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Rail News: People
Rising Stars: Aubyn Bell, HDR
Aubyn Bell, 32
Senior environmental planner
Job description: Responsible for authoring environmental documents, leading environmental studies in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, preparing grant applications and managing projects. As a geographic information system specialist (GIS), performs spatial analysis, mapping, modeling and development of GIS websites for clients.
Education: Bachelor's degree in economics with a minor in mathematics, University of North Florida
Nominator's quote: "Aubyn has been a key team player in the completion of numerous regional freight studies. ... [She] has a quiet, joyful strength that is well-respected by her team members and is the hallmark of her management style. Her tireless work ethic and core humanitarian values carry over to everything she does. For example, as part of her volunteer efforts for Beaches Habitat for Humanity, Aubyn used her skills in GIS to help the organization find land in the Jacksonville area for low-income housing." — Mark Shafer, HDR
How has your career path unfolded so far? I was hired as a GIS intern at HDR in my junior year of college and accepted a full-time position with HDR as an environmental planner upon graduation. I started off with mostly department of transportation and local government planning work. A couple of years into my career I had the opportunity to work with CSX on the National Gateway TIGER grant and the Dames Point Marine Terminal Intermodal Container Transfer Facility TIGER grant [at the Port of Jacksonville] and environmental assessment. In 2013, I began managing PTC tower permitting for multiple Class I and commuter railroads, which has involved hundreds of towers and environmental documents.
Why did you go into railroading? I care about our environmental sustainability as well as economic vitality and believe that the railroad industry is a key factor for our success. I also love the fast-paced work and serving my clients.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of so far? While I have worked with several clients on tower permitting, I was able to work with CSX from the start of their PTC permitting program, develop process improvements, provide input to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), conduct annual employee training and complete their PTC tower construction approvals (over 1,000 towers). For me this was more than completing a multi-year project; it pushed me to transition from being shy and unsure into being self-assured and capable of managing complex projects and hosting trainings and discussions.
Describe a fun fact about yourself. I can stand and walk around on my hands.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not at work? I like to do beach volleyball, tennis, flag football and ballroom dancing. I'm also learning to garden.
Who has been the biggest inspiration to you in your career? My supervisor, Steve Schnell, has been a particularly encouraging and inspirational leader. With a similar personality to me, management doesn't come naturally and yet he has found a way to successfully manage people and projects in his own style.
What do you hope to be doing in five years? I hope to be helping clients plan and implement sustainable projects and continuing to learn about sustainable practices.
Rising Stars 2018 Award Winners:
Florida East Coast Railway
District Department of Transportation
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
R. J. Corman Railroad Group
BNSF Railway Co.
MTA Long Island Rail Road
Red River Valley & Western Railroad Co.
Central Maine & Quebec Railway
Transportation Technology Center Inc.
Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association
Federal Transit Administration
Genesee & Wyoming Inc.
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