Recap: Emerging Leaders in Transportation 2019

The NYU Rudin Center for Transportation brought together 25 early-career urban planning professionals for our seventh annual Emerging Leaders Program. The three-day program included inspiring panels, lively discussions among participants, a behind-the-scenes look at JetBlue operations at JFK Airport, and a celebratory reception.


The first day of the program, December 6th, centered on transportation leadership, particularly developing a personal network and professional skills in light of a larger political picture. Emerging Leaders participated in several networking and leadership activities, and heard from several local industry leaders:

Ben Kabak of Second Avenue Sagas discussed the challenges and hopes for the future of New York City transit and offered some words of wisdom to the participants. 


Associate Director Sarah Kaufman led a panel discussion about the future of transportation with three leaders: 

  • Antonio Reynoso, Councilman, District 34
  • Sarah Meyer, Chief Customer Officer, NYC Transit
  • Paul Steely-White, Safety Policy Director, Bird


On the second day of the program, December 12, the group visited JFK Airport for a behind-the-scenes tour of JetBlue operations. The tour included visits to the control tower, operations center, a new Mint plane with a seasoned JetBlue pilot, and a presentation from JetBlue’s Crisis Management and Business Continuity executive.





The final day of the Emerging Leaders Program, December 13th, centered on leadership development. The group participated in a mode-evaluation exercise using their unique expertise and experiences.



In the morning, Emerging Leaders enjoyed a panel on Leadership in Transportation with five industry leaders: 

  • Emily Gallo, Northeast Division Government Relations Director, HNTB
  • Ya-Ting Liu, Director of Government Affairs and Policy, Via
  • Rodney Stiles, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Policy, TLC
  • Tiffany-Ann Taylor, Deputy Director, NYC DOT
  • Midori Valdivia, Chief of Staff to the Chairman & CEO, MTA

THE CITY senior reporter Jose Martinez moderated the discussion, which focused on the essential topics of representation, responsibility and proceeding with confidence.


As the day wrapped up, participants designed, discussed, and pitched ways to promote their ideas and implement change in their respective organizations.



The program concluded with a networking reception with current and alumni Emerging Leaders hosted at DJI Technologies.


The Rudin Center would like to give a special thanks to JetBlue and all of the speakers and panelists who helped to make this program educational, rewarding and unique. 


Emerging Leaders in Transportation is directed and moderated by Sarah Kaufman, NYU Rudin Center Associate Director, and supported by NYU C2SMART. Applications to join the 2020 Emerging Leaders in Transportation cohort will open in summer 2020.