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43rd National Meeting & Training Conference Closes on High Note

Thanks to Everyone for Making Our Conference the Most Successful Ever!

More than 800 industry professionals from across the country attended COMTO's 43rd National Meeting & Training Conference, making it COMTO's largest, most successful conference to date. "This conference was a huge success. Those who missed it truly lost a tremendous opportunity," said COMTO National Chair, Robert Prince.

Held in Atlanta, Georgia at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, July 12-15, this year's theme was "The Movement Continues: Developing Leaders & Building Historically Underutilized Businesses." The Conference was hosted by COMTO's Atlanta chapter and MARTA (celebrating 35 years of service).


At the Garrett A. Morgan Youth Symposium, named after the African American inventor of the first traffic signal, four of the country's top high school- aged urban debaters from the Atlanta area rattled off facts, figures and critical questions of each other. They debated both sides of whether high speed rail should be supported by the U.S. government. A distinguished panel of industry professionals sat as judges.

Later that evening, COMTO's CITY (Careers In Transportation for Youth) Interns attended a reception in their honor atop the Hilton Hotel at Nikolai's Rooftop restaurant, featuring a spectacular 360 degree view of downtown Atlanta. It was a star-studded affair as these young leaders had the opportunity to network informally with the industry's top CEOs and other guests. The reception was hosted by COMTO Atlanta and sponsored by Route Match.


The CITY Interns - college juniors and seniors representing 26 colleges and universities; working in 12 states at 24 public and private transportation related agencies and companies - met again with industry leaders at a CEO Roundtable Luncheon (sponsored by NewFlyer). They were joined by COMTO's 13 National Scholarship Award winners.

The Interns and Scholars also participated in a Skills Building session, part of the GannonConsult and National Transit Institute (NTI) workshop entitled, A Planned Approach to Your Career: Getting ready for the Next Step led by prominent consultant Dr. Barbara Gannon and Diversity & Characteristics of Leadership led by Paul Larrousse, director of the National Transit Institute (NTI). Here they learned about generational differences in the workplace, emotional intelligence, flexibility and trust.

Later that evening, the conference attendees enjoyed a Welcome Reception held at the World of Coca Cola, hosted by COMTO's Atlanta chapter and MARTA. In addition to the networking, and fascinating Coca Cola displays, many COMTO members got to personally help paint a celebratory banner for Julie Cunningham, COMTO's recently deceased President/CEO.


On Monday, with her family members and Percy Moore (grandson of COMTO Founder, Reverend Jerry Moore) present, the Conference officially began with a moving tribute to Julie Cunningham. Click here to see the video.

In tribute to her great service, the COMTO Board of Directors, announced the Julie Cunningham Courage in Leadership Award Program. The new awards program, an integral part of the newly established COMTO Leadership Institute, will annually honor young industry leaders who best exemplify her leadership qualities and traits. In honor of her family, COMTO contributed $10,000 to the program. (Contributions can be made to Courage in leadership award online) Click here


Former U.S. Secretary of State Rodney Slater together with former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan, House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly Stacey Y. Abrams, and Principle of DeCosta Consulting & former Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport General Manager Ben DeCosta highlighted the conference's Legislative Forum, telling it like it is, and, stressing the need, more now than ever, to join forces to improve job opportunities for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) and Small Business Enterprises (SBEs).


With Congressman John Lewis as Honorary Conference Chair, the four-day conference focused on helping DBEs and Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs) navigate federal, state and local contracting opportunities in addition to connecting them with decision makers of major prime contracting firms.

As part of the conference's Welcome Breakfast, Cassius Butts, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Regional Manager, proposed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide even more cooperation between SBA & COMTO.


As usual, conference attendees gave great attention to today's young professionals as well as those about to enter the world of transportation, college juniors & seniors. Throughout the conference, COMTO future leaders: Emerging Leaders and CITY Interns and Scholars, heard advice from current and former executives on what it really takes to advance to the next level. A myriad of industry professionals, to include the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Therese McMillan & Janet Hill, who sits on many Corporate Boards including the Carlyle Group, provided words of wisdom.


