Oct. 21, 2014, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. | Studio Theatre, Washington, D.C.

This fall the Washington Post launched America Answers, a new live event series featuring innovators in government, industry and start-ups tackling tough, national issues – like health, schools, jobs and aging.

Our first challenge: the commute. On Oct. 21, we showcased cities, towns and states with solutions for curbing congestion, cutting the cost of commuting, improving traffic safety and getting infrastructure projects done.

Featured speakers:

Robert Thomson, Dr. Gridlock
-Michael Hancock, Mayor of Denver
-Di-Ann Eisnor, Waze
-Matt Cole, Cubic Transportation Systems/NextCity
-Stephen Goldsmith, Harvard Kennedy School
-Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla Motors
-Ken Washington, Ford Motor Company
-Raj Rajkumar, Carnegie Mellon University
-Andrew Card, Former Secretary of Transportation
-Ed Rendell, Former Pennsylvania Governor
-David Plouffe, Uber
-David Cummins, Xerox
-Eric Meyer, Haystack
-Rachel Yoka, International Parking Institute
-Carlos Gimenez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County
-Stephen Gardner, Amtrak
-Ian Rainey, The Northeast Maglev (TNEM)
-Alison Taylor, Siemens Corporation
-Gary Lauder, Lauder Partners
-Chris Urmson, Self-Driving Car Project, Google [x]
-Vice President Biden
-Edward B. Rust Jr., State Farm
-Charles Marohn, Strong Towns
-Ryan Popple, Proterra
-Valarie J. McCall, City of Cleveland
-Rev. Benjamin P. Campbell, Richmond Hill
-Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta
-Carl Dietrich, Terrafugia
Wonkblog’s Emily Badger
-Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City
-Veronica Juarez, Lyft
-Matthew George, Bridj
-Anthony Foxx, Secretary of Transportation
Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles


Fix My Commute

Complete Coverage

About the speakers:

Biographies are provided to Washington Post Live by the speakers and are only edited for clarity and length.

Andrew Card

Former Secretary of Transportation

Andrew H. Card, Jr., the second longest tenured White House chief of staff, has served in senior government roles under three U.S. Presidents and is currently executive director in the Office of the Provost at Texas A&M University. Prior to his current responsibilities, Card, appointed in November 2000, served as chief of staff to President George W. Bush from January 2001 to April 2006. Prior to his tenure as White House chief of staff, Card managed the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Before that, Card was vice president of government relations for General Motors Corporation. Card served as deputy chief of staff and then as a Cabinet member for President George H.W. Bush as the 11th secretary of transportation from 1992 to 1993.

Mayor Kasim Reed


Mayor Kasim Reed is the 59th mayor of the city of Atlanta. He was elected to a second term on Nov. 5, 2013 and began serving Jan. 6, 2014. Prior to his election, Reed spent 11 years as a member of the Georgia General Assembly. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1998 and served two terms. From 2002 to 2009, he served in the Georgia State Senate, where he was vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. He is a former partner of Holland and Knight LLP, an international law firm.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez

Miami-Dade County

Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez was re-elected in August 2012. As the to Miami-Dade County’s chief administrator, he leads nearly 25,000 employees with an annual budget of over $6 billion. Prior to being elected in 2004 as the county commissioner for District 7, Gimenez spent 25 years in the City of Miami Fire-Rescue Department, followed by three-years as its manager.

Mayor Ralph Becker

Salt Lake City

Mayor Ralph Becker served as the Utah state planning coor­di­na­tor under Gov­. Scott Math­e­son and then went on to launch his own Salt Lake City-based con­sult­ing firm, Bear West, spe­cial­iz­ing in com­mu­nity plan­ning, envi­ron­men­tal assess­ment, pub­lic lands use and pub­lic involvement. Elected to the Utah State Leg­is­la­ture in 1996, Becker was a mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for 11 years. He served in leg­isla­tive lead­er­ship posi­tions for most of that tenure, includ­ing five years as House minority leader. In 2008, Becker became mayor of Salt Lake City.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell


Mayor Caldwell was managing partner at the law firm of Ashford and Wriston. In 2002, he was elected to the Hawaii State House of Representatives. He later became the the House majority leader. Mayor Caldwell was appointed managing director for Honolulu in January 2009, and served as acting mayor in 2010. He was elected to be the 14th mayor of Hololulu in November 2012 and assumed office on Jan. 2, 2013.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock


Mayor Michael B. Hancock became the 45th mayor of Denver in July 2011. He helped the city earn a spot as one of the most financially stable big cities in the country. With a focus on livable communities, his administration has aimed to zero-in on what each neighborhood needs for residents to lead a high quality of life, from great education to accessible housing options to safe streets.

