Personnel

Directors

Karen E. Philbrick, Ph.D.
Karen E. Philbrick, Ph.D.Executive Director

Karen Philbrick has led the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San José State University as executive director since 2014, after five years as MTI research director.

Prior to joining MTI, Dr. Philbrick shaped the field of transportation in a variety of roles, including as assistant director of the National Center for Intermodal Transportation at the University of Denver. She has been appointed three times by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation (Secretaries LaHood, Foxx, and Chao, respectively) to sit on the USDOT Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) and, since 2013, she has been elected to serve the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) in several roles, including President in 2018-19. Dr. Philbrick also has the privilege of serving as the President of the Research and Education Division (RED) of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), where she also sits on the ARTBA Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Dr. Phillbrick is part of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee on AP080 “Transit Safety and Security” and AR010 “Intercity Passenger Rail”, where she also serves as the research subcommittee lead.

Dr. Philbrick has received many prestigious awards for her leadership excellence and outstanding contributions to her field. In 2015, she received the CUTC Administrative Leadership award and received a commendation on behalf of the City of San José for excellence in transportation policy leadership. In 2016, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) named Dr. Philbrick a “Woman Who Moves the Nation,” and the SJSU Urban and Regional Planning Department presented her an award for significant contributions to faculty and students. In 2017, the Silicon Valley Business Journal named Dr. Philbrick 1 of the 100 Women of Influence in Silicon Valley, and most recently, she was recognized by the YWCA Silicon Valley with a 2018 Tribute to Women Award for her contributions to the field of transportation.

Committed to advancing women in the transportation industry, Dr. Philbrick also serves on the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) Foundation Board. Since 2016 she has been an appointed member of the advisory board for the Los Angeles Metro Office of Extraordinary Innovation (OEI), and in 2018 she joined the Executive Committee for the City and County Pavement Improvement Center, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. She contributes to her community as a part of the Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of San José, and as a member of the Rotoplast committee, which offers volunteer-based free medical services. 

On an international level, Dr. Philbrick has led 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, 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 holds a PhD from the University of Denver and an MA and EdM from Columbia University. She earned her undergraduate degree from California State University, Fresno.

Hilary Nixon, Ph.D.

Hilary Nixon, Ph.D.
Deputy Executive Director

Hilary Nixon has served as Deputy Executive Director for MTI since 2018. Previously, she served as MTI’s Director of Research and Technology Transfer. Dr. Nixon is an active researcher and educator specializing in transportation and environmental planning and policy. Her research focuses primarily on the factors that influence pro-environmental behavior, transportation finance, and the relationship between transportation and the environment. She has served as Principal Investigator (PI), co-PI, or project team member on over 40 research grants totaling nearly $2 million. 

In her roles at MTI, Dr. Nixon led or collaborated in the publication of 19 research reports and articles on a wide variety of critical transportation issues, including sustainability, livability, economic impacts of public transportation, women’s representation in the field, and more. In addition to her publications in collaboration with MTI, Dr. Nixon has presented at scores of academic and professional conferences, and her individual research has been published in highly-ranked international and peer-reviewed transportation and environment journals such as the Journal of Sustainability Education, the Journal of Public Transportation, the Journal of Environmental Management, the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, and many others. Her research has also been extensively covered in a wide range of popular media including: CityLab, Politico, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Washington Post, among others. 

Prior to joining MTI, Dr. Nixon spent 12 years as faculty in the Department of Urban & Regional Planning at San José State University (SJSU), where she held positions as Graduate Advisor, Associate Chair, and Department Chair, where she was responsible for long-term strategic and financial planning, accreditation, and teaching appointments for graduate and undergraduate programs. For her outstanding contributions and commitment to students, Dr. Nixon has been recognized with numerous awards and commendations, including Advisor of the Year in 2015, Outstanding Advisor Award in 2009, and both the Award for Academic Excellence and the Award for Planning Achievement by the American Planning Association 2008. Dr. Nixon also served on many departmental and university committees, including those for research, scholarship, and retention/tenure/promotion.