Descending to the hotel's International level, looking through a clear glass wall stood the Conference's Red Carpet Exhibit Hall (sponsored by MV Transportation). All conference goers got the opportunity to meet and greet our many wonderful Exhibit Hall vendors and sponsors as they attended a luncheon and a special reception heralding next year's conference location. See everyone in Boston!

Other conference highlights included a CEO Summit (sponsored by CUBIC), a continuation from last year's candid discussions among public sector CEOs; and a National Scholarship Luncheon (sponsored by Parsons Brinckerhoff) where COMTO awarded $48,500 to 15 high school graduates, college students and industry professionals, all continuing or pursuing careers in transportation. Former U.S. Marine combat pilot Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour treated scholars to a dynamic presentation during lunch as she challenged them to fully "engage" their passions for life. Everyone, she said, is "Cleared Hot!"


Continuing COMTO's forward thinking initiative and its mantra, 'from Good to Great,' COMTO successfully launched many new programs at the conference:

The COMTO Leadership Institute (CLI) serves as COMTO's comprehensive training and professional development center. This online university is designed to help today's young leaders move from the classroom to the boardroom, from COMTO Scholars to CITY Interns to Emerging Leaders. CLI is powered by COMTO's longtime stakeholder and new Industry Partner, Parsons Brinckerhoff. 

This is indeed a tribute to Julie Cunningham. CLI is her and former board chair Shirley DeLibero's brainchild and a fitting legacy that has now become a reality, stated Tracey Bessellieu, US Director, Human Resources, Parsons Brinckerhoff. Click here to visit CLI.

COMTO Studio71

Each day, conference attendees saw themselves in slideshows on large screen televisions positioned throughout the hotel, courtesy of the brand new COMTO Studio71, so named to honor the year COMTO was founded. The studio staff took literally thousands of photos and interviewed a host of private and public sector officials, to include, Jerry Premo, Vice President, AECOM, Michael Melaniphy, Executive Director, APTA, and longtime COMTO Members, Jackie Davison and Will Scott (who are spearheading the Julie Cunningham Courage in Leadership Award Program). These studio products will serve as an on-going virtual resource and oral history for COMTO's current and future members. To see conference photos, click here.


COMTO HISTORY BOOK PROJECT – Four Decades of Leadership

Coming soon is a history book dedicated to telling COMTO's story over the past 40 plus years. It will document COMTO's impact on the transportation industry and its attempts at leveling the playing field. Visit for more details and how you can support the project. 


ENO Foundation/Robert Prince, Jr. Scholarship, Faye Moseley, Access Services, CALPers
Deputy Executive Director for Administration

Atkins North America Achievement Scholarship, Atiena Branch, Kings Fork High School – Graduate (2014)
Atkins North America STEM Scholarship, Jon Alexander, San Jose State University – M.S.
Transportation Management (2015)
Carmen E. Turner Scholarship, Jonathan McCoy, Morgan State University – M.S. Traffic Engineering (2014)
CH2MHILL Industry Partner Scholarship, Austin Douglas, Hendrickson High School (2014)

LTK Engineering Scholarship, Aqshems Nichols, University of Texas at Austin – B.S. Civil Engineering (2015)
LTK Transportation Planning Scholarship, Chase Roberts, Hampton University – B.S. (2016)
North Carolina A&T Scholarship, Ahmed Lamarre, North Carolina A&T State University – B.S. Civil Engineering (2015)

Parsons Brinckerhoff Engineering Scholarship, Amadi Collier, Brenau University – B.A. (2016)
Parsons Brinckerhoff Engineering Scholarship, Maurice Nick, Northrop Grumman, Financial Analyst, Electronic Systems Sector
Parsons Brinckerhoff Golden Apple Scholarship, McKenzie Bradford, Reservoir High School – Graduate (2014)
Parsons Brinckerhoff Women in Leadership Scholarship, Mariah Stanley, Trinity Washington University – (2016)
Rosa L. Parks Scholarship, Lacey Malone, University of Pittsburgh - Bradford Campus – Pre-Medicine
Thomas G. Neusom Scholarship, Michael Bastanipour, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  – B.S. Mechanical Engineering (2015)
Trailblazer Scholarship, Wesley Pratt, Valencia College – Hospitality (2016)


Capping the conference was an Industry Awards Banquet (sponsored by MARTA), recognizing COMTO members' exceptional contributions to COMTO and the industry.

