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American Public Transportation Association

 Leadership APTA

Leadership APTA is committed to identifying and selecting a diverse, broad-based group of highly motivated and dedicated industry professionals from among our membership to participate in this industry-recognized senior and executive leadership program.

Leadership APTA Class of 2020
Leadership APTA is the American Public Transportation Association’s premier professional development program designed to develop and support those experienced managers and leaders aspiring to hold senior and executive leadership positions in APTA, their organizations, and the public transportation industry. 

Candidates for Leadership APTA should show the promise and potential to be part of executive teams, the chiefs' suite, and other senior leadership positions.

Leadership APTA is committed to identifying and selecting a diverse, broad-based group of highly motivated and dedicated industry professionals from among our membership to participate in this industry's highly recognized senior and executive leadership program. Leadership APTA has become the path to prepare you to join the next generation of senior and executive leaders of APTA and the public transportation industry​.

This year, the Leadership APTA Committee will select up to 35 individuals from among APTA member applicants to participate in an intensive year-long program that includes skill-building workshops, conferences, executive roundtables, team leadership projects, teleconferences, online meetings, and web-based events. 


  • COMMIT to an intensive and rewarding year-long program that connects you with APTA's executive and senior leadership, national and international public transportation industry leaders, leading university professors, and expert faculty. 
  • DEEPEN your understanding of the public transportation industry and APTA, strengthen and sharpen core leadership competencies and expand your network of colleagues and friends.
  • DEVELOP your​ knowledge and skills through customized leadership workshops, executive roundtable sessions, small team assignments, site visits, and mentoring.
  • CHANGE how you listen, think, respond and lead as senior executives.
  • ADDRESS current and new leadership challenges facing the industry and collaborate with classmates to develop and recommend solutions. 
  • BENEFIT from opportunities to be a featured speaker at APTA and industry conferences, committee meetings, workshops, and events.
  • PROMOTE APTA's mission to strengthen and improve public transportation.
  • GIVE BACK to your organizations, APTA, and the industry.
  • BE PART of​ a prestigious group of up to 35 individuals selected from a competitive pool of APTA member applicants, and, upon graduation, join the program's illustrious alumni. 

Preparing Transformative Executive Leaders
For APTA and the Public Transportation Industry

Leadership APTA - A national industry program for aspiring senior and executive industry leaders

A letter from the 2018-2019 Leadership APTA Committee Chair, 
Doran J. Barnes

Leadership APTA, a program offering of APTAU, is the American Public Transportation’s flagship program to develop and support those experienced managers and leaders aspiring to hold executive and senior leadership positions in APTA, their organizations, and the public transportation industry. Now is the time to start thinking about whom you plan to nominate for the Leadership APTA Class of 2020.

This year we plan to increase the class size from 25 to up to 35 APTA members for the Class of 2020. In addition, APTA member organizations can submit up to two applicants for the Leadership APTA Class of 2020 instead of only one as in past years. Numerous graduates of the program serve on APTA’s Executive Committee, Board of Directors, as well as in leadership positions across our many committees, task forces, and working groups. Many graduates lead transit organizations, serve in executive leadership positions at our many private sector members, as well as other industry organizations. As a graduate of Leadership APTA, I can personally attest to the value of the program. 

My role as chair is to provide you with guidance to help you decide whom you should send as your nominees to the program. Following are criteria to help you select your applicant for the Leadership APTA Class of 2020. Your applicant needs to come with the following:

  • Demonstrates the drive and potential to be part of your “executive team,” your “chiefs’ suite” or equivalent, and clearly conveys the potential to be a strong and effective senior/executive leader
  • Works currently at a director-level or higher, department/division head, or serves in an equivalent role as defined by your organization
  • Comes with at least 10-15+ years of serious related work experience, including a minimum of three years of transit industry experience
  • Carries a proven track record of demonstrated career progressions and successes 
  • Speaks with authority and confidence to the goals, priorities, and major issues you and your organization are addressing 

The Leadership APTA program is also about growing future leaders of APTA. All class graduates must commit at least one year of active service to APTA immediately upon graduating from the Leadership APTA program and their organizations need to uphold and support their commitment.  

Mid-March, APTA plans to release the Class of 2020 Leadership APTA application web site and detailed program information. Please note, the application deadline is scheduled for Friday May 3, 2019. For further program information, please visit 

We hope this letter has helped you better understand the Leadership APTA program and its requirements. Please direct your questions to APTA’s Joe Niegoski​, senior director-educational services and staff advisor for Leadership APTA. He can be reached at 202-496-4870 or

Each of us has a responsibility to build future leaders for our industry. Invest in the future of APTA, the senior and executive leadership for the public transportation industry, and your own organization

Again, thank you for your continuing support of Leadership APTA.

Program Highlights

Eligibility Requirements

Only employees of organizations that are APTA members are eligible to apply.

Target Audience

Candidates need to be proven experienced managers having the drive, dedication, and promise to join the ranks of senior and executive leadership positions. They may come from other positions having strong leadership potential working for public transportation systems, private sector businesses supplying goods or services to the public transit industry, or other organizations related to the industry including small businesses. Candidates might be new general managers of small to mid-sized organizations; transit agency assistant general managers or assistant general managers working for public transit services providers. They might be rising business and private sector program and project senior managers with a track record of recognized success and plans for senior and executive leadership.