In her commitment to advancing transportation issues and supporting her community, Dr. Nixon has served a variety of roles at colleges, universities, and professional associations. Since 2018, she has served as Director of the Research and Education Division, of the American

 

Asha W. Agrawal, Ph.D.Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Ph.D.
Director, National Transportation Finance Center; Education Director

Asha Weinstein Agrawal is Director of Education and Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center. She is also Professor in the Urban and Regional Planning Department at San José State. Her research agenda is guided by a commitment to the principles of sustainability and equity: what planning and policy tools can communities adopt to encourage environmentally-friendly travel and improve accessibility for people struggling with poverty or other disadvantages? She has explored this question most deeply through two substantive areas, transportation finance policy and the travel behavior of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders. 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. 

 

Frannie Edwards, Ph.D.Frances Edwards, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, National Transportation Security Center

Frances L. Edwards, MUP, PhD, CEM, is professor and director of the Master of Public Administration program at San José State University. She is also Deputy Director of the National Transportation Security Center at the Mineta Transportation Institute of the College of Business. A Certified Emergency Manager with over 20 years experience as a director of emergency services in California, she has served as acting assistant fire chief for the San José Fire Department, as Budget Analyst for the Irvine, California Police Department, and as Assistant to the City Manager in Florham Park, New Jersey. 

Dr. Edwards’s most recent peer reviewed journal article,  “Effective Disaster Response in Cross Border Events,” was published in the Journal of Contingency and Crisis Management. She is co-author with Dan Goodrich of Introduction to Transportation Security and of a chapter in the ICMA Green Book Emergency Management, and with Friedrich Steinhausler of two books on terrorism in the NATO Science Series. She has also co-authored nine major publications for MTI, numerous chapters in professional books, and over 30 articles. 

As the U.S. Chair for the European Union's CAST project, she has created 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 José Metropolitan Medical Task Force and the San José Urban Area Security Initiative, and a commissioner on the California Seismic Safety Commission. Her honors include Governing Magazine's Public Official of the Year 2002, San José Magazine's Power 100, College of Social Sciences Austen D. Warburton Award of Merit, and the Devoted Service Award Class A from the San José Fire Department.

Dr. Edwards holds master's degrees in international relations and urban planning and a PhD in Public Administration.

 

Brian Michael JenkinsBrian Michael Jenkins
Director, National Transportation Security Center

As a leading authority on terrorism and sophisticated crime, Brian Michael Jenkins has directed MTI’s continuing research on protecting surface transportation against terrorist attacks for many years. He advises and collaborates with government agencies, international organizations, and multinational corporations. He has served on U.S. and international task forces investigating terrorist attacks, including as a member of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security under President Clinton, as advisor to the National Commission on Terrorism, and as 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. 

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

Mr. Jenkins is the author of several articles, reports and books, including International Terrorism: A New Mode of Conflict and Will Terrorists Go Nuclear? He has a BA in fine arts and a master’s 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.

 

Hon. Rod Diridon, Sr.Hon. Rod Diridon, Sr.
Retired Emeritus Executive Director

Rod Diridon, Sr. served as executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute from 1995, four years after the Institute's creation, until 2014 when he moved to Emeritus status. Mr. Diridon has chaired more than 100 international, national, state and local programs, most related to transit and the environment. He provides legislative testimony on sustainable transportation issues and is regarded by many as the “father” of modern transit service in Silicon Valley. 

Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger appointed him 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 was president of the national Council of University Transportation Centers.

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 in more than 50 U.S. cities and for a dozen international conferences, and he has published numerous related articles.

For over two decades, he served the Bay Area in a variety of elected roles from City Council member to chair of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Transit Board. He also 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, as well as nine successful rail system development project boards. Upon his retirement from public office, Santa Clara County renamed its main train station “San José Diridon Station.”

Mr. Diridon received a BS in accounting and an MSBA in statistics from San José State University and served as a U.S. naval officer. In 1968, he founded the Decision Research Institute, which he sold in 1977. He has two children, Rod Jr. and Mary Margaret, and four grandchildren. He is married to Dr. Gloria Duffy, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and now president and CEO of the Commonwealth Club of California.

Staff

Jill CarterJill 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.

