All fields are required.
— by Julie Sneider, associate editor
Wendy Lindskoog knows first hand the importance of a railroad maintaining strong ties and open lines of communication with its various stakeholders.
The Alaska Railroad Corp.'s (ARRC) current vice president of business management and corporate affairs, Lindskoog has spent the past 15 years helping to guide the ARRC leadership team's relationships with customers, government officials, community organizations and Alaskans in general. She joined ARRC in 1999 as director of external affairs, a new position created to improve the state-owned, freight-and-passenger railroad's then-strained relationships at all levels.
"We didn't necessarily have the best reputation as a community partner and neighbor," says Lindskoog, noting that at the time ARRC was dealing with a period of deferred infrastructure maintenance, derailments and safety incidents.
Prior to working for ARRC, Lindskoog served as press secretary and later communications director for the Alaska Legislature, where she developed a reputation as a skilled communicator and political relationship builder. After a lobbyist recommended her for the ARRC job, Lindskoog — who was attracted to the idea of having a clean slate on which to build a much-needed communications program — applied for the post and was hired.
She pushed the railroad's leadership to invest time and resources into developing better community and government relationships so the railroad could call on that support when needed. She also made sure railroad officials paid attention and responded to the concerns of Alaska's residents and mayors.
"Railroads are noisy, they're big and they run through neighborhoods, so you get a fair amount of complaints in this industry," Lindskoog says. "You can't always just shut off the noise, but you can certainly go a long way toward working with your neighbors and trying to find solutions where they are available."
Over time, she helped raise support for ARRC's state and federal legislative agenda, as well as bolster the railroad's public approval rating from 65 percent in 2000 to 85 percent in 2010. When proposed legislation called for a drastic cut in ARRC's federal transit funding in 2012, she helped organize federal legislators, local officials, nonprofit organizations, unions and residents in an effort that resulted in most of the funding being retained.
Lindskoog's continued success has kept her moving through the ranks at ARRC. She was promoted to her latest role in 2013, which doubled her duties with the addition of the finance, human resources and supply management departments.
Her achievements recently received national recognition from the League of Railway Industry Women (LRIW), which named her its 2014 "Outstanding Woman of the Year." Sponsored by Progressive Railroading, the annual award honors a woman who "consistently demonstrates vision, initiative, creativity and guidance in a leadership role within her professional railway field; is innovative and a problem solver; and brings consistent excellence to her organization and the surrounding community, according to the LRIW's nomination criteria.
As for the future, Lindskoog expects she'll be ready for whatever challenges come her way at ARRC. She relishes being part of a railroad that plays a vital role in Alaska's economy.
"There's never been a time at Alaska Railroad when I haven't been able to take on a new challenge and just run with it," she says.
To learn more about Wendy Lindskoog and her railroad industry career, read a web-exclusive article posted on ProgressiveRailroading.com.