An open letter to Metro staff


Metro is a big organization with a big job: accommodating more than 1.3 million boardings safely and efficiently each day. Understanding heavy time constraints, the Office of Extraordinary Innovation has been trying to figure out how to introduce ourselves to each of our colleague partners in an expeditious, but meaningful, way. This is one small attempt to tell you a little about us, en masse.


Dear Metro Colleagues:

The Office of Extraordinary Innovation (OEI) is now up and running. We have spent the last several months recruiting staff, learning high level functions of Metro, and getting a modest budget established, all while meeting with representatives from private sector organizations who want to share their innovations with us.

During this time, we have also met many of you in a variety of meetings and settings. We learned from you about the work that you do, the challenges you encounter and your aspirations. Every interaction uncovers more that we need to learn and understand. So far, we’ve learned that Metro has an extraordinary wealth of talent, knowledge ideas and innovation. If we can unleash that energy and work together towards a common goal, we can do revolutionary things for Los Angeles County.

So who are we?

  • Joshua Schank is our Chief Innovation Officer. Joshua came from the Eno Center for Transportation, a transportation policy think-tank in Washington, DC where he served as the President and CEO.
  • Nadine Lee is the Deputy Chief Innovation Officer. Nadine came to Metro after managing a bus rapid transit project in Denver, Colorado, which increased its ridership by 45 percent in the first four months of operation.
  • Colin Peppard is our Innovation Manager for Outreach and Strategic Relationships. Colin spent the last five years working on Capitol Hill as a transportation aide for a U.S. Senator, where he helped to write several federal transportation bills.
  • Marla Westervelt is a Senior Transportation Planner specializing in policy research. Marla was a Senior Policy Analyst for the Eno Center for the last several years.
  • Glendora Walker is the Executive Secretary for the Office of Extraordinary Innovation. Glendora previously supported the Rail Operations staff under Bruce Shelburne.

In addition to the full-time, permanent staff of OEI, we also have two Metro fellows who will be with us for a year:

  • Tham Nguyen is a Transportation Planning Manager who just completed Metro’s Active Transportation Strategic Plan.
  • Nolan Borgman is a Transportation Planner who spent the last two years supporting the Metro CEO’s Office.
  • Last, but not least, we have had two part-time academic fellows Cat Callaghan and Emma Huang, both graduate students at UCLA.

More importantly, what are we? What does OEI do, anyway?”

OEI has one major goal: help Metro improve mobility in Los Angeles County through new ideas and strategic thinking.

We have three specific ways that we intend to tackle this goal:

  1. Overseeing development of the Metro Strategic Plan.
  2. Opening Metro’s doors to innovation through Unsolicited Proposals.
  3. Serving as both a place to develop and test ideas throughout Metro.

The Metro Strategic Plan is a new approach to thinking about how Metro can create and maintain a seamless, world-class transportation system that better serves all L.A. County residents, whether they choose to walk, bike, take transit or drive.

OEI is working with staff across the agency, as well as partners and customers, to rethink what it means to improve mobility for 10 million people. The Strategic Plan will allow Metro to hone our business strategies in all areas of planning and implementation by setting a clear vision for the future, developing the roadmap to guide Metro in achieving our goals, measuring our progress and ensuring that our agency can adapt to the changing needs of our customers and L.A. County residents, and the way they travel.

In addition to the Strategic Plan, Metro is seeking innovation from inside and out. Internally, Metro already has a tremendously innovative staff. But sometimes your best ideas need some extra attention, or a little push to get them over the finish line. OEI is eager to understand your challenges, your ideas, and your insight to improve the way we do business.

OEI also meets regularly with private sector organizations to explore potential opportunities to deliver new products and services that will improve mobility and the customer experience. Our Unsolicited Proposal Policy allows us to consider these ideas, test them, and evaluate what works best.

Understanding the challenges you face from day to day will help OEI guide the private sector towards only those ideas that will help you. It can also help us direct our focus towards the problems you are looking to solve.

We understand that you might have great ideas for Metro but the path to implementing them appears insurmountable. Or that you have been pushing for an improvement for some time but need a little help getting it over the mountain. We are here to help. Feel free to reach out to us on anything you think can improve Metro services, and we’ll do our best to offer our resources.

It is our role to take risks, challenge precedent and encourage thinking outside the box. Even so, our commitment to you is to also be transparent, accessible, and interested in learning how we can collaboratively advance Metro’s efforts to improve mobility.

Together, we can make meaningful change for Los Angeles County.

We look forward to working with you!

Office of Extraordinary Innovation