2023 Embracing Equity Symposium Speakers
Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer
Rachael Peterson, Executive Vice President, and Chief People Officer for Watco, leads Watco’s efforts in the areas of Human Resources, Marketing, and other support service functions including Information Technology, Purchasing, and Real Estate. Rachael joined Watco in 2006 and has held several roles. Prior to joining Watco, she worked in healthcare recruiting at St. John’s Hospital in Joplin, Missouri, and at J.B. Hunt Transport in Lowell, Arkansas, as a Manager of Professional and Organizational Development. Rachael was named to the 2022 Top 100 list of human resources professionals by OnCon and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology, and the Association for Talent Development. She is on the board of directors for the American Association of Railroad Superintendents, and has received industry recognition as a Railway Age “Fast Tracker” and a Progressive Railroading “Rising Star.” Rachael earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, and a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.
AVP of Treasury
Craig Putz has been a member of TTX for 9 years, currently AVP of Treasury, responsible for corporate financing, insurance, bank/rating agency relationships, AP, AR, cash management and credit. Previously served as AVP of FP&A, which included the FP&A, operational finance, cost accounting and finance analytics teams. Prior to joining TTX, Craig was at GE Rail Services serving in various leadership roles within Finance, Asset Management and Operations. He began his career with International Paper in the Engineering group. He holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Western Michigan University and a M.S. in Accounting from Roosevelt University.
Michele Malski, a second-generation railroader, graduated from Cornell University with a major in Industrial Labor Relations and obtained her MBA with Quantic School of Business and Technology in Washington, DC. Malski also retains a certification in Inclusion and Diversity from the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). Throughout her education, she focused her experience in rail early on with various rail internships with Bombardier Transportation in Berlin, Germany, the Government Relations team with Amtrak in Washington, DC, as well as the Human Resources department with Norfolk Southern, in Norfolk, VA.
She began her career learning from the ground up. She started as a Management Trainee with BNSF, becoming a Trainmaster on the Montana Division in Minot, North Dakota. Michele preceded her experience with Canadian Pacific as a Division Trainmaster in Binghamton, NY, spanning a territory of over 400 miles. From CP, Michele pursued an opportunity to learn more about passenger way of life with Bombardier Transportation in Baltimore, MD. Malski then joined the ASLRRA’s Short Line Safety Institute where she led the team’s educational programs and hazmat training. Michele is now the Founder and President of Succession Planning for Railroads Investing in the Next Generation or SPRING, a recruiting and retention organization dedicated to rail industry employers. She continues to dedicate her energy to helping the rail renaissance find the next generation of railroaders. She is the Director at Large for the board of the League of Railway Women and a Board Member of the Transportation Club of Kansas City.
In her spare time, her and dog Charlemagne go for hikes in their newly claimed home of Kansas City.
Tiffany L. Wenrich is the Marketing Director for Holland, L.P., a railroad equipment manufacturing and services company with operations across North America and Australia. In her current role, Ms. Wenrich and her team develop marketing and communication programs to promote Holland’s core offerings and employer brand.
She is a member of Holland’s Diversity Advisory Council and a founding member of its recently launched Green Team. Tiffany has been in the rail industry for nearly six years and has been a member of LRW since 2018. She has also served on RSI’s Exhibitor Advisory Committee.
Tiffany is a native of the Chicagoland area, growing up in “the Region,” a small corner of Northwest Indiana known both for its steel mills and sand dunes. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communication from Purdue University Northwest and has taught public speaking and business communications courses at the University for the last ten years. Earlier this year, Tiffany completed a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion through Cornell University’s eCornell program.
When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and small zoo, supporting local animal charities and theater.
Laura is responsible for building out the Diversity & Inclusion strategic roadmap at Trinity – leading all aspects of Diversity & Inclusion. She is deeply committed to serving people. She is a passionate advocate for diversity, equity & inclusion, her commitment drives innovation and enhances the overall employee experience. She is a leader with proven results for driving change in corporate culture. She leads enterprise-wide D&I initiatives and training. Her efforts around Diversity & Inclusion help to elevate employee engagement, company reputation, attracting talent, fostering an inclusive culture, and retaining talent. Laura partners closely with all internal stakeholders to drive impactful results. She is privileged to lead all eight Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and two Employee Networks (ENs) at Trinity.
Senior Director, Emergency Management Division
Mary Carlson Bis is the Senior Director of the Emergency Management Division within the Safety & Security Department and brings more than 25 years of experience in directing emergency management and business continuity programs. In her current role, Mary is the senior executive accountable for Federal, state, and local preparedness, response and recovery planning and directing resources to ensure the company has an organizational management structure to support the continuance of the mission when major disruptions occur. This includes leading the deployment of Amtrak’s Incident Response Team and the company’s response to Federal investigations during the enactment of the Rail Passenger Disaster Family Assistance Act. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, Mary also serves as the Co-Chair of Notch 8, Amtrak’s women and allies employee resource group.
