Keynote Speakers

Monday, September 27 | 11:30 AM - 12:15 PM ET

Realizing the New Normal - Future Trends and Changes

This panel discussion with rail industry thought leaders will discuss current and future industry issues including trends. Further details will be announced soon.


Scot Naparstek
Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer

Scot Naparstek was named the EVP & COO for Amtrak in January, 2017. As COO, Scot has responsibility for the success of all Amtrak Operations including Transportation, Engineering and Mechanical. This includes leadership of 16,000 employees and a budget in excess of $2 Billion inclusive of operating and capital funds. Prior to assuming the COO role, Scot held the position of Senior Vice President of Operations (SVPO) from December 2013. As the SVPO, Scot also assumed two interim roles. First, he was assigned as Interim Chief Engineer from September 2014 to June 2015. The second interim assignment was Interim Deputy General Manager of the Mid-Atlantic Division for the North East Corridor (NEC) Business Line. He held this position from August 2015 to January 2016.

Scot originally joined Amtrak as the Director Corporate Human Capital Business Partners in May 2012 and in September 2012, he was also appointed leader for Amtrak Labor and Employee Relations.

Prior to joining Amtrak, Scot had extensive experience in Operations Management, Engineering and Human Resources with companies such as Cummins Engine Company, ABB Inc. and Titan America.

He graduated from the Columbia University School of Engineering with a major in Mechanical Engineering. He also holds a Masters of Business Administration from St. Bonaventure University.
Michael Noland
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) South Shore Line

Mike Noland was appointed President of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, d/b/a the South Shore Line, by its Board of Trustees in October 2014. Noland came to the South Shore Line with over three decades in the railroad industry with extensive, high-paced, commuter railroad experience. Prior to joining the South Shore Line he worked for 28 years at Metra in Chicago, Illinois. While at Metra he moved to positions of increased responsibility and served as Chief Human Resources Officer, General Counsel, and Deputy Executive Director. Immediately prior to joining the South Shore Line, Noland worked as an executive with a private sector railroad holding company located in Chicago, Illinois with rail operations in 9 states and the United Kingdom. 

In his role as President, Noland serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the railroad responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the South Shore Line which runs on a 90-mile route from South Bend, Indiana to Millennium Station in Chicago, Illinois. The South Shore Line is an example of a true Public/Private partnership, hosting a private sector freight rail carrier serving business and industry in Northwest Indiana.

Focusing on world-class customer satisfaction for its nearly 3.5 million annual riders, Noland leads a team of dedicated railroaders who are committed to providing safe, reliable, comfortable and convenient service. Noland has been tasked to implement the Board’s 20 Year Strategic Business Plan designed to reduce travel time, increase frequency and reliability, grow ridership and bring service to underserved areas. Noland is leading the railroad through two major projects currently in the Federal Transit Administration’s Engineering Phase. The first is an $933 million New Starts project known as the West Lake Corridor which expands rail service into western Lake County, Indiana. The second is the $491 million Double Track NWI (Northwest Indiana) project, which is also a New Starts project on the South Shore Line. Noland is working with key stakeholders at the local, state and federal level to complete these projects over the next 3-4 years. Once completed, these projects are designed to unlock the true potential of Northwest Indiana by taking full advantage of the region’s proximity to Chicago and increase the area’s population, create an additional 6,000 jobs and attract $2.5 billion in private sector investment in transit orientated development. 

Noland currently resides in Long Beach, Indiana with his wife Carrie, and holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School.
Catherine Rinaldi
MTA Metro-North Railroad 

Ms. Rinaldi is the sixth president of Metro-North Railroad, and the first woman to hold that position. In October of 2018, Ms. Rinaldi unveiled “Way Ahead,” which sets forth Metro-North’s strategies for setting the standard for safety, reliability and innovation in the delivery of excellent customer service. She is focused on improving the reliability of Metro-North’s service, while at the same time continuing the intensive infrastructure program essential to maintaining the safety of the Metro-North system.

On the safety front, she has led efforts to implement positive train control across Metro-North in compliance with federal requirements. Metro-North’s customer facing safety program TRACKS, which stands for Together Railroads and Communities Keeping Safe, won the 2018 APTA Gold Award for Safety.

Ms. Rinaldi has implemented a series of efforts to improve employee engagement, and, specifically, the engagement of women in the Metro-North workforce. She created a Lunch and Learn series at Metro-North, and moderated a series of panel discussions regarding women in transportation, designed to create additional networking and professional development opportunities for the women of Metro-North.

Ms. Rinaldi was honored as the Woman of the Year by the Greater New York Chapter of WTS in 2018.

