Transit’s Next Leader Institute

“The public transit industry does so much to support a community’s transportation needs, improve the environment, and respond to the needs of the transit-dependent population, it must continue to grow.  Your participation in the next Transit Leaders Institute shows your commitment toward keeping the industry strong and moving forward into the future.”
John W. Clauson
Executive Director – Kitsap Transit
Former WSTA President


The Washington State Transit Association (WSTA) is proud to announce open enrollment for the 2nd annual Transits Next Leader Institute (TNLI). As we look to the future for tomorrow’s transit leaders, we need to ensure they are set up for success. And with over 30 fellows graduating in 2021, we are beginning to build the bench of our future leaders, and we are ready for you to be next.  

TNLI is designed as an immersive and intensive program providing fellows the real-world transit-focused knowledge and leadership management skills needed to be successful leaders in the industry. The comprehensive program, spanning over six months, combines both in-class and out-of-classwork and programming along with other elements to ensure each fellow receives a quality learning experience.   

TNLI does require full attendance and commitment to sessions and assignments to receive a certificate of completion. Further, the support of your Champion (direct supervisor) and your organization’s leadership is critical. I encourage you and your Champion to review the syllabus and discuss each program element to ensure you and the organization can provide the needed time, financial commitment, and focus for completing the program successfully. If you have questions, I encourage you to reach out to me via email, and we can schedule a time to connect.  


Justin D. Leighton
Executive Director, WSTA

“A career in transit is like juggling a chain saw and fine china. In such a challenging environment, high performing leaders must be equal parts evangelist and executive – mission focused and business savvy. Their sharp view must be focused not only on the entire eco-transit system, but also the wellbeing of the single-parent employee working graveyards. Expect immediate returns on your investment in the next Transit Leaders Institute – a powerful and challenging program to equip leaders for success. “
E. Susan Meyer
CEO – Spokane Transit Authority
WSTA Past President

The Syllabus outlines expectations, cost, timeline, course outline, and how to apply.

Previous Fellows Describe Their Experience

Cheryl Willis, Skagit Transit

“One of the biggest advantages of a program like Transit’s Next Leadership Program is the applicability to my current job.  As part of the Marketing & Public Affairs, I need a wide understanding of transit trends and strategic planning.  It’s excellent that my fellow classmates consisted of current and emerging transit leaders. The course content covered all the areas critical to transit operations and included fabulous guest speakers and coaching sessions. I highly recommend it.”

Tommy Fernandez, Kitsap Transit

“The TNLI program has certainly increased my knowledge and understanding of the transit industry and leadership discipline. TNLI has given me the tools and insight for better serving my community.”

Shawn Harris, Island Transit

“TNLI is a place where an agency can send already shining stars for some fine tuning and watch those individuals come out on fire. These individuals bring back a wealth of knowledge to their perspective agencies. By getting individuals to engage in different projects for their agencies that truly make a difference will provide the return on investment that is unmatched by any other training.”

2021 Fellow

“Fantastic program!  During the time in the course, I have gained a deeper understanding of the complexities of the transit industry and how they all fit together.  The future is going to require leaders who understand the complexities and how they all fit together to make a successful transit.  I have learned leadership skills and heard from current and former leaders of the local transit world!”