Moderators & Panelists


Cross State Corridors Panel

Monday, June 10 ~ 10:00 - 11:00 AM

Moderator

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Brent Cain

Assistant Director, TSMO, Arizona DOT

Brent Cain serves as the assistant director for the Arizona DOT Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) Division. Brent leads the TSMO efforts for optimizing the performance of existing infrastructure by implementing multimodal, intermodal and often cross-jurisdictional systems, services and projects. TSMO strategies are intended to maximize the efficiency, safety, and utility of the transportation network. Brent also oversees innovative efforts and new technologies that are rapidly occurring to further enhance transportation system operations and safety.

Brent has over 30 years of experience in transportation planning, engineering, and operations. Brent holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri.

 

Panelists

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Ronald Pate

Director, Rail, Freight, and Ports Division, Washington State DOT

Ron Pate serves as the Director of the Rail, Freight, and Ports (RF&P) Division at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). He is responsible for directing WSDOT’s rail, freight and marine port programs, which include planning, capital improvements, and operations. The RF&P Director actively directs and sets the vision for division management and staff to ensure multi modal needs are part of planning, programming and capital delivery processes.

 
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Sherry Pifer

Branch Manager, Freight & International trade section, Texas DOT

Sherry has worked in the transportation industry for 12 years.  She began her career as a freight broker, rising to development manager before joining SH 130 Concession Co. in 2012. As senior business development and corporate affairs manager, Sherry helped grow commercial traffic on the southern section of the SH 130 toll road by nearly 15 percent a year. In 2018, she made the decision to join the Texas Department of Transportation as the Freight Planning Manager.  She has been an active participant of the TxDOT Freight Advisory Committee since its inception and was actively involved in the development of TxDOT’s Texas Freight Mobility Plan. Sherry earned a BS in Logistics and Marketing from Central Michigan University and a MBA from the University of Phoenix. 

 
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Robert Wight

Operations Director, Utah DOT

Rob earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1993 and a master’s degree in Engineering Management in 1994 from Brigham Young University.  He has worked for the Utah Dept. of Transportation since 1996 served as District Engineer, Director of Construction, Director of Traffic Management Division, and currently Operations Director.  He has been involved in AASHTO Committee on Construction serving as Vice Chair, and sits on TRB committee AFH-10. He enjoys working with teams and exploring new ways to meet challenges, and has been involved in many of UDOT's firsts including the first CMGC project, first Variable Speed Limits in Work Zones and the UDOT Bridge Farm where 7 bridges were built off site and moved into place using SPMTs.


Emergency Response Panel

Monday, June 10 ~ 100: - 2:00 PM

Moderator

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Mike Tooley

Director, Montana DOT

Michael Tooley was appointed by Montana Governor Steve Bullock as Director of the Montana Department of Transportation in January of 2013. He worked for the Montana Highway Patrol for 28 years, most recently leading the organization as Colonel and Chief of the Patrol.

Tooley was born in Havre and is a Capital High School graduate. He attended Carroll College and is a graduate of Grand Canyon University; he has undergone training for senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University and graduated from the FBI National Academy. He has served in the Montana Army National Guard and the United States Naval Reserve, where he was honored as the Sailor of the Year in 2003.

He and his wife Olivia live in Helena.

 

Panelists

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Danny R. Montoya

Director of Engineering, USDA Forest Service (New Mexico)

Mr. Montoya oversees all engineering operations and Geospatial Services (GIS/Remote Sensing) for the US Forest Service within the States of New Mexico and Arizona. He also serves as an operations section chief on the Southwestern Area Incident Management Team responding to wildland fires across the entire United States. Mr. Montoya works on an international fire management team that provides advice and guidance to newly formed regional incident management teams throughout the country of Mexico. He is a presenter of a wide variety of wildland fire and incident command courses in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Bolivia.

 
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Jolie Pollet

Division Chief, Fire Planning & Fuels Management, BLM

Jolie Pollet is the Fire Planning and Fuels Management Division Chief at the Bureau of Land Management’s national Fire and Aviation office in Boise, Idaho, where she provides leadership for BLM’s national programs such as fuels management, fire ecology, wildfire reporting and data management, fire planning, and community assistance. For the past 22 years, Jolie has worked in federal fire and resource management – from wildland fire crews to managing essential national programs. Jolie holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography from the University of New Orleans and a master of science degree in Forestry from Colorado State University.  

 
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Chris Newman

The Federal Aid Programs Team Leader , FHWA

Chris Newman is the Federal-aid Programs Team Leader within the Federal Highway Administration Office of Infrastructure.  He advises FHWA Divisions and State DOTs regarding application of Federal funding for multiple highway programs including Emergency Relief.  Prior to this position, he was detailed to the United States Senate assisting in their efforts regarding surface transportation legislation.  Chris has been with FHWA for 30 years with experience in highway construction, environment, asset management, and training development.  He has worked in California, New Jersey, and Washington DC and holds a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering from the Catholic University of America.

 
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Dave Bierschbach

Region Administrator, Washington State DOT

Dave Bierschbach is the Region Administrator (RA) for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) North Central Region, based in Wenatchee.  Dave has more than 28 years of transportation experience with WSDOT and was selected as RA in August 2018.  Previously, Dave served as Assistant RA for Engineering for four years, Assistant RA for Maintenance for 12 years, and held numerous positions across disciplines in the North Central Region and as Acting State Maintenance Engineer at WSDOT headquarters in Olympia.  Dave is originally from South Dakota, where he grew up on a family farm and ranch.  He earned his B.S. in Civil Engineering from South Dakota State University.  During college he worked as a surveyor and firefighter for the US Forest Service.

