New Transportation Director Karyn Romano brings a host of experience and know-how to MPC.
Karyn M. Romano, whose background spans municipal, state and federal approaches to transportation funding issues, has been named Transportation Director for the Metropolitan Planning Council.
New Transportation Director Karyn M. Romano
Romano, 35, comes to MPC from Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., where she was liaison between public agencies and the Rosemont-based civil engineering firm. Previously she served as local project coordinator for the office of Illinois State Comptroller; and before that, as transportation coordinator for a municipal council of more than 20 western suburbs.
“Karyn knows both the issues and the people behind the issues,” said MPC President MarySue Barrett. “We needed to expand our capacity if MPC is to help shape today’s crucial debate on transportation priorities for the region.”
That debate is fast approaching a “decision” phase, Barrett said, what with Chicago’s plans for expanding O’Hare International Airport, state land acquisition for a new south suburban airport and upcoming federal and state debates on transit, road and Tollway priorities.
Historically a staunch supporter of public investment in well-planned transportation systems, the Council makes recommendations after weighing costs and benefits, from job creation to environmental impact, from commuting times to preservation of open space.
As MPC’s transportation director, Romano will be reaching out to business and community leaders and to state and local officials, so that all perspectives are considered.
“The goal is to keep MPC in the lead—developing solutions to transportation concerns and issues in our growing region,” Romano said, adding that her focus will include “all modes that move goods and people.”
For example, MPC and Business Leaders for Transportation, an affiliated organization, are working to build consensus on intermodal freight investment priorities. The idea is to foster a better understanding of intermodal’s importance to the region’s economy and the need for a public/private effort to reduce both road and rail bottlenecks.
MPC’s Romano will work closely with Jim LaBelle, a senior advisor at Chicago Metropolis 2020, and with Rob Nash, manager of government relations at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, on a coordinated regional transportation agenda. The three organizations jointly chair Business Leaders for Transportation, an umbrella group that was instrumental in building support for Illinois FIRST, the state’s public works bonding program. LaBelle served for the past year as executive director of Business Leaders and will continue to play a key role as a strategist and spokesperson.
At Burke Engineering since early 1999, Romano worked with municipal clients in identifying and obtaining project funding for various public works projects.
Earlier, while working for Comptroller Loleta Didrickson, Romano staffed the Local Government Advisory Board and helped local officials file required state fiscal reports. She also helped develop reform legislation on TIF, or tax increment financing.
From 1994 to 1996, Romano worked at the North Central Council of Mayors, and before that, from 1988 to 1994, at the West Central Municipal Conference. It was at the North Central Council that Romano deepened her expertise in transportation matters, helping program $2 million in capital projects and lining up a $100,000 feasibility study on a proposed Metra commuter line that would circle western Cook County.
A 1988 graduate of Elmhurst College, Romano is also a board member and program chair of the Women’s Transportation Seminar, a professional development group. She resides in Elmhurst with her husband of 10 years, John Romano.
Founded in 1934, MPC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group of business and civic leaders committed to serving the public interest through the promotion and implementation of sensible planning and development policies necessary for a world-class Chicago region.
Karyn Romano can be reached at 312.863.6005.
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