2023 Annual Conference: Meet the Speakers

Jessica Jennings, National Association of Counties

Jessica serves as legislative director for transportation and infrastructure, as well as the liaison to NACo's Rural Action Caucus (RAC). In this role, Jessica staffs the NACo Transportation Policy Steering Committee, where she works with county officials from across the nation to set advocacy priorities and steward federal policies on transportation issues affecting local governments, and also manages the RAC that convenes America's rural leaders to develop solutions-based outcomes and advance federal policies that improve rural communities.

Jessica joins NACo from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), where she served as policy advisor in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs. Prior to GSA, Jessica worked on behalf of counties and for transportation industry champions in her role at a private consulting firm. Jessica also spent five years as a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Brett Richards, Jones Walker

A Mississippi Gulf Coast native, Brett Richards is special counsel in Jones Walker’s Government Relations group, working with businesses and industry associations to shape emerging legislation and regulations.

With more than a decade of service in legislative and political advocacy, Brett advises businesses and industry groups with interests, investments, and operations across Mississippi and the US Gulf Coast. Throughout his career, he has served as a key liaison between elected and appointed officials, business executives and industry leaders, state and local community groups and constituents, and other stakeholders.

Prior to joining Jones Walker, Brett served as counsel to US Senator Roger F. Wicker of Mississippi.


Chloe Cantor, Tennessee Valley Authority

Chloe Cantor currently serves as a Washington Representative for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Federal Affairs division. Previously, she worked in the office of Senator Roger F. Wicker (R-MS) for nearly seven years. Chloe served the Senator in multiple roles, including Senior Legislative Assistant. In this role, she advised the Senator on issues related to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, agriculture, water infrastructure, energy, and environment. She also supported Senator Wicker in his capacity as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee by serving as the Republican Subcommittee Staff Director of the EPW’s Subcommittee on Chemical Safety, Waste Management, Environmental Justice, and Regulatory Oversight in the 117th Congress. Before working in the Senate, Chloe was a Legislative Assistant for Florida Crystals Corporation.

Chloe is originally from Jackson, Tennessee and received her undergraduate degree in environmental economics from Mississippi State University. She currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their dog.


Jody Peacock, Ports of Indiana

Jody Peacock serves as Chief Executive Officer for the Ports of Indiana, a statewide port authority operating three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan that generate $8.7 billion per year in economic impact. He was appointed CEO in 2023 after serving in various leadership roles with Ports of Indiana since 2001.

Mr. Peacock received his MBA from Indiana University and has been appointed by three Indiana governors to serve on regional and international boards, including the Great Lakes Commission, Great Lakes Governors & Premiers Regional Maritime Initiative, and the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund Committee.

During his 22 years with Ports of Indiana, Mr. Peacock has helped the organization achieve record growth as a self-funded enterprise dedicated to expanding Indiana’s economy. This has included implementing transformational strategic plans, business development efforts and legislative initiatives to expand Ports of Indiana’s operations.

Today, Ports of Indiana is undergoing a $60 million expansion supported by multiple federal grants and is pursuing large-scale growth opportunities through new business ventures, multimodal investments, and strategic partnerships.


Tommy Kurtz,  Avident Advisors

Tommy Kurtz serves as Managing Director of Avident Advisors, the site selection and economic development advisory consulting group under Jones Walker LLP law firm, headquartered in New Orleans with 13 offices in 11 states.

Kurtz has over thirty years of experience in economic development in the Gulf Coast region in executive positions with regional, local, state, utility organizations and private engineering companies engaged in site selection and economic development including Louisiana Economic Development, Corpus Christi Regional EDC, Greater New Orleans, Inc, Entergy Corporation, Ascension Economic Development Corporation, LEO Consulting Group, and the City of New Orleans.

