Chuck Baker joined ASLRRA as President after a 15-year career in the railroad industry. Before joining ASLRRA he was a Partner at Chambers Conlon & Hartwell (CC&H), where, in addition to the ASLRRA, he represented clients such as the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association (NRC), the OneRail Coalition, the American Railway Development Association, Norfolk Southern, and Canadian National. For the NRC, Mr. Baker also served as its President. In that capacity, he had responsibility for the association's core financial, operational, and legal programs, including the federal legislative and regulatory program in front of both Congress and the Administration. For the OneRail Coalition, a coalition of freight rail, intercity passenger rail, commuter rail, rail labor, and rail supply industry interests, Mr. Baker coordinated the group’s activities and messaging. Prior to joining CC&H, Mr. Baker worked with the Surface Transportation Policy Project in Washington, D.C. Mr. Baker has also worked for Deutsche Bank Securities as an investment banker specializing in Corporate Finance and Mergers & Acquisitions in San Francisco, CA. Mr. Baker is a native of Baltimore, MD, and a graduate of Rice University in Houston, TX.
Deena A. Beshir, CPA is an Accounting Manager at the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. She has over ten years of experience performing accounting and audit services for trade associations, government contractors and nonprofit organizations in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. She holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and a minor in economics from George Mason University; and has a certification as a Certified Public Accountant. Her professional affiliations include American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Greater Washington Society of CPAs.
Kathi Birch manages a wide variety of responsibilities related to human resources, accounting and law, such as onboarding staff, receiving and processing invoices and conducting law research. She also provides administrative support to the Association’s Board of Directors, Executive Committee and General Counsel Committee. Birch brings over 30 years of experience in office administration, billing and legal support. She also brings experience in railroad industry operations and association management. She comes to ASLRRA from the Association of American Railroads where she spent seven years in several positions including finance and human resources administrator and senior executive assistant in the law department.
Cameron Downs is a researcher focused on generating industry data and analysis and how those data sets can be used to advocate industries. He comes to ASLRRA having worked for other large associations and non-profits with experience in a broad selection of research topics including surveying, consumer research, industry economics, data analysis, and knowledge management. Prior to joining ASLRRA, he served as the primary researcher for the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Association. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and a Master’s degree in Applied Anthropology from American University.
JR Gelnar is an expert in short line safety compliance issues, and serves as the lead in conducting Safety Compliance Audits for our members. Mr. Gelnar is the ASLRRA’s liaison to the Fatality Analysis of Maintenance of Way and Signalmen (FAMES) and Switching & Operations Fatality Analysis (SOFA) industry committees, and ASLRRA’s Mechanical, Engineering, and Safety and Training committees. Previously, he was employed by Farmrail System, Inc. for 27 years where he held various positions with the last being Vice President – Engineering and Safety. Mr. Gelnar started his career with the Hollis and Eastern Railroad and was also employed by the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe. He is a graduate of Western Oklahoma State College.
Crystal Gitchell supports the safety, regulatory and legal teams on a range of regulatory and legislative issues. Ms. Gitchell works closely with ASLRRA’s lobbying team at CCH, focused on issues such as truck size and weight, and crew size. She also serves as staff liaison to the Young Professionals Committee. Prior to joining ASLRRA, Gitchell served as government affairs manager for the Truckload Carriers Association in Alexandria, Va., where she was responsible for their inaugural Call on Washington advocacy program. Gitchell did her undergraduate work at Virginia Commonwealth University and earned a Master of Public Policy degree, with a focus on United States Government Institutions and Policy Management, from George Mason University.
Dinah Idan-Biney oversees all finance, accounting and reporting activities, leading day-to-day financial operations and having responsibility over general accounting, payroll, and grants administration. She also serves as the staff liaison to ASLRRA’s Finance Committee. Idan-Biney has over two decades of experience in accounting, working in both Fortune 100 companies and small businesses. She most recently served as director of finance at the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation. Ms. Idan-Biney holds an active CPA license in Virginia, earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of New Orleans, and an MBA from Colorado State University.
