Class of 2021

Eric Florip

Public Affairs Coordinator

My name is Eric Florip, and I’m C-TRAN’s Public Affairs Coordinator. In that role, my responsibilities include video production, photography, social media, community outreach, public events and more. I also help lead the C-TRAN Green Team. I hope to spend my career in transit, evolving as the industry itself evolves in the coming years and decades. In 2019, I helped C-TRAN earn its Clark County Green Business certification.

Columbia County Public Transportation
David Ocampo

General Manager

Become the most adaptive progressive leader.
My biggest achievement has been to prove to myself that I can overcome any challenge thrown in my direction. When I took over the lead for our agency, I knew the path laid out was going to be full of obstacles from the get go, throw in there the fear of I-976 and COVID-19 and I feel that I had the perfect obstacle course to prepare me for what lays ahead. I feel that, as leaders, we should always be willing to learn, if you feel that you know everything, you are not learning much in life!

Grays Harbor Transit
Terri Gardner

Operations Manager

My name is Terri Gardner and I am the Operations Manager at Grays Harbor Transit.
My professional goal is to continue to work in the transit industry possibly as a General Manager.
My biggest achievement professionally would be starting my career as a customer service representative without any training or CDL and working my way up to Operations Manager.

Island Transit
Shawn Harris

Operations Manager

Shawn Harris is the Operations Manager for Island Transit who is responsible for leading the Operations Department in the smooth and efficient flow of transit services on Whidbey & Camano Islands. These services enhance the Island Quality of life.

Shawn has worked in Management for the last 25 years with companies such as Island Transit, AT&T, Metrocall & Techpower Solutions. Shawn brings a wealth of knowledge to not only the business sector but also to Public Transit, having worked for Island Transit the last 16 years. Shawn was also the Chairman for the Washington State Transit Association’s Operation Committee from 2012 to 2014. He is a proven leader and is respected by his coworkers in the transit industry.

Shawn attended Southern Illinois University and studied Business Management from 1985-1988. He also attended Seattle Central University in 1996 where he continued his business studies.

Shawn chaired other projects in his community such as “Save Our System” S.O.S. in 2009. During his tenure as chairman of this organization he led by engaging with and educating the residents of Island County as to the importance of transit services on the Island. This was an effort that could make or break those services. The end result was an overwhelming show of support by a yes vote from the community to raise Island Transit’s sales tax collection from 6/10 of 1% to 9/10 of 1%. This is the highest sales tax collection allowed in Washing State. It would take legislative action to go any higher. The residents of Island County are still enjoying those services today.

Shawn is looking forward to helping shape transportation provider services in their communities by continuing his work in the Public Transit sector for many more years to come.

King County Metro
Dawn Jones

Chief of Vehicle Maintenance

Dawn Jones is a Chief of Vehicle Maintenance at King County Metro. She has been part of the Metro team for 24 years, starting her career as a bus washer. Dawn’s professionalism, people skills, and love of transit have helped her to become a valued leader at Metro. She continues to be inspired and wants to help her agency succeed with becoming fossil fuel free. Dawn’s greatest achievement to date is making promotion to her current position of running a shop with a crew of 29 mechanics, fuelers, and bus washers.

Dawn enjoys road trips to National Parks with her husband. She is also an avid quilter who often donates quilts to her community with a partnership through the Everett Fire Department.

Kitsap Transit
Dominick Loiacano

Operations Supervisor

My name is Dominick Joseph Loiacano, II. I am currently serving in a role as an Operations Supervisor at Kitsap Transit. My future goal and aspiration is to continue along my management career trajectory in the Transit industry with the ultimate dream of becoming a Department or Executive Director. Thus far, my most significant professional career achievement was earning my certification as a Third-Party Examiner of the Commercial Driver’s License Program through the Washington State Department of Licensing and maintaining that role in excellent standing for a period of ten years.

Link Transit
Gabrielle Walker

Assistant Operations Manager

My goal is to continue to help create a consistent, proactive, and responsive department, in order to support the coach operators serving our community. To cultivate a team culture. I aspire to be a leader who finds and helps develop the potential in others.

