Institute Personnel

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Rod Diridon

Hon. Rod Diridon, Sr.

Executive Director

Rod Diridon, Sr., has served as executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) since four years after its creation by Congress in 1991. Mr. Diridon has chaired more than 100 international, national, state and local programs, most related to transit and the environment. He frequently provides legislative testimony on sustainable transportation issues and is regarded by many as the “father” of modern transit service in Silicon Valley.

He was appointed by Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger, in 2001 and 2006, respectively, to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board, of which he is chair emeritus. He helped found, and is chair emeritus of, the High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee and the National High-Speed Rail Corridors Coalition of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). He also served as president of the national Council of University Transportation Centers. See more 

In 1992, he served as the chair of APTA in Washington DC, and for a decade as North American vice chair of the International Transit Association (UITP) in Brussels. In 1976, he chaired the state’s first successful half-cent sales tax for transit and subsequently chaired successful regional and statewide election campaigns for transportation bonds and financing.

In 1996 he founded and chaired the Transportation Research Board’s study panel, “Combating Global Warming through Sustainable Transportation Policy”. He advised the Federal Transit Administration and in 1995 chaired the Transit Oversight and Project Selection Committee for the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board. He has provided keynotes, especially for high-speed rail and sustainability, in more than 50 U.S. cities and for a dozen international conferences, and he has published numerous related articles.

He began his political service in 1971 as the youngest person ever elected to the Saratoga City Council. He retired due to term limits in 1995 after completing six terms as chair of both the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Transit Board. He is the only person to have chaired the San Francisco Bay Area’s three regional governments: the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Association of Bay Area Governments. He chaired nine successful rail system development project boards. Upon his retirement from public office, Santa Clara County renamed its main train station “San Jose Diridon Station.”

Mr. Diridon received a BS in accounting and an MSBA in statistics from San Jose State University and served two tours in Vietnam as a naval officer. In 1968, he founded the Decision Research Institute which was sold in 1977.

He has two successful children, Rod Jr. and Mary Margaret, and two grandchildren. He is married to Dr. Gloria Duffy, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and now president and CEO of the Commonwealth Club of California.


Karen E. Philbrick, Ph.D.

Deputy Executive Director and
Director of Research

Karen Philbrick was appointed as Director of Research in May 2009. Prior to joining the MTI team, Dr. Philbrick had been extensively involved in studies investigating Fatigue Management Planning and Best Practices in Responding to Critical Incidents in the Transportation Industry. As part of her research, she interviewed thousands of locomotive engineers and conductors as well as airline pilots, maritime industry representatives, and truck drivers. In addition, she interviewed New York City firefighters directly affected by the events of 9/11. This laid the groundwork for the successful completion of her dissertation, which examined a mathematical model for understanding Emotional Distress in Emergency Workers Following a Terrorist Attack. On an international level, Dr. Philbrick has contributed to the development of educational and training materials for intermodal specialists. Her work has formed a key portion of an international training effort and seminar, Innovations and Challenges in Intermodal Transportation, which has been delivered in the Philippines and Indonesia. She has been a member of the US delegation to the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Transportation Working Group since 2000. Dr. Philbrick earned a B.A. from California State University, Fresno, an M.A. from Columbia University, an Ed.M. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Denver.


Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Ph.D.

Director, National Transportation Finance Center

Asha Weinstein Agrawal is Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center at San José State University, and also an Associate Professor in the Urban and Regional Planning Department at San José State. Her research and teaching interests in transportation policy and planning focus on transportation finance, pedestrian planning, and transportation history. Her publications include “How to Pay for Transportation? A Survey of Public Preferences in California,” with Jennifer Dill, in Transport Policy; “Unraveling Equity in HOT Lane Planning: A View from Practice,” with Gian-Claudia Sciara, in the Journal of Planning Education and Research; and “Congestion as a Cultural Construct: The ‘Congestion Evil’ in Boston in the 1890s and 1920s,” in the Journal of Transport History. A complete list of her publications can be found at: Dr. Agrawal earned a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.


Frances Edwards, Ph.D.

Deputy Director, National Transportation Safety and Security Center

Frances L. Edwards, M.U.P., Ph.D., CEM, is professor and director of the Master of Public Administration program at San Jose State University. She is also Deputy Director of the National Transportation Security Center at the Mineta Transportation Institute of the College of Business. She has a master's degree in international relations, a master of urban planning and a PhD in Public Administration. She is a Certified Emergency Manager with over 20 years experience as a director of emergency services in California, including fourteen years in the City of San Jose and eight years in Irvine. For eighteen months she was acting assistant fire chief in the San Jose Fire Department. She has served as Budget Analyst for the Irvine, California Police Department and Assistant to the City Manager in Florham Park, New Jersey. Her most recent peer reviewed journal article is “Effective Disaster Response in Cross Border Events” in the Journal of Contingency and Crisis Management. She is co-author with Dan Goodrich of Introduction to Transportation Security, and with Friedrich Steinhausler of two books on terrorism in the NATO Science Series. She is also co-author with Dan Goodrich of a chapter in the ICMA Green Book Emergency Management, as well as co-authoring nine major publications for MTI, and chapters in professional books and over 30 articles. She is also the US Chair for the European Union's CAST project, creating a common curriculum for disaster response training for first responders. She provides ICS/SEMS/NIMS and Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan writing, review and training for Caltrans. She has been Director of the San Jose Metropolitan Medical Task Force and the San Jose Urban Area Security Initiative, and a commissioner on the California Seismic Safety Commission. Among her honors are Governing Magazine's Public Official of the Year 2002, San Jose Magazine's Power 100, and the Devoted Service Award Class A from the San Jose Fire Department.


