The mark of a great leader is more than just “WHAT” we leave behind.  As important, is “WHO” we leave behind.  Early-on in my career, one of my mentors said this.  I have never forgotten it.  And, it has candidly shaped much of my appreciation for the importance of “people-readiness”.   

We are pleased to take this opportunity to spotlight Genfare, for their extraordinary local private sector support of our 2020 Summer Youth programming in Chicago.  Genfare’s leadership, teamwork, and support never faltered. Being a leading high tech firm during this major virtual learning transition and a respected local presence was of immeasurable assistance — particularly amid the totally unprecedented times and uncertainty presented by COVID-19. And, their active participation with our YOUTH continues today — with our post-summer programming.

In the forefront of public transit technology since its founding in 1980, Genfare (also a subsidiary of SPX Corporation), headquartered in Elk Grove Village, Illinois is a fare collection payment and solutions leader and innovator.  Genfare’s history dates back to the design of the very first registering farebox, which completely transformed fare collection for public transit.  Since then, Genfare has applied the power of innovation, hard work, and experience to solving today’s transit troubles and preventing tomorrows.  Decades of experience uniquely position them to manage all aspects of fare collection, from authorizing payments to securing revenue and analyzing data.  And understand the continuously evolving needs of transit and the marketplace to be able to deliver comprehensive and precise solutions.  (       

Genfare’s leader Eric Kaled, their President, has made it clear by his example that “PEOPLE” matter – employees, customers, and community.  And are an integral part of their company’s current and long-term strategic plans.   Earlier this year, he shared some insights on Leadership in Mass Transit magazine – “Empowering Your Next Gen Leaders through Stewardship” – which offer an important perspective on growing a company for sustained success.   Coupled with their expertise and overall leadership in the areas of technology, data analytics, cybersecurity; and customer-centric business approach – their appreciation of both the “technical” and “life success” skills elements of our programming — are both invaluable perspectives for our students.

As we move forward to advance and expand our programming, one of our learnings is that strong private and public sector partnerships and overall local support are important to Program success.  Within two (2) months of his appointment as President in April 2019, Eric made the time to fly from Chicago to personally participate in our first Infrastructure Careers Summer Program at Cardozo TransSTEM Academy (Washington, DC).  

Spending the day along with Christina Belmont,  a member of Genfare’s senior team (and our 2020 Summer Program Liaison) to meet and speak with students, the Academy staff, tour Cardozo’s facilities; and assist in assessing the students’ Capstone Presentations – before turning around on a redeye back to Midway. 

He expressed an interest in exploring the feasibility of Chicago as the site for our 2nd pilot.  By the end of 2019, with the deep interest of strong local partners like CTA and Genfare; and, an exceptional group of national and community-based, cross-sectoral infrastructure speakers and presenters – we looked forward to Chicago in 2020 as the site for our 2nd pilot program.   And were also extremely fortunate to secure continued sponsorship by APTA U/Business Members.

With Summer 2020 Program plans well underway, in March 2019, the urgency of the COVID-19 Pandemic hit the U.S.   At that critical point, with “safety” considerations always first and foremost, both CTA and Genfare remained resolute in their commitment to support a Summer Youth Program in Chicago.   At Iyai+, we along with the rest of OUR Community, also made the commitment to move forward.   For starters, that meant   quickly restructuring and transitioning our highly interactive, “hands-on” programming to include a robust, remote learning platform.  In that area, the remote learning and instructional design support provided by the Transportation Learning Center was invaluable.  At the same time, we were working to secure computer hardware, software, and video tech equipment for our student participants – most of whom would not have been able to otherwise participate.  Selecting a Chicago-based Program team.  And working with dozens of speakers and presenters to restructure their initial delivery plans.  

In a nutshell, “we all stepped out on faith” – recognizing that despite our best efforts, conditions might ultimately preclude safe program operation.

The great news is that all “working together”, we were able to successfully support CTA’s OSC Summer Youth Program, and help to make a positive impact on the youth who participated in our “My Beloved Community” cohort.  None of which would have been possible without OUR Community.  And Genfare’s strong local commitment and active participation.   

Our Heartfelt Thanks!

Bev Scott