Pierce Transit
Dena Withrow

Transportation Manager

I began my career with Pierce Transit in October 1998 as a Relief Transit Operator. I have held several positions to include; Specialized Transportation Dispatcher/Scheduler, Field Supervisor, and Specialized Transportation Assistant Manager. Currently I serve as the Transportation Manager of Service Delivery. In this role I am responsible for planning, organizing, managing and directing activities that promote quality transit services. I am also responsible to supervise, train, and evaluate assigned management personnel that oversee the performance of over 500 Transit Operators as well as oversight of a centralized dispatch office. I hope to continue to grow as a Transit Leader to inspire future leaders and to support and promote Public Transportation. I am very proud of the work that our team has accomplished recently around customer service improvements. I initiated and implemented a revamped customer service program and philosophy for the agency. I brought in a contracted mystery shopper service to gauge the interaction of all employees that deal with the public. In addition I brought in a new position of Customer Service Coordinator that has dramatically improved our response times to customers as well as adding a coaching component for our front line staff. In addition, I established a Route Schedule Adherence Committee to address run time issues and work toward a more reliable on time service for our riders. This committee meets before and after every service change and is comprised of representatives from across the organization, their work has resulted in greatly improved on time performance.

Salem Area Mass Transit District (Cherriots)
Gregg Thompson

Maintenance Manager

I am looking to continue building my skill set in order to have a more positive outcome in my current setting but to also be competitive for other advancement opportunities.

My biggest achievement is leading my team in several environmental initiatives culminating in being named “The Cleanest Transit Fleet in Oregon”.

Spokane Transit Authority
Brandon Rapez-Betty

Director of Communications & Customer Service

Brandon Rapez-Betty is the Director of Communications & Customer Service at Spokane Transit Authority (STA) in Spokane, Washington where he oversees communication and marketing, customer service, business development and pass sales, media and community relations, websites and digital communications, as well as the operations of the downtown transit hub, The Plaza. He aspires to continue developing professionally through refined leadership skills and a deeper level of understanding of transit systems.

Brandon’s biggest achievement was finishing a full Ironman Triathlon in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho in 2016.

Twin Transit
Melissa Shoemaker

Director of Operations

Melissa Shoemaker serves as the Director of Operations for Twin Transit, overseeing the Operations and Human Resources departments. Her focus is determining how Twin Transit can better serve Lewis County and evolve strategically to meet transit needs. She enjoys looking for ways to improve agency culture, develop employees professionally, and thoughtfully succession plan.

Recent projects she has tackled have positively impacted the organization and community, such as implementing a new service, DARTT (Dial-A-Ride-Twin-Transit). Additionally, she has partnered with the community on implementing COVID initiatives such as, delivering meals to seniors and coordinating transportation for vulnerable populations to vaccination clinics.

Melissa resides in Chehalis, Washington with her husband, daughter, and son. She enjoys hiking and spending time with her family and friends.

Whatcom Transportation Authority
Jamie Fairbanks

Operations Manager

Hello my name is Jamie Fairbanks. I am the Operations Manager at Whatcom Transportation Authority. My transit career began nearly 25 years ago as a Transit Operator. I hold my 20 years of safe driving as a major achievement. My transition into a management position the past 5 years has afforded me many new opportunities and challenges. The main motivator that has inspired me to take on new roles within the WTA is the desire to support front line staff. My aspiration is to be a valuable member of a leadership team that strives to provide outstanding service to our community.

Clallam Transit
Gina Monger

Administrative Services Manager
Years ago, if you asked my young daughter what my job was, she would innocently say, “human resources wisely.” Today, I think about her answer and realize just how accurate her response was then, and now.

I have worked in the public sector for over 20 years, and I am currently the administrative services manager for Clallam Transit System. My role is to apply “human resources wisely,” through the sound administration of the HR, EEO, and marketing programs, as well as serving as the clerk to the board of directors, the public records officer, the agency records manager, and the assistant to the general manager.
Upon reflection of my professional record, I am extremely proud of receiving my bachelor’s degree in 2014 and becoming certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (“SPHR”) in 2016. However, I believe my most significant accomplishment is establishing an inviting, productive, professional HR team within Clallam Transit System, an organization that had not previously employed a professional-level HR specialist in its 40-plus year history.

Taking what I have already amassed, I aim to diversify my knowledge of public transportation, while enhancing my leadership skills, in anticipation of future career opportunities and to be an active contributor to the continuing evolution and success of public transit!

Community Transit
Samantha Thomspon-Daly

Staff Development Manager

Samantha Thomson-Daly is an accomplished leader, trainer, and senior administrator with a 20-year background in talent development and organizational leadership. Samantha’s areas of expertise include teaching, leadership development, strategic planning, project management, and streamlining complex operational systems. Her number one passion is inspiring others to be the best professional possible, demonstrated by a career background that includes well over 1,000 presentation hours.

Samantha is the Director of Membership with the Association of Talent Development Puget Sound. She is also a member of Pacific Northwest Organization Development Network and the Harvard Institute of Coaching.