A former reporter, editor, and publisher in the rail sector, Ms. Keeney is the lead contact for membership and many business offerings at the Association. She directs exhibit and sponsorship sales for the annual conference, in addition to serving as staff liaison to the Supplier Committee. Her background includes experience in editorial development, trade show management, membership, sales, marketing, and finance. Even before joining ASLRRA in 2015, Ms. Keeney had a close working relationship with the Association for more than two decades, helping with management and sales for the annual exhibition. She served as publisher of three prominent railroad directories and editor of a monthly national railroad magazine. In addition, she was editor of two short line publications. Ms. Keeney is a longtime member of the League of Railway Women (LRW) and served as publicity chair, scholarship chair, vice president, and president. She was honored in 2012 with the LRW’s Outstanding Member of the Year award, and in 2018 became the inaugural inductee into the LRW's Hall of Fame. She has also served on the board of directors for the ASLRRA and for WTS’ D.C. chapter. She is a graduate of Loyola University of Maryland with a degree in English/Journalism.
Amy Krouse joined ASLRRA in early 2015 as Director, Strategic Communications. In that role, she is responsible for delivering the story of the short line industry to key constituents including transportation thought leaders, public policy forums, and the general public in support of ASLRRA’s legislative and regulatory goals. Ms. Krouse also collaborates with our Washington Team to broaden an already substantial grassroots network for the short line industry via the state rail associations, and works with the Association of American Railroads to support a pro-rail agenda while adding particular focus to the interests of the short lines. Amy brings two decades of experience in brand and messaging development and deployment for a variety of consumer product companies, including Quaker Oats, Procter & Gamble and most recently for Rand McNally. Amy Krouse earned her M.B.A. at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business in Chicago, IL and her B.A. at the Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Danialle Lovik is a key part of the Member Services team, responsible for member engagement platforms and the management of staff platforms. In addition, Lovik supports event management and analysis, and member database management. Lovik brings a decade of experience in private sector and non-profit organizations supporting member relations, administration, and events, most recently in the transportation industry for Two Men and a Truck. Lovik is a graduate of Michigan State University.
Fred Oelsner serves as the staff liaison to the ASLRRA Technology Committee and represents the association within various industry groups, on topics such as customer service and event reporting, positive train control, geographic information systems, cybersecurity and other topics. He also manages the data and technology resources of ASLRRA, utilized for the association’s DC advocacy efforts, membership services and operations. Immediately prior to ASLRRA, Fred worked for Chambers, Conlon & Hartwell (CC&H), a DC-based government affairs and association management firm, where he utilized data analysis and geographic information systems tools to research transportation issues and advocate policy positions for CC&H’s clients, including ASLRRA. Additionally, at CC&H he developed grant applications for railroads, including those for U.S. DOT's discretionary grant programs, and served as the American Railway Development Association’s manager, handling event planning and day-to-day operations. Originally from Colorado, Oelsner holds degrees from the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Denver.
Zach Radford leads ASLRRA’s Congressional Affairs team, responsible for advancing key advocacy efforts on legislative and policy priorities of the short line freight rail industry with members of Congress. In addition, Radford serves as the staff liaison to the Association’s member-driven Legislative Policy Committee. Radford has provided leadership in advocacy, and tackled legal and regulatory challenges in the transportation sector in the Senate, where he served U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal as Senior Policy Advisor & Counsel, influencing rail safety bills, the 2015 FAST Act and the 2018 FAA Reauthorization, and as a legislative assistant to Senator Jon Tester, advancing the Senator’s Appropriations Committee work among other responsibilities. Radford is also familiar with transit operations and policy priorities, having served as a Federal Relations Officer at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and as Director of External Relations at the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. Radford holds a B.A. from Georgetown University and a J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law
Richard Sherman supports the association’s efforts in a broad range of policy areas, with a particular focus on capital projects, infrastructure funding programs and agency procedures. Prior to joining ASLRRA in February of 2023, he was a Senior Advisor with Blank Rome Government Relations, supporting a range of clients including freight and passenger railroads, transit agencies ports and municipalities.
