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People News: Connector, CSX, The Washington Companies

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
Lori Burchett has taken over leadership of the Connector streetcar system in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photograph courtesy of the Cincinnati Department of Transportation & Engineering)

Lori Burchett has taken over leadership of the Connector streetcar system in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photograph courtesy of the Cincinnati Department of Transportation & Engineering)

The Cincinnati (Ohio) Department of Transportation & Engineering appoints Lori Burchett as Deputy Director for Streetcar Services (Connector). Also, Florida’s Jacksonville Business Journal names CSX’s Funto Ajayi a Tech Leader of the Year; and The Washington Companies President and CEO Larry Simkins steps down.

Lori Burchett, Deputy Director, Connector

At the Connector, Cincinnati’s streetcar system, Lori Burchett has replaced Travis Jeric, who left city service earlier this year for a private-sector position. Burchett has more than 17 years of professional planning experience, focusing on urban, regional and transit projects, and worked most recently for King County Metro Transit in Seattle, Wash., advancing major capital projects for bus/light rail integration and incentive-based programming to grow and encourage long-term transit ridership.

Burchett holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Northern Michigan University and a master’s in city and regional planning from the Ohio State University.

Interim Deputy Directory Matthew Hulme has resumed his role as Transit Coordinator and Division Manager for the streetcar team.

Funto Ajayi, Senior Technical Director, CSX

At CSX, Senior Technical Director Funto Ajayi has been added to the Jacksonville Business Journal’s Tech Leaders of the Year honor roll for 2022. For the past four years, the publication has “honored some of the men and women whose technology leadership has helped local organizations grow, deal with challenges and shape the future.” Ajayi not only leads a team that supports and provides business solutions for Labor Relations, Payroll and Human Resources, but also helps lead the Class I railroad’s digital transformation strategy. He joined CSX in 2002 as a Systems Analyst and has since taken on roles of increasing responsibility. He was elevated to his current position in 2017.

Ajayi told the Jacksonville Business Journal that the most satisfying moment of his career was when several years ago he headed up a data warehouse transformation initiative moving from a legacy environment to a modernized reporting solution. “This was particularly challenging because it was my first foray into management, and I had to lead a seasoned team of experts and engineers, managing a demanding group of business partners while ensuring a successful implementation because of the business impact it had on a large swath of our employee population,” he told the publication. “To earn the team’s trust, I worked with humility, recognizing that I needed to learn from the team in order to lead them and empathy to understand the team’s motivation in order to match team member’s strengths and skills to roles where they made the most impact. We were able to deliver this multi-million dollar initiative in 24 months, achieving the project objectives and winning an award. This experience was most satisfying to me because it was when I truly learned to be a leader in the corporate world. The lessons I learned stuck with me and I still use them today—in essence they have become a part of me.”

At The Washington Companies, Larry Simkins will retire as President, CEO and member of the Board of Directors after a 21-year career as CEO of the firm, whose holdings include Montana Resources, Montana Rail Link, Seaspan Marine and Shipyards, and Southern Railway, among others. The Washington Companies’ Board has selected Mark Lamarre, CEO of Seaspan Shipyards, to succeed Simkins; Lamarre will also join The Washington Companies’ Board. Simkins and Lamarre have worked closely on a transition plan since 2021, according to the firm.

“As Larry prepares to retire after more than two decades with The Washington Companies, I want to personally thank him for his dedication, leadership and friendship over the years,” said Dennis R. Washington, Founder and Chairman of The Washington Companies. “I am pleased to welcome Mark Lamarre, a proven leader with an impeccable track record, as the new President and CEO of The Washington Companies.”

To support the succession, The Washington Companies also reported the following additional senior leadership changes:

  • John McCarthy, currently Seaspan’s Chief Program Officer, will assume the CEO role at Seaspan Shipyards, replacing Lamarre.
  • Jerry Lemon, now Chief Financial Officer of The Washington Companies, will assume the role of President of Washington Investments.
  • Jeff Schwarz, currently President of Modern Machinery, will oversee the construction entities, Modern Machinery and Envirocon, for The Washington Companies.
  • Matt Rose, retired CEO of BNSF and current Washington Companies’ Board member, will assume the role of President of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.
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