State of Transit

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 at the HUB 757, Suffolk, Virginia

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Transit CEO Panel

Keynote Address

Chamber Leadership Panel

Closing Remarks

Event recap


Maurice A. Jones

Maurice A. Jones is the Founder and CEO of MJConnects, a professional and business services firm that provides customer acquisition, fundraising, economic mobility and other services to government, nonprofit and for-profit clients. Prior to launching MJConnects, Maurice was the CEO of OneTen, a coalition of leading chief executives and their companies who are coming together to upskill, hire and promote one million Black talent over the next 10 years who do not yet have a four-year degree, into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement. During his time at OneTen, the coalition grew to more than 70 companies and partners with links to more than 100 talent development organizations. The efforts of OneTen and its member companies led to more than 65,000 people hired into fulfilling careers with another 19,000 promoted into such positions.

Before OneTen, Maurice was the President and CEO of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), one of the country’s largest organizations supporting projects to revitalize communities and catalyze economic opportunity for residents. During his time at LISC, Maurice led the company’s effort to expand its footprint into the southern part of the country. He grew the company’s annual investment from a billion dollars to over two billion dollars. He also increased the economic development investments of LISC throughout the country, including launching a subsidiary company dedicated to small business lending. During his tenure, LISC diversified its partnerships with multiple industries, including healthcare, technology, sports, retail and advanced manufacturing.

He previously served as Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia where his primary job was to leverage Virginia’s assets to solidify its position as the preeminent place to live, work, and conduct business.

Maurice also served as Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from April 2012 through January 2014. As the second most senior official at HUD, Maurice managed the Department’s day-to-day operations, the annual operating budget of $40 billion, and the agency’s 8,900 employees.

Before his appointment at HUD, Maurice was President of Pilot Media, the largest print and digital organization in Hampton Roads, Virginia. He joined Landmark Media Enterprises, owner of Pilot Media, in 2005, serving as Vice President of the Landmark Publishing Group. In 2006, he became the Vice President and General Manager of Pilot Media, and in 2008 he became President and Publisher of The Virginian-Pilot.

Maurice was also the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services and Deputy Chief of Staff to then-Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner. Other positions include: Special Assistant to the General Counsel at the U.S. Treasury Department, Legal Counsel to the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and Director of the Fund during the Clinton Administration, Associate Attorney at Hunton & Williams in Richmond, Virginia, and Partner at Venture Philanthropy Partners.

Maurice received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Hampden-Sydney College and attended Oxford University in England on a Rhodes Scholarship, where he received a Master of Philosophy in International Relations. He later received a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia.

Transit Leaders Panel

William E. Harrell President and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit, has led the organization on a mission to connect Hampton Roads with transportation solutions that are reliable, safe, efficient, and sustainable, in keeping with the agency’s vision of reshaping itself into a progressive mobility agency that promotes prosperity across Hampton Roads through collaboration and teamwork.

Under Harrell’s leadership, the agency secured the first ever regional funding source of dedicated revenue created by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020. He has spearheaded cost containment and improved efficiency. These efforts lie at the heart of improving the overall customer experience because a healthy, well-run agency will have the resources to invest in a sustainable future.

He often says, “While you may not ride public transportation, chances are you depend on someone who does.”

Harrell’s current undertaking is developing and implementing the 757 Express – a network of 13 local and regional bus routes that will offer 15-minute service frequency and a consistent service day for the region.

Harrell came to HRT from the City of Chesapeake, Virginia’s second largest city, where he was city manager. Harrell oversaw the day-to-day operations of an operating budget of more than $900 million and over 4,000 employees. Harrell is formerly a Credentialed Manager with the International City/County Management Association. With over 35 years in public service, he has served in various leadership roles including chief administrative officer in Richmond, Virginia, and assistant city manager in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Suffolk, Virginia.

He is the Treasurer of the Virginia Transit Association, an active member of the American Public Transportation Association, and a regional board member of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. He has been selected for many years as a longtime community leader on the Inside Business Power List and continues to be an influencer in shaping the future of transportation in Hampton Roads.

Harrell earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in urban and regional planning from the University of Virginia. Additionally, he earned a second Master’s in public administration from the university. He and his wife, Dr. Johnna Carson Harrell, reside in Chesapeake.

He was appointed as CEO in April 2012.

Matthew Scalia serves as the Executive Director of the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority. WATA provides fixed route and paratransit services to a population of over 72,000 residents in an area covering approximately 75 square miles.