  • Candidates need to demonstrate the potential to be a strong and effective leader. Candidates need
    to be at a director-level/equivalent position or higher, department or division head/equivalent, and at a high enough level in your organization where he or she can speak with confidence to the goals, priorities, and major issues your organization is addressing. Candidates might also be principals of small businesses.
  • Candidates for Leadership APTA need at least 10-15 years of significant work experience from the public or private sector/other, including at least three years  of transit experience, plus a proven track record of demonstrated successes.
  • Candidates applying for the Leadership APTA Class of 2020 need to be able to become actively involved in APTA immediately upon graduation. They need to have the drive and desire to serve on APTA committees and task forces in areas of interest and benefit to them and their organizations. They need to be willing to eventually assume leadership roles in committees, working groups, and task forces.

Please note: APTA member organizations can submit up to two candidates as your applicants for the Leadership APTA Class of 2020. Organizations submitting more than two applicants run the risk that all their organization's applicants are disqualified from consideration.

What To Expect

  • Highly recommended attendance and full participation in the 2019 APTA Annual Meeting including Leadership APTA orientation program and customized workshops for incoming class members; participation in committee meetings, conference sessions, and Class of 2020 introduction.
  • Required attendance and participation in multi-day workshop sessions in November/December 2019, March 2020, and July 2020.
  • Required attendance and full participation at the 2020 APTA Legislative Conference.
  • Required attendance at the 2020 APTA Annual Meeting & Expo to present class team leadership projects at committee meetings, and special Leadership APTA sessions.
  • Full and active participation in class workshops, activities, assignments, presentations, leadership team projects, teleconference and online activities, and other related program events.
  • Active participation in an APTA committee, task force and/or special initiative upon graduation.

Additional Benefits

The program tuition fee is $6,000 (current fee). Tuition fees include Leadership APTA workshop sessions, related workshop books & materials, and some meals. Fee also includes complimentary registrations for the 2019 Annual Meeting, 2020 APTA Legislative Conference, and the 2020 APTA Annual Meeting & Expo.

Agencies and organizations sponsoring participants are responsible for the following: tuition fees; travel costs to and from: the Leadership APTA sessions and workshops; APTA 2019 TRANSform Conference; 2020 Legislative Conference; APTA's TRANSform Conference & Expo 2020; hotel expenses; some meals; and related miscellaneous expenses.

Members of the Leadership APTA Class of 2020 receive complementary registrations to attend APTA 2019 TRANSform Conference, 2020 Legislative Conference, 2020 APTA Mobility Conference*, and the 2020 APTA Rail Conference*. 

*Note: No formal Leadership APTA workshop sessions are held at either of these modal conferences.


Leadership APTA participants are sponsored by the public transportation system or organization where they are employed. An organization’s sponsoring a candidate, providing the monetary resources, and allowing the time necessary for their candidate to participate in the related events, activities, and project work are critical to the success of Leadership APTA.

Sponsoring Organization Commitment 

General managers, presidents, executive directors, and chief executive officers sponsoring candidates recognize that sending participants to Leadership APTA is extremely valuable to their organizations. Since the first Leadership APTA Class of 1998, public transportation leaders have watched their investments in this program return great dividends.

The executive leadership of sponsoring organizations also understands that their commitment and support means allowing their Leadership APTA participant to attend the required workshops and conferences listed below:

  • 2019 December workshop session
  • 2020 APTA Legislative Conference and class workshop sessions
  • July 2020 capstone session
  • APTA's TRANSform Conference & Expo 2020 that honors the graduating class and features them at committee meetings, conference sessions, and their graduation program to present their executive leadership projects.

The Leadership APTA Committee highly recommends that incoming class members attend the APTA 2019 TRANSform Conference, including related class workshops and orientation programs.

Executive leaders from sponsoring organizations need to recognize that their Leadership APTA participants will spend time over the year, from March to September, working on their executive leadership projects and will participate in related conference calls, online meetings, and web-based events. Upon graduation, Class of 2020 members will also serve as program coaches and mentors for the incoming Class of 2021.

Committee Participation: One of the goals of Leadership  APTA is to develop future leaders of APTA. The Leadership APTA program requires that each sponsoring organization actively supports at least one additional year of APTA involvement from its Leadership APTA participant immediately upon graduation through work on APTA committees, task forces or special projects.

APTA thanks and recognizes our industry members who leverage their Leadership APTA graduates as valued leaders within their organizations and the industry. 



Class of 2019 members hear from Leadership APTA Committee, federal, and industry executive leaders​
​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​

 Get Started


Ready to apply? Visit How to Apply to access the online application.


 Leadership APTA Class of 2020 Timeline


May 3, 2019: application deadline

Mid July 2019: participants selected and notified

Mid-September 2019- October 2020: participants participate in online meetings, participate in intensive workshops and other events, and complete class projects

October 2020: Leadership APTA graduation program at 2020 APTA Annual Meeting & Expo


 Members-Only Resources




If you have questions about Leadership APTA, please contact:

Joseph Niegoski
Senior Director-Educational Services

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