Samantha is the Staff Development Manager with Community Transit. She delivers the leadership program, oversees staff development for 800+ employees through the Cornerstone Learning Management System, and coaches 70+ leaders around the agency. She is fairly new to transit and is excited to learn from tenured professionals in the field.

Samantha holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Park University with honors and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Psychology from the University of Central Missouri, as well as over a dozen training certifications, including Executive Level Leadership.

Samantha’s goal is to co-lead an organization that is known for taking exceptional care of the employees with the best service that they provide to the customers.

Samantha’s biggest achievement is being Aiden’s mom. Aiden is her almost 2-year old bundle of joy and energy. He is nicknamed the “Acrobat” as he climbs on everything!

Intercity Transit
Joy Gerchak

Customer Service Manager

My main professional goal: to lead with servitude and create an environment that motivates, influences and inspires.

My biggest achievement: I have a job I love…and the opportunity to lead a team that trust and respect one another, as well as those we serve.

Jefferson Transit Authority
Miranda Nash

Mobility Operations Manager

My name is Miranda Nash. I am a Mobility Operations Manager at Jefferson Transit Authority. One of my long-term professional goals is to become a certified PMP to support my transportation operations and planning career. One of my greatest achievements is completing my Bachelor’s Degree with honors, including recognition on the University President’s list, while also working full time and continuing to progress in my career path at JTA.

King County Metro
Troika Braswell

Lane Transit District
Kim Le

Development Planner

Kim Le is an urban planner passionate about strengthening equitable and sustainable communities. Kim is a Development Planner at Lane Transit District in Eugene, Oregon, where she is spearheading the District’s first ever strategic business plan and gearing up to manage a comprehensive operations analysis. Kim also provides strategic support on the District’s mobility management strategy and communications and public engagement efforts. Prior to Lane Transit District, Kim was a Transportation Planner at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency where she worked on bus rapid transit and light rail systems and land use-transportation integration issues. Kim has successfully managed public engagement on high profile and controversial tolling and transit projects towards full Board adoption and implementation. Aside from public service, Kim has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector as a director and in the private sector as a project manager. Her long-term goal is to lead transit agencies to laser focus on providing excellent service to communities of concern.

Missoula Urban Transportation District (Mountain Line Transit)
Jennifer Sweten

Jennifer Sweten is the Director of Operations at Mountain Line, the largest public transportation system in Montana. She has over 20 years of transportation safety and security experience and holds dual certifications from the World Safety Organization and the US Department of Transportation.

She is committed to making transit more responsive, convenient, and accessible to all customers while improving the workplace on all fronts for Operators and support staff.

Jen has been instrumental in the development and implementation of several major projects at Mountain Line including the introduction of 15-minute headways, transition to a zero-fare system, and the addition of battery-electric buses as part of a zero-emission initiative. These projects resulted in a 70% increase in ridership.
Away from work, Jen and her wife enjoy traveling and spending time with family.

Pierce Transit
Laurie Langlois

Transportation Manager, Service Support

I joined PT in 2017 as the Communications Assistant Manager and was promoted to Transportation Manager in 2019. My previous experience includes 21 years at the Washington State Patrol in 911 dispatching. I was managing the 911 center on the day that 4 Lakewood Police Officers lost their lives in a coffee shop shooting. I oversaw the operations of the communication center and provided leadership and direction to a staff that was shaken as there we many who had personal connections to the officers involved. Together and under my leadership we guided the communication to law enforcement to coordinate a response and relay information integral in the apprehension of subjects involved. I am proud of my team and how they responded.

Currently, I am a Transportation Manager responsible for the oversight of the Service Support Department. With a staff of sixty-three I manage;
o Three Assistant Managers (Communications, Customer Service and Field)
•One Division Assistant
The Communications Center
• Field Supervision
• Fixed Route Customer Service Office

At Pierce Transit I serve on the Public Safety Liaison Committee, Route Schedule Adherence Committee and the Service Delivery and Support Communications Committee. I am excited to have joined the transit industry and look forward to building my knowledge of transit so that I am ready to take on additional challenges and opportunities in the future.

Skagit Transit
Cheryl Willis

Marketing and Public Affairs Specialist

Cheryl Willis, Marketing and Public Affairs Specialist at Skagit Transit creates community connections and partnerships in the Skagit Valley. She develops strategies that help advance efforts to impact excellent public transportation through the sharing of effective ideas.

Cheryl’s goal is to expand her leadership skills and develop strategies which will effectively motivate and mobilize teams tackling projects or circumstances requiring time-critical results.