Mr. Scalia retired from the U.S. Army as a Colonel in March 2023 following a 27-year career as an Infantry Officer. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA. In his military career, he served as the garrison commander (city manager) of Fort Moore, GA, (formerly Fort Benning), and culminated his military career as the Deputy Director of the U.S. Army Installation Command – Training, Fort Eustis, VA.

Mr. Scalia lives with his wife and four children in James City County.

Maria Ptakowski has a Bachelor of Social Work from James Madison University; she has worked with Suffolk Transit for over ten years. Suffolk Transit began in January 2012 with Maria as the Transit Manager for the transit contractor Virginia Regional Transit. She was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the system and helped to grow Suffolk Transit into what it is today. In December of 2017, Maria became the Transit Manager for the City of Suffolk; in this role, she oversees the transit contractor and handles all things transit related for the City. She has helped Suffolk Transit grow from the two weekday routes it operated in 2012 to the six weekday routes it operates today and the five routes it operates on Saturday and the system will continue to grow in the coming years.

Emily Reynolds is the Vice President of Access Point Public Affairs, a boutique government and public affairs firm. She is adept at engaging legislators, lobbyists, and community stakeholders to advance legislative initiatives and issue advocacy campaigns. Mrs. Reynolds formerly worked as Executive Director of Governmental Affairs for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, a pro-business, nonpartisan organization. In her role at the Hampton Roads Chamber, she led efforts to advocate the views of the business community. Emily also played an active role in developing and promoting policy positions on critical issues affecting the business community, including education and workforce development, economic development, and technology infrastructure development and investment.

Prior to joining the Hampton Roads Chamber, she served as the Legislative Aide to Senator Steve Newman, President Pro Tempore, who also served as Chair of the Senate Education and Health Committee during the time she worked with the senator. From this role, she brings experience navigating the political and policy-driven development process within the General Assembly. In 2021, Mrs. Reynolds was featured as one of Virginia Business’ 100 People to Meet. She currently serves as the Secretary of the Patriotic Festival Board and is a member of the Hampton Roads Chamber Chesapeake Division Board. A native of Chesapeake, Mrs. Reynolds has been involved in her community and has established lasting relationships with local, state, and federal leaders.

Business Leaders Panel

Tom Cosgrove serves as the Manager for External Affairs for Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. In this position since 2014, Cosgrove has responsibility for the company’s external partnerships including state and local government affairs, community affairs, philanthropy, employee volunteerism, and external workforce development partnerships.

A native of Baltimore, Cosgrove earned his bachelor’s degree from University of Richmond. Prior to joining the shipyard, he spent more than ten years in Virginia government and politics serving on both regional and statewide staffs and eventually serving as the chief legislative and political advisor to the Virginia Senate Republican Leader.

Outside of NNS, Cosgrove is active in the community serving as the chair of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, a board member and past chair of the United Way of the Virginia Peninsula, and on the boards of Virginia State University, the Virginia Public Access Project, the Fort Monroe Foundation, the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, and the Tidewater Trails Alliance.

Bryan K. Stephens serves as President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber. He has extensive leadership and business experience. Prior to joining the Chamber he served as President and CEO of Kalmar in San Antonio, Texas; a $250M/year manufacturer of material handling equipment, after serving a distinguished 28 year career in the U.S Army, retiring as a Colonel. In the Army he served in a variety of progressive operational leadership and command positions. His last assignments include Infantry Brigade Commander and Division Chief of Staff, 10th Mountain Division (LI) Fort Drum, NY and Chief of Operations and Chief of Staff, Joint Warfighting Center, USJFCOM in Suffolk, VA. His military qualifications include, among others, Ranger, Airborne, Pathfinder, Air Assault and Joint Staff Officer.

Since taking the helm of the Hampton Roads Chamber, Mr. Stephens has lead the Chamber to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce “5 Star Accreditation”, an achievement only obtained by the top 1 percent of the over 7,200 Chamber’s in the Nation. In 2016 he was awarded the Chamber Executive of the Year for the Commonwealth of Virginia by the Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. From 2017 to 2022 Mr. Stephens was recognized as one of Inside Business’s Most Powerful People in Hampton Roads and from 2020 to 2022 Mr. Stephens was recognized on the Virginia Magazine’s 500 Power list for economic development.

Mr. Stephens is a graduate of LEAD Virginia, a gubernatorial appointee to the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority, and serves on numerous regional and state boards.

Terry Banez is the CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber. Prior to joining the Chamber team, she worked as Director of Trade Strategy & Operations for Newell Brands (Yankee Candle Company Division) leading over $300 million in business. Terry has led global and regional business development efforts in the US, Mexico and EMEA markets.

