President & CEO, MxV Rail
Presentation Title: Railroading into the Future
Abstract: The introduction of new technology and innovative solutions to long-standing challenges is making today's railroads safer, more efficient, and more reliable. Ms. Gonzales will provide insight into the ongoing technology developments in rail along with highlighting the need for new talent as we set the stage for the next generation of railroading. Additionally, Ms. Gonzales will provide an overview of MxV Rail's transformation into new facilities and how the vision of the future will benefit railways globally.
Biography: Kari Gonzales is President & CEO of MxV Rail, the world’s premier rail research advisory. Since taking the role in 2021, Kari has spearheaded the company’s transformation from TTCI to MxV Rail.
Kari has been a part of MxV Rail, a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads since 2000, advancing from a student intern to a research engineer, and then later assuming the role of Vice President and CFO. She leads the MxV Rail team with the advantage of 20 years' service and experience in the rail industry. She is a mechanical engineer by training, holds an MBA, and was recognized by Progressive Railroading as a "Rising Star." She was the inaugural candidate for the MxV Rail Railroad Exchange Program, spending a year at BNSF Railway's Texas headquarters as a visiting professional. In addition, Kari serves on a number of community and industry boards.
Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Wabtec
Presentation Title: The Future of Rail
Abstract: Rail is the cleanest, safest, and most efficient way to move goods over land. Despite these clear benefits, the industry is looking to take the next step in reducing its environmental footprint and growing freight volumes. Advancements in digital solutions and alternative-power locomotives are converging to decarbonize the North American rail network, while also increasing capacity. Eric will discuss how the combination of improvements in freight rail utilization and developments in advanced locomotive technology can help the rail industry eliminate up to 120 million tons of GHG emissions per year.
Biography: As Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Eric is responsible for Wabtec’s global technology and investment strategy, new product development, and global engineering organization. A respected technologist with more than 30 years of experience, Eric built his career developing innovative technology solutions in power generation, battery storage, renewables, and distributed power. He comes to this role as former Managing Director of KCK-US, an investment firm focused on the energy, life science, and industrial sectors. Prior, he spent nearly 30 years with General Electric in a variety of global engineering and leadership roles where he was responsible for driving the strategic direction for product and portfolio development, including Chief Geo Officer of GE Power, Chief Product Management Officer for Energy Connections, Chief Platforms and Operations Officer for Current, and Chief Technology Officer for GE Oil & Gas, among others. Eric earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, has received nine patents for his pioneering work across the energy sector, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Jannet Walker Ford
Senior Vice President
Transit and Rail National Market Lead, WSP
Presentation Title: From Intelligent to Intentional Railroading
Abstract: Railroads have always played a vital role in building strong economies and connecting our nation. A strong advocate for resilient, equitable and transformative transportation systems, Jannet Walker-Ford will discuss how intelligent railroading extends beyond technology to the intentional planning, design and delivery of railroad systems that strengthen communities, advance equity and provide resilient, sustainable solutions for our transportation challenges.
Biography: Jannet Walker-Ford is a nationally recognized transportation industry executive with WSP USA, a leading engineering and professional services consultancy. A tireless advocate for equity in transportation and the power of public transit to transform communities, Walker-Ford has more than two decades of diverse experience. Her expertise includes management consulting, technology, mobility, and transportation systems. She has served in an executive leadership capacity on programs and projects for large transit and transportation agencies across the U.S. and as the Deputy General Manager/Deputy CEO as well as the CIO at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.
In her role with WSP, she serves as the senior vice president & national transit and rail business leader, responsible for leading and growing the firm’s business in national transit and rail markets including the national practices for freight delivery, passenger rail, systems, technical project delivery, bus rapid transit and zero emissions.
She serves on multiple national boards including the current Chair of WTS International and the APTA Executive Committee and has received numerous awards recognizing her success and advocacy.