PRESS RELEASE: TrainRiders Northeast, the non-profit, volunteer, rail advocacy organization founded in 1989 announced today that it has hired its first ever Executive Director, George O’Keefe, Jr., of Winthrop. O’Keefe is currently a Master’s Degree candidate in the Policy, Planning, and Management Program, with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Management, at the Muskie School of Public Service.
O’Keefe will work alongside TrainRiders’ longtime Chairman and co-founder Wayne E. Davis to help the organization expand its mission of bringing “modern and efficient” passenger rail service to the Northeast. “A balanced transportation system is what we need in order to provide for sustainable economic opportunities that will last for generations,” said O’Keefe.
O’Keefe is a proud member of the Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion, serving as the Battalion Intelligence Sergeant, and has deployed twice with his unit to Afghanistan, most recently to Bagram Airfield from 2013 to 2014. He got his start in the transportation policy field while working as a freelance writer for railroad.net and has since helped build partnerships between NNEPRA and a variety of community groups that focus on veterans and youth.
TrainRiders’ Chairman Wayne Davis was elated at the unanimous vote of the TrainRiders board to add George O’Keefe to the organization’s management team. “We’ve been waiting a long time for the right person to come along to help us expand our original goals set out in 1989. We look to exciting times as we move along to our next accomplishments.
In 1991, TrainRiders, through its political action committee, RailVision, spearheaded the passage of Maine’s Passenger Rail Service Act, the first citizen-initiated bill ever approved by the Maine Legislature, leading to the creation of Amtrak’s Downeaster passenger rail service. In 1995, TrainRiders also worked with MDOT and the Maine Legislature to create the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) to manage the then-proposed passenger train service. Through the ongoing efforts of TrainRiders and many others, the Downeaster passenger rail service now runs between Brunswick and Boston. TrainRiders’ members also volunteer thousands of hours every year as hosts at stations along the Downeaster route and on board the trains to provide assistance to rail travelers, Amtrak conductors, and NNEPRA.