2024 Section Secretary Nominees

We are looking forward to another great year at ARDA! The Section nominees for the 2024-2025 year are listed below.


Technology Section Secretary

Michael Schmedt, Transportation Geospatial Solutions Director, Senior Professional Associate - HDR, Inc.

Drawing on over 20 years of industry experience, Michael serves as HDR’s Transportation Geospatial Solutions Director leading a team of 40 GIS professionals in developing innovative geospatial solutions for a wide variety of transportation projects and clients. Based in Orlando, FL, he utilizes his strong technical expertise on the development of data-driven decision support systems and transportation data management, analysis, and visualization tools for supporting the complete infrastructure project lifecycle. Michael has a MS degree in Geography from the University of Cologne, Germany, and is a certified Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP).

Technology Section Vice Chair


Allison Yanites, Environmental Services | Standardization, Automation, Digitalization - Arcadis U.S., Inc.

Allison Yanites is a digital expert working within the Arcadis Environmental Services group, specializing in standardization, automation, and digitalization strategies. Allison collaborates closely with clients to advance digital solutions and services that add value across the life cycle of their infrastructure, property, and environmental assets. These solutions include innovative data collection and reporting tools that comply with regulations and standards, comprehensive ‘end-to-end’ digital workflows for property inspections and remedial site investigations, software platform integrations, automated reporting, 360-degree virtual asset data models, advanced 2D and 3D visualizations, and understanding of emerging and evolving technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Across all projects and use cases, Allison is focused on identifying and implementing digital solutions that facilitate user-friendly and interactive experiences for project teams, owners, and stakeholders to improve engagement, collaboration, understanding, and safety. Allison holds a Masters in Geosciences from the University of Arizona (2005) and a Bachelors in Geology from Hamilton College (2002).


Economic Development Section Secretary


Michael Flynn, Senior Director - Rail Advisory Group - Cushman & Wakefield


Michael started his career in commercial real estate in 2001 and has experience working on executive teams at large corporations and as an advisor to his clients as a real estate broker. Before Cushman & Wakefield, Michael previously held leadership roles in corporate real estate at Time Incorporated and Morgan Stanley. In his current role, Michael founded the Cushman & Wakefield Rail Advisory Group to address the needs of rail focused corporations, end users and asset owners and assist them with their specific rail needs. The C&W rail advisory group specializes in site selection, project management, specialty rail served facilities management, easement classification and mark-to-market monetization to help companies align portfolio and financial objectives. Michael has also compiled specialty software and a marketing platform that addresses the needs of rail served end users and investors.


Law Section Secretary

Lisa Altukhova, Attorney - Mohan Groble Scolaro, PC

Lisa concentrates her practice on a full range of litigation, defending Class I railroads, corporate clients and small businesses in commercial litigation, the Federal Employers Liability Act, civil ligation, toxic tort claims, as well as labor and employment claims. Prior to joining Daley Mohan Groble, Lisa externed for the Worker’s Compensation Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office where she developed a great understanding of personal injury law, as well as complex medical issues. Additionally, Lisa’s background in business development gives her a deep insight into comprehending the needs and difficulties faced by companies when it comes to legal matters. Lisa earned her J.D. from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, graduating cum laude in 2022. Lisa is proficient in verbal and written Russian and Ukrainian. While living in Ukraine, Lisa served as a volunteer for a local animal shelter.  

Law Section Vice Chair

Matthew Hammer, Attorney - Mohan Groble Scolaro, PC 

Matthew J. Hammer is a partner at Mohan Groble Scolaro in Chicago, Illinois. He represents railroads in negotiated and litigated matters involving eminent domain, prescriptive easement and adverse possession, right-of-way acquisitions, utility crossings, licenses, easements, infrastructure and construction projects, state property tax and assessment disputes, and zoning and land use applications and has a particular interest in preemption issues.

Matthew litigates matters in front of regulatory bodies, state courts, and federal courts throughout the State of Illinois and across the Midwest and has won jury trials in both state and federal courts. Matthew also has defended his victories in the courtroom at the appellate level.

Matthew serves as Co-chair of the Law Section of the American Railway Development Association.


Real Estate Section Secretary

Justin Mahr, Director of Real Estate – Contracts & Public Projects - Watco

Justin Mahr is a seasoned professional currently serving as the Director of Real Estate - Contracts & Public Projects at Watco, a position in which he exercises leadership and expertise to steer the strategic direction of the real estate division. In this pivotal role, Justin is responsible for orchestrating the efforts of both an internal team of real estate managers and external consultants specializing in real estate management. His primary focus lies in all-encompassing responsibilities related to revenue generation and the meticulous management of property assets, with a specific emphasis on utilities, public projects, signboards, and special projects.

Drawing on a wealth of experience in the railroad real estate sector, Justin's proficiency is concentrated in the intricate domains of utilities and public projects. His comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities within these sectors equips him to devise and implement effective strategies that align with Watco's broader objectives.

Justin commenced his professional journey in the railroad industry with Union Pacific Railroad, where he cultivated valuable experience and laid the groundwork for his subsequent ventures. Transitioning to RailPros marked a significant juncture in his career, offering him the opportunity to contribute to the development and management of the Norfolk Southern pipe & wire program. This role further refined his skills in navigating the dynamic landscape of railroad real estate.

In March 2021, Justin made a strategic move to Watco, assuming the role of overseeing their pipe, wire, property access, and public projects department. This transition underscored his commitment to taking on new challenges and contributing his wealth of experience to the growth and success of Watco.

A distinguished alum of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Justin earned his bachelor's degree in Pre-Law in 1998. This educational background has endowed him with a strong analytical and strategic mindset, qualities that continue to shape his approach to the complex challenges inherent in the field of real estate and contracts. As a Director at Watco, Justin remains dedicated to driving innovation, fostering collaborative partnerships, and navigating the evolving landscape of railroad real estate with an unwavering commitment to excellence and sustainable growth.


Environmental Section Secretary


Carl Akins, Director Environmental and Hazmat - CPKC

Carl Akins currently works for the Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) and leads the emergency management and hazmat team for Southern US and Mexico. He has enjoyed working in the railroad industry for the last 24 years with most of it leading environmental, hazmat, and industrial safety. Carl is from Shreveport, Louisiana, and graduated from Green Oaks High School; Louisiana Tech (B.S. Engineering); and Southern Methodist University (M.S. Environmental Science, and M.S. Facility Management).

His career started in the semiconductor industry where he served as a process engineer, environmental specialist, and facility maintenance manager. He has traveled through Mexico during the past ten years and has enjoyed the people, food, and culture. The pinnacle of his accomplishments, he admits, has been to develop and implement ESH programs that have created sustainable environmental practices and efficiencies for the railway company.

Carl enjoys watching his two boys play sports, bicycling, golfing, and volunteering at his church. He also seeks to treat others, as he wants to be treated.