Elizabeth Scanlon

Sept. 18, 2012
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) Grants/Financial Planner, Elizabeth Scanlon

Elizabeth "Liz" Scanlon came to HART from the Utah Transit Authority less than a year ago, bringing with her a mindset of knowing how to get things done. Her experience on successful projects at UTA gives her real credibility at HART, and she immediately increased the new agency's technical capacity.

She has managed the FFGA roadmap and application process like a true taskmaster, helping the agency to demonstrate its ability to meet its commitments to the FTA, and to earn HART a $1.55 billion federal share for the $5.1 billion project.

Scanlon's personality is a true attribute in this assignment. She is not afraid to speak her mind and hold her own agency accountable, but her upbeat and positive attitude also seems to have the agency staff performing at a higher level than ever before. She has demonstrated an astounding display of leadership. 

Scanlon has been a guiding force in aiding the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to achieve its goal of obtaining a full funding grant agreement in support of the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. Scanlon has worked tirelessly to support three letters of no prejudice, thus allowing critcal work to begin in key sections of the project prior to obtaining the FFGA.

She has also been the key point of contact with the FTA and Program Management Oversight Consultant. In her role she has worked seemlessly in an interdisciplinary setting ensuring all key milestones are met in HART's path to a FFGA. She has built strong relationships with the HART organization, the city and county of Honolulu, the state of Hawaii and the FTA. She has brought invaluable insight into alternative contracting approaches to address potential risk and has been a strong advocate of the same. 

She has managed HART's rail project's preparation for FTA Full Funding Grant Agreement with seasoned professionalism and total organization of all level of tasks. She manages the FFGA Roadmap schedule that contains nearly 100 tasks.

Scanlon knows when to push and when to wait. She works daily with FTA staff from Washington to the Region 9. The 20-mile elevated rail project has many difficult and challenging moments but Scanlon rises up to whatever it takes.

Scanlon worked tirelessly to interface with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) staff, FTA's Project Management Oversight Contractor (PMOC), HART staff and consultant staff in submitting the overabundance of documents that FTA requires. Her understanding of technical information enables Scanlon to perform quality reviews of the documents prior to submitting them to FTA. She has also taken the lead in preparing requests for FTA Letters of No Prejudice and monthly meetings with the PMOC. Her cheery disposition, enthusiasm and patience enable her to work well with others; she thrives on challenges and is willing to take on additional work.

Scanlon came to the Honolulu Rail Project from the Salt City Transit Project. She has been the main force in getting the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) documents togther for the application to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). She is dedicated, hard working and makes sure that everybody within HART meets their obligations. 

Scanlon's strongest asset is her ability to effectively communicate and to motivate her team to strive for excellent quality. She is integral to the success of several federally funded major capital transit projects. Her body of work includes working through all levels of the development process from inception to completion, including leading the planning and permitting efforts of more than 20 transit passenger stations and park-and-ride lots, which included numerous presentations to political bodies such as planning commission.

Her ability to communicate is key to her building relationships with stakeholders to create a trusting working relationship.

Falling into Planning

"I feel really lucky to be where I am today. I was graduating college, and, of course, hoping to find a job so I applied for an internship with the regional transit provider. I remember being really excited when they called me for an interview. There was a fairly large group of folks on the panel, and they informed me that they were interviewing for multiple positions. About half way through the interview, something I said caused them to ask me, 'So, you aren’t a current student?'

"I remember saying, 'Correct, I just finished.'

"They told me that the intern program was only for current students, and since I graduated already, I was not eligible for their program. I was thanked and the interview ended. I was crushed!

"About two weeks went by and I received a call from one of the managers that had been in my interview. She offered me an internship position and said that she had gotten special permission from the general manager to hire me even though I was no longer in school.

"She said that she wanted a more mature, full-time person to work in her department and she felt I was a perfect fit; it was a wonderful turn of events.

"That internship was in the Capital Programs department and I ended up working a few months of extended time in their internship program, which led to a position with a transportation consulting firm. Everything in my career has stemmed from that opportunity, and it was the moment that I began the journey of working in public transportation.

"At that time, I had no designs on working in this field and I hold a communications degree, not a planning degree, so the entire field was relatively foreign to me. But, a door opened, and I had no idea at the time how much I would end up enjoying what I do. I have since gotten a master's in planning degree and I am thrilled to be part of shaping communities through the transportation planning processes.

"Over my career, I have been given incredible opportunities, and I’ve never forgotten those moments."

A Challenging Career

"I like the challenges, the fast-paced dynamics and collaboration. I like having an opportunity to look critically at problems or challenges with our communities, and trying to find solutions. It’s all about providing people with maximum choice to move about their world and to have a better quality of life. At the macro level, it sounds fantastic and nearly idealistic. But, at the micro level, it is incredibly challenging to peel away the layers of the problem, then develop a set of solutions, then work through the public and agency coordination, and finally to implement. I love process because, for me, it’s a clear map from A to B to institute something important for us all to use to have a better life."

Outside the Office

"Our work tends to be busy and stressful, so I like to keep things simple in my personal life. I love having a good meal with my husband or hanging out with friends and family.

"I am an avid reader! I love to just spend hours with a great book, and get lost in someone else’s world.

"I recently have taken up stand-up paddling, and living in Hawaii offers amazing opportunity to be in the water and part of nature. The ocean is wonderfully humbling and powerful, but calming and peaceful. Paddling for me is a true escape from the hustle-bustle. So, a good book on the beach combined with some paddling is perfection!"

Top 40 Under 40

"I am very touched by the nominations; it is remarkable to read others' thoughts about what I contribute to our agency, and it really fuels the fire to continue to work hard and be an important part of this wonderful team. I am really proud to be in Honolulu, and to be part of building Hawaii’s first rail transit system. I am very blessed."