Mayor Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles

Mayor Eric Garcetti was elected four times by his peers to serve as president of the Los Angeles City Council from 2006 to 2012. From 2001 until taking office as mayor, Garcetti represented the 13th District which includes Hollywood, Echo Park, Silver Lake and Atwater Village.

Valarie J. McCall

Chief of Government & International Affairs, City of Cleveland, Ohio

Valarie J. McCall was named chief of government and international affairs by Mayor Frank Jackson. In this position, McCall serves as the administration’s primary liaison to local and state governments, and all federal and international agencies and organizations. McCall oversees and administers the Jackson Administration’s appointments to internal and external boards and commissions. She is the mayor’s primary representative to several national organizations, including, but not limited to: the United States Conference of Mayors; National League of Cities and the National Black Caucus of Local and Elected Officials. She is also charged with assisting Mayor Jackson with the implementation of his policy initiatives designed to promote regional growth and cooperation, both nationally and internationally.

Chris Urmson

Director, Self-Driving Cars, Google[x]

Chris Urmson leads Google’s self-driving car program where the team’s vehicles have driven over a half million miles. Prior to joining Google, Urmson was on the faculty of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University where his research focused on motion planning and perception for robotic vehicles. During his time at Carnegie Mellon, he worked with house size trucks, drove robots around in deserts and served as the director of technology for the team that won the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge.

Edward B. Rust Jr.

Chairman and CEO, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Edward Rust joined State Farm in 1975, becoming CEO in 1985 and chairman of the board two years later. Rust is a member of The Business Roundtable and the Financial Services Roundtable. He serves on the Board of the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and is a Trustee for the Committee for Economic Development. He is past chair of the National Alliance of Business and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

David Plouffe

Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy, Uber

David Plouffe served as the campaign manager in the 2008 presidential election to President Obama, and as an outside advisor to the president once taking office. He served inside the White House as senior advisor to the president from 2011 to 2013. In September 2014, Plouffe joined Uber as senior vice president of policy and strategy. Plouffe has won plaudits for the use of technology and pioneering new applications, his message development and discipline, his management skills and his focus and competitiveness. In 2010, Plouffe was number 4 on Newsweek’s list of “New Thought Leaders,” and The Daily Beast named him as one of the “25 Smartest People of the Decade.” GQ named Plouffe in 2012 the third most powerful person in Washington.

Stephen Gardner

Vice President, Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Investment Development, Amtrak

Stephen Gardner currently serves as Amtrak’s vice president for Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Investment Development. Appointed to this role in November 2011, Gardner is Amtrak’s lead executive responsible for planning and managing the development of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor assets. Gardner previously served as vice president of policy and development at Amtrak, leading the planning, development and management of new and existing passenger rail partnerships with state governments, commuter agencies, and the private sector.

Ian Rainey

Senior Vice President, The Northeast Maglev (TNEM)

Ian Rainey is a senior vice president at the Northeast Maglev (TNEM), a U.S. company that’s working to bring Japanese Superconducting Magnetic Levitation (SCMAGLEV) technology to the Northeast Corridor. At speeds up to 311mph, SCMAGLEV aims to reduce the D.C. to New York travel time to less than one hour. Rainey began working on transportation issues in 2009, as part of a team competing for the Florida high-speed rail project between Tampa and Orlando. His earlier career included time at the U.S. Defense Department and serving in the U.S. Navy.

David Cummins

Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Parking and Justice Solutions, Xerox Corporation

David P. Cummins is senior vice president and managing director of parking and justice solutions for Xerox. He leads the line that operates smart parking solutions in over 30 U.S. cities as well as court solutions nationwide, including jury management and court case management solutions to local, state and federal district courts. Specifically in parking, the services provided include meter installation and operations, airport parking systems, parking ticket processing and overall systems integration for parking authorities.