Peter Haas, Ph.D.

Director of Education

Dr. Peter Haas has been a faculty member in the Graduate Transportation Management Program (GTMP) since 1999 and was appointed Education Director in October 2001. He earned a Ph.D. in Political Science (Public Policy and Public Administration) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985. A former director of the SJSU Master of Public Administration program, he also has consulted at every level of government and for nonprofit agencies. Dr. Haas has authored numerous reports and other publications covering transportation and is co-author of the text Applied Policy Research: Concepts and Cases. He also received a Senior Specialist grant from the Fulbright Foundation to teach and study in Latvia. Under his direction, enrollment in MTI’s Master of Science in Transportation Management program has increased significantly. This accredited 30-unit course is taught by two-way teleconference, originating in MTI’s classroom and reaching Caltrans district offices around California so students have easy access to the curriculum.


Brian Michael Jenkins

Director, National Transportation Safety and Security Center

As a leading authority on terrorism and sophisticated crime, Brian Michael Jenkins works with government agencies, international organizations and multinational corporations. He has directed MTI’s continuing research on protecting surface transportation against terrorist attacks. He is also a senior advisor to the president of RAND. From 1989-1998, Mr. Jenkins was deputy chairman of Kroll Associates, an international investigative and consulting firm. Before that, he was chairman of RAND’s Political Science Department where he also directed RAND’s research on political violence.

Mr. Jenkins has a B.A. in fine arts and a Masters Degree in history, both from UCLA. He studied at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico and at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala where he was a Fulbright Fellow and received a fellowship from the Organization of American States.

Commissioned in the infantry, Mr. Jenkins became a paratrooper and a captain in the Green Berets. He is a decorated combat veteran having served in the Seventh Special Forces Group in the Dominican Republic and with the Fifth Special Forces Group in Vietnam. He returned to Vietnam as a member of the Long Range Planning Task Group, receiving the Department of the Army’s highest award for his service.

Since then, he has served on numerous U.S. and international task forces investigating terrorist attacks. In1996, President Clinton appointed Mr. Jenkins to be a member of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security. He served as an advisor to the National Commission on Terrorism and has served on the U.S. Comptroller General’s Advisory Board.

Mr. Jenkins is the author of several articles, reports and books, including International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict and Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?.

Donna Maurillo

Donna Maurillo, M.S.

Director, ITT and Special Projects

Donna Maurillo spent many years in corporate communications for Silicon Valley high-tech companies before joining MTI. She owned a public relations consulting firm that served higher education, local government, high-tech, banking, land use, health care, and other industries. She also was an executive with public relations agencies, where she managed accounts in venture capital and technology. She has taught communications writing, published many magazine and newspaper articles, and writes a weekly food column. Her community involvement includes board service for several nonprofit agencies that support the arts and social services. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California Santa Cruz, where she delivered the commencement address, and she holds a Master of Science degree in Transportation Management and a Certificate in Transportation Security from San José State University.

Managers and Assistants

Jill Carter

Jill Carter

Executive Assistant, Office Manager

Jill Carter is well-experienced with business operations, applying her skills to MTI administrative management and support. She and her husband own a successful automobile repair facility, where she managed office operations, accounting, staffing, sales and general administration. As a librarian for the Campbell School District, Ms. Carter purchased books and equipment, instructed library skills, and organized the book fair. At Bank of America, she was a bookkeeper and teller. She is involved with the activities of her five children, including sports, fundraisers, PTA and classroom support. She attended San Jose State University, where she majored in liberal arts.

Frances Cherman

Frances Cherman


Frances Cherman has been responsible for the operation and management of the MTI website since July 2010. She also uses her InDesign and editing skills to assist with production of MTI publications. She has been a longtime business consultant, specializing in copywriting for the Web, direct marketing, sales collateral and packaging. Her clients have included some of Silicon Valley's most prominent names, including Apple, HP, Intuit, LegalZoom, Netflix, Wells Fargo, and many others. Before starting her copywriting business in 1987, she was copy director at Inmac. She holds a BA in English from California State University, Northridge.

Viviann Ferea

Viviann Ferea

Assistant, Education Program

Viviann Ferea was appointed to the position of Education Program Assistant (EPA) in August 2000. As EPA, Ms. Ferea is the primary contact for marketing and administration of the Graduate Transportation Management Program. She has many responsibilities, including ongoing recruitment for the Certificate and Masters program, revision and maintenance of the Education Program’s website, and course planning and scheduling. Ms. Ferea received her BS in business marketing from the University of California, Davis. Her studies in public relations and experience in media sales enhance her ability to promote MSTM’s continued growth and success.

Joseph Mercado

Joseph Mercado

Research Support Manager

Joseph performs a variety of project management tasks. He is responsible for page layout, proofreading, and distribution of all research publications; maintains the organization’s electronic database; and assists with administration and event management tasks. He oversees requisitions, contracts, and other operational documents. Joseph is currently studying Psychology at San Jose State University.

Donghoh Han

Donghoh Han

Student Assistant

Donghoh is a BFA Graphic Design major at San Jose State University. He assists with design projects for MTI research publications and events, and general office work.