Terry has a strong background of regional community involvement including serving on the Board RVA757 Connects Megaregion Institutional Council, Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Hampton Roads Workforce Council, Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance, Media Mentors and many other community organizations.

Robert A. Crum, Jr. began his tenure as Executive Director of the HRPDC/HRTPO on July 1, 2015. He has over 39 years of professional community planning experience. In his role with the HRPDC and HRTPO, he is responsible for coordinating cooperation among the region’s 17 jurisdictions in areas such as regional consensus building; legislative affairs; and transportation, community, environmental, housing, economic and emergency management planning. Examples of current regional initiatives include the Regional Fiber Initiative, Regional Economic Development Sites Inventory, Regional Legislative Agenda, Birthplace of America Trail, and collaborating with HRTAC in the planning, prioritization, and coordination of over $5 Billion of interstate transportation improvements in the Hampton Roads region.

From 2008 to 2015, Mr. Crum was the Executive Director of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission and Transportation Planning Organization. His major accomplishments with the RRPDC included:

  • Formation of the Capital Region Collaborative, a strategic partnership between the RRPDC and the Greater Richmond Chamber
  • Preparation and approval of the community’s first regional Economic Development Strategy
  • Formation of a regional emergency management planning program
  • Regional investments in the Port of Richmond to leverage this facility as an economic development amenity

Prior to his work at the RRPDC, now called Plan RVA, Mr. Crum worked for 20 years at the Centre Region Council of Governments in State College, Pennsylvania, most recently as the agency’s Planning Director. Between 1988 and 2008, he was responsible for coordinating all aspects of the agency’s regional planning program including preparation and maintenance of the regional comprehensive plan and sewage facilities plan, and oversight for the Region’s transportation, land use, community facilities, housing, water resources and environmental planning programs. He completed planning and consensus building for a nationally recognized water reuse project and an award winning inter-municipal zoning effort.

Prior to his work in State College, he was Chief of the Planning Division for Indiana County, Pennsylvania where he coordinated county-wide community and solid waste planning activities.

Mr. Crum holds a bachelor’s degree from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in geography and regional planning. He and his wife Patty have been married for over 38 years and have two sons – Bryan and Brandon.

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Partner Testimonials

“Public transit plays an integral role in workforce development. Our workforce partners and the communities we serve rely on having strong public transportation. It’s a critical component to connecting people with jobs and moving the region’s economy forward.”
–Shawn Avery, Hampton Roads Workforce Council

“HRT and public transit have a tremendous impact on our fan experience here at the Tides. Both HRT Light Rail and Ferry services greatly assist in the ingress and egress process here at Harbor Park. These services provide an improved experience for fans by minimizing their wait time and reducing the amount of traffic flow around the facility.”
– Mike Watkins, AGM – Sales, Marketing and Fan Experience

“Nearly 500 Newport News shipbuilders use Hampton Roads Transit to commute to and from work every day, providing a viable transportation option that helps alleviate some of the parking challenges we experience at the shipyard.”
– Paul Lindgren, Newport News Shipbuilding Director of Facilities and Real Estate

“We appreciate the continued support WATA has provided William & Mary for over 20 years of transit service, and I especially appreciate your dedication to serve our community. All feedback has been very positive, and the drivers have been doing an exceptional job. We are proud of this partnership and unwavering dedication to support our students. Connecting our off-campus students with the main campus is an essential part of our transit system. WATA fulfills this mission well and has been doing so for many years. The institution would not be able to deliver many of its programs without the steadfast and consistent support made possible by a connected transportation system.”
-Bill Horacio, Director, Parking, Transportation & Tribe Card Services, William & Mary

“Since the opening of Lackey Clinic’s permanent building in 2003, we recognized the need for transportation to the Clinic. This initiative was worked on for many years and finally came to fruition in 2017. This has been a wonderful benefit not only for Lackey Clinic but also for the surrounding community of Lackey. Because our patients have lower incomes, they deal with several barriers to social determinants of health, such as affordable transportation. Without the WATA bus service routes to hospitals and community clinics, those who could not afford transportation would go without healthcare or would use local EMS and ambulance services for non-emergency needs because they couldn’t find an affordable way to get to appointments or the hospital. Having WATA transportation to Lackey Clinic allows our patients to get access to medical care, and it gives individuals seeking volunteer opportunities an option to ride the bus to the Clinic to give of their time.”
-Lackey Clinic

Community Partners