Tampa Takes on Transportation

2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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Transportation is the word on everyone’s mind in Hillsborough County these days. Our panelists will explain why, covering what the latest is on initiatives, legal issues, innovations and technology in the local transit arena. We have assembled the people who have incredible experience and perspective on transportation issues of all kinds in urban areas. 

Moderator: Michael English, AICP, Board Members, Tampa Downtown Partnership

Speakers: Christopher Cochran, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART); Tyler Hudson, ‘All For Transportation’ Chair, Gardner Brewer Martinez-Monfort PA; Chris Jadick, Director of Communications, Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA); Karen Kress, AICP, Tampa Downtown Partnership; and Justin Willits, Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART)

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Michael English Mr. English is a corporate leader in community planning and redevelopment. He has an extensive background in urban redevelopment, transit planning, and sustainable growth planning. His career includes real estate development, community and comprehensive planning, and eminent domain litigation support. Michael is a committed community leader who in addition to other boards, serves on the Executive Committee for Tampa Downtown Partnership. He served on the Florida Redevelopment Association Board of Directors for six years.

Michael has also served as the Associate Director of the Florida Center for Urban Design & Research, as an associate professor on the faculty of the School of Architecture at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and as the Executive Director of the redevelopment association in the Channel District. He authored one of the first strategic plans for the Channel District and wrote several CRA and master plans for redevelopment districts in Tampa and surrounding areas.

Michael also led an effort to acquire Tampa’s Historic Union Station from CSX Railroad. As a board member, he secured $3.5 million in local, state, federal and Amtrak funds and managed its restoration and renovation. He served as an 11-year board member of the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission, including five times as Chairman, the President of the Board and Chairman of Tampa Historic Streetcar, Inc., and board member for 16 years, and eight-time President of the Tampa/Ybor Railway Society.

Christopher Cochran Mr. Cochran is the Director of Service Development for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), where he oversees both the Planning and Scheduling divisions.  In this capacity, Mr. Cochran oversees several critical projects related to capital planning and operations.  Prior to joining HART, Mr. Cochran worked as a Senior Planner at the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority in St. Petersburg, where, most notably, he managed the design and implementation of the Nation’s first P3 Transit partnership with Uber, to provide subsidized rides using public transit dollars to improve connectivity to transit stations.  Prior to HART and PSTA, Chris worked at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida during his tenure as a Graduate Student, where he graduated with an MS in Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in Geomatics.

Chris Jadick Mr. Jadick joined TBARTA as Director of Communications this past April.  Prior to that he had a long career in television news, including News Director at WFTS ABC Action News, Executive Producer at WTVT Fox-13, and Director of Sports for Bright House Sports Network.  Among his journalism honors are three regional Emmy awards as a news producer and news writer.  Chris was also VP of Communications and Marketing for Tampa-based Salem Enterprise Solutions.  A native of Ohio, he earned bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Telecommunications from Kent State University and a master’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of S. Florida.  He and his wife, Angie Moreschi, live in Lutz, with daughters Gia attending Duke University and Mica attending Boston University.

Karen Kress Ms. Kress is the Director of Transportation and Planning at the Tampa Downtown Partnership. Karen serves as the Director of Transportation and Planning at the Tampa Downtown Partnership. In her role, Karen manages all aspects of transportation, parking and access throughout Downtown Tampa. A true advocate for transit and transportation, Karen leads Tampa Downtown Partnership’s Transportation and Urban Design Committees, and its Parking Task Force. Karen has been successful in advocating for and bringing transportation options such as Coast bike share, ZipCar carshare, and Downtowner – an app-based electric ride service.

An avid biker, Karen helped found Tampa BayCycle (now called Bike Walk Tampa Bay), a regional cycling education, advocacy and encouragement campaign in 2007 and for over twenty years she has actively volunteered for the Sierra Club’s Inspiring Connections Outdoors program. Acknowledging her efforts, Karen was honored by the Suncoast Chapter of the American Planning Association Planner of the Year in 2014 and in 2017 she was appointed as a Planning Commissioner by the City of Tampa. She is also a certified League Cycling Instructor (LCI) and can teach bike safety classes.  Karen moved to Tampa in the mid-1990’s and is raising her three children with her husband in their own little slice of paradise on the Hillsborough River.

Justin Willits Mr. Willits joined the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in May of 2019 as a Senior Planner in the Service Development Department. He previously worked as a consultant for Tampa-based Tindale Oliver for 6 years. Prior to coming to Tampa, he supported the Transit Task Force planning a Bus Rapid Transit Network for Montgomery County, MD while completing his master’s in urban and Regional Planning from The University of Florida. His professional career has been focused transit operations planning, multi-modal Complete Streets and developing Transit Master Plans for various agencies throughout the southeast. His primary role at HART is overseeing day-to-day service planning, project development, the management of short-and-long-range planning, and inter-agency coordination to enhance multi-modal transportation systems throughout the region. He and his wife both prefer commuting by bike or transit, and he currently sits on the Livable Roadways Committee of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization.