Top 40 Under 40 2013: Jay Flint

Sunset Empire Transportation District serves Clatsop County, Ore., from the city of Astoria. Jay Flint has been the district’s executive director since July of 2011. When Flint was hired, the district was in financial straits. It was struggling to recover from a period of increasing debt and the resultant service reductions, public distrust and low employee morale.

In his relatively short tenure, Flint has managed to restore the district’s image with the public and with its employees. He has developed a restructure plan, a financial repayment plan and has become the transportation leader the riders need and deserve.

Flint comes from a history of public service with a financial background. He is also a member of the Oregon Bar Association and has immersed himself in organizations to help reconnect the district with other organizations by becoming a member of Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Astoria Parks & Recreation Department Board, Warrenton City Planning. He has also taken the leadership role in the Northwest Connector Project, an Oregon Department of Transportation project involving five counties, designed to provide intercity transportation between the city of Portland and the cities along the north Oregon coast.

Through his planning, Flint has begun to restore the routes and ridership numbers which had been the victims of the district’s previous financial difficulties. He continues to be instrumental in supporting the state’s effort to reconfigure its medical ride brokerage system and has developed a structured allocation process to ensure transparent and accurate accounting of the finances related to such operations.

Flint has restored employee confidence and morale by reorganizing staff to better utilize individual skills and talents and has helped his staff experience ownership of their responsibilities, leading to more efficient operations.

His working relationship with the district’s board of commissioners has been one of trust and cooperation. This has laid the foundation for continued and sustainable growth and service improvements to the transit needs of Clatsop County.

“I really enjoy building the connections and relationships that form the backbone of effective delivery of our transportation services most. It is essential to develop trust and understanding with our regional, state and federal partners in order to build a transit network that achieves the goals of all those affected by our services, from the passengers to the regional system.

“It’s very rewarding being in an industry that makes a difference for such a large amount of people. The need for transportation in one’s life is a fundamental part of being able to live and contribute to society and we provide that for so many. It helps to tackle many of the world’s problems, from access to work and appointments, to being a part of the solution for carbon emissions reductions.

“Leadership for the future of public transit will need to embrace a systems thinking approach, an understanding that all of our systems are part of a greater interconnected network that will rely on continuous improvement and innovation in order to address our ever congested world. As it relates to a smaller transit district like mine, it means more collaboration amongst neighboring agencies to maximize our limited resources.

“I’ve played soccer my whole life, including in college and in Poland while in the Peace Corps. I continue to play through much of the year on a local men’s league. I love the camaraderie and achieving something as a team, as well as being a great way to stay in shape. My team has been fortunate enough to win the league two years in a row!”