Eno/MAX and the Power of Experiential Learning

In 2012, leaders at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) realized they faced similar challenges and would benefit from better interagency collaboration and coordination. The Multi-Agency Exchange (MAX) Program was created to invest in their emerging leaders by offering participants real-world learning opportunities through four pillars: improving transit industry knowledge, exchanging best practices, building business skills, and creating peer networks. Listen in as Gary Thomas and Phil Washington, two of the program founders, talk about the history and impact of the program with Jerry Premo, former Eno board member and distinguished transit professional.

More about the Participants

Gary C. Thomas is president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). He is responsible for a 13-city transit system covering 700-square mile service area with bus, light rail, commuter rail, and paratransit services. Under his leadership DART has doubled its light rail system – twice – to become the nation’s longest at 93 miles. The agency has been recognized for innovation in developing a progressive clean fuels program for its bus fleet, advancing new models for local bus and paratransit service and customer-facing communication technology and service. DART is also a recognized leader in the global advancement of the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) movement with its use of targeted demand-response transit service matched with new customer tools for fare payment and trip planning. Thomas administers the goals and policies of the DART Board of Directors and directs the agency’s top managers and approximately 3,700 employees, emphasizing a strong customer focus. He works closely with service area city governments and the public in developing short- and long-term transportation and mobility goals.

Thomas joined DART in November 1998. He was a consulting engineer for 19 years prior to that. He has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Bachelor of Architecture from Texas Tech University. He serves on the Transportation Research Board Executive Committee and the Subcommittee on Planning and Policy Review for the TRB. He is a past chair of the American Public Transportation Association, RailVolution and the South West Transit Association. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Architecture from Texas Tech University. He is a registered professional engineer in Texas. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board, the TCRP Oversight and Project Selection Committee of the Transit Cooperative Research Program. He a past Chair of the American Public Transportation Association, RailVolution, and the Texas Transportation Association.

Phil Washington was unanimously selected CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) by the Metro Board of Directors on March 12, 2015. As Metro CEO, Washington manages a total balanced budget of $7.2 billion for FY20, is responsible for overseeing $18+ billion in capital projects, and provides oversight of an agency with nearly 11,000 employees that transports 1.2 million boarding passengers daily riding on a fleet of 2,000 clean-air buses and six rail lines. LA Metro is the lead transportation planning, programming and financing agency for LA County. As such, it is a major construction agency that oversees bus, rail, highway and other mobility-related infrastructure projects – together representing the largest modern public works program in North America.

Washington came to Los Angeles from Denver where he served as the CEO of Denver Regional Transportation District since 2009, after serving as assistant general manager of RTD for nearly 10 years before being named CEO. Washington has received numerous prestigious assignments and honors. In 2019, he testified before the U.S. Congressional Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In 2018, he was awarded the Honorable Ray LaHood Award (former U.S. Secretary of Transportation) by the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) for his outstanding contribution in promoting opportunities to advance and advocate for women in the transportation industry. In 2017, he was awarded the Judge Harry Pregerson Public Service Award for his service to U.S. military veterans. In 2016, he was chosen by the National Safety Council as one of the CEOs Who “Get It” – an honor bestowed on CEOs who demonstrate leadership in safety at the highest levels. In 2014, he was selected by the editors of Engineering News-Record as one of the Top 25 Newsmakers of 2013. Washington was named 2013-2014 Outstanding Public Transportation CEO of the Year in North America by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). In 2012, he was awarded a White House Transportation Innovators Champion of Change Award.

Originally from the South Side of Chicago – the Chicago housing projects of Altgeld Gardens – Washington is a 24-year veteran of the United States Army, where he held the rank of Command Sergeant Major, the highest non-commissioned officer rank an enlisted soldier can achieve. He retired from active duty, as a disabled veteran and was awarded the prestigious Defense Superior Service Medal for exceptional service to his country. He holds a B.A. in Business from Columbia College, an M.A. in Management from Webster University, and is a graduate of the Harvard University Kennedy School for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. He is also a past chair of APTA.

Jerry Premo leads his own firm, Premo Partnerships, in advising companies–public and private–on strategies for organizational and people development. Jerry retired from AECOM after over 25 years of service, during which time he led its transit, freight, rail and high speed rail business throughout the world. In this leadership role he helped drive the development of AECOM, which is ranked by ENR as the largest transit/rail firm in the United States. Jerry served as officer-in-charge of many of the company’s most significant transit projects. Before joining AECOM in 1989, Jerry held major transit leadership positions at the federal, state and local levels. His prior experience includes service as the first Executive Director of the New Jersey Transit Corporation and first Chief Executive of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, as well as Associate Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.

Jerry has been a leader in American Public Transportation Association activities, having served at different times as its Vice Chair, Legislative Committee Chair and a member of many committees and task forces, most notably as National Co-Chair of the PT2 program. In 2008 he was honored as the American Public Transportation Association’s Business Person of The Year. He has also testified before many legislative bodies at all levels of government. He has served on APTA’s Executive Committee, which provides overall direction and leadership for the Association. In 2015, Jerry was selected for induction into APTA’s Hall of Fame for his lifetime of contributions to the transit community.


Gary Thomas
CEO, Dallas Area Rapid Transit


Phil Washington
CEO, LA Metro


Jerry Premo
President, Premo Partnerships