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People News: NCRR, MARTA, Unifor, AITX

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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NCRR Director of Economic Development Joe Stallings

The North Carolina Railroad Company (NCRR) appoints Joe Stallings Director of Economic Development. Also, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) names Josh Rowan Deputy General Manager; Lana Payne is elected as the new National President of Unifor; and American Industrial Transport, Inc. (AITX) welcomes Jen Roth as new Director of Talent Management.


Joe Stallings joined NCRR as Director of Economic Development on July 11. With more than 11 years of experience, Stallings previously served as the Economic Development Director for the town of Garner. He also worked in rural North Carolina in economic development for the town of Benson. Stallings is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a B.S. in political science with a concentration in town, city and county management, and a minor in regional planning.

“We are excited that Joe is joining the NCRR team,” said NCRR President and CEO Carl Warren. “He brings a lot of great experience and a practical, proactive focus to the leadership of the NCRR economic development programs—NCRR Invests and Build Ready Sites. He is a thoughtful team player, and he will help us win in North Carolina.”

“It is an honor to be a part of an organization that has such a long history in helping position the state of North Carolina for continued economic prosperity,” Stallings said.


MARTA announced on Aug. 11 that Josh Rowan has been named Deputy General Manager, effective Aug. 15. Rowan, who has 26 years of program and construction management experience, will oversee the Authority’s “ambitious and expansive” Capital Improvement Program (CIP).

According to MARTA, Rowan has delivered more than $5 billion in facility and infrastructure projects, most recently serving as General Manager of Atlanta’s City Renew/TSPLOST Program and Commissioner of the inaugural Atlanta Department of Transportation.

In his new role, Rowan will be tasked with implementing MARTA’s CIP, which includes maintaining and upgrading existing MARTA assets, such as its 38 heavy rail stations, tracks, vehicles and other infrastructure. It also includes MARTA’s expansion program to add high-capacity transit service across its jurisdictions, such as the Summerhill and Campbellton Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects in Atlanta, high-capacity transit in Clayton County, the Clifton Corridor in DeKalb County, and the Georgia 400 BRT line in Fulton County.

Rowan graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a Certified Construction Manager and Program Management and Project Management Professional, and has a Professional Engineering designation.

“Josh has a deep knowledge of the entire project delivery process in both the public and private sector, from foreman to engineer and every job in between,” said MARTA Interim General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood. “His global experience with capital construction programs, combined with his local successes with the city’s Renew Program, Transportation Department, and 2022 infrastructure referendum make him uniquely qualified to manage MARTA’s CIP as we embark on the largest expansion in our history.”

“As the Atlanta region continues to experience rapid population growth, the successful delivery of MARTA’s capital program will serve as the foundation for our transportation future—a future focused on moving all people safely throughout the region,” said Rowan.

Lana Payne (second from the right) is the first woman to hold the position of Unifor’s National President.


Lana Payne has been elected National President of Unifor, the first woman to hold the position, the union reported Aug. 10.

“Today, we turn a page. Today, we move forward. Today and every day, we put our members at the heart of everything we do,” said Payne after her win was announced.

Payne previously served as National Secretary-Treasurer of Unifor, and was the first woman to hold that position, as well. She defeated Executive Assistant to the President Scott Doherty and Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy.

Delegates to Unifor’s fourth Constitutional Convention on Aug. 10 elected Payne, who announced her candidacy in April after both Doherty and Cassidy had entered the race.

According to Unifor, Payne led the union’s efforts to recover from the turmoil that followed an investigation into a constitutional breach by former Unifor National President Jerry Dias, who retired in March. An investigation into the alleged breach continues.

Throughout the campaign, Payne “championed the need for greater transparency and accountability in the union,” Unifor said.

Unifor National President Lana Payne

Payne was the first Secretary-Treasurer to produce a budget for the national union, which was adopted by delegates on Aug 8. That budget, the union said, will be administered by Len Poirier, previously an assistant to the President, who was elected Aug.10 to replace Payne as Secretary-Treasurer.

Prior to being elected Secretary-Treasurer in 2019, Payne was the founding Atlantic Regional Director for Unifor. She began her involvement in the labor movement in 1991 with FFAW/CAW. Payne is a former journalist and past president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labor.


Railcar service provider AITX announced on Aug. 15 that it has hired Jen Roth as its new Director of Talent Management because of “staffing expansion across all leasing, repair and operations business functions.”

Roth’s proven skills across recruiting, on-boarding and retention “directly complement AITX’s focused goals on team building, employee satisfaction, and workforce diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI),” AITX said.

AITX Director of Talent Management Jen Roth

Roth is joining AITX with nearly 15 years of strategic talent management experience, 10 of which was in the railcar services industry. She has held senior recruitment and organizational management positions across rail in such companies as Watco, GBW Railcar Services, Appalachian Railcar Services and Cathcart Rail. Under her supervision, AITX said, Roth has grown teams as large as 900 railcar professionals and support teams including day-to-day staffing, startup location staffing and headcount growth strategies. Roth has also held staffing positions at Premier Sales Group and ZipRealty.

Throughout the past year, AITX said it has proactively sought new opportunities to lead in customer-value across railcar services. Last summer, the company purchased the railcar leasing business of The Andersons to “diversify and expand its equipment asset capabilities,” including fleet management, commercial sales and transactional operations, and announced the $25 million expansion of its Brookhaven, Miss., full-service repair facility, which the company expects to be a significant job-creator across southern Mississippi. This summer, AITX announced the opening of Northeast and Midwest repair shops in Milton, Penn., and Clinton, Ind. As a result, recruiting, training and evangelism continue to be a priority for the ongoing success of AITX, the company said.

“Whether it is in St. Louis, Maumee or across our repair network, we say the same thing every day—we’re in the people and trust business,” said AITX President Kurt Higginbotham. “With operations growth, it positively encourages us to cultivate and nurture the best team in rail. Jen has a unique ability to spot and connect with talent while systematically establishing a process that brings employees together as high-performing teams. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she’s already making a welcomed impact. We’re hiring, so join the team.”

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