Top 40 Under 40 2013: Selene Faer Dalton-Kumins

Sept. 13, 2013

Selene Faer Dalton-Kumins, a strategic leader in the 12th year of her public transit career, achieves results through the development of strong, diverse teams and the creation and implementation of logical, lasting business process improvements and innovative policies.

Dalton-Kumins is director of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Office of Program Oversight, which oversees more than $8 billion of annual Federal support to public transportation systems throughout the United States. Since her 2012 appointment she spearheaded the development of and implementation of a redesigned and streamlined Triennial Review Program affecting approximately 600 transit grantees. Incorporating substantial feedback from the public transit industry, the new forward-looking program is being implemented this year with an improved capacity to help grantees preempt problems. Other benefits include greater attention to high-risk areas and reduced need for multiple oversight reviews of a grantee within a fiscal year.

Dalton-Kumins led the redesign and implementation of FTA’s annual internal grantee oversight assessment, implementation of the streamlined State Management Review Program, and initiated the development of enhanced performance metrics and standard operating procedures for program oversight.

Dalton-Kumins joined FTA in 2011 as deputy director of the Office of Civil Rights where her actions simplified the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance Review process, resulting in a 2011 closing rate 600 percent greater than previous years. She initiated and launched ADA complaint closure deadlines that exceed the U.S. Department of Transportation’s external civil rights complaints resolution goal. In addition to training her team on the effects of transit operations considerations in the implementation of civil rights requirements, Dalton-Kumins furnished extensive technical assistance, operational suggestions, and best practices information to several transit agencies’ management teams.

Beginning her transit career as the ADA communications outreach specialist at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), she took on progressive responsibility in policy development, advising operational modes, design review, training operations personnel and strategic communications. After two months as paratransit eligibility manager, in 2007 Dalton-Kumins was appointed director of MetroAccess, Metro’s paratransit operation.

As director of MetroAccess, Dalton-Kumins helmed the country’s sixth-largest ADA paratransit operation and Metro’s largest services contract, providing more than 2.4 million passenger trips annually to eight jurisdictions in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., with a $98M budget and 599-vehicle fleet supported by 1250+ field and call center employees, an automated scheduling system integrated with interactive voice response, Web interface and AVL/GPS systems. Under her strategic leadership and innovative operations management, MetroAccess instituted a percentage-based customer no-show policy, seamlessly launched door-to-door service developed with community involvement, relocated the operations control center without service interruptions, and implemented robust safety reporting metrics. Dalton-Kumins collaborated in the development and implementation of demand management initiatives to encourage maximum customer independence through the use of fixed-route transit, reserving paratransit resources for those unable to use alternative modes of transit.

She was selected for the 2009 Eno Transit Executive Seminar and has presented at six American Public Transit Association (APTA) conferences.

“I value the opportunity given me through my work in the public transit industry to pursue a consistent mission focused on the provision of safe, efficient, equitable and reliable service to our nation’s diverse public transit riders.

“As someone who is drawn to leading change, I enjoy the dynamic nature of our industry that continually demands the rapid development and deployment of creative solutions.

“I especially appreciate that my position allows me to leverage my operational knowledge, as well as policy development and contract management experience, to ensure our federal oversight programs include proactive tools and technical assistance to best position our grantees to remain in compliance and meet their commitments to their customers.”