Kurtz has worked on some of the largest projects in the Gulf Coast in the last two decades including the Exxon-Sabic ethylene manufacturing facility in Corpus Christi; the Steel Dynamics electric arc furnace steel manufacturing project in Corpus Christi; the Sasol Ethylene manufacturing project in Lake Charles; Folgers coffee plant in New Orleans; Globalstar HQs in Maneville, Gardner Denver Thomas plant in Monroe, and Cheniere LNG liquefaction project in Cameron Parish.


Jonah Rattner, Robindale Coal (Energy)

Jonah Rattner works in Business Development Specialist at Robindale, where he has been a key contributor since 2018. His journey began in the logistics department, and over the years, he has ascended through various roles, accumulating a comprehensive understanding of the industries served. Jonah's significant achievements include driving substantial growth in the Terminals division while optimizing operational efficiency, all fueled by his profound knowledge of commodity markets. He thrives on collaborating with clients to provide tailored handling solutions.

A Pittsburgh, PA native, Jonah holds a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and a Minor in Entrepreneurial Studies from Washington & Jefferson College, infusing his strategic acumen with innovative thinking to consistently contribute to the success of Robindale.


Jason Troendle, The Fertilizer Institute (Fertilizer)

Jason Troendle joined The Fertilizer Institute in March 2021. He supports the institute’s efforts by formulating statistical information and providing market analysis on the agriculture and fertilizer industry.

Jason earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University and completed his Master’s degree in Applied Economics and Management with a focus in Food and Agriculture at Cornell University.

Prior to joining TFI, Jason worked as a senior business analyst within an agriculture consulting, and another trade association leading their market intelligence and research efforts. He has a strong connection to agriculture growing up in rural Minnesota and being actively involved in the youth agriculture organizations.


Richard McCarty, ACBL (Grains and Agriculture)

Rich McCarty is the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for Grain and Fertilizer at ACBL.

Rich began his career with ACBL in 2008 as a Manager of Sales and Marketing in the Dry Cargo Department. He came to ACBL with nearly 15 years of transportation experience. Upon joining ACBL he helped manage salt and alumina commodity accounts. Shortly afterwards, he was promoted to Director of Sales and Marketing focusing his attention on grain and fertilizer. In 2010, Rich took over the Grain Desk responsibilities and ever since has managed ACBL’s grain freight position. In 2019, Rich was promoted to Senior Director of Sales in his same role. Rich is an active member of the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and represents ACBL on various committees within the organization.

Rich has a BSBA with a Degree in Finance from the University of Louisville and an MBA from Sullivan University.


Patrick Sutton, American Commercial Barge Line

ACBL named Patrick Sutton as its Chief Operating Officer in October 2020.

Sutton has been an ACBL teammate since 2005, most recently as Vice President, Liquid Sales. Prior to his role in Liquid Sales, he was the President of Jeffboat, LLC, where he led the organization in developing unparalleled success with its Commercial Sales strategy while simultaneously improving barge quality, production, and safety results. Sutton has held several positions in his 15 years with ACBL, including Industrial Engineer, Director of Fleet and Terminal Operations, Director of Strategic Planning, and Plant Manager. His responsibilities as COO include boat operations, vessel reliability, fleets and terminal operations, supply chain and safety and compliance operations. He currently serves on the American Waterways Board of Directors as Ohio Valley Region Chairman.

Sutton holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Purdue University and his MBA in Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University.


Dr. Donald Maier, University of Tennessee

Dr. Donald Maier has a diverse background in the logistics and supply chain industry.  After serving as an academic Dean for nine years at two state maritime academies, he returned to the classroom to teach logistics at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. He teaches undergraduate and graduate logistics courses from an operational approach with focus in transportation, warehousing, and international logistics. His applied research interests include maritime transportation; port & terminal efficiency; economic development of inland, river, and oceanside ports; location network theory and the application to economic development. His goal is to ensure his students are employed and able to apply knowledge learned to their professional career.

