If you work in or are connected to the passenger rail industry in any way; are involved in transportation research and policy, or are trying to tackle challenges in any related field dealing with mobility, sustainability, urban design, environmental awareness; I would like to learn more about the problems you face to determine how I can assist you through research, analysis, writing/editing and/or multimedia communications. Please refer to the list of services I offer for more information and contact me via phone, text, or email.
I sharpened my skills and deepened my subject matter expertise in a specialized two-year graduate program at George Mason University, where I earned a Master’s degree in Transportation Policy, Operations and Logistics in 2016. I have been an independent consultant and freelance writer since 2014. This work, which serves my vision, includes:
- reporting and editorializing for Trains, the premier magazine of the US railroad industry and rail enthusiast community;
- assisting Travelers United, a consumer advocacy group for travelers, with online communications; and
- conducting research, drafting and reviewing proposals, plans; and other business documents for Herzog, a major railroad construction, operations and maintenance contracting firm.
The skills I employ for my work include:
- all types of writing and editing
- primary and secondary research
- data analysis and presentation
- online and social media content management,
- photography, and
- basic video and audio production.
I’ve always had a heightened awareness of place and context. As long as I can remember, I’ve been able to easily orient myself and save a mental map of nearly every place I’ve visited, even if I was only there for a few hours. I’ve always loved studying maps — following roads, rails, and natural and political boundaries to see where they start and end — and making my own maps of imaginary places and better transportation networks for real places. I also enjoy the sense and rhythm of being in motion, of looking out the window and contemplating all that passes by, a feeling that began when I started riding the school bus in second grade.
All of this coalesced into what grew to be the three passions that have defined my life: trains, the natural world, and America’s homegrown music: blues, jazz, traditional country & western, and rock ‘n’ roll. All three of these are interwoven and shape each other. I’ve come to travel over 95 percent of the US national intercity passenger train route network and about two-thirds of that of Canada, plus over 300 miles of track that normally host only freight trains. These explorations have taken me to all but one of the lower 48 states, eight Canadian provinces, and on trains in eight other countries.
I was born in New York City to a mother from Kentucky by way of North Carolina and a father from Long Island. I was raised in a mid-sized, suburban city in central North Carolina. Three of the houses in which I spent some part of my childhood were within close proximity of railroad tracks. Frequent neighborhood walks with my parents brought me into contact with trains, mostly freight trains, but I was still fascinated by how all that weight moved so smoothly on steel rails in big containers coupled together. On visits to see relatives in New York City and Madison, I was introduced to, and became captivated by, the subway and commuter rail networks of the nation’s greatest metropolis. I was astounded by their complexity and awed every time I entered Grand Central Terminal.
As I started high school, my annual trip by air to New York switched to Amtrak. Ever since that first 12-hour trip, no train ride has seemed too long to me. A wide, reclining coach seat or cozy sleeping car room became a comfort zone where I felt in tune with the world. My college years began a quest to see much more of North America, and eventually the world, by train. This time in my life is also when I broadened my awareness of the unprecedented energy and resource challenges that the growing human population finds itself faced with, not the least of which is climate change. I turned my attention to being part of solutions that improve the quality of life while lessening resource consumption and pollution.
I double-majored in political science and environmental studies at Guilford College and became involved in campus sustainability efforts and in student government, along with progressive political activism and the student-run radio station, where I hosted a weekly American roots music program. Guilford’s writing-intensive curriculum further sharpened the effectiveness and persuasiveness with language that I had developed since middle school, along with my analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. I graduated seeking to put these talents to work in service of a vision of a transportation system that is more conducive to human-scaled places to live and work and undergirds economic activity in a more sustainable way — one not wedded to the automobile, but featuring instead an interconnected network of public and shared conveyances underpinned by robust national, regional, and local passenger train networks.
I moved to Washington, DC in 2009 to join the staff of the Rail Passengers’ Association. It is the only nationwide organization representing the users of passenger trains and working to expand and improve the entire passenger transportation network. I remain involved with the Association as a volunteer.