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General Counsel Providence & Worcester Railroad Co.
— by Julie Sneider, senior associate editor
Charles Rennick has worked for the railroad industry only a short time during his legal career, but he’s already made a difference, according to P. Scott Conti, president and chief operating officer of the Providence & Worcester Railroad Co. (P&W) where Rennick is general counsel.
Rennick has been with the railroad since April 2012, when he was brought in as associate general counsel. In May 2013, he was promoted to general counsel. He oversees anything that may impact a legal matter related to the company.
"At P&W, Charlie has proven himself to be an invaluable member of my senior executive team and has actively contributed to the growth and success of the company," Conti wrote in nominating Rennick for the Rising Stars award.
Since joining P&W, Rennick has assisted in negotiating new locomotive repair and commissioning contracts for the company’' locomotive and engineering facility; helped site solar panels on P&W property to offset energy costs; and assisted in developing a cooperative locomotive use model for P&W, Vermont Rail System and GATX Corp., Conti noted.
Additionally, Rennick serves the industry through his membership with the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission's (CMRPC) Advisory Committee and the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel's Short Line and Regional Railroad Committee.
"I'm a firm believer in the many benefits rail transportation provides and have tried to be an advocate for the industry whenever possible," says Rennick.
Rennick was blazing legal trails in transportation before joining P&W. He started as a law clerk in the office of transportation in 2005 while still a student at the New England School of Law in Boston. After graduation, he joined the legal department of the Executive Office of Transportation and Public Works, which evolved into what is now the Massachusetts Department of Transportation — an agency consolidation process that Rennick played a role in. He also helped create a state freight-rail grant program designed to stimulate economic growth. Now in its third year, the grant program has helped railroads and communities improve Massachusetts’ freight network, Conti says.
Over the past five years, Rennick focused on enhancing his skills and understanding of transportation policy and law. Over the next five, he's looking forward to taking on new challenges and responsibilities to further contribute to P&W’s growth.
His sales pitch for making a career in rail transportation? Railroads offer a fascinating mix of past, present and future.
"Railroads played a vital role in the development and growth of the country and have been around for well over a century," he says, noting their longstanding embrace of new technology to move people and goods efficiently over a long distance.
"The next generation of railroaders will have a unique opportunity to develop innovative ideas and strategies to improve the rail industry, while taking on an active role in how the industry will adapt and grow to meet ever increasing demands on the national network," he adds.
Also noteworthy: • He developed a love of trains as a child when his dad gave him his old Lionel train sets. "I spent hours with those trains. My grandfather built the train table and my mom helped build the papier-mâché tunnels." Now Rennick's 4-year-old son plays with the sets. • He majored in history and minored in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona. For a while, Rennick was torn between going to law school or medical school. • He's a foodie. Rennick picked up his taste for gourmet dining while living in Boston, where he was "thoroughly spoiled" by the city's wide variety of restaurants.
Rising Stars 2015 Award Winners:
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.