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Written by Railway Age Staff
Shutterstock/Manop Boonpeng

Shutterstock/Manop Boonpeng

RAILWAY AGE, NOVEMBER 2022 ISSUE: Railway Age’s Women in Rail awards program celebrates strong women who excel at leadership, serving the community and contributing to the industry—above and beyond their day-to-day job responsibilities.

In its sixth year, more than 100 nominations came in for North American freight, passenger and supply sector leaders at all levels who have meaningful career accomplishments and are committed to supporting other women railroaders and encouraging more to join the ranks. Selected by peers Barbara Wilson, former President and CEO of RailUSA, and KellyAnne Gallagher, CEO of the Commuter Rail Coalition, with input from the Railway Age staff, we are pleased to present the 23 honorees plus five leaders receiving Honorable Mention.


The judges: Barbara Wilson, former President and CEO, RailUSA LLC (left); and KellyAnne Gallagher, CEO, Commuter Rail Coalition.

Barbara Wilson, former President and CEO, RailUSA, LLC: A rail industry C-suite executive, Wilson was most recently President and CEO of short line holding company RailUSA, providing strategic leadership and implementing long-range goals, plans and policies. Prior to joining RailUSA in 2019, she was President of Wells Fargo Rail, where she led business growth by acquiring three industry competitors to build the largest railcar leasing business in North America. She holds a bachelor’s from Boston College and an MBA from Babson College.

KellyAnne Gallagher, CEO, Commuter Rail Coalition (CRC): Gallagher is a public transportation policy professional and a strategic advisor to industry leaders. With more than 20 years serving across industry sectors, in 2019 she founded CRC, where she is shaping policy and driving the agenda of the association, which serves as the singular voice of the commuter rail industry. Previously, Gallagher was a member of the New York MTA’s senior leadership team, which she joined after 16 years with the American Public Transportation Association.


MAEGHAN ALBISTON Vice President, Capital Markets, Canadian Pacific (Women in Rail honorable mention in 2019)

Albiston joined CP’s Treasury department in 2005 as Capital Markets Analyst. She moved to Investor Relations in 2011 amid a public proxy battle, and during her tenure has communicated CP’s corporate strategy to employees and shareholders throughout the implementation of precision-scheduled railroading; enactment of CP’s growth strategy under a new CEO; and the continuing approval process for the acquisition of Kansas City Southern. Albiston in 2018 took on oversight of the railroad’s $13 billion pension portfolio, one of the oldest and largest corporate plans in Canada. Under her leadership, the plan has seen improvements to its governance structure and investment policies as well as enhancements to its investment strategies; today, it is in a surplus position. Recognizing an opportunity to improve CP’s ESG reporting and disclosures, Albiston became a sustainability champion and now advises management teams and the Board. She is passionate about giving back, and serves as a CP Leadership Coach, who is frequently asked to mentor high-potential talent companywide; participates in CP’s Women’s Leadership Network; and initiated a popular CP women’s networking series. Albiston was named a best Investor Relations Professional and Investor Relations Officer by Institutional Investor and IR magazines, respectively.

MARY CARLSON BIS, Senior Director, Emergency Management, Amtrak

Following an incident on one of Amtrak’s long-distance services, Carlson Bis was hired as a consultant, and then as a full- time employee, to develop a revised incident response strategy that resulted in better coordination with Amtrak employees, stakeholders in impacted communities, and passengers. Today, employees are deployed to either Incident Site Operations, supporting first responders, the investigation, and customer tracking and accountability efforts; or Family Assistance Operations, establishing a Family Assistance Center plus customer service operations at stations and medical facilities. Carlson Bis ensures Amtrak not only meets but also exceeds the 16 federal requirements that all transportation carriers must provide riders in response to major incidents. Her team also leads outreach to local, state and federal emergency management agencies, local police departments, the FBI, NTSB and FEMA. When a severe incident occurs, Carlson Bis is at the scene or the Family Assistance Center making sure all responding agencies and Amtrak are communicating. Also, she is a firm believer that training together is key to success, and she creates a positive working environment where all are empowered to identify improvements. Carlson Bis is Co-Chair of Amtrak’s Employee Resource Group for women’s professional development.

