2021 40 Under 40: Diana Levy

Nov. 23, 2021
Diana Levy, Director, Replacement, Expansion & Capacity Projects, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
  • One word to describe yourself:  Resourceful
  • Alma Mater: George Washington University, University of World Economy and Diplomacy
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent: The Cosmonauts Metro Station in Tashkent, Uzbekistan – my hometown. My earliest childhood memories of daily commute with my parents to be dropped off at the kindergarten are tied to this station.
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent: Taking the Yellow line train across the bridge over Potomac during early morning commute. You get the unforgettable views of Washington D.C.’s iconic monuments and the city’s grandeur.

Roughly 10 years ago, Diana Levy began her career with WMATA in the capital delivery group as a project coordinator where she was immediately identified as a high performer. Within five years, she was tapped to be the director of one of WMATA’s most critical capital programming and planning areas. Currently, Diana is the director of WMATA’s replacement, expansion and capacity projects in the Capital Delivery Office. Here she leads a dedicated team responsible for several noteworthy and high-profile efforts, including bus garage reconstructions, heavy repair and overhaul facility expansions and new WMATA rail station construction.

In 2020, and with the FTA’s concurrence, WMATA awarded contracts to reconstruct its oldest bus operations and maintenance facilities under a new delivery method: Hybrid Design+CMAR. Levy led a multi-disciplinary team of engineers, architects and environmental professionals through the planning, development and pre-construction phases. Through Levy’s leadership, this facility is targeted to be certified LEED Platinum when construction is complete.

One of the most unique projects in Levy’s portfolio is the Northern Bus Garage, also known as Decatur Street Bus Barn. Built circa 1907, it is designated as a D.C. landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. When Levy joined the project in early 2020, it was behind schedule, over budget and did not have support from state and local governments. Without Levy’s intervention, the project may have been plagued with even more serious delays. She rose to the challenge by providing a common vision that local community members and government agencies could unite under. This paved the way for the project to move forward and advance design development that would satisfy all historical preservation requirements; meet WMATA’s zero-emission goals; and be responsive to public mobility and equity needs. Levy reset the project trajectory and it is now on track to be one of WMATA’s first LEED certified electric bus facilities.

Levy’s tenacity, attention to detail and innovative approaches have not gone unnoticed. In early 2021, she was awarded WMATA’s Sustainability Champion award for leading sustainable design, engineering and construction for three high priority facilities: Rail Heavy Repair and Overhaul Facility, and the Bladensburg and Northern Bus Garages. It’s because of Levy’s leadership and commitment to the transit industry that these three facilities will meet LEED. Her trailblazing efforts will result in three new facilities that will operate more efficiently, have a quicker return on investment and support the overall welfare of employees through natural lighting, improved air quality and access to green space.   

What do you enjoy most about your job?

WMATA and transit in general is not just a job or a career for me, it has become a calling and passion. Being part of one of the largest transportation network servicing the public and being allowed to work with dedicated, talented people that inspire and motivate you on daily basis is a privilege and joy for me. I always know my mission and that it serves almost everyone I know. Beyond this, it would be the future looking nature of the industry. What you do and decisions you make every day have long lasting impacts: envisioning, planning and designing to innovate our future state. No day is alike and new challenges let me grow both personally and professionally.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

I have been fortunate to be involved in several transit infrastructure projects, contributing to the clean, safe and efficient future of transportation in the DMV region. From the development of the Metro’s first electric bus maintenance and operations facility to managing construction of a new Metro rail station in Virginia I am grateful for all these experiences, the dedicated and hardworking people I have met and learned from, and proud of what I have been able to contribute.

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise

Ask questions and listen: challenging status quo and “we’ve always done it this way” position is what drives progress, helps discover creative solutions and brings people with different perspectives together.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro)
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