Keynote Speakers

Emerging Technologies Panel Discussion | Monday, September 16

AREMA’s 2024 Emerging Technologies Panel will bring together leaders from Class 1 Rail, value chain customers, technology and engineering organizations. Facilitated and moderated by Walter F. Bleser, II, PE, President and CEO of ARE Corporation, the Panel will discuss the future of freight and transportation including challenges, opportunities, and solutions associated with the integration of technologies toward the sustainable and resilient engineering, operations and maintenance of railways. Discussion will cut across and capture the full value chain of railway operations, as well as the role emerging technologies can serve to create value for customers.

Walter F. Bleser, II, PE
ARE Corporation

Walt Bleser, PE, currently serves as President of ARE Corporation and remains 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.

Mark Coleman
Director Advanced Energy

Mr. Coleman’s career has encompassed leadership positions with applied research, energy infrastructure, engineering, academic, management consulting, manufacturing, and government organizations. Mr. Coleman currently serves as a Director of Advisory and Innovation within TRC’s Advanced Energy practice. Based out of Ithaca, NY, Mark works at the nexus of energy innovation and the emergent sustainable economy, marked by solutions which are decarbonized and de-risked, and which also address sustainable impact and resilience at their foundation. Mark is an active member of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA) Technical Committee 13: Environment. Further, he served on the planning committee for AREMA’s inaugural Sustainability and Resilience Symposium. 
An award-winning published author, Mr. Coleman has published three books including “The Sustainability Generation: The Politics of Change and Why Personal Accountability is Essential Now!” (2012), “Time to Trust: Mobilizing Humanity for a Sustainable Future” (2014), and most recently, “The Dignity Doctrine: Rational Relations in an Irrational World” (2020). Mr. Coleman’s books highlight his perspective on holistic systems-level logic and theory for advancing humanity beyond the status quo toward more integrated models of sustainable development. Mr. Coleman also serves as an adjunct professor at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in Sustainable Enterprise and Managing Sustainability. Mr. Coleman resides in the Finger Lakes region of New York with his wife and two sons.

John R. Fleps
AVP Engineering - MW&S
Norfolk Southern Corporation

John Fleps is Vice President & Chief Safety Officer at Norfolk Southern Corporation. 

Appointed Vice President Safety in 2023, John Fleps joined Norfolk Southern as an Engineering Management Trainee in 2006. He is responsible for leading the company’s Operations safety culture & safety outcomes through rigorous process improvement, continuous learning, and a laser-focus on injury and incident reduction. 

Fleps has broad experience as an operational leader, along with a strong technology background. Prior to his current role, Fleps held progressively more responsible leadership roles, including AVP Transportation, AVP Engineering Maintenance of Way & Structures, Chief Engineer and VP Mechanical. 

Fleps earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Marty Schlenker
Head of Strategy

Marty Schlenker has served as Head of Strategy for Parallel Systems since September 2023, developing and commercializing Parallel’s autonomous, battery-electric rail vehicles.  He brings 30 years of railroading and consulting experience to the role, having held leadership positions at BNSF Railway and CSX Transportation, consulting roles at Mercer Management Consulting (now Oliver Wyman), and conducted an independent consulting practice, Schlenker LLC.  Marty serves on AREMA Committees 16, 35 (vice chair), and 39, and gave the keynote presentation at the 2022 Communications & Signals Symposium in Kansas City.  He holds degrees from the University of Chicago and the MIT Center for Transportation Studies.  He and his wife Lucy live in Mechanicsburg, PA, and have three grown children.

State of the Industry | Wednesday, September 18

Anthony B. Hatch
ABH Consulting

Anthony (Tony) B. Hatch is a veteran analyst and financial consultant in the transportation industry with more than two decades of experience. He provided not only “traditional” institutional transport research, but also due diligence and other services to “new” forms of transport investment such as private equity, infrastructure and hedge funds in such areas as intermodal, rail maintenance and construction, rail cars and 3pls. He was 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.  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 graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in American History in 1982. He lives in New York City and enjoys baseball (watching LA Dodgers! – and playing), English soccer (Spurs) and history, US politics, and sports cars.

Keynote Speaker | Wednesday, September 18

Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney
Folds of Honor

Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney is a force for good. A decorated F-16 Fighter Pilot, he is best known for founding the Folds of Honor, a leading non-profit organization that provides educational scholarships for children and spouses of fallen or disabled military service members and first responders. Since its inception in 2007, the foundation has provided nearly 51,000 lifechanging scholarships totaling approximately $240 million. 

Rooney’s life calling of “inspiring people to help people'' is made obvious by his variety of roles. A USA Today bestselling author whose titles include “A Patriot's Calling” and “Fly Into the Wind”, he’s a highly sought-after motivational speaker that has addressed over 1000 corporations and groups across America. As a Class A Member of the PGA, he founded two nationally ranked golf clubs, The Patriot Golf Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and American Dunes Golf Club in Grand Haven, Michigan in collaboration with Jack Nicklaus. He is a frequent guest of national media including podcasts, radio, and network television such as Fox News. Rooney has been recognized as one of People Magazine’s “Heroes of the Year”, Money Magazine’s “Hero of the Year”, and ABC World News Tonight’s “Persons of the Year”.

Lt Col Rooney has continued his military service after 3 combat tours to Iraq where he flew the F-16 Viper. He is currently stationed at Headquarters Air Force Recruiting Service Detachment 1, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, TX where he has been given the unique position to act as a US Air Force ambassador with the task of inspiring the next generation of service members to give the same devotion to the country he has so proudly demonstrated throughout his career. Rooney is a two-time recipient of the Top Gun award and has received the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Medal, Anti-terrorism Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, and Air Expeditionary Medal. For his service and patriotism, he was presented the White House’s “Presidential Volunteer Service Award'' by President George W. Bush, as well as the Air National Guard's “Distinguished Service Medal”, the “Directors Service Award”, and the Ellis Island “Medal of Honor”.

Lt Col Rooney lives in Owasso, Oklahoma where his most important role lies, with his wife and five daughters.