Top 40 Under 40 2014: Henrika J. Buchanan J.D.

Sept. 22, 2014
Henrika J. Buchanan J.D., Associate Administrator of Program Management, Federal Transit Administration

Henrika Buchanan is the associate administrator of the Office of Program Management at the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). In this role, she leads the FTA team that provides guidance to the public transportation industry for $8 billion annually in FTA formula programs, including the resources for Urbanized Areas, Rural Areas, Seniors & Persons with Disabilities, State of Good Repair, and Buses and & Bus Facilities grant programs.

She also manages more than $70 million annually in discretionary FTA funding programs. Together, these programs provide capital and operating assistance to maintain, improve, expand and rehabilitate the nation's public transportation infrastructure and enable communities to make investments in public transportation that enrich the quality of life and create jobs.

During the past two years, Buchanan led the office through an unprecedented period of productivity implementing MAP-21. This includes developing the implementation guidance for FTA grant programs, including the new Emergency Relief Program. Only a few months after the Emergency Relief Program’s creation in MAP-21, Hurricane Sandy caused the greatest destruction of public transportation assets in U.S. history. Buchanan coordinated the FTA headquarters office work delivering $10.4 billion in Hurricane Sandy Relief public transportation funding.

She coordinated the allocation of more than $5 billion in resources for disaster recovery efforts in record time, and her office designed a discretionary program that is currently being used to allocate an additional $3 billion dollars competitively for investments to make the nation’s transit infrastructure more resilient against future disasters. This Competitive Resilience program is the second largest discretionary grant program in the history of the Department of Transportation.

Buchanan is also responsible for managing FTA’s capital project management oversight program, coordinating with FTA’s regional offices to manage the portfolio of approximately 40 funded New Starts and Small Starts projects receiving more than $15 billion from FTA. FTA’s capital project management efforts in recent years have focused on working closely with project sponsors to identify and mitigate risks inherent in large projects, leading to notable increases in projects completed on-schedule and within budget.

Buchanan began her career in transportation in FTA’s Office of Communications and Congressional Affairs as a Presidential Management Fellow. A native of Hillsboro, Alabama, she received her B.A. and Master’s in urban and regional planning from Alabama A&M University. She received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

“As the associate administrator of Program Management at FTA, every day I have the opportunity to develop and implement federal transit programs that fund public transportation services and infrastructure that make a daily impact on the mobility of the country’s millions of transit riders. We are at an unprecedented time for public transportation as 2013 data from APTA notes a 37 percent increase in ridership from 1995 to 2013, with 10.65 billion passenger trips taken on transit systems last year.

“For many people, these services are often the only transportation options available for them to stay mobile and access to employment, healthcare, education, affordable housing, childcare and other everyday activities.  Even just 25 years ago, mobility was totally different and often people with disabilities, seniors and people with low incomes could not get around.

“More and more, we are seeing the positive benefits of mobility that help people contribute in the workforce, be healthier, be happier, and more connected in their communities. I go to work each day energized and excited because I know that the work my teams and I do results in people being able to get to jobs, the doctor, church, the grocery store, the classroom, visit friends and family, etc...

“And, we have much more we need to do in our rural communities and in areas where transportation gaps remain, so I know our work continues to be essential in enabling the reality of the American dream where everyone has a ladder of opportunity.”

“I am excited about the future of public transit in this country. In my job I get to see the importance of transit to communities across the country —from facilities in rural areas to large New Start projects — every day.  Additionally, I believe that the transit industry has demonstrated that transit investments can help drive economic growth.

“The impact of the billions of dollars in annual investment from both the public and private sector in transit is being demonstrated across the country. Whether it is through the construction of major capital projects or the development of workforce development programs that create employment opportunities and a skilled workforce, public transit projects are shaping communities and leading to economic growth and development. Continued and increased investment in public transit will create even more opportunities for people to access the workforce by funding needed transportation services and creating jobs.”  

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Nov. 26, 2018