The Public Transit Leadership Institute (PTLI) is a year long series of events, webinars and hands-on activities for mid-tosenior level managers aspiring to serve in an executive leadership role. The curriculum, under the instruction and mentoring of experienced NYPTA and transit industry executives, will provide enhanced opportunities for professional development and career advancement in the transit industry. Click here for additional application information.

Inside the Leadership Institute

The Public Transit Leadership Institute will give participants a first-hand look at, and in many instances hands-on experience in, the role of a transit agency executive. Each participant will be assigned a Dean to instruct, explain and mentor them through the activities designed to help prepare him/her to manage and lead a transit organization. The activities will include tours of transit operations large and small, round-table discussions, webinars, advocacy events, observation of boards of directors meetings, small independent assignments and more.

The Institute begins each year at the New York State Public Transit Fall Conference. Enrollees attend an orientation session, meet the Institute's mentors, participate in round table discussions, engage in networking exercises and take a field trip to visit and tour the New York State Department of Transportation.

Strategic Management
Operations & Management
Procurement/Contractor Relationships
Finance & Budgeting
Crisis Management
Board & Labor Relations
Public Speaking & Media Relations
Hiring/Employee Motivation

The New York Public Transit Leadership Institute is open to mid-to-senior level transit professionals with two to three years' preferred experience in transit management. Candidates must be nominated for acceptance by a senior or executive level manager at their current place of employment, to whom they have reported. Self nominations are accepted along with a letter of recommendation.

The class will be limited to 10 people. The program seeks to have a diverse cross-section of participants. Candidates whose applications are unsuccessful may reapply.

Acceptance into the Leadership Institute requires a commitment to attend the activities, perform required assignments, and actively participate in the designated opportunities. Participants who miss more than two sessions may apply to make it up in the following class year. Completion of the entire program is required for graduation.

Graduates will be recognized during the Public Transit Fall Conference for their completion of the Leadership Institute course of study. They will be presented a Certificate of Excellence noting their commitment to the transit industry and their professional development. All graduates will be listed on the New York Public Transit Leadership Institute website. Graduates will also be asked to evaluate the program and provide input into the future of the Institute and its programs.

PTLI Classes & Mentors
  • Omar Alvarado
    Senior Vice President & Scheduling Analyst
    NICE Bus
  • Larry Kaminski
    Mobility Management Planner
    Allegany/Western Steuben Rural Health Network
  • Joseph Landy
    Assistant Superintendent
  • Richard Nasso Jr.
    Assistant Superintendent
  • James Morrell
    Service Manager
  • James Ramos
    Manager of Transit Center Operations

CLASS OF 2016 Graduates
  • Jason Abounader
    Manager Finance & Administratration
    Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
  • Ken Boasi
    Director of Scheduling
    Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority
  • Alice Eccleston
    Acting General Manager
    Tompkins County Area Transit

  • Gary Guy
    Superintendent, Schenectary Division/BRT Operations Manager
    Capital District Transportation Authority
  • Carol Hargrove
    Deputy Director
    Ulster County Area Transit
  • Dave Williams
    Assistant Superintendent, Maintenance
    Capital District Transportation Authority
  • Michele Westphal
    Project Coordinator 
    Chautauqua Area Regional Transit System


  • Gary Bennett 
    Senior Transportation Planner 
    Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority 
  • Patricia Cooper
    Capital District Transportation Authority 
  • Geoff Hoff
    Project Manager
    Central New York Regional Transportation Authority
  • Dan Holdsworth
    Budget Analyst 
    Capital District Transportation Authority
  • Megan Morsch 
    VP Marketing & Customer Service 
    Regional Transit Service 
  • Susan Sherwood
    Associate Prinicpal 
  • Julie Tolar 
    Director of Planning 
    Regional Transit Service
  • Chris Tuff 
    Senior Transportation Analyst
    Central New York Regional Transportation Authority 


Leadership Institute mentors are presidents/CEO's, executive staff, senior management, and directors of local, state, and national transit organizations, who are distinguished professionals with notable achievements and successes in the transit industry. The mentors serve as discussion leaders and mentors who will also be in contact with you throughout the year to help facilitate your program, and answer questions.
The 2016-2017 Leadership Institute Mentors include:

  • Carm Basile
    Chief Executive Officer
    Capital District Transportation Authority
  • Bill Carpenter
    Chief Executive Officer
    Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority
  • Ronald Epstein
    Chief Financial Officer
    NYS Department of Transportation
  • Tom George
    Director, Public Transit
    Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
  • Richard Lee
    Chief Executive Officer
    Central New York Regional Transportation Authority
  • Scott Sopczyk
    Transportation Director
    Greater Glens Falls Transit
  • Mike Setzer
    Chief Executive Officer