Saba Mazaa
Executive Assistant, Office Manager

Saba Maaza serves as MTI’s senior administrative assistant. An innovative and adept office and marketing manager, Saba has over eight years supporting businesses and university departments by managing complex office day-to-day affairs and running successful marketing campaigns. Before working at MTI, she managed and organized multiple schedules for the CEO and VP of a Mountainview startup and, before that, for the Assistant Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and for the Senior Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs for the Stanford School of Medicine. At MTI, Saba facilitates communication between research associates and staff, responds to queries, and coordinates schedules. Saba has a BA in Modern Literary Studies from UCSC and an MA in Teaching from USC. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and trying out new restaurants in the Bay Area

Irma Garcia, M.A.

Communications and Workforce Development Coordinator

Irma Garcia has served as the Communications and Workforce Development Coordinator for MTI since 2018. A San José native, Irma holds a master’s degree in English and Comparative Literature from San José State University. At MTI, Irma has successfully developed and coordinated a variety of K-12 programs, including the National Flight Academy, the MTI Summer Transportation Institute, and the Garrett Morgan Sustainable Transportation Competition. She recently designed a two week middle school program to introduce 6-8th graders to university majors and minors in STEM. She also has organized and led tours of prominent local businesses for K-12 students. Irma has coordinated MTI’s numerous local and national collaborations such as the Silicon Valley Bike Summit, High Speed Rail Leadership Summit, MTI Annual Banquet & Convocation Celebration, and MTI Finance Summit. She has contributed to grants that have earned MTI over $100,000 in funding for K-12 programs. 

Before her work at MTI, Irma managed the Urban and Regional Planning Department as well as other departments within the College of Social Sciences. Her commitment to successfully managing the department finances, hiring, and supervising student assistants earned Irma the Provost Staff Professional Development Grant for two consecutive years. She was also recognized with the Staff Service Award in 2017. Irma is also a former member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the recipient of the 2017 Owen Milton Boyles Scholarship at SJSU. 

Irma’s academic articles and creative pieces have been published in CSULB’s Watermark and Intercultural Press, among others. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and recognizes the humble beginnings of Silicon Valley and the significance of equity and diversity.   

Joseph MercadoJennifer Cao
Administative Student Assistant

Jennifer Cao joined MTI as a student assistant in 2019. She is studying Hospitality Management with an emphasis in Finance and Accounting at San José State University. Responsible for MTI’s organizational tasks, Jennifer creates spreadsheets and timelines in order to organize MTI’s business processes.She has traveled and relocated around the world to pursue education. Initially, she moved to the United States from her hometown in Vietnam to study abroad in the state of Michigan for her junior year of high school. She then moved to Iowa to finish off her senior year and graduated high school there. Most recently, she headed west to California to attend SJSU.

Alverina Weinardy, M.U.P.Alverina Weinardy
Graphic Designer

Alverina Weinardy is a practicing interior designer at Saida + Sullivan Design Partners with specialty in affordable housing projects. She joined MTI as a graduate student research assistant in 2017. She is currently responsible for MTI graphic design work. Alverina holds a BFA in Interior Architect and Design from the Academy of Art University, and is currently pursuing a Master of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University. She has also held internships at the de Young Museum, Artistic Designs for Living, and volunteers time at the American Red Cross Bay Area.

Chenyi Luo

Student Assistant

Chenyi Luo is currently pursuing a Master of Sciences in Data Analytics from San José State University (SJSU). She joined MTI as a student assistant in 2020. Chenyi provides assistance to support administrative tracking of research projects from launch to publication. Additionally, Chenyi assists in data visualization for MTI research projects by using R and Adobe products. Before she started her journey at SJSU, she worked as a research analyst at an educational consulting firm for 2 years to provide data analysis support, facility planning, and financing services to K-12 school districts. Chenyi holds a Bachelor of Science in Statistics and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of California, Davis. She loves data and aims to utilize her data analysis skills to assist with process improvement and help businesses make successful long-term planning decisions.

Jasmine Guan

Student Assistant

Jasmine Guan is a student assistant in the communications and workforce development sector at MTI. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in Communications with a minor in graphic design as an undergraduate student at San José State University. Jasmine has interned with Teach for America and has held various positions in clubs and organizations on campus, including Interact, Chinese American Student Exchange Program, and ASB. Jasmine believes in building a strong and healthy community. To foster community connections and contribute to this goal, Jasmine volunteers with Akbayan, the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), and the Korean Entertainment Student Association (KESA). Jasmine takes interest in public relations and event planning. She hopes to get more experience in this field so that she can advance her career.

MTI Organization Chart (.pdf)