Ms. Rinaldi is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale College and received her law degree from the University of
Virginia School of Law.
Stephanie Wiggins
Chief Executive Officer
LA Metro

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (Metro) Board of Directors voted to hire Stephanie Wiggins as Metro’s CEO on April 8, 2021. A lifelong trailblazer and champion of equity and inclusion, Ms. Wiggins will be the first woman – and first African American woman – to lead Metro in the agency’s history, which dates to 1993. The appointment as CEO is a homecoming for Ms. Wiggins who served as Deputy CEO of Metro until December 2018.
Before rejoining Metro as CEO in June 2021, Ms. Wiggins served for two and a half years as CEO of Metrolink. Metrolink is the nation’s third largest passenger rail system covering 538 route-miles throughout Southern California. At Metrolink, Ms. Wiggins managed an annual budget of $793 million at an agency that employs 282 full-time employees. She was the first woman and first African American to lead the 28-year-old organization. 

At Metrolink, Ms. Wiggins adeptly navigated the disruption caused by COVID-19 with a customer-first approach while upholding its foundational value of safety. Ms. Wiggins led the development of a Recovery Plan to reimagine the delivery of Metrolink service in a post-COVID-19 environment, driven by insights gathered from surveys with customers and employees. She demonstrated her commitment to developing new ideas to better serve the core ridership of essential workers who use Metrolink to connect to their jobs on the frontlines of the pandemic with safe, and reliable transportation. 

With a deep and genuine commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, Ms. Wiggins strives to provide all people living in Southern California equal access to mobility to get to work, school, healthcare and leisure activities. Achieving that goal depends on leading an organization that is as diverse and inclusive as the region it serves. 

As Deputy CEO of Metro, she assisted the CEO in providing leadership and formulating and achieving strategic public transportation objectives, including the passage of Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by 71 percent of voters in LA County. She also established the Women and Girls Governing Council. During her tenure at Metro, Ms. Wiggins also served as the Executive Director of Vendor/Contract Management, where she implemented procurement streamlining initiatives and greatly expanded Metro’s utilization of small and historically underutilized businesses. Prior to that role, Ms. Wiggins was the Executive Officer and Project Director of the Congestion Reduction/ExpressLanes Program where she launched the first high occupancy toll lanes in LA County, the I-10 and I-110 Express Lanes, which improved travel times and travel reliability on two of the County’s most congested freeway corridors. 

Prior to Metro, Ms. Wiggins served as Regional Programs Director for the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) and oversaw transit, commuter rail, rideshare, goods movement and rail capital projects. 

Ms. Wiggins began her career in transportation when she accepted a temporary assignment at the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority and fell in love with the mission of the agency. The six-month temporary assignment turned into more than four years at SBCTA. 

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Whittier College in 1992 and in 2007 earned a Master of Business Administration from the USC Marshall School of Business. 

Ms. Wiggins is a self-proclaimed “military brat” whose father made his career in the Air Force. She credits her childhood experience of moving from military base to base and country to country for teaching her the importance of diversity. 

Ms. Wiggins is the founding president of the Inland Empire Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar. She is the recipient of many awards including the 2020 National League of Railway Women’s Woman of the Year award. She is a Board Member of the Los Angeles Chapter of Friends of the Children, the Southern California Chapter of the American Heart Association, and a member of the Whittier College Board of Trustees.


Walter F. Bleser, II, PE
Chief Operations Officer
American Rail Engineers Corporation (ARE Corp.)

Walt Bleser, PE currently serves as Principal of Unabridged Structures, LLC.  Prior to this role he was the President of SENSR Monitoring Technologies, LLC. He has over twenty years in the North American railway vertical working with every Class I railroad, major commuter railroad and several transit agencies. Named a Progressive Railroading Rising Stars Top 20 under 40 in 2013 and again an honorable mention by Railway Age for Top 20 under 40 in 2019. He has done everything from design and inspection of structures to implementing technology that makes railroads more efficient through the use of structural health monitoring systems and cloud based bridge asset management programs.  Walt is an active participant in AREMA, currently serving as a Director, Structures Functional Group on the Board of Directors.  He is the previous Chair of Committee 7, Timber Structures, and a subcommittee chairman of Committee 10, Structures Maintenance & Construction, aiding in the production of the organization’s Bridge Management Best Practices.

Thursday, September 30 | 11:15 AM - Noon ET

Anthony “Tony” Hatch was honored by being named the 2019 North American Rail Shippers Association (NARS) “Person of the Year”. 

Mr. Hatch has been a Senior Transportation Analyst on Wall Street for over thirty years, starting at major financial institutions prior to starting his independent analyst/consultancy in 1999, working with partners MillerTabak and CV Brokerage. Mr. Hatch's coverage has been focused on the freight transportation segment, particularly surface transportation. Mr. Hatch is known for his knowledge of the intermodal area, where the various modes of freight transport converge, on which he has held several dozen specialized conferences.

Mr. Hatch has been providing not only “traditional” institutional transport research but also providing “bespoke” research such as due diligence and other services to “new” players in transport investment such as private equity, infrastructure and hedge funds in such areas as intermodal, rail maintenance and construction, railcars and 3pls. He has created a series of research partnerships such as with PLG Consulting (2015) on petrochemical transport, and an equity marketing partnership with CV Securities. Along with Progressive Railroading magazine he co-founded, co-presents and leads “Railtrends”, the most comprehensive railway conference every fall in NYC.