Signature Awards

Industry Innovation and Leadership AwardElizabeth Peak, Jacksonville Transportation Authority and Dr. Alfonz Ruth, District Department of Transportation
Gerald Anderson Sibling Award – Rhonda Briggins-Ridley, MARTA, Atlanta, Georgia
Inter-Modal Innovation Award – Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Executive of the Year AwardWilliam M. Johnson, Baltimore City Department of Transportation and Linda S. Watson, Capital Metropolitan Authority in Austin, Texas
Thomas G. Neusom Founders AwardJoe Erves, COMTO Atlanta/MARTA, Atlanta, Georgia
Emerging Leader of the Year AwardAaron Davis, Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Corporate Citizen of the Year AwardHarold Hoffman Jr, Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company
Chairman’s Exemplary Service Award – Linda Washington, Interim Pressident & CEO, COL RET Jim Paige, Senior Advisor

Chapter Awards
Best Membership Recruitment/Retention Activities AwardCOMTO Philadelphia
Best Grass Roots Activities AwardCOMTO Central Florida
Chapter of the Year AwardCOMTO Jacksonville
The Historically Underutilized Business Firm of the Year AwardG.W. Peoples Contracting Inc., Washington, DC
The Reverend Jerry Moore President’s Leadership AwardEmille L. Williams, COMTO Philadelphia/SEPTA


COMTO elected a new Board of Directors at the conference (go to for a complete list).

Newly re-elected National Chair, Robert Prince announced that COMTO will begin a National Search for a new President/CEO. In the meantime, Linda Jacobs Washington has been appointed as COMTO's Interim President and CEO. Ms. Washington is former Assistant Secretary for Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) where she served as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Transportation on the organization and management of the USDOT. Currently, Ms. Washington is President and CEO of The Washington Consulting Team, which provides consulting services in the areas of executive coaching, leadership and management training, facilitation, organizational assessment, event planning, and fundraising.

COL RET Jim Paige will continue in his longtime role as Senior Advisor and Chief Strategist. COL Paige heads the PTG Consulting Group which provides strategic communications, leadership training, mentoring and program management services.


✓ Saturday, August 30, 2014 a special Transportation Forum at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), hosted by former Secretary of Transportation, Rodney Slater, and COMTO with panelists from Morgan State University (MSU) & EMU!

✓ Please join us at the 22nd Annual CBCF/COMTO Transportation BrainTrust, Thursday, September 25, 2014 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in DC!

✓ Join COMTO at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo, Monday, October 13 – Wednesday, October 15, 2014 in Houston, TX.

✓ Come join us in Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation (CWWMN), Wednesday, March 11, 2015 from 8am – 11am at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in DC!

Saturday, July 11 – Tuesday, July 14, 2015, join COMTO for our 44th National Meeting and Training Conference in Boston!

For more information, go to

View Photos From the Conference

Article: Changing Lives Through Infrastructure Investment

Arnold M. Jolivet, Director of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association, Passes at 71

COMTO Congratulates the USDOT's Victor Mendez and Peter Rogoff on Their New Positions

The Conference Of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) congratulates Victor Mendez on his Senate confirmation as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Deputy Secretary of Transportation. COMTO also congratulates Peter Rogoff for his confirmation as USDOT Undersecretary for Policy.

Both men have advanced public transportation in their previous roles as Federal Highway Administrator and Federal Transit Administrator. "We look forward to working in partnership with Victor Mendez and Peter Rogoff in their new leadership positions," said COMTO Board Chair Robert Prince.

COMTO Announces the Julie Cunningham Courage In Leadership Award Program

The new awards program, an integral portion of the COMTO Leadership Institute, will annually honor a series of young industry leaders who best exemplify the leadership qualities and traits of Julie Cunningham, past president and CEO.

Contribute to the Courage In Leadership Fund

COMTO Elects New National Board

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