ANAMARIA BONILLA, Deputy Chief Engineer-Structures, MTA Metro-North Railroad

Bonilla is a 26-year rail transportation veteran. She has worked with a team on a variety of engineering initiatives for the commuter railroad: from moving bridge management to an online, map-based system and starting a regularly scheduled inspection program for transmission poles and retaining walls, to initiating a third-party scan for creating tie inspection and joint inventories as well as forms that group conditions to prioritize locations for maintenance. She also managed contracts for the supply of automated track geometry units and an inspection car to accelerate MNR’s state-of-good-repair program. During Hurricane Ida in 2021, Bonilla was part of the emergency response when a culvert collapsed at Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., shutting down four Hudson Line tracks. She worked with a consultant to coordinate replacement design and construction inspection services, and identified other areas of vulnerability along the right of way. Bonilla’s active volunteer work in the salvage operation at the World Trade Center site 21 years ago continues to inspire all of those who know and work with her. As one of the leaders within the MNR engineering departments, and the only female engineering discipline lead, she is a role model for female engineers across the company.

CARRIE DONCHEZ, Yardmaster, Norfolk Southern

Donchez, selected by Railway Age readers as an Influential Leader for 2022, began her career at NS as a Conductor and is now Yardmaster in New Orleans. Among her achievements: developing and presenting an operating plan to management using data such as average cars switched, inbound and outbound train performance, and average car counts; reducing train departure time by 30 minutes through improved train builds and more efficient, predictable planning of yard crews; and decreasing dwell by 12 hours and increasing capacity by using data and operational knowledge, which prompted management to switch cars in order of train departure. She also leveraged relationships with other carriers to access camera feeds, scanners and track-line views pertinent to gateway movements. The increased visibility allowed for better collaboration and relationships among carriers and yardmasters. Donchez has held SMART-TD Local 1972 leadership roles, including Vice Local Chair and Local Chair, and was elected Secretary for the General Committee of Adjustment. She has also earned the union’s Gold Certification for workshop attendance; NS’s Spirit Award for Performance serving Domino Sugar and Hero Award for quick response to a warehouse fire, protecting company property and the public; and a Blue Professional Scholarship in 2022 for graduate work at the University of New Orleans.

SHANNON DROWN, Assistant Vice President of Commercial Development, Railroads, R.J. Corman Railroad Group

As second-in-command, Drown helps lead commercial efforts for 18 short lines. Her accomplishments include partnering with a global customer to develop a new dedicated terminal for Storage in Transit (SIT) of plastics, securing a 27%-plus volume commitment with a five-year term; and leading commercial development efforts and providing project management guidance for a distillery customer’s new transload terminal, which opened in 2020 and, by 2021 was the second-largest customer on the R.J. Corman Bardstown Line. Drown’s work spearheading the R.J. Corman South Union Distribution Center expansion project—which boosted volumes of aluminum can body and tab stock—and providing a customized SIT solution for a global tire company—increasing carloads by 48% in 2020—led Railway Age to name R.J. Corman Memphis Line as its 2021 Short Line of the Year. Additionally, Drown performed a rate study on outbound sulfuric acid and zinc ingot for a zinc-manufacturing customer to identify key lanes where rail was competitive to other modes. This shift to rail translated to approximately 1,484 OTR conversions for 2020. Outside the office, Drown has served for six years as a YMCA of Greater Louisville Board member.

ALICIA HAMMERSMITH, Vice President of Operations, Transit, Wabtec Corporation

Hammersmith has contributed to Wabtec’s success by leading the implementation of Lean to transition the Fort Worth, Tex., manufacturing plant to be capable of both new locomotive builds and modernizations, which allowed the company to support Union Pacific’s recent order for 600 modernizations; consolidating duplicate operations throughout Wabtec’s North American transit sector to deliver a “One Wabtec” experience for customers; driving sustainability initiatives to reduce Wabtec’s energy consumption and utilize energy regeneration; championing the implementation of numerous ERPs and digital solutions to improve systems across the organization; and originating the Services Material Organizational structure to forecast aftermarket parts and improve delivery by 22 points in just two years. In 2021, she earned Wabtec’s Leadership Award for Execution as well as Leadership Award, Team of the Year. Hammersmith has 31 years of industry experience and is an executive leader in the Women of Wabtec forum, which was created to promote the importance of gender diversity through education, industry best-practice sharing, and advocate development. Additionally, she is an active member of the Society of Women Engineers and lends support to Girls on the Run, local rape crisis centers, and the Dress for Success program.

