Our Team

The Strategic Rail Finance team includes former congressional staff as well as the recent heads of the USDOT’s Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program as well as accomplished leaders in the rail industry, finance, and academia.

Michael Sussman

Michael Sussman President

Michael Sussman

President

Michael Sussman
Michael Sussman is the owner and president of Strategic Rail Finance. Strategic Rail Finance has coordinated financing for rail-related projects in 32 states, expanding capitalization through effective integration of private- and public-sector funding sources. In 2007, Michael founded OnTrackAmerica, a 501c3 transportation policy development organization, dedicated to improving the continent’s freight transportation system through public- and private-sector collaboration and cooperation. Michael’s innovative thinking has earned him the ongoing respect and ear of Congressional and Executive Branch leaders and staff. His thoughtful, non-partisan message resonates with both Republican and Democratic audiences. Michael’s thought-leadership and relationship-building has resulted in many contributions to the history of freight transportation, including:

  • Conducted a rail transportation conference in the U.S. Capitol Building for 55 congressional staff on December 8, 1998, praised by many as the finest briefing they had ever attended in Washington
  • Successfully influenced the inclusion of freight rail projects in H.R.115 – the National Infrastructure Development Act
  • Collaborated with public- and private-sector entities to create the Washington State Produce Railcar Pool Act as passed by the 2003 state legislature
  • Worked with the Federal Railroad Administration to initiate changes to the Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing Act, eliminating audited financial statement requirements for Class II & III railroads
  • Convened a five-hour summit of industry and government leaders in the U.S. Capitol Building on December 11, 2008 to develop new collaborative approaches to freight transportation efficiency
  • Mr. Sussman has authored articles and/or been covered by Traffic World, Railway Age, The Shortline, Progressive Railroading, Rail Business, Association of Transportation Law, Logistics & Policy, Rail Intelligence, and Transportation Quarterly.
X
Avi Eden

Avi Eden Executive Consultant

Avi Eden

Executive Consultant

Avi Eden
Avi Eden is an Executive Consultant for Strategic Rail Finance. Avi specializes in corporate structure and operations, mergers & acquisitions, financing, and strategy with a specialty in international business development. He has spent significant time in the People’s Republic of China working with various governmental and private-sector companies including the development of a mine and a refinery for Tantalum, an element used in the manufacture of electronic components. Previously as Executive Vice President and Vice Chairman of the Board of Vishay Intertechnology, Inc., Avi negotiated, structured, and led the teams that consummated more than $1.5 billion in transactions. On the finance side Avi directed Vishay in the issuance of stock and notes with a face value also in excess of $1.5 billion. Before his years with Vishay, Avi was a Senior Associate with Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads in Philadelphia, PA. Avi got his BA from University of Cincinnati and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is on the board of the Delaware River Port Authority.
X
Jerome M (Jerry) Johnson

Jerome M (Jerry) Johnson Industry Consultant

Jerome M (Jerry) Johnson

Industry Consultant

Jerome M (Jerry) Johnson
Jerry Johnson is an expert Rail Industry consultant for Strategic Rail Finance, specializing in the planning and execution of rail line acquisitions, leases, and divestitures, and the development of competitive rail freight marketing strategies. Among his most recent engagements is the structuring of Watco Companies’ successful 2010 bid to operate the 3000-kilometer Western Australia grain gathering network for Perth’s CBH Group. He also led the venture’s commercial and pricing activities through mid-2012. Other recent assignments include the evaluation of rail-related investment opportunities in Asia, South America, and North America. At BNSF Railway from 1995 through 2008 Jerry led a team that bought, leased, or sold over 60 active railroad properties along with their associated track materials, infrastructure assets, rights-of-way, and traffic portfolios. These transactions totaled over 6,000 route miles and ranged in value from under $1 million to over $30 million, including the $100MM sale/donation of BNSF’s Renton-Snohomish, WA line to the Port of Seattle. From 1998 through 2004 Jerry managed the contractual, regulatory and commercial arrangements between BNSF and its 100-plus short line connections. Other assignments at BNSF and predecessor railroads included strategic planning, coal marketing, industrial carload marketing, equipment planning, and joint ventures with connecting railroads. Jerry has also held transportation-related positions at GE Transportation and SRI International and served in the US military as a flight test engineer. Jerry holds degrees in aero engineering from the University of Minnesota, civil/transportation engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MBA from Harvard University.
X
John Elliott