Dr. Maier has been featured on CNN, CNN-I, ABC-San Francisco, San Francisco Chronicle, and Popular Mechanics as the subject matter expert on the M/S Ever Given and the volatility in the global supply chain. He was a keynote speaker for events with the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the Marine Insurance Association of Seattle (MIAS), the Board of Marine Underwriters of San Francisco, and the International Association of Maritime Port Executives (IAMPE), where he also serves on the Board of Advisors.


Charles “Bob” Brettell, Prosody Consulting

Mr. Brettell is the Managing Partner of The Prosody Group and leads the firm’s economic development and management consulting practices. Mr. Brettell’s 20 years of project development, revitalization & resolution experience includes site selection & negotiation, government, debt & equity financing, due diligence, merger integration, human resources and compliance services for projects valued at over $20 billion dollars.

Along with Prosody’s project development experience on behalf of clients, Prosody recently divested an equity interest in a multi-state solar development entity, MAP Energy Solutions, LLC, for which it provided commercial origination, structuring and management services. Prosody has also utilized its own personnel, experience & capital to invest in & revitalize a registered securities broker-dealer, Brooklight Place Securities, Inc.


Frank Acevedo, Environmental Protection Agency

Frank is a Mobile Source Program Manager with the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Region 5 office serving the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  Frank serves as the Mobile Source Air Pollution Expert for the Region and has been with the agency since 1991.  Frank has assisted in the implementation of a number of clean fuel programs in the Region in addition to vehicle emission testing programs in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio.  He also is the technical expert for Region 5's Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative assisting states in the implementation of voluntary diesel retrofit projects, and works on EPA’s Ports Initiative and Clean School Bus programs.  Frank received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Kevin Full, VAA LLC

As a specialist in intermodal and maritime terminal design, Kevin enjoys finding the “silver bullet” on a project – a simple, realistic solution that effectively meets the client’s needs and yields value to the project as a whole. He is committed to providing exceptional service and carries this through his work in VAA’s Maritime and Industrial sectors. Kevin’s passion for the structural design of waterfront infrastructure and his extensive experience in specialty structural designs – from seismic design to vibration analysis for many construction types – makes him a unique technical resource to VAA and a sought-after expert to his clients.


Brian Hinrichs, VAA LLC

Brian has over three decades of experience in the maritime industry and has helped garner local, state, and federal grant funding on over 100 projects to advance coastal infrastructure. Brian provides vast insight and direction through the grant planning process, making grant funding for client projects more attainable than ever. Specifically, Brian’s success in securing Federal MARAD and USDOT grants for coastal infrastructure projects has aided his clients in securing widely prominent federal infrastructure dollars. Brian’s industry know-how supplements and further facilitates the genuine client partnerships VAA is known for.


Michael Zoia, Burns & McDonnell

Mike brings over 20 years of experience managing security and technology consulting and engineering engagements. He has spent most of his career managing major capital development programs for projects in North America and Internationally such as Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis, Atlanta, Dubai, Doha, and Jeddah.

Mike provides a unique technical perspective and understanding of global technology, security, and innovation trends through his experience planning and leading design for greenfield projects and complex renovation and modernization projects for dozens of domestic and international sites. He has managed the design and implantation of security, systems, and critical communications infrastructure, including Access Control Systems, Local and Storage Area Networks, Digital Video, Public Address (PA), Audio/Visual systems, data center design, and wireless radio and cellular systems. He has multiple degrees and Industry Certifications, including a MA in Business & Organizational Security Management, a BS in Biomedical Engineering, Certified Protection Professional and Physical Security Professional (ASIS), and Registered Communications Distribution Designer (BICSI).


Jason Kerkezi, CSX

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Jason is a 4th generation railroader who has been with CSX for over 17 years in a variety of Sales & Marketing roles. In his current role as Senior Manager of Short Line Development, Jason fosters partnerships with 243 Short Lines, enhancing industry cohesion. CSX earned $3.2B in revenue last year in joint line moves with our Short Line partners, and his role delivers growth and business continuity for this franchise.