KAREN HANKINSON, Vice President and Senior Project Manager, RailPros

A registered civil engineer and traffic engineer, Hankinson leads RailPros’ Traffic Engineering group, which manages grade crossing-related projects in multiple states. She has worked with the Colorado Department of Transportation on its railroad manual, Utah DOT on its Statewide Railroad Preemption Standards, and Texas DOT on a statewide railroad preemption standard. Hankinson also designed the state of Colorado’s first two queue cutter traffic signals. She not only connects her team with other departments to enable cross-functional collaboration, but also mentors staff to help set goals and hone skills and meets with new employees to explain what her team does and offer help as needed. Hankinson serves on the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association’s Technical Committee 36 for Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Warning Systems and the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Railroad Committee Task Force for the Recommended Practice for Traffic Signal Preemption, and is Vice Chair of the ITE Grade Crossing Committee. She is also an Operation Lifesaver volunteer and has spoken at numerous conferences about crossings and railroad preemption. She holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from California State University-Fullerton.

EVELYN HAWKINS, President and CEO, JKEI Management LLC

Hawkins is a railroad construction general contractor and safety consultant, who as a minority female entrepreneur says she has an obligation to ensure that others like her have a voice. In 2021, Hawkins’ firm launched “The World is Your Oyster” program to teach would-be entrepreneurs the basics of starting a business and to assist with Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification and gaining access to working capital. To date, the program has helped start up three new companies. Over recent years, Hawkins has conducted an internal safety audit and updated and developed safety and security certification program training materials at Houston MTA; developed and maintained a PHA for Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line project; helped conduct tabletop and full-scale exercises and developed a PHA for a timber bridge replacement project at Austin Capital Metro; provided safety and security on-call support for pre-revenue St. Louis Loop Trolley service; and provided team support for WMATA’s 8000-series vehicle SSMP and tagging relay pilot program. She served previously on the Greensboro, N.C., City Zoning Commission and campaigned for a seat in the North Carolina Senate, District 26. She holds an M.S. in Technology Management-Environmental Health and Safety from North Carolina Agricultural Technical State University.

JODI HEATH, Regional Vice President-Eastern Division, Patriot Rail

Heath’s diverse sales and service background covers the rail, trucking and agricultural commodity grain-trading sectors. For the past eight years, she has worked with shippers and short lines at both Norfolk Southern and Pioneer Lines, which was acquired by Patriot Rail in September 2022. Her ability to communicate the benefits of rail contributed to 40% growth in her region at Pioneer in just three years. Among Heath’s strengths are her energy, work ethic and persistence at problem-solving. She and her team recently helped attract the development of a liquid fertilizer facility along the Napoleon Defiance & Western in Ohio. Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc. broke ground on the 50,000-square-foot production facility in August; it is set to launch in 2024. At NS, she managed 62 small roads in eight states as Short Line Marketing Manager, and helped grow existing traffic and develop new business as Field Sales Manager-Illinois Division. Prior to joining the rail industry, Heath served as Associate DDG Merchant for The Andersons Inc., and traded grain commodities for more than 22 years at various co-ops, terminals, processors and ethanol facilities. She was also the Branch Manager for Helena Chemical in Huntington, Ind.

JILLIAN KRUPKO, Director-Operations Strategy and Analytics, TTX

Krupko has spent her 12-year career at railcar pooling company TTX, starting in the company training program and moving into the Automotive group, where she coordinated railcar distribution throughout North America. She now leads TTX’s Equipment analytics team in identifying and solving complex problems with cutting-edge data analytics technologies and techniques, such as machine learning and predictive modeling, which enables the organization to make well-informed, data-driven business decisions. Before being elevated to her current role in 2021, Krupko served as Automotive Asset Analyst, Senior Supply Chain Analyst, Manager of Maintenance Scheduling, and Senior Manager of Maintenance Scheduling. Her skillsets include car distribution, procurement, and shop and maintenance scheduling. Krupko is a member of TTX’s Women’s Business Network and serves on the Membership and Communications Committee; she will serve as Vice Chair beginning in January 2023. She is also a member of the League of Railway Women. Krupko holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Iowa and an MBA in supply chain and logistics management from Ashford University.

KATE LUCE BOURGEOIS, President and CEO, Mississippi Export Railroad

Gregory M. Luce, Bourgeois’ great-great-grandfather, purchased the Alabama & Mississippi in 1922, and the MSE was born, beginning a family legacy. Bourgeois joined the 42-mile short line’s Customer Service and Billing department in 2009, moving on to serve as Trainmaster and Dispatcher in 2011 and as Manager of Transportation in 2012. Four years later, she became COO. Bourgeois took over leadership in 2017 and quickly expanded the business, forming in 2019 a subsidiary, Alabama Export Railroad. Her nominators noted her passion for railroading and for providing first-mile/last-mile service. She championed and led various groups to move the interchange with CSX from downtown Pascagoula to a brownfield site further east, eliminating not only capacity issues but also several highway/rail grade crossings. And when a rail-served customer experienced service delivery issues, Bourgeois and her team came up with a creative solution to handle the cars at MSE and transfer to barge for end-delivery. She holds a bachelor’s degree in logistics, materials and supply chain management from Auburn University and an MBA from Duke Fuqua School of Business, where she earned the Keohane Leadership Award and now serves on the Board of Visitors. Bourgeois is Second Vice President and on the Scholarship Committee for the North American Rail Shippers Association.

