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June 2014

Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Meet the Rising Stars of railroading


— by Julie Sneider, Associate Editor

Railroads are gearing up for a talent shortage in the not-too-distant future, as thousands of boomer-age employees retire, leave their jobs and take years of valuable experience with them.

Railroads expect to hire more than 12,000 people in 2014, up from a projected 11,000 new hires in 2013, according to the Association of American Railroads. Many of those hires are occuring because of retirements. As a result, employee recruitment and worker retention are top of mind for the industry’s human resource leaders.

Progressive Railroading has been reporting on the industry’s workforce development concerns for the past several years. In 2013, we decided to take that coverage a step further by creating the Rising Stars recognition program to highlight some of the industry’s up-and-comers. We asked readers to help us identify 20 individuals under the age of 40 who are making a positive difference in the rail industry early in their careers. This year, like last, readers responded with more than 100 nominations of people who appear to be well on their way to successful careers.

Some of the 2014 class of Rising Stars come from railroad families, while others landed in the business by following advice from mentors, serving engineering internships, getting a call from a headhunter or attending on-campus interview sessions with Class I recruiters.

Progressive Railroading will publish profiles of each award winner in the September issue. New to this year’s Rising Stars program: The magazine will honor the 2014 winners on Sept. 14 at the Union League Club of Chicago during the American Association of Railroad Superintendents' Annual Meeting. Dinner reservations for single seats and table sponsorships (10 tickets) can be made at

The 2014 award winners are:

  • Chuck Baker, president, National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association; partner, Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell L.L.C.
  • Josh Bendyk, transit and rail engineering and operations specialist, VHB
  • Jennifer Bergener, director, rail and facilities, Orange County Transportation Authority
  • Jesse Chalich, executive vice president, Northern Plains Railroad
  • Roquita Coleman, solutions manager, Supply Chain Solutions, CN
  • Elisa Davies, senior council-franchise access, Union Pacific Railroad
  • Kevin Day, assistant chief engineer of technology, testing and standards, CN
  • Kari Gonzales, assistant director of software services and internal research development, Transportation Technology Center Inc.
  • Jessica Hawkins Allen, director of process engineering, Amtrak
  • Jesse Heimowitz, project manager, MTA Long Island Rail Road
  • Christine Howard, business manager, marketing and sales, Union Pacific Railroad
  • Mark Kelehan, senior vice president, Wolfe Research Securities
  • Jessica Kramer Havens, president, Diesel Supply Co. Inc.
  • John Manutes, chief inspector, passenger rail, Federal Railroad Administration
  • Michael Nicoletti, director of purchasing, Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co.
  • Adam Nordstrom, partner, Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell L.L.C.
  • Rachael Peterson, senior vice president, human resources, Watco Cos. L.L.C.
  • Kristine Storm, assistant vice president, purchasing, Genesee & Wyoming Inc.
  • Daniel Stout, vice president, STX Railroad Construction Services
  • Petra Todorovich Messick, principal officer, New York and New Jersey development, Amtrak.


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