ULI Columbus - So Now What Webinar Series: The Future of Mobility


2020-10-27T12:00:00 - 2020-10-27T13:00:00

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    Join us for the third installment of the So Now What Webinar Series.
    At the onset of COVID-19, the Central Ohio Transit Authority moved rapidly to analyze key data to adapt our transportation infrastructure to meet the needs of residents and essential workers and move our community in safer, socially distant ways. Join Joanna M. Pinkerton and Sandy Doyle-Ahern as they discuss the immediate impacts of COVID-19 and how as leaders they are using an equity lens to make critical investment and policy decisions as they look to the future of our region’s mobility needs.



    Joanna Pinkerton

    President/CEO , Central Ohio Transit Authority

    Joanna M. Pinkerton currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), the regional transit organization providing services to Columbus and Central Ohio with more than 1200 employees providing over 19 million passenger trips in a service territory of 562 square miles. Since joining COTA in April 2018, Pinkerton has transformed the organization to deliver innovative mobility solutions fitting the needs of a rapidly growing community and shifting customer base. Highlights of her tenure include the launch of COTA//Plus, the first app-based, on-demand, public microtransit service in Central Ohio; leading COTA’s first-ever strategic planning process; implementation of mobile and smart phone payment systems; renovation and creation of a new customer experience center; founding and opening of GO! – Mobility Lab by COTA - an accelerator for new private sector mobility start-up companies; and, the hiring of the organization’s first Chief Innovation Officer and Chief People Officer.Pinkerton previously served as Chief Operations Officer of Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC), the nation’s largest independent automotive and transportation proving ground. She also served as Chief Operations Officer at The Ohio State University (OSU) Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and subsequently as Co-Director of the Honda-Ohio State Partnership, the nation’s largest industry-academic based transportation research partnership. Prior to joining Ohio State, Pinkerton served as the first person at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) responsible for targeting transportation investments to support economic growth in the manufacturing, technology and logistics industries. While at ODOT, she helped establish the Office of Jobs and Commerce to oversee economic outcomes as part of transportation funding. Her career in transportation investment has included engineering responsibilities in Union County, Ohio, where she supported development and investment projects along the U.S. Route 33 Corridor, home to many significant automotive and high-tech companies, including the recent development of the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor, a joint venture Pinkerton helped establish. A nationally recognized leader in the mobility industry, Pinkerton currently serves on the following boards and committees: • Member, Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) Board of Directors • Member, Transportation Research Center Inc. Board of Directors • Co-Chair, American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Mobility Recovery & Restoration Task Force Co-Chair, DriveOhio Government Advisory Board • Chair, Census 2020 Complete Count Transportation Subcommittee • Member, Ohio Public Transit Association (OPTA) Executive Committee • Member, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) Smart Region Task Force • Member, MORPC Transportation Policy Committee • Member, Smart Columbus Leadership and Executive Committees • Member, Vision Zero Columbus Executive Advisory Committee • Member, Franklin County Innovation Center Leadership Council • Member, Future Ready Columbus Early Childhood Advisory Council • Member, Ohio State Alliance for the American Dream Advisory Board • Member, The Ohio State University (OSU) Center for Automotive Research (CAR) External Advisory Board • Member, Wexner Center for the Arts Strategic Plan Steering Committee • Member, Experience Columbus Strategic Destination Development Committee Pinkerton is a lifelong resident of Central Ohio and resides in Circleville with her two sons. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and is a professionally licensed engineer in the state of Ohio.


    Sandy Doyle-Ahern

    President, EMH&T

    Sandy Doyle-Ahern is the President of EMH&T, one of Ohio’s largest professional engineering and survey firms. Sandy joined EMH&T in 1997, leading the company’s first Environmental Department. Today, Sandy is responsible for overall company management and focuses on client relationships, business development, quality control, and employee engagement. She guides the activities of 330 professionals and technical personnel – including civil engineers, surveyors, construction managers, environmental scientists, and land planners. Her external leadership focus has allowed the company to be a part of many remarkable projects. From public infrastructure improvements and urban revitalization, to single- and multi-family developments, to design services for projects in healthcare, education, energy and data, Sandy has guided EMH&T to leadership in both the public and private sectors in a diverse array of markets. Sandy lends her talent and leadership skills to a range of professional and civic organizations, currently including YWCA Columbus, Columbus Academy, The Nature Conservancy of Ohio, Franklin County Innovation Center, the Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio, Mayor Ginther’s Columbus Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Committee, the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation and the Columbus Partnership. Among the many awards Sandy has received, she has twice been named a “Most Admired CEO” and a member of the “Power 100” by Columbus Business First and a “Progressive Woman” honoree by SmartBusiness Columbus. Sandy is also the 2020 recipient of Homeport’s Voice & Vision Award and a 2020 Laureate of the Junior Achievement of Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame. EMH&T has been named a Best Place to Work and a Top Workplace under her leadership.


    Gayle Saunders

    The Saunders Company

    Gayle Saunders, APR, is founder and CEO of The Saunders Company (TSC), a full-service public relations agency in Columbus, OH. TSC specializes in reputation management, media relations and training, crisis communications and media buying. ​ Named 2018 Public Relations Practitioner of the Year by the Central Ohio Public Relations Society of America, Saunders is the first African American to earn this title in the history of the chapter. In 2019, she earned the prestigious Prism Award and the national Communicators Award for her company’s work with CelebrateOne. Saunders has more than 30 years of experience in building effective public relations strategies and campaigns. She has led public relations for Nationwide, AT&T, the Memorial Tournament, NASCAR, and held executive roles at National City Bank, The Ohio State University, The City of Columbus and Columbus City Schools. Saunders served mayors Greg S. Lashutka and Michael B. Coleman as Columbus' first female deputy safety director. ​ Saunders served as liaison to the White House, managing over 100 national media and a team of 70 internal leaders during The Ohio State University’s Spring 2013 Commencement for former President Barack Obama’s commencement address. Clients include: National and Columbus Urban leagues, the Ohio Lottery, City of Columbus, Smart Columbus, CelebrateOne, Columbus Public Health, Partners Achieving Community Transformation, COTA, Columbus Next Generation, CMHA, Pickerington North High School Basketball, and Paul Werth Associates. She is a past president of the Child Development Council Head Start, past board member of the Central Ohio Chapter of PRSA, where she was cofounder of the diversity and inclusion committee and its inaugural chair, the YWCA, The Columbus Urban League and the King Arts Complex. She and her husband have one teenage son.