John Elliott Sr. Vice President

John Elliott

Sr. Vice President

John Elliott
John Elliott is a seasoned development executive with broad experience across private and public sectors. In addition to his role as principal and Senior VP of SRF, John also serves as CEO of North Pier Energy; a company developing small-scale LNG plants that convert shale gas to fuel for high-horsepower engines and isolated industrial applications. Before he held that position, from 2008 to 2014, John was the President and CEO of DevelopErie, where he headed Erie County’s lead economic development agencies, including four private non-profits and three public authorities. During his time there, he closed 109 financings totaling over $101 million; raised $6 million in new capital; obtained US Treasury CDFI certification for the Enterprise Development Fund; among numerous other achievements. John has held previous roles at the City of Erie Redevelopment Authority as Executive Director; Urban Engineers, Inc. as Senior Project Manager; and Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr and Huber, Inc., as Civil Engineer/Project Manager. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Calvin College and his Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University. John as been licensed as a professional engineer in both Pennsylvania and Michigan.
X
Thomas F. Erickson

Thomas F. Erickson Rail Operations Consultant

Thomas F. Erickson

Rail Operations Consultant

Thomas F. Erickson
Tom Erickson is a Rail Operations consultant for Strategic Rail Finance. Tom has 35 years experience working in nearly every aspect of the rail industry: sales and business development, project consultation, due diligence studies, and market research. In 20 years of work with CSX and Conrail, Tom held diverse management positions. At Conrail, he managed market analysis and pricing for automotive and intermodal accounts, headed intermodal bulk marketing for Philadelphia operations, and personally led Conrail’s network of rail-truck transloading terminals. In this last position, he was responsible for the modernization and standardization of transloading assets and procedures, and oversaw a doubling of both tonnage and profits from the division. As head of his own rail consulting firm, Rail Cents Enterprises, Tom focuses on advising Class II and III railroads and shippers in operations, market research, industrial development, network design, and commercial and right-of-way agreements. Tom has drafted feasibility studies for Amtrak, Canadian Pacific, and local government bodies, and has advised on rail privatization projects in Europe, Central America, and Africa. Tom has been published in both Transportation Journal and the Journal of Transportation Law, Logistics and Policy, and also holds a patent on a railroad operating system.
X
Robert Finley

Robert Finley Industry Consultant

Robert Finley

Industry Consultant

Robert Finley
Robert Finley is an expert Rail Industry consultant for Strategic Rail Finance, specializing in finance, marketing, workouts, acquisitions, and leasing. He has successfully reduced costs and increased productivity for a number of companies, while carefully balancing performance and market demand. In addition to establishing aggressive line sales he spearheaded a small company’s growth from $5 million to $30 million, restructured a failing company for which he attained equity infusion and restored profitability, and implemented a new form of tax advantage financing for regional railroads. Rob is recognized for his innovative marketing and finance techniques. Acting as the independent financial analyst for the Federal Railroad Administration Rob has determined the viability of regional and shortline railroads applying for Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program (RRIF) loans. As executive vice president of Iowa Interstate Railroad Limited, he directed finance and human resources, organizing the company from near bankruptcy and coordinated debt restructuring and equity infusion. In merging Iowa Interstate with Heartland Rail Corporation he negotiated with creditors, found new sources of secured debt, gained approval from government lenders, issued stock, centralized corporate offices and stabilized the financial structure and profitability of the line—all within a single year. As assistant vice president of marketing services at the Southern Pacific Transportation Company, a $3 billion railroad, Rob directed a staff of 40, including market research, intermodal development, labor negotiations, freight equipment planning, information systems and branch line development and abandonment. Internationally, Rob has advised the Transport Reform Unit of the Victoria, Australia government about freight and passenger rail privatization, and assisted the British Columbia government in selling its BC Rail operation.
X
Michael Koontz

Michael Koontz Social & Environmental Benefits/Costs Consultant

Michael Koontz

Social & Environmental Benefits/Costs Consultant

Michael Koontz
Michael Koontz leads Strategic Rail Finance’s Social and Environmental Costs-Benefits practice, specializing in producing socioeconomic impact analyses to accompany USDOT TIGER, CMAQ, and RRIF funding applications. Mike managed the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program with the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation from 2001 until 2014. As program manager, he implemented CMAQ, guiding an annual investment of more than $2 billion over three transportation authorizations. Mike’s focus on mobile source emissions reduction and highway congestion relief included grant review and assessment for intermodal transfer facilities, port infrastructure projects, and numerous applications for diesel retrofit acquisitions. He also authored detailed program guidance and a number of legislative interpretations involving the $30-billion, 20-year program. Prior to his role as CMAQ manager, Mike was a transportation planner in a number of field offices for the FHWA and served for six years as a transportation network capacity analyst.
X
Morris Levin

