General Session Featured Speakers

2016 is a big year and you must stay informed!  The Presidential race is in full swing with plenty of controversy and consequences that will impact us all. The short line railroad industry is vulnerable to the movements in and out of the White House, and we need to know who will be in charge and what it could mean for business.

Join us in April to hear from a powerhouse lineup of speakers at ASLRRA’s 2016 CONNECTIONS Convention, and leave with a solid grasp of regulatory and political issues that will inform your business decisions in 2016 and beyond.

Opening General Session

Monday, April 4, 3:00 - 4:30pm
Featured Speaker: Federal Railroad Administrator, Sarah Feinberg

On Oct. 28, 2015, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Sarah Elizabeth Feinberg to be the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. She was nominated for the permanent post by President Obama on May 29, 2015. 

Feinberg is the second woman to lead the agency since it’s founding in 1966 and leads a staff of nearly 900 professionals in Washington, D.C. and eight regional offices across the country.

The mission of the FRA is to enable the safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future.  The FRA is one of ten operating modal agencies that make up the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The FRA workforce develops and enforces rail safety regulations; manages a $20 billion rail investment portfolio; and oversees research and technology development programs. The FRA is also responsible for administering federal grants to Amtrak and has oversight for the railroad’s expenditures. 

As DOT Chief of Staff, Feinberg provided strategic advice and counsel to the Secretary of Transportation regarding operational and legislative initiatives across all modes of transportation. One of her key priorities as the Chief of Staff was to lead the effort on the Department and Secretary’s $302 billion surface transportation reauthorization plan. 

Prior to joining USDOT, Feinberg served as the Director of Corporate and Strategic communications at Facebook where she managed the company’s Washington-based outreach and communications as well as the company’s political and crisis communications.  She was also previously Bloomberg LP’s Director of Communications and Business Strategy.

From 2009-2010 she served in the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. As the Chief of Staff’s liaison to the Obama economic team, the national security team, and the press and communications departments, she most notably worked on the White House’s strategic communications response to the country's fiscal and economic crisis, the H1N1 flu pandemic and the mine disaster in West Virginia.

Prior to serving in the White House, Feinberg spent several years on Capitol Hill, serving as communications director for the House Democratic Caucus, and the national press secretary to former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.

Feinberg is a graduate of Washington and Lee University with a degree in politics.

Closing General Session

Wednesday, April 6, 2:30 - 4:30pm
Featured Speaker: Political Commentator, Charlie Cook

Charlie Cook is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on U.S. elections and American political trends. He founded the independent, non-partisan Cook Political Report in 1984 and now, with a staff of six, has become – in the words of the New York Times – “a newsletter that both parties regard as authoritative.” The late David Broder of the Washington Post, long known as the Dean of the Washington press corps, called Charlie, “perhaps the best non-partisan handicapper of Congressional elections,” while  The Wall Street Journal once called him, “the Picasso of election analysts.”

In the 80's and 90's, Charlie was a weekly political columnist for Roll Call and a political analyst for CNN. For over a decade and a half he has been writing a weekly column for the National Journal Group and serving as a political analyst for NBC News, with his team working on Election Nights at their Decision Desk in New York. In 2010, Charlie was the co-recipient of the American Political Science Association’s prestigious Carey McWilliams Award for outstanding contribution to our understanding of politics. In 2013, he was a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.