The Transportation Training Academy (TTA/VA LTAP) is pleased to announce the formation of its advisory board and the appointment of four key industry representatives. Julie Brown, Lorenzo Casanova, Amy O’Leary and Mike Shahsiah provide a vital interface between the TTA and the agencies that rely on its services.

Together with Beth O’Donnell, Director of the TTA/VA LTAP, and Program Manager, Robin Heimer, the board meets quarterly to discuss transportation training opportunities as well as to provide feedback on additional programs and services. The meetings provide a forum to forge relationships among various transportation agencies and to build consensus around the workforce development needs of Virginia’s government agencies. Ultimately, the board’s mission is to ensure that Virginia’s transportation professionals are equipped with the tools and skills they need to find solutions to local transportation issues.

At its first meeting in May 2016, the group identified top Virginia LTAP priorities for the year, including building technical assistance capabilities. “Our goal has always been to deliver excellent customer service and relevant training opportunities while maximizing our human and financial resources,” explained O’Donnell. “Seeking additional guidance in relation to the LTAP mission was the logical next step for our program. It is exciting to now be able to add hands-on technical assistance to our constituents, and our new advisors will provide just the sounding board we need. I especially look forward to deepening our connections and building mutually beneficial relationships.”

The four inaugural advisory board members bring deep experience to the table:

Julie Brown is the Director of Local Assistance Division for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). In that role, she leads a division staff that oversees many special funding programs and local oversight programs focused on localities. She has 34 years of experience with VDOT with the majority of her experience in leadership roles overseeing transportation related programs. Her prior leadership roles include the Asst. Div. Administrator in the Local Assistance Division; Residency Administrator in Bowling Green Residency and the Asst. Resident Engineer in the Ashland Residency. Brown graduated from the University of Virginia with a BS in Civil Engineering.

“In the Local Assistance Division, we develop policies and program guidance for numerous programs of interest to localities. We see a strong partnership with TTA as essential to increase opportunities to provide training to local partners across the Commonwealth.”

 Lorenzo Casanova is the Local Assistance and Research/Technology Transfer Programs Manager for the Federal Highway Administration in the Virginia Division. He has over 25 years of experience as an engineer. He has extensive practical experience in engineering and economic analysis in the public and private sectors as well as in academia. Casanova is a registered P.E. in Florida and Delaware. He holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering and earned his Masters of Engineering degree from the University of Florida.

“We have a responsibility to improve the skills of the transportation workforce—from the worker with the chain saw in the field, to the planner or the manager in the office. Whether this assistance comes from technical hands-on experiences and practices, or assisting with information and training to implement new technologies, or helping with the administration and oversight of a project, the end result is the same – advancing responsible and efficient stewardship of our transportation professionals.”

Amy O’Leary, Ph.D., is Associate Director for Environment, Planning and Research at the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC), research division of the Virginia Department of Transportation.  Her research interests are in the areas of sociodemographics, public engagement, and policy and legislative studies.  She was chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Social and Economic Factors in Transportation and was a member of the TRB Public Involvement Committee.  She served as a Public Member for the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc. since 2011 and served as an ABET Board of Directors Public Member.  She completed a Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Virginia.

“Leveraging our familiarity with the needs of VDOT, the Federal Highway Administration and Virginia localities, the board can help the TTA implement best practices and enhance the capabilities of the transportation workforce in VDOT and the localities.”

Mike Shahsiah has over 30 years of experience in Traffic and Transportation Engineering, including the last 27 years with the City of Virginia Beach PW/Traffic Engineering. He is responsible for overseeing the day to day operations of the Traffic Management Center, managing the traffic signal timing program, maintenance and installation of traffic signs, pavement markings, traffic signals, and guardrails throughout the City.  Previously, he was a Traffic Engineer in the Transportation Department, City of Arlington, Texas. He managed and coordinated hundreds of highway safety projects and was successful receiving federal funding for several Highway Safety Improvement Program projects throughout the City, as well as a Highway Safety Grant to bring regional training in traffic engineering to local City and VDOT staff in Hampton Roads. He received an MS degree in Transportation and Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.

“I’m looking forward to helping expand the training program of TTA to provide training in more aspects of traffic safety and transportation engineering.”

 O’Donnell expects that, over time, the role and function of the advisory board will evolve and adapt to the changing needs of the transportation community. New members will be added to ensure diverse perspectives and insights. For more information, contact O’Donnell at elo2v@virginia.edu.


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