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Session Descriptions

Scroll down for full session descriptions.

See the schedule-at-a-glance here.

October Session Descriptions Coming Soon

Driving Equity in Rural Communities

This engaging panel presentation delves into the intriguing origin story behind the drive to enhance accessibility in rural communities through innovative transportation technology, while showcasing research that seeks to bridge gaps and revolutionize mobility options for those in underserved areas.

  • Frank Douma, Researcher at the University of Minnesota

  • Myrna Peterson, Accessibility Advocate and Founder of Mobility Mania

goMARTI - Minnesota’s Autonomous Rural Transit Initiative

Experience self-driving in Minnesota’s nature! Hear from the MnDOT project manager offering an insightful deep dive into the one-of-a-kind mobility solution and collaborative efforts driving the evolution of the goMARTI initiative, revolutionizing rural mobility and transportation 

  • Thomas Johnson-Kaiser, Project Manager for Minnesota Department of Transportation

Workforce Innovations in Rural: Career & Technical Education in Rural while connecting with goMARTI, Customized Training, and AspireNorth

Learn about how Minnesota North College (our newly merged comprehensive community and technical college with six campuses in Northeastern Minnesota) is meeting our rural workforce needs, and transitioning to an outreach philosophy that meets students where they are, both personally and programmatically. ​​

  • Jessalyn Sabin, Academic Dean, Career and Tech Education for Minnesota North College

  • Trent Janezich, Executive Director of Advancement & Customized Training Solutions for Minnesota North College 

  • Claire Peterlin, Minnesota North College, Director of AspireNorth

Future-Proof YOUR Rural Community

In today's rapidly changing world, rural communities face unique challenges when it comes to staying competitive, innovative, and providing quality services to residents.  As creatures of habit, many times we end up doing our planning the same way every year. Rarely do we take the time to look outside our comfort zones to see what others are doing.  In this presentation we'll cover an approach to innovating and future-proofing including learning more about the changing T.I.D.E. and applying that approach to show how rural leaders can future proof their communities for years to come!

  • Tammy-Meehan-Russell, President and Chief Catalyst of The PLUM Catalyst

Rural Transportation Equity Innovations


  • Natalie Villwock-Witte, Associate Research Professor/Research Engineer with Western Transportation Institute (WTI) at Montana State University (MSU) (September 21)

  • Katie Turnbull, Senior Research Fellow with Texas Transportation Institute (October 26)

Bridging the Digital Divide: Mobility-as-a-Service in Rural Communities

Elliott will present on the work MnDOT has been doing in partnership with FTA to expand digital trip planning, booking, and payment services for rural and small urban transportation services.

  • Elliott McFadden, Greater Minnesota Shared Mobility Coordinator for MNDOT (October 26)

Rural Transportation Systems and Community Engagement 

Hear shared best practices and activities from Minnesota's Regional Transportation Coordinating Councils that further the vision of a state in which all residents have reliable, affordable, accessible, and safe access to their communities.

  • Tom Gottfried, Executive Director of the Minnesota Council on Transportation Access (October 26)

  • Beverly Sidlo-Tolliver, Principal Planner, RTCC Coordinator (October 26)

Rural Recharge: Bringing EV Charging Infrastructure to Rural Areas

Uncover the impactful strides being taken to extend Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Infrastructure to rural communities, as this presentation showcases initiatives aimed at fostering sustainable transportation and embracing green energy solutions in rural and underserved areas.

  • Jon Sullivan, Customer Programs and Services Representative Lead with Minnesota Power

  • Dan Cooper, Economic Development with Lake Country Power (October 26)

  • Megan Hoye, Chief Development Officer at ZEF Energy (October 26)

  • Robert Blake, Executive Director of Native Sun Community Power Development

  • Beth Kallestad, Principal Sustainability Planner with MNDOT (October 26)

Workforce Innovations in Rural: Electrifying and Connecting the Next Generation of Power Sports Technicians

Central Lakes College is working with Polaris Corporation and Power Lodge dealership to develop a unique on-the-job training opportunity for powersports technicians. The goal is to increase the number and diversity of powersports technicians in the field. Students obtain industry certifications as part of tehri academic training program and then have paid training opportunities with a local dealership to practice their skills and fill technician gaps in industry.  We are also developing an outreach campaign to attract more people into the field and to create more opportunities for underrepresented populations in this growing industry.​

  • Rebekah Kent Ehlebracht, Dean of Brainerd Career and Technical Education and Grants for Central Lakes College 

Catalyzing Development through Transportation: Resources for Your Local Transit Agency Partners

The Community Transportation Association of America and federally funded technical assistance centers support small transit agencies in their efforts to better serve their communities. These agencies serve as the backbone of economic development in your community - learn about the resources available to your local transit system and how they can support economic development in your area.

  • Erich Lange, Senior Program Associate with Community Transportation Association of America

  • Andrew Carpenter, Director of the National Center for Applied Transit Technology (N-CATT)

Building an Equitable Technology Ecosystem

Hear about how rural Minnesota is building a robust technology ecosystem, driven by targeted funding and innovative programs, and is addressing the critical infrastructure needs of rural areas, ensuring an equitable approach to remaining competitive and supporting sustainable growth in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

  • Whitney Ridlon, Community Development Representative with The Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation

  • Amber Lewis, Welcoming Community Program Coordinator | Lead for Minnesota Fellow with Northspan

  • Julie Hawker, Executive Director of Outsource Training Associates

  • Morgan Fritzinger, Co-Executive Director for Minnesota Tribal Contractors Council

  • Amanda Othoudt, Executive Director of Benton Economic Partnerships (September 21)

  • Vicki Hagberg, Regional Director of the Northland Small Business Development Center (October 26)

AV and Microtransit Insights and On the Ground Learnings from Deployments 

This session will cover how autonomy can benefit rural communities as well as highlights from the Grand Rapids Minnesota deployment. Goals, iterations, and progress will be discussed. 

  • Daisy Wall, Senior Director of Government Business, May Mobility

  • Mychael Mulhern, Director of Customer Success, May Mobility 

  • Meghan Grela, Autonomous Mobility Lead with Via (October 26)

Questions? Feedback? Want to Sponsor?

Reach out to Tammy Meehan-Russell

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