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Rail News Home People

July 2021

Rail News: People

Rising Stars 2021: Andrea Niethold

Andrea Niethold


Andrea Niethold, 38
Director of U.S. government affairs

Nominator's quote: "During the negotiations of the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement (USMCA), Andrea worked tirelessly on Capitol Hill to have freight railroad priorities written into the agreement, voted upon, and signed trilaterally. Andrea’s passion as a leader extends to ensuring women in the industry have environments where they can feel supported and talk about their accomplishments and ambitions." — Leslie-Anne Lewis, CN

Education: Undergraduate degree in elementary education; master’s degree in education policy.

Job responsibilities: Engages with federal lawmakers and their staff on policy matters affecting the railroad industry. Communicates regularly with economic and safety regulators, federal administration officials and transportation trade associations. Hosts elected officials and staff on CN’s network, providing them with a first-hand railroading experience.

Career path: Began career as an intern on Capitol Hill while pursuing a graduate degree in education policy. From there, climbed the Hill staffer ranks and became chief of staff for a U.S. House member on the Railroad Subcommittee. Assumed current role at CN by late summer 2017.

How did you get into the railroad industry? For over six years, I worked for a member of Congress seated on the House Railroad Subcommittee. We visited Chicago a number of times to engage with both passenger and freight railroads. I enjoy logistics and connecting the dots, so the supply chain side of the railroading industry always appealed to me.

What is the best career advice you've received? A wise female leader in the railroad industry once said, “Always do thy best … and rejoice with those who do better.” I find myself thinking about this advice on a regular basis. The message is simple and concise, but it speaks volumes about true leadership and the value of teamwork.

What advice would you give to a new railroader? I would encourage a new railroader in government affairs to travel around the network, big towns and small. Meet your colleagues on the ground in operations, engineering and public works. Engage with local lawmakers and federal lawmakers in their districts. Understand the industries your railroad serves and the community organizations that help the locality thrive.

What was your very first job? My very first job in high school was making Italian hoagies at the Jersey Shore alongside my sister and cousins. Fortunately, I no longer smell like onions.

Describe a fun fact about yourself: I am currently chairing the WE (Women’s) Employee Resource Group (ERG) at CN, dedicated to supporting, attracting and promoting female employees. The youngest member of our group is my son, Rory, who attended our inaugural speaker event at exactly one-month-old on March 8, International Women’s Day.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? When I am not engaged in U.S. politics, I enjoy exploring nature trails throughout the D.C. area with my husband and our three, rambunctious little boys. During the pandemic, we visited approximately 110% of all playgrounds in the Washington, D.C., area.

What is the rail industry's biggest challenge? A major challenge we all face in the industry is keeping trespassers off railroad tracks. The public often fails to understand the dangers of railroad property. We need to start rail safety education at a young age, and normalize the idea that it can take a train a full mile to stop after the brakes are applied.


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