Notch 8 offers women and employees of Amtrak the opportunity to reach their full potential, while powerfully contributing to Amtrak's strategic goals and objectives through professional and leadership development, networking opportunities, teamwork and collaboration
Prior to joining Amtrak in 2013, Mary spent ten years in Washington, D.C. leading programs for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and others. Mary served as a Public Information Officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and served private sector clients as a crisis management expert at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. Mary earned a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Iowa and is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative. Mary currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Business Women in Leadership program at Florida International University and was named to Railway Age’s Women in Rail 2022 honorees. Amtrak is accredited by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.
Director of Sales - Energy
Shundrekia is currently Director, Customer Delivery Operations at Trinity Industries based in Dallas, TX. She joined the company in 2019 and leads the Energy, Construction Products, and Metals Customer Delivery team accountable for managing the end-to-end service delivery and post-delivery relationship experience for railcar purchases.
Prior to joining Trinity, Shundrekia worked at BNSF Railway for 20+ years in a variety of roles. In her last position at BNSF, she was Director Public-Private Partnerships leading cross-functional development and execution of infrastructure projects positioned for public funding, managing relationships with public agencies and other stakeholders for BNSF’s TransCon Corridor.
She has served on regional, state freight advisory committees, and on the National Academies Transportation Research Board Freight Rail Transportation Committee. She is an experienced leader with extensive knowledge in rail, surface transportation, infrastructure financing, sales, supply chain management, customer service, and public-private partnerships (PPP).
Shundrekia graduated from the University of Kansas with a double major -Bachelor of Arts in Communications & Human Resources and from National Louis University with a Master of Science Business, Management & Marketing degree. She resides with her family in Keller, TX.
President & CEO
Kari Gonzales is President & CEO of MxV Rail, the world’s premier rail research advisory. Since taking the role in 2021, Kari has spearheaded the company’s transformation from TTCI to MxV Rail.
Kari has been a part of MxV Rail, a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads since 2000, advancing from a student intern to a research engineer, and then later assuming the role of Vice President and CFO. She leads the MxV Rail team with the advantage of 20 years’ service and experience in the rail industry. She is a mechanical engineer by training, holds an MBA, and was recognized by Progressive Railroading as a “Rising Star.” She was the inaugural candidate for the MxV Rail Railroad Exchange Program, spending a year at BNSF Railway’s Texas headquarters as a visiting professional. In addition, Kari serves on a number of community and industry boards.
Vice President - HR
A&K Railroad Materials
Lynda Malmborg is the Vice President of Human Resources at A&K Railroad Materials, Inc., a leading supplier of railroad track and related materials. Lynda has more than 30 years of experience leading HR strategy and operations in various industries that include real estate, legal, aviation, and internet technology. She has a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Columbia College. Lynda is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and a veteran of the United States Air Force.
Chief Data & Analytics Officer
Kristina Chambers is the Chief Data and Analytics Officer for TTX Company in Chicago. TTX Company provides railcars and related freight car management services to the North American rail industry. She is responsible for developing and implementing TTX's enterprise data strategy and data platform modernization in the cloud.
Kristina has twenty-five years of experience in data science & technology, operations, and finance in Europe and the U.S. in diverse verticals such as transportation, reinsurance, energy, and manufacturing. She holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Senior Director of Business Development
Kimia Khatami began her career in transportation with Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, Nebraska where she held various positions in the marketing and sales department. Since 2015, she has been with Anacostia Rail Holdings, a short line holding company with locations all around the United States. She spent the first six years at their subsidiary railroad, Pacific Harbor Line, and in 2021, was promoted to their corporate headquarters in Chicago. Her experience includes managing large scale commercial projects, bridging partnerships between the private and public sector, business development, and environmental regulatory compliance. She is a strong supporter of efforts to promote diversity within the railroad industry and active in organizations which provide mentorship to students interested in pursuing careers in the industry. Kimia’s efforts have been recognized throughout the years, including being named a Progressive Railroading Rising Star in 2019 and being nominated for the 2017 Association of American Railroads John H. Chafee Environmental Excellence Award for her efforts in ensuring PHL’s environmental compliance in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Ms. Khatami also serves on the executive committee of several non-profit industry organizations and will be completing her master’s degree in Transportation and Supply Chain from the University of Denver in June 2023.
Senior Manager Strategy
David joined CN in 2011 holding multiple sales and marketing roles until shifting to the newly-formed Strategy Team in 2020, tasked to work with the leadership team to develop a long-term strategic growth plan for the company. David’s extensive experience in the asset-based logistics industry includes ocean container, freight consolidation, trucking and rail services. He won a CN People’s Choice Award for Innovation in 2021 for his efforts as part of a carbon reduction team and is a lead committee member of CN’s Women’s Employee Resource Group, as he believes strongly in fostering equal opportunity and fairness for all within the workplace and society. David holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Toronto Metropolitan University. As a dedicated husband and father of two, he believes in the balancing work and play, and gives back to the community as a volunteer within youth sport associations.