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By Daniel Niepow, Associate Editor
Dynamic. Creative. Innovative. Tireless. These are just a few of the words nominators used to describe this year's crop of Rising Stars. While their accomplishments touch nearly all aspects of the industry, the following 20 men and women represent only a sampling of the influx of fresh talent in rail. Progressive Railroading's editors selected these folks from a reader-submitted list of almost 200 well-qualified railroaders under the age of 40.
As in the past, these Rising Stars come from diverse backgrounds. Some happened upon their careers in rail "by accident," as several individuals put it, while others followed family members into the industry. And their roles in railroading are as varied as their backgrounds: They hold jobs at Class I railroads, short lines, transit agencies and rail suppliers, as well as in academia and government. Some handle complex challenges like positive train control implementation and other regulatory issues, while others use their business savvy to navigate mergers and acquisitions. Still others are leading corporate growth strategies, new ventures and major rail construction projects.
Whatever their origins, specific areas of interest or courses of study, they all share one thing in common: a clear-eyed determination to guide the railroad industry into a new era.
In addition to sharing their stories online and in our upcoming September issue, Progressive Railroading honored the award winners at a dinner July 19 in Baltimore. Click here to view photos from the dinner.
Francois Belanger, CN
Todd Blaylock, HNTB Corp.
Jonathan Chastek, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co.
Oliver Dolder, Railtech Welding & Equipment
John Riley Edwards, RailTEC, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Stefan Loeb, Watco Cos. LLC
Jessica Moore, Union Pacific Railroad
Amanda Nightingale, King County Metro Transit
Celia Ann Pfleckl, Amtrak
Charles Rennick, Providence & Worcester Railroad Co.
Kaleigh Reyes, GE Transportation
Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, Federal Railroad Administration
Bruno Riendeau, VIA Rail Canada Inc.
Curtis Shogren, CSX Transportation
Alanna Strohecker, AECOM
Keith Tarkalson, Stacy & Witbeck
Brett Urquhart, Rocla Concrete Tie Inc.
Tara Vesey, Dakota Gasification Co.
Lexie Walker, Metra
Adam Weiskittel, BNSF Railway Co.