We All Have To Start Somewhere
January 17, 2019
by Joe Aiello | Northeast Field Coordinator
While the world is caught up in “the ten year challenge" - I’m waiting for next week’s MassDOT Rail Vision public hearing and MBTA’s Green Line Extension station design unveiling, I thought I would share a quick story of how I “got here” as I celebrate my one year anniversary on the DC (via Cambridge, MA) staff.
While I was attending Northeastern University for grad school (MPA ‘13), as a number of you know, I was able to meet and learn from Governor Michael Dukakis. He knew I had an interest in transportation through some of the transit-oriented development (TOD) papers I was writing that centered around regional growth and demand. I had a personal interest in the MBTA Green Line Extension and and was directly involved with developers through a non-profit neighborhood board position that I held.
After I graduated, I attended an APT annual meeting at Northeastern where Governor Dukakis was receiving an advocacy award (he even gave me a shout-out in his speech!) We caught up afterwards and he had asked me to come help out on a project he was involved in. The Governor took me under his wing and brought me into the fold for the North-South Rail Link Working Group as an Outreach Coordinator. While working on the NSRL, I met Tom Girsch (now a Vice-Chair for our association) who first suggested that I run for an open seat on the Rail Passengers Council.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Now I didn’t want to make this all about me, but everyone already knows the professional accomplishments of Michael Stanley Dukakis: State Representative, Governor, Democratic Nominee for President, Amtrak Board Vice-Chair, Professor, Champion for Public Transit…. the list goes on and on. But for me, personally, he is the man that helped get me to where I am today - working with such an incredible staff, fighting for such a worthwhile cause, and trying not to come up with so many random pop culture references to fill space in this blog.
Next week I will get back to writing about our advocacy work and important projects happening around the Northeast. For now, I just wanted to say thank you, Governor Dukakis, for all that you do and how you continue to inspire so many to follow your lead.
In my role here as Northeast Field Coordinator, I am hoping that I am able to reach the next generation of advocates the way Governor Dukakis was able to help me - to give them an opportunity find their voice.
"When [NARP] comes to Washington, you help embolden us in our efforts to continue the progress for passenger rail. And not just on the Northeast Corridor. All over America! High-speed rail, passenger rail is coming to America, thanks to a lot of your efforts! We’re partners in this. ... You are the ones that are going to make this happen. Do not be dissuaded by the naysayers. There are thousands of people all over America who are for passenger rail and you represent the best of what America is about!"
Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation
2012 NARP Spring Council Meeting