Richard is an experienced federal grant writer, helping clients secure more than $200 million in grant funding over 19 separate awards. His specialty is freight rail projects, but he has also supported successful grant applications in the maritime and highway sectors, working closely with applicants to develop transportation forecasts, to properly scope, de-risk and due diligence project concepts, and to prepare complex benefit-cost analyses. He has supported numerous overseas railroad consultancy projects, including performing work for national governments and multilateral NGOs. He served with the U.S. Army in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He holds a BA in International Affairs from the George Washington University and an MA in Public Policy and a graduate certificate in Spanish Translation from American University.
Ms. Jo E. Strang advises and represents the Association’s members nationally in regulatory matters. Prior to joining the association in 2013, Ms. Strang held the highest career office with the Federal Railroad Administration serving as the Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety/ Chief Safety Officer. In that position, for which she was the longest serving in the agency history, she was responsible for railroad safety in the United States. She has testified before Congress and regulatory agencies many times on both safety and security issues. She is a Presidential rank award holder along with numerous other awards. Ms. Strang currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Operation Lifesaver, International, a Board Member for the Transportation Research Board’s AR70 Committee, on the advisory committee for the railway engineering programs at University of Delaware and also Penn State Altoona, represents ASLRRA on FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, and is the staff liaison for ASLRRA’s Safety & Training and Environmental Committees.
Mariel Takamura is responsible for the association’s primary member communication, Views & News, including content sourcing and creation. She is also primarily responsible for managing ASLRRA’s social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, producing content for each of the platforms. Ms. Takamura also lends her writing and editing talent to a wide variety of association initiatives, including ASLRRA’s website, government affairs advocacy efforts, event marketing and member education. Prior to joining ASLRRA, Ms. Takamura was an educator at the middle- and high-school levels, teaching language arts, English literature, creative writing and journalism. Ms. Takamura is currently completing a master’s degree in public administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds an MA in English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a BA in English from the University of Notre Dame.
Sabrina Waiss oversees education, training and business development services for the ASLRRA. Her responsibilities include developing and delivering a robust program of virtual and in-person educational content, focused on providing training and support to front line personnel, emerging leaders, and professionals throughout the railroad industry. In addition, Ms. Waiss works with industry suppliers to create bulk buying opportunities that leverage the buying power of the more than 500 short line railroads who are members of ASLRRA, providing critical products, services, and savings to railroads who want to stretch their buying dollar. Ms. Waiss comes to ASLRRA with more than twenty years’ experience in marketing, communications, education, and business and program development. Prior to joining ASLRRA, she served as Director of Marketing and Cause Partnerships for Goodwill Industries International, and more recently as Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Education at the American Moving & Storage Association. Waiss serves as the staff liaison to ASLRRA’s Marketing, Human Resources, and Small Railroad Committees. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from George Mason University and resides in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband and three children.
Amy Westerman plans, coordinates, and executes association meetings, events, and programs to educate the membership and broader rail industry. Ms. Westerman comes to ASLRRA with more than two decades of experience in association management, meeting planning, marketing and program development. Prior to joining ASLRRA, she served as Director of Meetings and Education for the Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, and more recently as Director of Programs and Services for the Convention Industry Council. Ms. Westerman has held her Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation since 2009, as well as her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation since 2007.
Wayne Whitaker is a graphic designer and comes to ASLRRA with nearly 25 years of experience in creative services, including audio/video production for non-profit industry associations. He manages ASLRRA's website, and designs print and electronic communications, publications and marketing materials for ASLRRA's training and education programs, including the Short Line Training Center. He also creates collateral for ASLRRA events, including signage, presentations and video. Wayne resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
Ms. Sarah Yurasko advises on all legal matters for ASLRRA, represents the short line industry nationally on policy matters, and serves as the Staff Liaison to ASLRRA's General Counsel Committee. Prior to joining ASLRRA in January 2020, she worked at the Association of American Railroads (AAR) as Assistant General Counsel where she represented railroad member interests before federal agencies and courts in addition to serving as counsel to numerous industry safety and operations committees. She previously held positions at Amtrak and at the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Chief Counsel. She has served on the Board of Directors for the League of Railway Women since 2017, currently in the role of Vice President. Ms. Yurasko has a BFA and a BA from Southern Methodist University, an MA from American University's School of International Service, and a JD from American University's Washington College of Law.