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WTS-Boston 2019 New Year’s Reception

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Frank Monkiewicz Photography

By, Alexandra Kleyman, AICP, Manager of Certification Activities at the Boston Region MPO

On January 29th, WTS-Boston members and sponsors gathered for an evening of networking at the UMass Club in Boston. The UMass Club provided a beautiful setting for the Chapter’s annual New Year’s Reception which offers a time for friends and colleagues to reconnect after the holidays and discuss professional goals for the new year.

The evening opened with welcoming remarks from the Chapter’s new President, Sarah Dennechuk, Senior Project Manager at Massport. Sarah discussed the continued importance of an organization like WTS-Boston in supporting the advancement of women in transportation. She recognized the key role that members, chapter leadership, and sponsors play in maintaining and fostering the WTS-Boston network and the immense value this has on members’ professional and personal growth. 

This year, the Chapter was lucky enough to be joined by the new General Manager of the MBTA –  Steve Poftak. On January 1, 2019, Steve Poftak joined the MBTA as General Manager. General Manager Poftak, who previously served as the Vice Chair of the Fiscal and Management Control Board and as a Director of the MassDOT Board since 2015, comes to the T from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was Executive Director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. Previously, Poftak was Research Director and Director of the Center for Better Government at the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research. Prior to that, he worked at the Commonwealth's Executive Office for Administration and Finance, where he managed the $1.3 billion capital budget, prepared the state's quarterly cash flow reporting, and monitored non-tax revenue receipts. Other experience includes service on the Commonwealth's Finance Advisory Board and Zero-Based Budget Commission.

General Manager Poftak expressed that it is a privilege for him to serve the T and the people of the Boston Region in his new position. He described the challenges faced by the MBTA and noted that while these are complex problems involving multiple interdependencies, it is work that’s worth doing and it is work that he is prepared to lead the T in accomplishing. Along those lines, the General Manager outlined his five priorities for the T:

  1. Safety– he noted that this is of vital importance and encompasses the safety of customers and employees.
  2. Human capital– he described the value he places on hard work and the importance of supporting employees in doing their best work. He also stressed his desire to build diversity within the T.
  3. Implementation of the capital plan– he explained that the goal of the T is to invest $8 billion over the next five years. This is a dramatic increase in capital spending over previous years’ goals and successful implementation of capital projects will need to be supported by an organization that can deliver on the scale and complexity inherent in this level of investment.
  4. Customer experience– he expressed that much of the focus of planned investments will be on improvements that customers can feel and feel soon.
  5. Fiscal discipline– he cited two main approaches to keep the T on track towards fiscal discipline: strategic hires and strategic investments. He noted that the T is looking to bring on new talent.

In addition to these main areas of focus, Poftak touched on some of the specific initiatives and projects planned to be implemented to make progress towards addressing some of the challenges faced by the T. A couple of the more visible improvements include the acquisition of new cars on the Red, Orange, and Green Lines as well as the development and roll-out of the Automated Fare Collection 2.0 system.

With themes of new beginnings and dedication towards continued improvement, the evening was a fitting start to a new year with WTS-Boston. Thank you to our corporate sponsors for their generosity in making this special event possible!

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