Project management and implementation of real-time bus arrival information systems at Skagit Transit is a resent achievement.

Brent Timm

Operations Manager

Brent Timm is the Operations Manager at TranGO (Transit for the Greater Okanogan) where his responsibilities range from route planning, service reliability, customer service, community outreach, maintenance, staff training, performance evaluations, and vanpool operations. Brent obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Washington State University in Business Administration.

Brent is passionate about building strong connections and relationships through community outreach. He brings years of experience to the industry from working in the non-profit industry where he learned the importance of building intentional professional relationships to work together through collaboration to strengthen the communities he serves.

Brent lives in the small town of Tonasket, Washington where he grew up. When not at work, you will find him doing one of two things; farming or spending time with his family. He and his wife, Joy, have been married for 27 years and have five children.

Valley Transit
Angie Peters

General Manager
My name is Angie Peters, and I am the General Manager at Valley Transit. We are a smaller system, and I am still fairly new to this role so I am excited to participate in this fellowship to grow my own skill set as well as bringing back materials to share with my team. I strive to create the most inclusive and accessible public transit system possible for my area. I aspire to run a safe, efficient, and welcoming system that passengers enjoy riding, and employees enjoy running. Natural recency bias makes me want to say that my biggest achievement in my career thus far has been surviving the ever changing landscape of the pandemic, but taking a step back, I think my biggest achievement so far has been successfully taking my previous transit system (Northeast Oregon Public Transit) fare free and introducing a rural connector service that dramatically increased access for residents that previously only had access to Medicaid non-emergent medical transportation.

Whatcom Transportation Authority
Mary Anderson

Transit Planner
Mary Anderson is a Transit Planner at the Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) with 14 years of sustainable transportation experience. Mary has managed two Safe Routes to School projects, the Kendall/Columbia Valley Connectivity Plan and the WTA Lynden Hop Mobility on Demand project. She envisions a future where everyone in Whatcom County has access to safe, healthy and affordable transportation options. A firm believer in practicing what you preach, Mary rides her bike or takes the bus to work daily (during non-COVID times).

Clallam Transit
Joe Hooker

I started at Clallam Transit as an operator in 2013. After 2 years I added instructor, Relief dispatcher and I did a little support supervisor. After 4 years I became full time fixed route dispatcher. I very much enjoy what I do and I know I can and will do more; what my next step will be is still undecided I have a lot of options. Personally, my biggest achievement is my family and children. Professionally, it was putting together the bids while COVID hit. It was something I had to put together quickly, with a lot of different variables. I knew people might not be happy with it but I did my best to accommodate what I could. Its an all around great example of how I can work under pressure.

Community Transit
Joshua Gutierrez

Manager of Transportation Operations

My professional goal is to hone my industry competency level so that I can effectively communicate and lead my agency into the next chapter of public transportation.

My biggest achievement is being named as the Manager of Transportation Operations after starting in transit as a Coach Operator in 2008. I have been promoted four times over the course of 13 years in which I now work directly with our Deputy Director of Transportation and oversee our operations and staff of Assistant Managers, Transportation Supervisors, Dispatchers and Coach Operators. My knowledge, relationship-building, communication and leadership experiences all contributed to this achievement.

Intercity Transit
Jason Aguero

Information Systems Manager/CIO

My name is Jason Aguero. I am currently the Information Systems Manager and Chief Information Officer at Intercity Transit (IT) in Olympia. My current role includes managing and supporting the team that supports all aspects of technology at IT. This includes software, hardware, infrastructure, and all other “technology” assets.

My goal is to learn more about transit, learn how to lead with a transit frame of mind, and to build a network with other transit professionals.

Although, I have several professional accomplishments in my life, my biggest achievement so far is personal, and it is being able to support my family (wife and three children). My family comes first in my life and that is where I measure my ultimate success

Jefferson Transit Authority
Nicole Gauthier

Fixed Route Operations Manager

My name is Nicole Gauthier and I am the Fixed Route Operations Manager with Jefferson Transit Authority. My short term professional goal is to gain a deeper understanding of how transit agencies are funded. My long term professional goal is to become a general manager of a small to medium sized transit agency. One of my professional passions is bringing together a diverse group of people and creating strong teams.

Kitsap Transit
Tommy Fernandez

VanpooL Coordinator
Tommy Fernandez is a vanpool coordinator who has worked in the transit industry since 1999. He strives to effectively use technology to bridge the gap between transit services and the people who need transportation solutions in their everyday lives. One of Tommy’s major achievements was being recognized by the Association for Commuter Transportation for the successful collaboration with multiple agencies across the Puget Sound Region to reduce traffic and air pollution.

