For the past year, Metro Transit planner Natalie Westberg studied and visited with the next generation of transit professionals in what she calls one of the most valuable experiences of her professional life: the American Public Transit Association’s (APTA) Emerging Leaders Program.

The program brings together 35 promising public and private transportation leaders from around the nation to hone the skills, knowledge and networks needed for advancement. Participants learn from industry leaders while participating in a program that provides opportunities to interact in all areas of the field. The participants also learn from a talented cohort of professionals, their classmates. It’s hoped group members will become lifelong friends and professional resources for each other.

The curriculum includes skill-building workshops, roundtable sessions, online collaboration, visits to transportation agencies around the country and access to industry leaders through a national mentoring program.

Tough but rewarding

Westberg says the Emerging Leaders Program was one of the most demanding years of her career, and one she wouldn’t trade for anything.

“It was such a great opportunity,” she said. “I’m managing a team for the first time right now, in a temporary role, and I gained so many great insights into how to lead through the challenges of the pandemic. My national mentoring group and local mentor, Michelle Allison (Metro’s Deputy General Manager), supported me in learning how to manage stress, be clear in my decision-making, and grow confident in my own voice. The program curriculum exposed me to the transit world beyond planning and gave me perspective on issues ranging from technology, safety, workforce development, and electrification – and, through the capstone project, I was able to partner with other transit professionals to research and present on how transit agencies are collecting data on harassment.”

The capstone project for Westberg’s team, “Who Feels Safe on Your System?” was presented at the APTA Mobility conference in Columbus, Ohio, and will be available later this month as a recorded webinar on APTA’s website.

Metro’s commitment to employee growth

“Natalie’s participation is part of Metro’s commitment to ensuring opportunities for employee development,” said Metro’s Assistant General Manager for Strategy and Partnerships, De’Sean Quinn. He urged potential job candidates interested in transit careers to consider applying to the agency.

“In addition to bus operators, there is an incredible range of other positions – across communications, employee services, engineering, facilities, finance, law, marine, outreach, project management, rail, safety, vehicle maintenance and many more,” Quinn said.

Please visit to view the wealth of exciting career opportunities at Metro.