Jeff Morales has a distinguished record of experience managing large and complex transportation issues and projects. As the former Director of the California Department of Transportation, Morales managed a $10 billion program and more than 23,000 employees working to build, maintain and operate the largest state transportation system in the U.S.
Morales is the past executive vice president of the Chicago Transit Authority where he spearheaded major reforms at the nation’s second-largest transit agency. His experience at the federal level includes serving as a member of President-Elect Obama’s transition team focusing on transportation, Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review, the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, the United States Department of Transportation and as U.S. Senate staff.
He most recently was Senior Vice President of Parsons Brinckerhoff, where he worked with transportation agencies across the United States and internationally to develop and implement major capital programs.
Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, Executive Director - Transbay Joint Powers
Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan leads and manages the $4.2 billion Transbay Transit Center Project— “the Grand Central Station” of the West. The Transbay Project consists of a new multi-modal Transit Center on the site of the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco, the extension of rail service from 4th and King Streets to the new Terminal, and a redevelopment area surrounding the new Transit Center. Featuring intercity, regional, and local buses along with commuter and future High-Speed Rail, the Project will ultimately connect 11 different public transit systems.
The Project will also create a 40-acre pedestrian friendly community of 2,600 new housing units, one third of which will be affordable. By providing the public with safe, convenient, and inexpensive public transit options, and by creating a livable community near transit, employment, shopping, and other urban amenities, the Transbay Project is a national model for the integration of land use and transportation planning. The Project is more than a vision; it is the first High-Speed Rail project to break ground in the US. Ms. Ayerdi Kaplan, a member of the State Bar of California, has served as the Mayor of San Francisco’s Transportation Policy Advisor and Project Director, the Vice-Chair of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain), Deputy Director on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board, member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Bay Area Governments, and on the Transbay Joint Powers Authority Board. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan is a member of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Urban Land Institute (ULI), and the Conference for Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). She is a Marshall Memorial Fellowship recipient and in 2002 was named San Francisco Tomorrow’s Unsung Hero for her work in transportation.
Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan was named one of the Most Influential Women in the Public Sector by the San Francisco Business Times, in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and was named the 2007 Employee of the Year by the Northern California Chapter of the Conference of Minority Officials. She has also been honored as Woman of the Year by the San Francisco Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar and named one of the Most Influential Latinos in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for her work on the Transbay Transit Center project.
Takis Salpeas, Senior Vice President, Director Global Rail - Parsons
Takis Salpeas is a rail executive with 30 years of progressive private- and public-sector experience in the development and implementation of large, complex public infrastructure projects, including more than 25 years of experience with all phases of transit system operations. In his role as Parsons’ director of global rail, Takis focuses on business development and is responsible for growing Parsons’ rail and transit systems business in markets around the world.
Takis has earned master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in both civil (MSCE) and systems (MSSE) engineering, along with a degree in economics from Athens University, and has published more than 70 professional papers, reports, and articles. A certified construction manager, Takis’ knowledge of engineering practices, economics, planning, and construction management, gleaned from both his extensive education and work experience, contributes to the successful implementation of projects and programs.
Before joining Parsons’ Rail and Transit Systems Division, Takis was responsible for managing $10 billion of rail transit planning, design, and construction in Washington, D.C. for the Washington Metro, San Francisco for BART; and Philadelphia for SEPTA.
Rod Diridon, Executive Director - Mineta Transportation Institute
Rod Diridon, Sr., has served as executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) created by Congress in 1991. Mr. Diridon has chaired more than 100 international, national, state and local programs, most related to transit and the environment. He frequently provides legislative testimony on sustainable transportation issues and is regarded by many as the "father" of modern transit service in Silicon Valley.
He was appointed by Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger, in 2001 and 2006, respectively, to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board, of which he is chair emeritus. After many years of public service in various capacities in California, Santa Clara County renamed its main train station "San Jose Diridon Station" in his honor.