 
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Rick Torgerson

Region Director, Utah DOT

Rick has worked for UDOT for the past 22 years.  He is a Civil Engineering graduate of the University of Utah.  During his 22 years at UDOT, Rick has worked in the Program Management, Project Management, Design, Maintenance, and Right of Way Divisions.  He has been the Region Four Director for UDOT for the past 6 years.   Region Four covers the Southern half of Utah.  It encompasses 5 National Parks, 5 National Monuments, 3 National Forests Areas, 7 State Parks, 10 State and 1 National Recreation areas, and 15 Scenic Byway routes.  Over the past decade UDOT has seen several major fires, landslides and flooding that have created unique challenges related to public safety, mobility, funding and reconstruction efforts.  

Outside of work Rick enjoys the outdoors and all types of sports with this wife and their four daughters.  His family especially enjoys the summer trips boating on Lake Powell.  

 

Why We Should All Care About Supporting Women in Transportation

Wednesday, June 12 ~ 1:00 - 2:00

Moderator

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Shelley Row

Named by Inc. as one of the top 100 leadership speakers, Shelley Row, P.E., is an engineer and former government and association executive at ITE.

Shelley’s leadership work focuses on developing insightful leaders who can see beyond the data. Her work grows your bottom-line through enhanced decision-making, motivation and teaming. Shelley combines executive experience, interviews with 77 executives, and neuroscience to bring these skills to you. She authored Think Less, Live More: Lessons from a Recovering Over-Thinker.

 

Panelists

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Mary Peters

Principal, Mary Peters Consulting Group; Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Former Director, Arizona DOT

Mary E. Peters served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation from 2006 – 2009. In that role she led efforts to substantially improve transportation safety, to improve the performance of the nation’s transportation system, and develop new policy and funding sources to support America’s transportation system into the 21st Century. Prior to serving as U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ms. Peters was a Sr. Vice President and National Director for Transportation Policy and Consulting for HDR, Inc. From 2001 – 2005 Ms. Peters served as the Federal Highway Administrator for the US Department of Transportation. Ms. Peters served as the Arizona Department of Transportation Director prior to becoming Federal Highway Administrator.

She is currently the Principal of Mary Peters Consulting Group, LLC, an organization dedicated to finding new and better ways to address America’s infrastructure requirements. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Rand Corporation, is a Member of the Board of Directors for HDR, Inc., and on the Advisory Board for Cintra US/Ferrovial. Ms. Peters also serves as an advisor to Zachry American Infrastructure and Kapsch TrafficCom.

 
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Cheryl Walker

Director, Office of Safety Programs, FHWA

In January 2019, Cheryl became the Director of the Office of Safety Programs at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).  In this role, she is responsible for leading and administering national safety programs, with a mission to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities across the Nation’s highway system. From June through October 2018, Cheryl served as FHWA’s Acting Executive Director.  From 2012 through 2018, Cheryl held the position as the Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs and Policy Communications.

Previously, she served as the Special Assistant to the FHWA Administrator and as Legal Counsel to FHWA's Chief Counsel.

Prior to joining FHWA, Cheryl served for three years as an attorney with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration and, before that, for a decade as an attorney in energy regulatory practice for a Washington, D.C. law firm.  Before attending law school, she worked as an electrical engineer for General Motors Corporation. 

Cheryl earned a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Kettering University in Flint, Michigan.

 
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Jennifer Toth

Director, Maricopa County Department of Transportation

Jennifer Toth brings more than 20 years of experience in transportation engineering to her role as MCDOT Director and County Engineer, one of the largest counties in the United States. Before joining MCDOT, Jennifer served as State Engineer and Deputy Director of the Arizona Department of Transportation.  She has also worked in the private sector as a transportation consultant.

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Houston and a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of New Mexico. She brings to MCDOT a passion for public service and meeting the transportation needs of the residents of Maricopa County.

 
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Britton Hammit, Ph.D, E.I.

Civil Analyst, Kimley-Horn

Britton Hammit is a transportation analyst at Kimley-Horn in Northern Virginia where she supports a variety of projects related to traffic operations and transportation planning. Britton received her B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Wyoming and conducted one year of graduate studies at the Vienna Technical University of Applied Science in Austria as part of an Intelligent Transport Systems M.S. Program. During her studies, Britton interned at the Arizona Department of Transportation for two summers, completed a STRIDE Transportation Research Internship Program at North Carolina State University, and worked with the research team at the University of Wyoming to develop the initial concepts for a rural, weather-focused Connected Vehicle application.

In 2016, Britton was awarded an Eisenhower Graduate Research Fellowship, which enabled her to work at the FHWA Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center for two years as she completed her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. In this role, Britton supported numerous projects in the FHWA Office of Operations Research and Development related to transportation modeling, intelligent transportation systems, and connected and automated vehicle technologies. Her dissertation research aimed to develop innovative methodologies for using Big Data to more realistically calibrate transportation models. Britton is a member of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Washington D.C. chapter and the chairperson for the 2019 WTS-International Transportation YOU DC Summit, which is a program that brings high-school students from across the country to Washington DC to learn about transportation-related careers.