TRACY MACPHEE, Vice President of Passenger Rail and Motor Coach, Ontario Northland, Canada

With 25 years of passenger service experience, MacPhee plays an integral role ensuring that rail services from Cochrane to Moosonee continue to provide vital transportation solutions that respond to the needs of Northerners. She not only oversees the transportation of passengers, but also of a variety of goods including vehicles, food and grocery items, medical equipment, and medicine. She also ensures that Ontario Northland services connect with other transportation networks. MacPhee was instrumental in developing the business case, released earlier this year, for the return of passenger rail to northeastern Ontario. MacPhee’s ability to cultivate relationships has played a pivotal role at Ontario Northland. Throughout the pandemic, for example, she improved relationships with First Nation and remote communities by scheduling regular calls where stakeholders could share as well as learn the unique perspectives of the Indigenous communities. Making sure that passengers and community stakeholders feel heard, respected and safe remains a crucial part of the Ontario Northland operation today.

STACI MOODY-GILBERT, Vice President, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division-International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Moody-Gilbert, a U.S. Navy veteran, has served the rail industry for nearly 30 years as a laborer, truck driver, machine operator, welder and foreman. She is one of the highest-ranking women on the roster at BNSF and the highest-ranking female union officer at BMWED as Vice President, Northwest Region. Despite being discouraged from running for BMWED office, she broke the glass ceiling three times as the first women elected Vice General Chair, Burlington System Division in 2010; General Chair in 2012; and Vice President in 2022, running unopposed. Moody-Gilbert co-founded the BMWED Women’s Committee, is an advisor for its Diversity Committee, and recently organized a Military Veterans Committee. Her nominator described her as “the definition of strength,” setting the bar high for anyone to follow, and credits her leadership for his success as a union representative. Moody-Gilbert not only is dedicated to her fellow workers as well as her family, but also is committed to service. She organizes and participates in each year a Habitat for Humanity project on behalf of BMWED; helps fundraise for church-sponsored mission trips; and has worked with students at an underprivileged school to assemble a school store.

SANDRA OCAÑA, Purchasing and Logistics Manager, The Greenbrier Companies, Mexico

From ordering supplies and managing inventory to negotiating with customers and planning production schedules across multiple Greenbrier facilities, Ocaña has helped The Greenbrier Companies keep operations running smoothly, particularly through the pandemic. Before being promoted to her current role, Ocaña reduced inventory levels by more than $1 million in Oregon and trained buyers on the most efficient, effective way to use inventory. More recently, she compiled a thorough list of new suppliers who comply with Greenbrier’s quality standards and delivery requirements. Ocaña, a 15-year railroading veteran and skilled communicator and negotiator, currently oversees sourcing and logistics at two of three manufacturing facilities in Mexico. She works with national railroad companies to solve congestion problems at the border for crossing materials and finished goods (both inbound and outbound from Mexico). Due to her hard work and diligence, Greenbrier keeps railcars moving from its facilities to the tracks on time and on budget. She is an active member of Greenbrier’s Diversity Inclusion Strategy Committee (DISC), which helped form GBXcels-Women’s Leadership Group to focus on mentoring and preparing Greenbrier’s female-identifying workforce for advancement.

JACQUELINE L. PATTERSON, Vice President, Zephyr UAS, Inc.

Escaping war-torn Nicaragua, Patterson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Concordia University in Montreal, which awarded her the Civil Engineering Medal for being the highest-ranking graduating civil engineering student, the first time that honor was given to a woman and a Hispanic. Gaining employment with AECOM’s predecessor, DMJM, Patterson began work on LA Metro’s Blue and Red Lines projects. She next launched JL Patterson & Associates, which she led for 26 years, developing expertise in all aspects of railroad engineering, from conceptual design to construction management and contract administration of light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, freight rail and high- speed rail. She grew the firm from one person to 125 professionals in four offices before it was acquired by Jacobs Engineering Group. Patterson in 2015 co-founded railroad design, engineering and construction management firm Zephyr Rail, and has since become a certified Construction Manager and Remote Pilot-in-Command. Giving back is important to Patterson, who leads Habitat for Humanity projects and serves WTS, to which she has endowed scholarships. She has also earned CMAA’s Project Achievement Award for BNSF’s Triple Track through Cajon Pass, two Bentley Systems’ Be Inspired Awards for innovation, and WTS-Orange County’s Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award.