Prior to that, Jason spearheaded CSX’s carload International department, leading a global team across Europe, Mexico and South America. This international exposure fortified my ability to convert global freight to rail, while bolstering his love of travel and photography. Jason has an undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and an MBA from Kennesaw State University, as well as CPSM and CLTD supply chain certifications. He have two teenage sons, the older of which is a top swimmer in the state of Florida for his age group.


Billy Tiller, Portadam, Inc.

Billy Tiller is the Director of Business development for PortaDam, Inc and tasked with the launch of the best of class in rapid deployable flood mitigation and water diversion barriers. He has launched several products in the ag markets over his career but none he is more excited about than FloodDefender. It is a GAMECHANGER in protecting assets.

Billy is an agricultural leader who has spent 41 years in ag production, grain sorghum storage and processing, ag banking, rural telecommunications, and ag data management.  He is a problem solver in the ag sector and has testified before the U.S. House Ag Committee and its Subcommittees in the past.


Brian Mangrum, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District

Brian Mangrum has been the Chief of the Technical Support Branch within the Operations Division of the Nashville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) since December 2021.

Brian leads a team of professional and technical personnel engaged in performing a variety of engineering, scientific, and park ranger staff responsibilities. His branch provides policy and program support for Navigation, Natural Resources Management and Recreation for the District's 20 Civil Works projects which are widely dispersed across a 3- State geographical area along the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. Brian started his career with the Nashville District in 2002 and served at numerous field operating offices for over 15 years prior to transitioning to the District headquarters in 2017.

Brian is a Tennessee native who lives in Burns, TN with his wife Heather and two children: Meredith and Brantley.


Professor Mo Ehsani, PileMedic by QuakeWrap

Dr. Mo Ehsani is Centennial Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Arizona and President of QuakeWrap, Inc. He pioneered the field of repair and retrofit of structures with Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) products in the late 1980s and has over twenty patents in this field. His expertise covers a wide range of applications such as repair of submerged piles, seawalls and mooring cells, repair of corroded decks in ports, repair and construction of pipelines, etc. The company offers engineering design, manufacturing, and sales of these innovative FRP products.

Along with its sister construction company, QuakeWrap offers design/build solutions to its clients including the US Military worldwide. PileMedic® is the only product tested and approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers for repair of piles. The Sheet Pile Repair (SPiRe®) system is currently being used to repair 0.7 miles of a seawall at the Port of Melbourn, Australia.


Doug Abolt, SeaScour Environmentally Friendly ScaleRemoval


Marc Hollahan, Tangent Bridge and Dock Bumper Protection

Marc Hollahan – Product Manager – Seapile® & SeaTimber®

Marc is the lead sales of large marine projects, including piers, boardwalks, bridge fendering systems, & dolphin clusters at Tangent. He is experienced in strategic planning with sales reps on all coastal fronts, along with inland waterways. This includes meeting with Engineering firms to help with specifying materials in the Marine Market.

Marc previously worked as a Product Development and Technical Sales Manager for Tangent, which supports the efforts in his current role as Product Manager for Seapile and SeaTimber.  Marc works closely with Tangent to analyze and target which projects to prioritize, looking for strong fits for Structural Line of recycled plastic lumber.  Marc also helps with technical questions, applications, and try to ease the load for the team’s engineers. Marc works with our engineering team to confirm applications and introduce unique projects for consideration.

James McGary, JPM Steel Fabrication


Adam Patrow, Fabick Remote Riverbed Survey Vehicle

Adam A. Patrow is the General Manager of Technology Services for Fabick Cat, SITECH Mid America, Mid-America Marine Positioning and FABICK a Teledyne Construction Dealer. Adam has 17 years of service with Fabick Cat plus many additional years of road building and aggregate mining experience prior to his work at the dealership. His current role focuses on customer relations and business development.