Morris Levin Financial Analyst

Morris Levin

Financial Analyst

Morris Levin
Morris Levin is a Financial Analyst for Strategic Rail Finance. Morris was an Associate Banker with PNC’s Corporate Bank from 2008 to 2010, and held various positions at Mitchell & Ness Nostalgia Co. between 1993 and 2006. He holds an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and a BA from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. At PNC Bank, Morris was a member of the Philadelphia-South Jersey Corporate Finance group providing commercial lending and financial services to the region’s largest public and private companies. In this role, he analyzed financial statements, modeled financial projections, researched and summarized industry and company information, structured capital, conducted due diligence, and monitored portfolio risk.
X
Gerald B. (Gerry) Stoughton

Gerald B. (Gerry) Stoughton Public-Private Infrastructure Advisor

Gerald B. (Gerry) Stoughton

Public-Private Infrastructure Advisor

Gerald B. (Gerry) Stoughton
Gerry Stoughton is a seasoned former public sector executive with experience in the planning, development, financing and delivery of transportation and infrastructure projects. He is also a Registered Municipal Advisor with the SEC and MSRB. During his more than 30 years at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, he worked on projects covering all modes of transportation – air, road, rail and water. He spearheaded the development of financings for two of the agency’s largest transportation projects – the $1.9 billion JFK AirTrain and the $1.5 billion Goethals Bridge Replacement. For the AirTrain project, he was the agency’s financial lead on the procurement and selection process. The project’s financing included Port Authority funds (reserves and bonds) along with Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs). With the Goethals Bridge, as Director of Financial Analysis for the agency, he led financial staff in advancing the project using a public-private-partnership (P3) structure – the first of its kind for the Port Authority. The financing involved developer equity, a USDOT TIFIA loan, and private activity bonds (PABs.) The project received the 2013 North American Deal of the Year Award from Infrastructure Investor. With respect to rail projects, Gerry provided financial analytic support for two major rail car purchase programs (approximately $1 billion combined) for the agency’s PATH rail rapid transit system. He also worked on the development, financing, and fee structures for intermodal rail freight facilities at the Port Authority’s marine terminals. In 2008, he participated in the Port Authority’s $16 million acquisition of New York – New Jersey Rail LLC, which is a switching and terminal operation that provides a car float service between NJ and NY across upper New York harbor. Gerry has a BA from Columbia, a Masters from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and an advanced professional certificate in finance from NYU. After retiring from the Port Authority in 2014, he formed Stoughton Consulting LLC.
X
Douglass William List

Douglass William List Executive Consultant

Douglass William List

Executive Consultant

Douglass William List
Doug List is an Executive Consultant for Strategic Rail Finance. Doug has an extensive background as a planner, strategist, executive, director, and principal with Class I railroads, and major consulting, financial, and logistics companies. Early in his career, after two years at Southern Railway, Doug served as a planning analyst at Union Pacific Railroad during 1979 and 1980 providing key intellectual leadership in assessing the potential benefits of a UP-MP-WP merger. In 1986 and 1987 Doug was Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Planning for CSX Equipment division where he developed strategies and action plans for revamping management of their $2 billion freight car fleet. Doug also represented CSX on the board of Trailer Train (now TTX), an industry railcar co-operative, during a period of significant ownership upheaval. For over seven years, Doug was a consultant with McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group. Doug has served on the board of Harmon Industries for ten years before its sale to GE, particularly as chair of the compensation committee. Doug was also the founding non-executive Chairman of Total Transportation Services, continuing as a strategic advisor. In addition to his many business responsibilities, Doug has taught courses in corporate strategy, marketing, and corporate finance at Johns Hopkins University and Stern School of Business. He offers business people at all levels – corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs, division managers and professional investors – fresh and effective problem-solving perspectives on issues ranging from corporate marketing to organizational development to prioritization of executive efforts.
X
Dr. Steven Harrod

Dr. Steven Harrod Rail Operations Consultant

Dr. Steven Harrod

Rail Operations Consultant

Dr. Steven Harrod
Steven Harrod is a Rail Operations consultant for Strategic Rail Finance, in addition to being an Associate Professor in the Department of Transport, Technical University of Denmark. Steven is an authority on schedule optimization and strategic railway operations, and has published extensively on the topic over the last ten years. Steven holds a PhD in Operations Management from the University of Cincinnati, and a masters degree in Transportation from MIT. He is also a Certified Member of the American Society of Transportation and Logistics, and an INFORMS Certified Analytics Professional.
X