DEBRA ROSS, AVP, Talent Management, BNSF Railway

Ross in 2020 was selected to lead the newly created Talent Management function at BNSF. Under her direction, the team has increased the diversity focus across recruiting and selection, performance management, mentoring, assessment and coaching programs, talent identification, and succession planning. Ross has designed leadership-training programs, including one for 5,000 exempt employees to participate in annual outreach efforts; and will launch with her team next year a Leading With Inclusion program for all new hires and newly promoted leaders. Recognizing the coming wave of retirements, Ross and the talent and HR groups not only doubled down on recruiting and onboarding, but also on developing future leaders. They expanded the leadership development program to include 2,000 individual contributors; revamped high-potential development and talent review processes; and accelerated management development through coaching and mentoring—all contributing to BNSF’s ability to fill 95% of senior leadership openings internally. Ross also serves on cross-industry boards and heads the communications and education committees for the Young Men’s Service League. In addition to championing company award processes, leading to BNSF’s No. 6 ranking in Forbes’ Best Places to Work for Women, for example, she received the CLO Learning in Practice Award for Talent Management.

PAIGE RAULERSON, Manager, Dispute Resolution, Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Services Inc.

Within the Dispute Resolution department, Raulerson is transforming processes. Recognizing the need to better track, organize and research invoice disputes, she helped create an online data management portal to house disputes and provide visibility to multiple departments; she also offered demonstrations on its use. The tool has been integral to tracking, and also has allowed for analysis of root cause data for disputes. This has helped the company work with internal and external teams to resolve invoice dispute root causes, from waybill issues with customers or Class I’s to operational errors in the field. Due to Raulerson’s participation in the Railinc Interline Switching Task Force committee, G&W is now implementing the Switching Settlement Data Exchange system, which will allow it to share data with Class I partners in a timely fashion, and as a result, receive payments faster. She is coordinating the integration. Raulerson at age 22 promised her mentor she would finish college. While she took courses on and off, it was only years later that she enrolled in the University of Florida’s online program, and studied while working full time and raising her nine-year-old son. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and management in 2020 at age 38.

KRIMHILDA EDITH RODRIGUEZ SILVA, Director, Health and Safety, Kansas City Southern de Mexico

Rodriguez Silva, a 25-year railroader, is the first Mexican woman to hold a federal locomotive engineer’s certification. She leads all health and safety functions at KCSM, and directed the railroad’s implementation of OTS (Operational Test System), an application used to record field operational tests. Partnering with Information Technology, Field Operations and her U.S. safety counterparts, Rodriguez Silva ensured that the project was executed smoothly. Through her work, the quality of KCSM’s operational testing has greatly improved, which in turn helped the railroad achieve an average annual reduction of 28% in personal injuries and of 22% in human factor train accidents since 2019. Without her tenacity and attention to detail, the project would not have had a continuing impact. Additionally, at KCSM “Safety Camps” held earlier this year, Rodriguez Silva taught safety leadership skills, including root cause analysis determination and how to conduct more impactful operational testing events and to develop personnel safety-action plans. She has earned multiple company awards, including the coveted KCS Stormy Kromer® Award, which recognizes initiative, innovation and cross-functional teamwork.

KATIE SANDERS, Assistant Vice President Operations Technology, Union Pacific

Sanders has held various roles across UP’s technology department since 2003. She is currently responsible for an organization that provides around-the-clock support for critical operations systems and for implementing reliable networks and maintaining applications such as Positive Train Control, for which she developed support procedures for trains originating on the UP network and terminating on another railroad. She participates on industry committees for PTC that establish interoperability maintenance procedures and tools. Sanders and her team recently completed delivery of UP’s Computer Aided Dispatching system (CADX). A multiyear effort of several railroad departments, CADX was developed in-house to allow dispatchers to line signals and switches while issuing restrictions and authorities. Sanders worked with her team to develop a safe approach to implementation. Despite delays due to the pandemic, cutover was completed in 2021. Sanders serves as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Chair for the Nebraska Tech Collaborative, a business-led workforce initiative committed to developing, attracting, and retaining tech talent and entrepreneurs. She is also a founding member of UP’s Women in Technology team, now part of LEAD, UP’s women’s initiative.

