Jim Mathews - President & CEO
Jim Mathews brings 30 years of publishing and executive leadership experience in the transportation sector to his position as President and CEO of NARP. Before joining NARP, Mathews was Executive Editor of the Aviation Week Intelligence Network. During his 26-year tenure at Aviation Week, he cultivated the company’s digital strategy and led teams that twice won national awards for best news website.
Mathews served on the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee for six years, including two years leading the ACAC as chairman. He is a lifelong train traveler with a deep-rooted vision for a robust national passenger train network within the U.S. Mathews believes rail can be an economic engine in the communities it serves, a potentially transformative mode in an ever-changing transportation landscape and the most environmentally responsible way to meet the transportation challenges of the 21st century.
At NARP, Mathews has been leading a reinvigorated advocacy and legislative effort which has notched several wins in 2015: fending off six separate House attacks on Amtrak, taking a meaningful role alongside Senate staff in shaping the Senate's 2015 rail authorization and getting the rail bill included for the first time in 40 years in an overall surface transportation bill. Mathews spent the year travelling through more than a dozen states, building a coalition of significant grassroots support from mayors, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and local officials for investment in the Southwest Chief, new service east of New Orleans and critical Northeast Corridor infrastructure projects.
In addition to managing NARP, Mathews sits as a voting member of the Federal Railroad Administration's Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) and on the FRA's Hazardous Materials Working Group, and actively represents NARP as a member of the OneRail coalition of freight and passenger stakeholders in Washington, DC.
A former firefighter/paramedic, Mathews also continues to volunteer as a Squadron Commander and Search-and-Rescue Aircrew Member for the Civil Air Patrol in Virginia and a Water-Quality Monitor for the Citizen Science Institute in Ithaca, New York. Mathews is a native of Syracuse, New York.
Sean Jeans-Gail - Vice President of Policy
Sean Jeans-Gail works as Vice President of the National Association of Railroad Passenger. He joined the association in 2008 as Director of Communications. Previously, he served in the office of Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, then-chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
Jeans-Gail entered the transportation sector as a field director on a ballot measure campaign that successfully closed loopholes in Oregon’s land use-laws—laws originally enacted by renowned conservationist Governor Tom McCall. He has worked in the industry for over eight years, directing national grassroots advocacy campaigns and serving as a spokesman for transit and passenger rail.
A native of Portland, Oregon, he holds a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Oregon, where he was on the Dean’s list and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.
Bruce B. Becker - Vice President of Operations
Bruce has been a long-time NARP member and served as a Board Vice-Chairperson, before assuming his current NARP staff positiion in May 2015.
Bruce's interest in passenger rail and public transportation policy extends back to his formative years. His father, Bill, was a civil engineer for the New York Central System, Penn Central and Conrail, where he served his entire 39-year railroad career on the Mohawk Division between Albany and Syracuse, NY. Bruce's first train ride was at 3 months old; his solo ride was at age 5 and his first cab ride came on the NYC's Empire State Express at age 6! Since this time, Bruce has traveled extensively by rail across the US, Canada and abroad. He served as the volunteer President of the Empire State Passengers Association for 15 years concluding in 2016.
Bruce has worked in the Hospitality Industry his entire career, having served increasingly responsible management roles with restaurants, national hotel chains and numerous private country clubs. Bruce has a B.S. in Business Administration from Bryant University, Smithfield, RI.
Born in Utica, NY, Bruce now resides in beautiful Buffalo, NY with his wife Cindy and their two cats. Besides railroading, Bruce enjoys classical music, reading and cooking.
James Abram "Abe" Zumwalt - Director of Policy Research
A native of Seattle, WA, Abe is NARP's Director of Policy Research. He received a B.A. degrees in Economics and in French from Knox College (Galesburg IL) in 2011. While attending Knox, he was an intern with the Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association, in the fall of 2009. He also studied abroad in Besancon, France (January-June 2010) and served on the Student Senate and—alongside college president Roger Taylor—on the school’s Sustainability Committee.
His professional work since graduating has been as a wine salesman, and as a Tour Guide in Seattle’s Underground. He has a strong knowledge of railroading. A major paper he wrote at Knox concerned the economic history of transportation infrastructure in the 20th century, with a view to making “more accessible the epic socio-political struggle that played out between road and rail,” which caught the interest of BNSF officials and culminated with dinner aboard the BNSF business train. He was awarded grants to attend the 2010 and 2011 Railvolution conferences. He was an active member of both All Aboard Washington and NARP before joining as a staff member.
Ultimately Abe would like to find himself "at the interchange between railway operations, and property development."
Betsy Nelson - Director of Resource Development
As Director of Resource Development, Betsy will help NARP communicate to partners, transit agencies, elected officials, and other organizations on the importance of establishing rail and intermodal transportation for sustainable economic and population growth.
Betsy first experienced the benefits of passenger rail after she moved to Biloxi, MS in 2010 and attended Amtrak’s 40th Anniversary Celebration in Meridian in 2011. While at Meridian’s Union Station, it occurred to Nelson that rail infrastructure is a catalyst that drives the economy and creates jobs throughout the country. This led her to pursue a Master of Engineering from Texas A&M University, specializing in the equilibrium needed between planning, policy, and engineering for passenger rail. She has a master’s degree in Civil Engineering and Transportation Policy
In Betsy’s new role as Director of Resource Development, she will work to keep the lines of communication open between NARP, its members and partners in the rail industry—including suppliers, transit agencies and transportation officials—to promote passenger rail as part of a sustainable, connected America. It will be Nelson’s job to communicate how membership dues, donations, and sponsorships are making a difference. She will also help NARP represent passenger needs on Capitol Hill and beyond.
Prior to her time with NARP, Betsy spent time as a project manager and computer programmer with Western Geophysical, a legal assistant with the IRS, a travel agent with SATO and McDonnell Douglas, and a realtor in San Antonio, TX. Betsy is married to Col. (Dr.) Paul Nelson, USAF and together they have two children. She resides in Montegomery, Alabama.
Carolyn Cokley - Director - Customer Advisory Committee Services
As the Director - Customer Advisory Committee Services Carolyn will oversee the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee (ACAC), which was created in 1997 as a group of volunteers to help Amtrak understand and meet the needs of its riders throughout the country. For the past two decades, members of ACAC have been providing new and innovative ideas for how Amtrak can assist seniors and people with mobility issues, how to improve food options, and even proposed the idea of the Quiet Car, which has been a dramatic success. Carolyn will also be working to develop similiar Advisory Committees for other rail transit agencies across the country.
Carolyn's most recent position has been as a federal contractor with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she provided administrator and program management support in the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer. Previously, she worked for Amtrak as an Employee Engagement and Recognition Programs manager. During her tenure with Amtrak, Carolyn's responsibilities included managing the annual Employee Appreciation Day events, the Employee Service Awards program and the Educational Assistance Program. For more than a decade, Cokley also chaired the 30-person employee selection committee for Amtrak’s Presidents Service & Safety Awards (PSSA) program and managed the planning and execution of the annual PSSA event.
Carolyn lives in nearby Maryland and she is an accomplished photographer and artist.