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2015 Champions of Change in Transportation

Beyond Traffic: Innovators in Transportation

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The White House Champions of Change event on October 13, 2015, honored 11 men and women who are innovating in transportation and growing the American economy. To learn more about the 2015 Champions of Change in Transportation in their own words, please click on their names below.

  • Atorod Azizinamini, Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Florida International University – Miramar, Florida
    Dr. Atorod Azizimamini invented the Folder Steel Plate Girder bridge system, which provides a cost-effective alternative for rapidly replacing or retrofitting short span bridges without impacting traffic or mobility. His rapid bridge replacement technology gives states a cost-effective solution to bridge upgrades that is faster to complete.
  • Marilyn Bull, Morris Green Professor of Pediatrics, James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University – Indianapolis, Indiana
    Dr. Marilyn Bull is committed to child safety, and has worked with entrepreneurs and manufacturers to develop products to help children with special health care needs travel safely. She and her team created the curriculum on “Safe Travel for All Children,” which is used nationally and internationally for training.
  • Habib Dagher, Director, Advanced Structures & Composites Center, University of Maine – Veazie, Maine
    Dr. Habib Dagher, a leading advocate for developing advanced structural systems, and his team at the University of Maine designed the “Bridge in a Backpack” program, which uses innovative and lightweight bridge materials.  His concept is helping states build new bridges in an efficient, innovative way, allowing for faster construction and less disruption for travelers.
  • Nathaniel Ford, CEO, Jacksonville Transit Authority – Jacksonville, Florida
    Nathaniel Ford led efforts to overhaul the Jacksonville Transit Authority (JTA) by implementing the Route Optimization Initiative, which has increased ridership, decreased travel times, and made safety upgrades to buses and stations. His efforts have transformed JTA into a more reliable, more efficient, and safer system for the people of Jacksonville.
  • Peter Lagerwey, Regional Office Director, Toole Design Group – Seattle, Washington
    Peter Lagerwey has spent more than 30 years managing pedestrian/bicycle planning and design projects with the City of Seattle and as a consultant to communities throughout the country. Mr. Lagerwey developed, refined, and promoted the concept of a “road diet,” which reduces four-lane roadways to three, making room for bike lanes and pedestrians.
  • Robert Portiss, Director, City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority – Catoosa, Oklahoma
    Robert Portiss, a passionate advocate for inland waterways issues for over 40 years, was instrumental in forging a formal partnership between the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Arkansas-Oklahoma Port Operators Association.  His advocacy efforts led to enhanced partnership between private and public stakeholders.
  • Olatunji Oboi Reed, Co-Founder, Slow Roll Chicago – Chicago, Illinois
    Olatunji Oboi Reed has worked to build a diverse, inclusive, and equitable bicycling culture throughout Chicago, which revitalizes underserved communities, improves health, and increases accessibility. He leads a coalition of cycling advocates fighting for a citywide biking infrastructure that is equitable and beneficial for all Chicagoans.
  • Elaine Roberts, President and CEO, Columbus Regional Airport Authority – Columbus, Ohio
    Elaine Roberts was instrumental in envisioning, designing, developing, and implementing a plan to build an intermodal facility in Columbus, Ohio. Her leadership led to the opening of the Rickenbacker Airport, a 210,000 lift/truck  facility that is the heart of the Heartland Corridor.
  • James Sayer, Research Scientist, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute – Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Dr. Jim Sayer was instrumental in developing the University of Michigan’s vision for introducing connected and automated vehicle technologies.  To achieve this, Dr. Sayer designed, developed and implemented M City, a facility that will allow the automotive community to test cutting-edge technologies.
  • Kyle Wagenschutz, Bicycle-Pedestrian Program Manager, City of Memphis – Memphis, Tennessee
    Kyle Wagenschutz helped establish Memphis as a national leader on bicycle and pedestrian programs in an urban environment. His work led to the city’s first bicycle master plan, which secured funding to construct more than 100 miles of  dedicated bike lanes, which has helped make the city more accessible, livable, and walkable.
  • Carl Weimer, Executive Director, Pipeline Safety Trust – Ferndale, Washington
    Carl Weimer is Executive Director of the national Pipeline Safety Trust. Under his leadership, the Trust has worked with community and industry groups alike to improve pipeline safety, testified to Congress more than 20 times, and successfully advocated for stronger pipeline safety regulations at the local, state and federal level.
Updated: Thursday, October 22, 2015
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