Congratulations ELA-Cohort 5! Details for ELA-Cohort 6 will be released shortly.

Program Overview

Leadership is an activity, a verb. If others are looking to you for answers, you are a leader regardless of your title or official position. These past few years have presented unusual tribulations. Leadership is mobilizing people to do tough work. Leveraging influence to encourage people to do things they may not do alone. Leadership is about dignity, the inherent worth of every person.

Leadership in transit is more than transporting people; it’s understanding the dignity of riders, and those who work in your agency. We want the future transit leaders to support their employees and assist riders in arriving at their dreams and not just their destination.

  • Did you come up through the transit agency, start as a driver, bus cleaner, mechanic and now you find yourself managing people?
  • Are you coming to transit as your 2nd career?
  • Do you work for a state DOT, transit authority, public, or private transportation agency, and need more understanding of the daily demands of transit agencies?
  • Do you want to learn how to develop people?
  • Time for professional development?
  • Do you find yourself wanting to move up but desire more skills?
  • Do you want to assist your agency in establishing successful succession plans?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you should not hesitate to join Cohort 5 of CTAA’s Emerging Leaders Academy!

Core Competencies

This immersive five day experience will provide professional instruction that will focus on self-discovery, engaging learning activities, group discussions, and practical management techniques. Year-long mentorship will be provided by members of CTAA’s board of directors.

Participants will be ready to lead their agency with core competencies that include: Concepts of Supervision, Leading with Powerful Questions, Adjusting to Change, Ethics and Values, Sensemaking, Adaptive Leadership, Performance Gap Analysis, Communications Basics, Creating Trustworthy Processes, and much more!

Program Timeline

ELA – Cohort 5 will be a week-long academy held at CTAA’s offices in Washington, D.C. from Sunday, March 5 to Friday, March 10. There are no virtual participation options, with all meetings being held in-person during these dates.

Prior to meeting in Washington, D.C., academy participants must:

  • Submit their current workplace challenge that they will spend the week working through with the instructor team, no later than Friday, Feb. 3.
  • Participate in the ELA Cohort 5 Kick Off Meeting.
  • Complete the required reading and be prepared to discuss the modules in class.

Back by popular demand, Cohort 5 will spend Thursday, March 9 engaging with CTAA’s Board of Directors and staff, along with industry leaders, for CTAA’s Annual Hill Day. Each ELA participant will be paired with members of the Board and staff to discuss key legislative priorities for the community and public transit industry with relevant Congressional offices. Past ELA participants have noted that meeting with these targeted Congressional members gave them increased insight as to how Member offices influence transit policy and funding. CTAA’s Hill Day not only proves to be educational, but exciting, as you walk the halls of Congress with fellow transit professionals.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

  • Kick off dinner
Monday, March 6, 2023
  • Breakfast and lunch provided
  • All day leadership training
  • Dinner on own
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
  • Breakfast and lunch provided
  • All day leadership training
  • Dinner on own
Wednesday, March 8, 2023
  • Breakfast and lunch provided
  • Meet the Gurus: Meet transit leaders, prepare for Hill Day, engage with CTAA’s Board of Directors
  • Dinner on own
Thursday, March 9, 2023
  • Breakfast provided
  • Spend the day on Capitol HIll – Join CTAA’s Board of Directors and staff in transit focused legislative meetings
  • Lunch on the Hill (on own)
  • Evening reception with CTAA Board of Directors and other transit leaders
  • Dinner on own
Friday, March 10, 2023
  • Morning leadership breakfast with CTAA Board of Directors
  • Challenge presentation to CTAA Board of Directors
  • ELA concludes prior to lunch

After meeting in Washington, D.C., academy participants are invited to:

  • Continue a relationship with their mentor, monthly check ins are encouraged
  • Join the cohort for a 6 month virtual check in.


CTAA’s Emerging Leaders Academy is designed for passenger transportation employees who have shown promise as a future leader.

  • Must be in “good standing” with your transit agency
  • Must be a full time, permanent-status employee (not on probationary status)
  • Must have at least three (3) years of managerial experience, with a preference of all years of managerial experience in the passenger transportation industry and have subordinates or directly manage others
  • Must fill out and submit the approved application
  • Must submit a recommendation from one of the following: the CEO, General Manager, or Executive Director of their transit agency


CEOs, General Managers, and Executive Directors sponsoring candidates recognize that an employee’s participation in ELA is extremely valuable to their organizations. Sponsors understand that their commitment and support means allowing their ELA participant to attend the planned activities and events.

All participants are required to submit a letter of recommendation from the agency’s CEO, General Manager, or Executive Director of their transit agency. Letters should be submitted to for committee review no later than Friday, Oct. 21.


For questions on the Emerging Leaders Academy contact Loreal Lance at or 202.415.9666.


The tuition for the ELA will be $3,500 per participant. This cost includes all the instruction, mentorship and registration for EXPO 2023. All travel, some meals*, lodging and incidental expenses will be the responsibility of the participant or the participant’s employer.

*CTAA will provide breakfast and lunch for most days. Dinners on the participants own unless otherwise noted.

CTAA will set up a hotel block for attendees to make their own reservations. Participants are highly encouraged to stay at the host hotel, as we find that most networking and informal meetings are coordinated there following the day’s planned activities.


ELA Cohort 5 has a limited number of seats! Apply today to be one of the 12 program participants.

  • Applications are due no later than Friday, Oct. 21.
  • Applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision no later than Friday, Nov. 7.
  • Invoices must be paid no later than Friday, Dec. 30 to secure your seat in ELA Cohort 5. All payments are non refundable.

the future of transit

class of 2020-21

Meet the class of 2021

The Emerging Leaders Academy is a year-long academy to develop true leaders in the transit field. From 2020 to 2021, upcoming transit leaders from across the country gained increased understanding of their leadership skills, learned industry trends and became knowledgeable about what it takes to be a leader.

Throughout the year, the participants worked with each other, their mentors and CTAA leaders to develop a project that would demonstrate leadership skills, and assess and address issues in the field that would contribute to their system. Their projects vary in topics, ranging from the accommodation of service animals on-board a transit vehicle to the implementation of a volunteer transportation program.

EXPO 2021 gave this class of ELA participants an opportunity to share their final projects and reports with their fellow participants, as well as EXPO attendees through a poster session.


The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and its members believe that mobility is a basic human right. From work and education to life-sustaining health care and human services programs to shopping and visiting with family and friends, mobility directly impacts quality of life.