Past Annual Meeting 2021 Presentations & Speakers

Annual Meeting 2021

Drones and Railway Corridors: Legal Risks and Mitigation Strategies When Using Railroad Property For Novel Purposes

                                                          Matthew Hammer, Daley Mohan Groble

Matthew J. Hammer represents railroads in litigated matters including eminent domain, right-of-way acquisitions, licenses, utility crossings, regulatory issues, and zoning and land use applications and has a particular interest in preemption issues. 
Matthew has litigated matters in state 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. As a former Illinois Assistant Attorney General, Matthew has a wealth of experience with government agencies, regulatory commissions, and hearings before agencies and administrative law judges. 
Matthew serves as Secretary of the Law Section of the American Railway Development Association.  He has been named a Rising Star in Illinois from 2017 through 2019 by Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers and in 2019 he received an award for Outstanding Defense Verdict at the Jury Verdict Reporter Awards for Trial Lawyer Excellence.

David Christophersen, Skyrights Holdings LLC

David Christophersen is the founder and CEO of SkyRights Holdings LLC, a company focused exclusively on the commercialization of railroad air rights for drone delivery applications. SkyRights is pioneering the concept of 'Drone+Rail Intermodal' enabling railroads to offer LTP (less-than-pallet) freight services to compete with the trucking industries LTL (less-than-truckload) model. SkyRights believes railroad air rights are extremely undervalued property that will drive new revenue for railroads while providing safe, efficient and low carbon emission solutions for drone transport. 

Before founding SkyRights in 2018, Christophersen held management, value engineering and business development positions 

at Disney, Verizon and OpenText. He earned a B.A. in Computer Science from the State University of New York at Oswego, holds an FAA Part 107 drone operator certificate and is a licensed franchise consultant.  

Asset Management, Through Condition-Based Monitoring

Hark Braren, BNSF 

Mr. Braren has over 15 years of experience at BNSF Railway.  His career with BNSF began as a Process Improvement leaderapplying lean and six sigma methodologies to help improve network fluidity and operational efficiencies.  For the past 13 years, he has been focused on equipment health monitoring for all BNSF’s traffic; focused on safetywhile improving rolling stock reliability.  In his current role, he oversees BNSF’s Condition Based Maintenance organization including its wayside detector network and 24 / 7 Equipment Operations support desk.  Hark has a bachelor’s of Science degree in Aviation Maintenance Management from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and holds FAA, Airframe and Powerplant certificates, Six Sigma Black Belt and Certified Reliability Leader. 

Development of Industrial Parkland

Ray Oujesky, Kelly Hart

J. Ray Oujesky has over 25 years of experience as a senior corporate in-house and private practice attorney providing results-oriented, trustworthy client representation. His real estate practice and experience includes: land use, zoning and permitting representation at municipal and state level; real estate negotiation, document preparation, management and closing; commercial contract negotiation and preparation; litigation and dispute resolution; oil and gas contract and lease negotiation and preparation; corporate entity formation and management; government relations and lobbying; construction contract negotiation and preparation; and financial document negotiation and preparation.


Ridin' With Biden: Policy Changes And New Grant Opportunities In The Rail Industry

Adrian Arnakis, Association of American Railroads

Adrian Arnakis is responsible for leading the rail industry’s government affairs and advocacy efforts in Washington. Prior to joining AAR in 2018, Arnakis served for more than 13 years in the United States Senate where she established herself as a policy leader and trusted advisor on transportation and infrastructure issues. Most recently, Arnakis served as the deputy staff director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation under Chairman John Thune (R-SD). In this role, Arnakis oversaw the operation of one of the Senate’s most productive, bipartisan committees, which during her tenure secured the enactment of more than fifty laws – most recently the 5-year FAA Reauthorization. Arnakis also served as the committee’s counsel and policy director of surface transportation and oceans from 2013-2015 where she led the team that wrote, negotiated and secured enactment of the bipartisan Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Additionally, Arnakis served as a key aide on aviation issues for the Senate Commerce Committee as well as legislative counsel in Senator Thune’s personal office.

               Tom Lynch

Tom Lynch is Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA).  He is a lawyer with nearly 30 years of transportation-related background involving federal and state governments, as well as private sector experience.  Prior to coming to ASLRRA, represented clients as lobbying, served as a senior staffer in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and represented the cargo tank truck sector of the trucking industry at its national trade association.  In addition, before attending law school, he led sales and marketing efforts for an industrial services company that served the bulk transportation industries.  


So You Want To Build A Railroad

Kevin Keller, HDR, Inc.

Mr. Keller is a Vice President and Senior Professional Associate with HDR Engineering, Inc. in their Kansas City, Missouri, office.  He has over 30 years of management, planning, environmental and engineering experience in the freight and passenger transportation planning sector. Kevin has served as Program Director on large, multidiscipline programs for transportation clients throughout North America and Central America, and has worked with numerous public and private sector clients.  He has managed the planning, permitting, engineering design, and evaluations of new rail and roadway alignments, transportation corridors, new maintenance facilities, new structures, logistics planning, and fleet management.  Mr. Keller has managed public benefits analyses, economic development studies, industrial development studies, feasibility studies, and environmental assessments for numerous federal, state, and private transportation clients.   As a result of his knowledge and expertise, Kevin is recognized as an expert in the areas of freight and passenger transportation planning and development, and has been invited to assist federal agencies with the development of the National Rail Plan.      


Mr. Keller is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA), a past President of the American Railway Development Association (ARDA), Chairman of the TRB Committee AR040 (Freight Rail) and Chairman of the Board of the US-Panama Business council (USPA).  Mr. Keller also is a member of the ASLRRA Environmental Committee.   

Environmental Update

Robert Fronzak, Association of American Railroads

Mr. Fronczak is currently Assistant Vice President Environment & Hazardous Materials for the Association of American Railroads in Washington, DC. His responsibilities include the development and coordination of railroad industry environmental policy. Before joining AAR, he was a Senior Program Manager with Radian Corporation in Milwaukee, WI. He spent six years with the Milwaukee Road Railroad in Chicago, IL as Director of Environmental Engineering. He has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Valparaiso, University, and a Masters in Business Administration from DePaul University. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Illinois.