Schedule is subject to change

Leadership Institute participants begin the program with a full three days at the New York Public Transit Fall Conference. Participants are engaged in a leadership track designed just for them. The program includes a brief orientation and reception, along with the following sessions:

  • Leadership Transit Style: A roundtable discussion on the roles and responsibilities of today's transit executives.
  • Transit and Finance: Fewer resources and higher expectations of service are a reality for today's transit leader. Balancing the needs of your community with limited resources takes planning, decision-making and consensus building.
  • Public Speaking and Media Relations:  Transit executives are regularly called upon to speak for their agencies: to their boards, lawmakers, stakeholders, and the public. There will be seminar on crafting and delivering your message, engaging your audience in a public setting, and effective use of the media, both when you initiate the contact, and when they do.
  • The Federal Transit Administration, Region II provides grant support and guidance on environmental, planning and other critical elements for metropolitan planning organizations, public transit operators, and local and state governments in the states of New York and New Jersey. Meet the people at the highest levels of the organization, and understand their expectations of you.
  • Tour and System Performance Measurement: Transit executives must continually monitor how their customers' changing needs are being met within their transit systems. Peak efficiencies are not self-sustaining. In this track, participants will tour a public transit system and learn the methods for measuring, assessing, interpreting and reacting to the performance level of a transit system.

Two webinars are scheduled for October that address employee relations. The first webinar will train on effective hiring practices. The second addresses how to engage and motivate employees to achieve peak performance.

Your agency and community will look to you during a time of crisis. Join this webinar to discuss the process and procedures for creating, amending and executing a crisis management plan.

January 31  2017
ADVOCACY (Onsite – Albany)
Transit industry leaders from around the state participate in "Transit Awareness Day" to secure funding and educate lawmakers about the importance of public transit to the economy and our communities. This two-day program will provide a hands-on look at how the transit industry interacts with the legislative process.

  • Day One: Tour the NYS Capitol and Legislative Office Building, attend an interactive session with NYPTA's policy analyst, lobbyists and Legislative Committee chairman on transit and politics, and enjoy dinner with Institute Deans to discuss the importance of advocacy on behalf of your transit agency.
  • Day Two: This day is advocacy in action, with a first-hand look at transitlegislator relationships and how to make the case for public transportation.

February 2017
"Hit the Ground Running With Your New Board" (Webinar)

Drawing on his 25 years of work with nonprofit and public CEOs and their boards and on his newest book, The Board-Savvy CEO, Doug Eadie provides CEO-aspirants with detailed, practical, thoroughly-tested guidance in building a rock-solid partnership with their new board. Participants in Doug’s webinar will master three roles that are critical to building a productive, lasting partnership with their board: 

  • Chief Board Capacity Builder:  taking the lead in helping the board update its governing role, its composition, and its committee structure, creating the governing architecture that is essential for board governing effectiveness.
  • Chief Governing Process Designer:  taking the lead in mapping out processes for meaningfully engaging board members in governing processes so they become satisfied owners of their governing decisions and judgments
  • Chief Governing Relationship Manager:  taking the lead in dealing with the human dimension of the board-CEO partnership by effectively communicating and interacting with board members

MARCH 2017
In addition to advocating for transit funding on the state and federal level, transit managers have the greater responsibility of managing the funds the agency receives. Transit agency budgets must be developed, adopted and then implemented with the input and involvement of a number of key players agency-wide. This March webinar will address how to develop and maintain a sound transit agency budget amid a far-reaching spectrum of community needs.

APRIL 2017
Engaging your board, managers, and other key staff in seeting a sound strategic direction for your transit agency is essential to meeting both short and long-term goals.

Participants travel to Albany for a one-day program on two important topics: board and labor relations. The first half of the program will address labor relations and contract negotiations. After a brief lunch, participants will then engage in an interactive session on building strong board relationships, running effective board meetings and navigating controversial board issues.

MAY 2017
This webinar will address valuing the customer and the importance of public outreach in achieving optimal customer service.

The leadership program's cornerstone events are a tour of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the PTLI Shadowing Day where participants can shadow a mentor and see exactly what being a Transit Executive entails. 

PUBLIC SPEAKING, MEDIA RELATIONS AND GRADUATION (Fall Conference) Transit executives are regularly called upon to speak for their agencies: to their boards, lawmakers, stakeholders, and the public. The final track of the Leadership Institute will be a seminar on crafting and delivering your message, engaging your audience in a public setting, and effective use of the media, both when you initiate the contact, and when they do.
The program concludes with graduation, at which graduates will be recognized for their commitment to the transit industry.


15216 LeadershipBrochure2015Click on the image to download the PTLI brochure.