AASHTO Executive Institute Holds Four-Day Course

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently held its annual AASHTO Executive Institute or AEI training program in Washington, D.C., April 29 through May 2.

[Above photo by AASHTO]

Formerly known as the National Transportation Advanced Leadership Institute, the AEI selects participants from those nominated by AASHTO member departments and affiliates viewed as future state executive.

Content for the four-day course focuses on issues that match the needs of senior leadership and executive responsibilities, while also providing participants with the space to discuss their own unique challenges with their peers.

Photo by AASHTO

The AEI also exposes attendees to emerging transportation policies, issues, and trends, with insights provided by federal government, Congressional, and industry leaders.

The opening day of the 2024 AEI program included a “Leadership Lessons Learned” session moderated by Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation and a former AASHTO president, followed by a “Making Your Department Better Through Diverse Perspectives” roundtable conducted by Shawn Wilson – senior vice president for transportation and infrastructure at consulting firm WSP and also a former AASHTO president – and Paula Hammond, senior vice president-national transportation market leader for WSP.

The second day of the AEI course included a “Working in a Political Environment” panel discussion moderated by Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation and now chief of staff for Governor Phil Murphy (D), along with an “Understanding AASHTO and Federal Issues” session helmed by Susan Howard, AASHTO’s director of policy and government relations, and Shayne Gill, AASHTO’s program director for multimodal transportation.

The second AEI course day also featured a detailed “Understanding Transportation: USDOT Priorities and Partnerships” discussion moderated by Shailen Bhatt and Gloria Shepherd, administrator and executive director of the Federal Highway Administration, respectively, along with Maria Lefevre, executive director of the Office of the Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, and Paul Nissenbaum, associate administrator for railroad development at the Federal Railroad Administration.

The third day featured the “Visioning the Next Era of Transportation for Success” panel overseen by three longtime industry veterans: Deb Miller, vice chair of the Surface Transportation Board; Victoria Sheehan, executive director of the Transportation Research Board and a former AASHTO president; and Kirk Steudle, president of the Steudle Executive Group and also a former AASHTO president.

On the heels of that session, Joung Lee and Jennifer Hall – AASHTO’s deputy director-chief policy officer and deputy director-chief of staff, respectively – moderated a roundtable called “Inside Baseball on Policy and Funding Decision Making” to provide AEI attendees with insights into the development process for transportation policy and funding legislation, using surface transportation reauthorization and August Redistribution of federal highway funds as case studies.

Following that roundtable, AEI participants visited Capitol Hill to attend presentations by key staff members from both the House of Representatives and Senate who work on Congressional committees that impact the transportation sector.

The 2024 AEI program wrapped up on May 2, featuring a discussion between Craig Thompson – secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation – and AASHTO Executive Director Jim Tymon on the emphasis areas for Thompson’s term as AASHTO president, along with a “Building Trust Through Communications” session led by Maggie Kasperski, AASHTO director of communications and marketing, and an “Ethics, It Matters: Learn from Those Who Have Been There” roundtable moderated by Kirk Steudle.

Program attendees also heard messages on leadership and partnership from peer national associations, including Jeff Shoaf, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America; Ward McCarragher, vice president of government affairs and advocacy at the American Public Transportation Association; Muhammad Amer, managing director at the American Society of Civil Engineers; and Richard Lukas, legislative director at the National Governors Association.

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