Lane Transit District
Kristin Kokkeler

Procurement Specialist

Hello my name is Kristin Kokkeler, and I am a Procurement Specialist at Lane Transit District. My personal and professional goal is to always be open and willing to learn, and continue to serve as an asset to my organization.

I believe my greatest accomplishment is balancing my work and home life. My family is extremely important to me, as is supporting my husband and children with their goals, but also dedicating time for my career and personal development is essential.

People for People
Rosenda Henley

Mobility Manager-Travel Trainer
My name is Rosenda Henley, I am a Mobility Manager-Travel Trainer, my aspiration to be the Chief of Operations for whatever agency I am working for, and one of my biggest achievements is raising my daughter and being the first one in my family to attain a college education.

Ride Connections
Emily Motter

Deputy Director
Emily Motter is the Deputy Director at Ride Connection, a non-profit transportation organization based in Portland, Oregon. Her professional goals include improving transportation access to historically marginalized individuals, diversifying funding for Ride Connection, and supporting her colleagues in their work to provide and enhance transportation options to those in need. Emily’s biggest achievement is establishing a strong fund development program for Ride Connection.

Skagit Transit
Jason Tepper

Dispatch Supervisor

Hello! My name is Jason Tepper and I am the Dispatch Supervisor at Skagit Transit. I am responsible for Scheduling, Dispatchers, Paratransit Route Efficiency and Paratransit Eligibility. I have been working in Public Transportation for 12 years, 3 years as a Supervisor.

I am interested in learning all facets of Public Transportation. I hope to grow professionally with Skagit Transit and one day advance to an Executive Director position.

I am proud to say that I have helped to improve our department with the assistance of my staff. We created Training Manuals and SOP’s, Training program for new employees and digitized various paper documents. Most of all, I am proud to say that my staff loves their job and they are happy to come to work!

Kelly Scalf

CEO/General Manager

My name is Kelly Scalf, and I am the CEO/GM of TranGO (Transit for Greater Okanogan). I was hired in 2014, just a year after the sales tax initiative authorizing funding for transit was passed by the citizens of Okanogan County, to develop the transit authority and begin public transportation service.

As the inaugural CEO, my biggest goal is, and has been, setting the transit authority on firm ground, establishing service, facilities, and instilling public trust in the work we do. When my service time is completed, I want to walk away knowing that the accomplishments of the past 5 years will continue to be the foundation for moving forward and growing the system to serve the residents of Okanogan County.

My biggest achievement has been building a system from the ground up, through coordinating existing service, and increasing ridership and visibility of TranGO.

WSDOT Public Transportation Divison
Nhan Nguyen

Community Liaison Lead

I’m a transportation planning supervisor at the Washington State Department of Transportation. I oversee the WSDOT Public Transportation Division’s (PTD) Local Planning, Programs and Contracts team where my responsibilities include PTD-funded contracts including the Consolidated Grants and Regional Mobility Grants programs. I am also responsible for operations of statewide Intercity Bus Program (Travel Washington), statewide vanpool investment program (VIP), Rural Transit Technical Assistance Program (RTAP), FTA Civil Rights compliance, local planning studies (TDP, HSTP) and implementation of transportation demand management (TDM) strategies. In all, my team oversees implementation and reporting of 150 plus contracts to about 90 grantees delivering over $250 million in transit operations and capital funding across the state.

I began my public service career as a member of the City Manager’s Leadership Team at the City of Burien and Planning and Development Department’s Management Team at the City of Tacoma. In these roles, my focus was to provide strategic planning and policy analysis to the City Manager and Mayor, and to anchor cross-department leadership working on high impact projects such as land annexation, City’s operating budget proposal, property tax levy, community needs assessment, communication policies, homelessness programs funding and others.

I hold a Master of Urban Planning degree from the University of Washington and Green Belt certification in Lean Six Sigma. I consider obtaining these degrees as my biggest professional achievements. In my own time, I stay involved in my community by working as a volunteer commissioner on the City of Tukwila’s Planning Commission and Architectural Review Board & a member of the White Center Food Bank Board.

Joining the WSTA Transits Next Leadership Institute, I’m excited for the opportunity to attending classes with talented field experts, learning from knowledgeable instructors, and contributing to the learning community of like-minded transit professionals. More specifically, I’m aspired to develop a deeper understanding of how transit is governed, operated, and funded by learning about the fundamentals of its labor law, talent management, and financing. This knowledge would help me understand better the challenges facing the transit industry as well as opportunities to form advocacy partnerships as appropriate.