CLELEATHA SHAW, Manager-Crew Management, Metra

Shaw served as a Metra commuter railroad Crew Caller for 15 years before becoming department manager during a manpower shortage. When the secretary to the director position was eliminated, she took on the responsibilities, including ordering supplies for the Consolidated Control Facility, and when her Chief Crew Clerk stepped down, she added scheduling, employee time claims, and training to her role. Additionally, when no one is available to contractually work a Crew Dispatcher position, she reports for duty. Due to questions daily regarding manpower, Shaw designed a report that she manages and distributes to all executive officers. Metra recently implemented a new crew system, and Shaw set up and assisted with training more than 400 engineers and conductors to handle hours of service on their iPads. She also works hand in hand with the Labor department to uphold union contracts. Outside of work, Shaw serves as Vice President of the National Railroad Superintendent Association and President of the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Railway Business Women, participating with members at breast cancer walks, cooking family meals at the Ronald McDonald House, and packing food for the Chicago Food Depository to be delivered to shelters across the city.

ELIZABETH SMITH, Chief of Staff, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

Smith, a registered professional engineer, has spent nine years helping to shape SEPTA’s future. As Director of Strategic Planning and Analysis, she revived and led planning efforts for southeastern Pennsylvania’s first rail extension, the multi-billion dollar King of Prussia Rail project. She was responsible for all technical activities and public outreach for the project’s Draft EIS. Her communication with elected officials, residents, customers and other stakeholders was critical in making adjustments to better meet community needs. The project is now the first to enter the Capital Improvement Grant Program pipeline. In her subsequent roles as Chief Transformation Officer and Chief of Staff, Smith has played a pivotal role in SEPTA’s recovery from the pandemic, influencing ridership rebounds; addressing funding challenges; and advancing major projects, including Bus Revolution, Trolley Modernization and the next-generation fare collection system. She has also led SEPTA’s Ridership Recovery Task Force and a 20-week planning process resulting in a Transformation Plan of 150 employee-led operational efficiency initiatives, which when implemented by 2024 could result in savings of up to $117 million. Smith is a member of WTS, and a founder of the Philadelphia Chapter’s program that offers young girls an introduction to transportation careers.

TOMEKA WATSON-BRYANT, General Manager, New Orleans Public Belt Railroad

Watson-Bryant started her railroading career just over 10 years ago at CSX. She transferred her Trainmaster skills five years later to NOPB, where she rocketed through the management ranks to Manager of Safety and Training—pioneering the railroad’s successful safety program in 2019 and setting a safety record in 2020, with no reportable derailments, injuries or crossing accidents—and to Director of Marketing and Sales—increasing car volumes by 17% in her first year. Watson-Bryant was promoted to General Manager in 2022, becoming the first African American woman to lead a U.S. short line. An honoree of Railway Age’s “20 Under 40” awards program in 2021 and an honorable mention in 2020, she has placed an emphasis on more efficient operations to improve fluidity as well as service to local customers and six Class I’s, which has led to NOPB logging a 47% increase in local customer volumes in FY 2022, storage volumes rising by 15% (almost 500 cars), and overall rail volumes increasing by 4%. Dwell has fallen to below 13 hours across the system. Watson-Bryant has also converted more than 90% of customers to automated billing to reduce errors and delay. Additionally, she serves as Vice President of the National Contract Management Association.

ANGIE WILLIAMS, Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer, CSX

Williams led the 2022 integration of Pan Am Railways into CSX, directing a cross-functional team that worked through the employee transition, ensuring uninterrupted benefits; transactional and financial accounting and reporting; sales and marketing; and operations and technology integration. She also drove the successful integration of Quality Carriers in 2021, and provided accounting and reporting guidance on the recent sale of property and property rights in three states worth $1.2 billion-plus. In addition to directing the streamlining of CSX’s accounting process and leading the initial stages of modernizing its financial systems, Williams improved the payroll process for craft employees by shifting from a manual to electronic solution, resulting in more accurate pay and added visibility. With 170 direct and indirect reports, she focuses on process improvement; prioritizes employee development; mentors women in Finance, Accounting and other departments; and started a coffee series to seek employee input. A 19-year railroad veteran, Williams is executive sponsor of CSX’s Asian Professionals for Excellence group and participates on panels for such groups as the National African American Women’s Leadership Institute.


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