Carl Dietrich

CEO/CTO, Co-founder, Terrafugia

Carl Dietrich is the co-founder of Terrafugia and has spoken internationally about the emerging modern flying car industry. He was selected as the 2006 winner of the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for Innovation. He was recognized by the Aero/Astro Department at MIT as one of sixteen exceptional graduates under the age of 35, and has also received “40 Under 40” awards from the Boston Business Journal and Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. He has been a private pilot since the age of 17.

Ken Washington

Vice President of Research and Advanced Engineering, Ford Motor Companies

Dr. Ken Washington is vice president of research and advanced engineering at the Ford Motor Company. Appointed in August 2014, Washington leads Ford’s worldwide research organization, overseeing the development and implementation of the company’s technology strategy and plans.
Prior to joining Ford, he was vice president of the space technology advanced research and development laboratories at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. In this role, Washington was responsible for leading an organization of approximately 700 scientists and engineers in performing research and development in space science and related R&D.

Di-Ann Eisnor

Head of Global Partnerships, Waze

Di-Ann Eisnor is head of global partnerships for crowd-sourced navigation and real-time traffic startup Waze. Founded in Israel, Waze was sold to Google for approximately $1.13 billion in June 2013. Prior to joining Waze, Eisnor was co-founder and CEO of Platial, The People’s Atlas — a collaborative, user generated, cartographic website which enabled people to map the things that are important to them. She also founded Community-Centric Marketing, an Amsterdam-based consulting firm helping brands and media companies work with social media; and Eisnor Interactive, an offline promotion agency engaged in building and communicating Internet brands. Eisnor serves on the board of Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, and speaks widely on mobile, location, advertising, connected cities and crowdsourcing.

Ryan Popple

CEO, Proterra, Inc.

As chief executive officer, Ryan Popple oversees all aspects of Proterra’s operations including sales, marketing, parts and service, logistics, communications and customer support. Before joining Proterra, Popple was at Tesla Motors and worked on the commercialization of its first-in-kind Roadster. He serves on the EV Strategic Council working on long-term strategic planning for the transition to clean vehicles. He also serves on the Transportation Committee of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group focusing on policy advisory at the federal, state and local level to advance clean energy and other transportation technology.

Veronica Juarez

Director of Government Relations, Lyft

Since joining Lyft in June 2013, Veronica Juarez has led efforts to enter and green-light more than 50 markets, many of which had previously been opposed to the idea of ride-sharing. She has over a decade of legislative experience at the federal, state and municipal level, including serving as the right hand to the longest-serving Texas State Sen. John Whitmire.

Matt Cole

Executive Vice President and Deputy for Strategy, Business Development & Diversification, Cubic Transportation Systems/NextCity

Matt Cole has held previous positions in multiple locations for Cubic, including European head of finance, vice president of worldwide financial operations, managing director of CTS Australasia and senior vice president of worldwide strategy and business development. He most recently framed the company’s NextCity strategy. NextCity is Cubic’s vision for an information-driven solution that integrates all forms of transportation to provide a suite of tools for travelers to choose the smartest and easiest way to travel and pay for their journeys.

Chuck Marohn

President and Co-Founder, Strong Towns

Chuck Marohn is the president and co-founder of the non-profit, Strong Towns. His background as an engineer and planner working as a consultant for dozens of cities and towns across Minnesota gives him an intimate understanding of how land use and infrastructure projects get designed, funded and built.

Matthew George

CEO, Bridj

Matt George is the CEO of Bridj which is the world’s first smart mass transit system. Bridj uses big data and network optimization to develop direct transit routes within a city to cut trip times in half without a car. In college, George worked as a critical care paramedic and was a White House Intern.

