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Job description: Fotiou has worked in the railroad industry for nearly four years. At Amtrak, she ensures compliance with environmental regulations at stations, yards and facilities; enhances recycling and sustainability initiatives; and tracks greenhouse gas emissions for Amtrak’s corporate reduction goal and its annual report to the Carbon Disclosure Project. Fotiou also volunteers for the family assistance branch of the Amtrak response team that helps passengers and their families at accident sites.
Education: Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, B.S. in chemistry; University of Pennsylvania, M.S. in applied geosciences
Nominator’s quote: “There are many things that set Laura apart in terms of her aptitude and personality. Her analytical skills are unparalleled, and she applies her expertise in many areas. … In addition, Laura is known for her innate curiosity, her outstanding sense of humor and her ability to rise to any occasion.” — Beth Termini, Amtrak
How did you get into railroading?
After receiving my degree in chemistry, I was interested in its environmental application, which led me to the University of Pennsylvania for my Master of Science degree in applied geosciences. During my time at Penn, I was introduced to the railroad industry by a fellow graduate in my Master’s program who was one year ahead of me. We connected through our common passion for the environment and she suggested that I explore opportunities at Amtrak to pursue my interests in environmental regulation and policy.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of?
Toward the end of my first year at Amtrak I was tasked with developing training for our fuel vendors. I coordinated with Amtrak operations, a film crew and a fuel vendor to produce a training video on locomotive fueling techniques. The DVD is now sent out to every vendor fueling direct-to-locomotive. The video is particularly memorable as my first big project; it isn’t every day that you have an opportunity to direct and produce a video.
What inspires you?
The people I work with and the people we serve as America’s passenger railroad. My coworkers are truly the most inspirational group of people, striving every day to make Amtrak better and it motivates me to do the same.
What is a little-known fact about you?
Whether it’s hiking, running, or biking — on my free time I like to enjoy the outdoors locally or travel the world.
What advice would you share with a first-year railroader?
You have the privilege of being a part of an intelligent workforce made of up people who genuinely take pride in getting the job done — no matter what side of the business they are on.
What do you hope to be doing in five years?
I hope to be managing environmental projects, implementing fuel efficiency and resource minimization initiatives across the company and continuing to improve Amtrak’s reputation with customers as a sustainable mode of transportation.
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