Mobility 21 Summit

On Sept. 6, the transportation advocacy group Mobility 21 hosted its 10th annual Mobility 21 Summit at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live in Los Angeles.

This year, the summit highlighted the need to create more jobs in the transportation field to get millions of unemployed Americans back to work in this still difficult economic climate.

Notable speakers during the various sessions throughout the day include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former Pennsylvania Governor and keynote speaker Ed Rendell. Both gave excellent speeches that described the current state of transportation funding in the United States and how lawmakers in Washington must act now to pass legislation that will fund transportation projects nationwide to keep this nation moving again and get people back to work.

This year, I had the honor of moderating a panel discussion during one of the breakout sessions. I moderated a panel on iMobility: Technology and Innovation in Transportation. Mobility 21 officials selected me as moderator after I won an essay contest over the summer.

The panelists include Jeffrey Chernick of RideAmigos Corp, Steve Raney of ULTra PRT and Dr. Matt Miyasato of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). All of them took turns during the panel discussion about innovative ways to integrate new technology with transportation as the population grows. The full video is available on the Mobility 21 website.

Following the conclusion of the summit, I was invited to attend the Mobility 21 VIP reception at the hotel’s Ion Rooftop Bar, complete with a Willy Wonka-type theme reception. Aside from the chocolate martini called the Mobiltini, which I very much enjoyed even though I hardly ever drink, I had a chance to mingle with some great professionals in the local transportation industry. I also met Jeff Davis, a reporter for a national publication called Transportation Weekly who was sent here from Washington, D.C. to cover the summit. During the reception, I briefly met Gov. Rendell, making it the first time I have ever met a state governor in person.

Metro CEO Art Leahy and OCTA CEO Will Kempton

I also had a chance to meet and chat more in depth with Metro Los Angeles CEO Art Leahy. During our conversation, I expressed my affinity for Metro as I have been a lifelong user of the system and I personally expressed my interest in working for the agency as well. He also gave me some great advice about what I need to know as a young, emerging professional wanting to pursue a career in one of the most important and vital career sectors around.

I really learned a lot from this summit and it also gave me a great opportunity to network with a lot of great professionals. It was especially amazing to rub elbows with some of the big names that were there. I truly hope that the lessons learned from the summit and the connections that I have established with these professionals will help me advance in the career ladder in the transportation world. Transportation has been a lifelong passion of mine and I am ready to turn that into a career, one that is only months away from happening…at least I hope.