Diarmuid O’Connell

Vice President, Business Development, Tesla

Diarmuid O’Connell joined Tesla in 2006, and currently serves as the vice president of business development. He manages commercial relationships and all aspects of government affairs. Before joining Tesla, O’Connell served as chief of staff for political military affairs at the U.S. State Department, where he was involved in policy and operational support to the U.S military in various theaters of operation. Before his tenure in Washington, O’Connell worked in corporate strategy as a management consultant for Accenture, as a founder of educational software developer, Real Time Learning, and as a senior executive with both McCann Erickson Worldwide and Young and Rubicam. Over the course of his career, he has managed international operations, projects and marketing for such brands as Coca Cola, Gillette, and AT&T, among others.

Rachel Yoka

Vice President of Program Development, International Parking Institute

Rachel Yoka is a LEED accredited professional. She was editor and an author of the book “Sustainable Parking Design and Management: A Practitioner’s Handbook.”  She co-edited two earlier technical volumes for IPI, “Volumes 2 and 3 in the Parking 101 Series.”  In 2012 she was selected by the International Parking Institute as the “Parking Professional of the Year.” As the certification chair and board member of the Green Parking Council, she led the development of the first industry-specific rating system for sustainability in parking structures, released in June 2014.

Alison Taylor

Vice President, Sustainability for the Americas

Alison Taylor is vice president of Sustainability for the Americas. She is responsible for driving the sustainability program for the Americas and acting as a resource for sustainability initiatives across Siemens’ business sectors. Taylor was managing editor of the Denver University Law Review and is admitted to the practice of law in the District of Columbia and Colorado.

Eric Meyer

Founder & CEO, Haystack Mobile Technologies

Eric Meyer, 24, is the founder and CEO of Haystack Mobile Technologies, the Baltimore-based parking technology company founded in 2014. Haystack introduced its first product in June – a peer-to-peer street parking solution that allows drivers to exchange on-street parking in real-time, decreasing traffic congestion and emissions. Haystack was awarded Baltimore Innovation Week’s 2014 Best New Mobile Web Product by Technical.ly. Meyer was named a 2014 Maryland Innovator of the Year by the Daily Record.

Ed Rendell

Co-Chair, Building America’s Future

Former Gov. Ed Rendell worked with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to create an organization called Building America’s Future. The organization focuses on the need for a more significant investment in American infrastructure projects to ensure that America maintains its place as a global economic power. Rendell travels throughout the country speaking about this issue and currently serves as co-chair of the organization, along with Bloomberg and former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

Gary Laudgaryer

Managing Director, Lauder Partners

Gary Lauder is the managing director of Lauder Partners LLC, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm investing primarily in information technologies. He has been a venture capitalist since 1985, investing in over 80 private companies. He is also chairman of ActiveVideo Networks. He is the co-creator of the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Society with Laura, his wife. He is co-inventor of 12 patents.

Raj Rajkumar

George Westinghouse Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Raj Rajkumar, the George Westinghouse professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, serves as co-director for the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Vehicular IT Collaborative Research Lab and the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab. Rajkumar is the director of the University Transportation Center on Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation, which is funded by the Department of Transportation. His research includes autonomous vehicles, vehicular networks, FireFly wireless sensor networks, and resource kernels for guaranteed enforcement of throughput and timeliness in distributed real-time operating systems.

Stephen Goldsmith

Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

Stephen Goldsmith is professor of government and director of the Innovations in American Government program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Goldsmith currently directs Data-Smart City Solutions, a project to highlight local government efforts to use new technologies that combine data analytics with community input to reshape the relationship between government and citizens. His work at Harvard brings together representatives from major U.S. cities in support of quality of life innovations. Goldsmith previously served as mayor of Indianapolis. He has also served as the deputy mayor of operations in New York City.

Rev. Benjamin P. Campbell

Senior Pastor, Richmond Hill

Rev. Benjamin P. Campbell is senior pastor of Richmond Hill, an ecumenical Christian community and retreat center on Church Hill in Richmond. He is the author of “Richmond’s Unhealed History,” a book on the history of Richmond since before the European settlement, published in 2011. Previously, Campbell directed two non-profit corporations — the Richmond Urban Institute, and Home Base, Incorporated, a neighborhood-based low-income housing corporation. He currently chairs the Transportation Committee of the Mayor’s Maggie Walker Anti-Poverty Initiative and is a member of the Residential Community at Richmond Hill.