times in Operation Lifesaver exercises, teaching safety and awareness for pedestrians at grade crossings. Garlasco holds a B.S. in Entrepreneurship & Innovation from Clarkson University.

Melanie K. Johnson, P.E., Principal and Senior Project Manager, Quandel Consultants LLC

One of the most significant contributions Melanie Johnson has made to the transportation industry is the work she did to implement the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008 in the Midwest. As Project Manager and/or Project Engineer on several intercity passenger rail programs, she was able to advance environmental planning and engineering on several intercity passenger rail corridors, even working on two projects that implemented improvements allowing 90- and 110-mph service. When Quandel Consultants was Program Manager on the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, Johnson worked with state DOTs and the FRA to plan and build these enhanced intercity passenger rail corridors. She found this work immensely satisfying because the projects received the federal funding each project sought. Johnson is deeply involved with the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and its High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSI&PR) Committee. She is currently on the HS&IPR Committee’s leadership team as Secretary and Programs Chair. Through APTA, she has been able to express her enthusiasm for the transportation industry by collaborating and advocating on behalf of high-speed and intercity passenger rail. She planned the HS&IPR Policy Forum, which brings thought leaders from Washington, D.C. and around the country together to discuss best practices on successful passenger rail projects, in 2017 and 2018. Johnson is passionate about transportation issues and is thrilled to work with the “movers and shakers” in the passenger rail industry. She loves the rail industry; the people, the projects, and the challenges keep her excited about coming to work every day. She strives to continue to make contributions to the rail industry and seek out opportunities to make an impact. In addition to the engineering and environmental planning work that she currently performs, she’d love to work with decision-makers in transportation policy on developing a continuous funding source for high-speed and intercity passenger rail programs.

Angie Leonard, Director Intermodal Marketing, Kansas City Southern

Angie Leonard has been instrumental in bringing forth new service products in the industry, including KCS’s launch of a joint service with BNSF in 2016, as well as new access to the Port of New Orleans via KCS’ Dallas intermodal facility. Leonard believes transportation is “in her blood,” and is proud to be a fourth-generation railroader. She seeks to continue development of her transportation acumen, and is always pursuing ways to add to her experience. With her education, she entered the company in Financial Planning, transitioned to Accounting, went on to Service Design, and is now in Intermodal Marketing. Her professional goal is to continue taking on new challenges, develop new functional responsibilities, and help KCS achieve its vision. Leonard’s mantra is that success is not a surprise. It is the execution of day-to-day tasks with excellence. One of her strengths is the ability to balance the need of completing a task with providing growth and learning opportunities for her staff. Leonard holds a B.S. from Kansas State University, with majors in Accounting and Finance and a minor in Spanish.

Steven Hart, Director of Risk and Regulatory Compliance, Conrail

Steven Hart developed a fully compliant new-hire conductor training program that uses a hybrid on-the-job field training regimen. The program builds on basic conductor skills over the course of three months while providing evaluation and critique to the candidate. Hart also developed a field supervisor training course that focused on incident investigation, human attention error identification and track/equipment dynamics. As well, he designed a mobile platform for inputting operational test and inspection data compliant with 49cfr217. The application incorporates follow-up with employees that fail operational tests and inspections and are involved in human-factor accidents. Following a major train derailment, Hart took a leadership role. His contribution to the leadership team aided in the restoration of the line and passenger service 36 hours after the initial accident. While in the recovery process, which required more than 50 people, no contractors or employees were injured. Hart holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University, and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Jamie Peters, Senior Director  Carrier Relations, Marketing & Sales, Union Pacific

Jamie Peters strategically procured more than $300 million in annual trucking services to support the operational execution of multiple Union Pacific business segments. She led integration efforts during the merger of four wholly owned subsidiaries of UP. This included managing teams working on technology, new brand identity, legal filings, contract migration and process alignment. Peters specializes in strategy development and execution, pricing, competitive and market research, sales, and executive communications. She led the marketing team that developed pricing strategies on $3 billion of retained business over the associated contract terms, and developed complex new pricing structures that when implemented at four accounts were forecasted to grow the business by $188 million in revenue. Peters has consistently challenged the status quo, in a way that engages her team. She is balanced and thoughtful; pragmatic but not dismissive of new concepts. Peters holds a B.S. and M.B.A. in Business Administration from Creighton University.

Pallavi Saxena, Senior Advisor Strategic Planning, Metrolinx

Pallavi Saxena is an adept problem-solver. Pallavi Saxena has been successfully managing planning and engineering aspects of various infrastructure and rail projects across North America. She has been an adept problem solver and brings an enthusiastic and dedicated approach to her work. As Senior Advisor, Metrolinx she provides corporate strategic planning and analytics to the organization and also leading the development of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to align Metrolinx strategic planning activities. Monitors and evaluates progress of corporate activities to ensure achievement of corporate strategic and business objectives. She is a seasoned technical professional who understands the business acumen as well. Saxena holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering from L.D.College of Engineering, India, a Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning in Transportation from San Jose State University, California and a Sustainability Professional license from Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure. In addition, she is a research associate at Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) which conducts research, education, and information, and technology transfer, focusing on multimodal surface transportation policy and management issues. She has also co-chaired employee diversity committee and sustainability committee for her previous employer (Hatch) ensuring the company to be more diverse and sustainable. Recently, she undertook a project where a consultant on a long-term contract was not performing per the requirements. Saxena managed to turn the project around by building a relationship of trust and motivation, working closely on things like getting skilled persons for respective tasks, showing samples of good work, collaborating on technical aspects, and then providing the freedom to make decisions. It seemed hard initially, but with a bottom-up approach she managed to get all the work done in a very impressive manner from a team that had not been performing for quite some time. Metrolinx senior management was happy with the results. Saxena received commendations for her ability to overcome the problem. She is adept at community meetings and stakeholder collaborations, managing projects with competing interests. Saxena holds a Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering from L.D. College of Engineering, India, and a Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning in Transportation from San Jose State University. She balances her career with raising her five-year-old daughter and one-year-old son.

Torri Stuckey, Rail Supply Manager, AmeriGas Propane

Torri Stuckey has spent his entire corporate career in the rail industry, both as a railroad employee at Norfolk Southern and as a shipper/consignee. He has used this experience to educate and mentor younger employees throughout his career. His goal is simple yet complex: He desires to be the change he wishes to see in the world and ultimately leave this world (including the rail industry) in a better place than he found it. Throughout his career, Stuckey has been one of the youngest in his position. He’s managed employees decades older than himself and has been able to make tough decisions. After a year at AmeriGas, Stuckey restructured the entire rail group to make it more cohesive and efficient. No stranger to adversity, Stuckey grew up in urban poverty on the South Side of Chicago. Through hard work and determination, he earned a full athletic football scholarship to Northwestern University, where, as a running back and defensive back, he earned the trust of his teammates and was named Wildcats team captain in 2003. Stuckey holds a B.S. in Communications from Northwestern University.