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Metra Team Makes A Stop At GADC Staff Meeting

Metra is spearheading an innovative outreach program to ensure more women and people of diverse backgrounds are aware of job opportunities in a predominately male dominated railroad industry. Metra Legislative Affairs Liaison and EEO staffers made a quick stop, at the GADC March team meeting to bring more awareness to Women's History Month. It was also an opportunity to share with GADC new staff members the strength of an on-going relationship she and Carlos A. Nelson, executive director of GADC have had, working to bring a Metra stop to 79th Lowe.

Metra Overview:

Tanya Cohn expressed pride when she told the team she has been meeting with the community and Carlos for 5-6 years to help make to make the Metra Auburn Park stop a reality, in Auburn Gresham.

Tanya Cohn, Metra's Legislative Affairs Liaison eloquently explained how the Auburn Park stop is part of CREATE a vision for railroads (passenger and frieght) proejects, in the City of Chicago. The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE) is a groundbreaking partnership between the State of Illinois, City of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, Association of American Railroads, and U.S. DOT. A project of regional and national significance, CREATE includes 70 critically needed rail and highway infrastructure improvements in Northeast Illinois. CREATE is already improving the quality of life for Illinois residents and increasing the efficiency of freight and passenger rail service throughout the region.

She also introduced Lilliana Reyes EEO/Diversity representatiave for Metra – who noted that hiring minorities for the Metra Auburn Park project is a priority; increasing opportunties for women is a priority. She told the team that railroads have been predominately dominated by male employees. As part of the new Auburn Park stop, Metra will be coming into the community to talk to about jobs and encourage diverse folks to apply. They are even hiring now.

Tanya shared, there are 71 Metra stations in City of Chicago, with approximately 150K ridership. As she took a deep breadth, she proudly said, "The Auburn Park Metra Station is more that just a station to us." One goal is get closer with local officials, especially the new alderman, as we begin work and continue to build a stronger partnership with the Auburn Gresham community. We (Metra) really want to be part of the excitement to make an impact on improving economic development on 79th street."

Metra Makes a Stop @GADC_Chicago Staff Meeting Supporting Job Diversity For Women's History Month

Metra Employees (Tanya Cohn (right), Lilliana Reyes (left) with Women's History Month donation box for GADC office.

As part of Metra's cultural and community engagement initiatives, they participate in corporate and community events to highlight the month. "March is woman’s history month and this is a good time to discuss opportunities at Metra." 81 % of the employee population working for Metra are males. There are quite a few employees retiring in the next couple of years. Metra has a goal to build a more diverse workplace and strongly encourage women to think about applying for jobs. To support Women's History Month 2015, the Metra team is placing boxes at various Metra stops to collect needed toiletries for woman's shelters, in particular Deborah's Place. In addition to placing the boxes at stations, they have also asked key community based stakeholders across the city to help them, by placing a box at their sites and help collect supplies for women in need. GADC will have a box in their 7901 S. Racine office, for all those who want to donate new toiletries, including items like, soap, deodarant, toothpaste, combs, brushes, socks, shampoo etc.

Metra encourages employees to take classes outside of the workplace, in local colleges and universities etc. with tuition reimbursement often available. Metra also started working closely with several local high schools to promote and help invest in students who might not want to go college or be able to afford college. This effort is to bring awarness different careers and give high school students knowledge to be able to consider fields in the many departments that Metra has to offer. They are already working with Simeon High School in Auburn Gresham, as one of their local hgh school partners. At Simeon they have developed a relationship wtih Jacqueline Dace (CPS), who is working with schools' technology programs to inform students of the Metra workforce development opportunities and what they need start building the groundwork.

Tanya asked GADC to be sure to let her know if we have particular high schools in mind to promote. There are many high paying jobs conductors can earn $59K a year ; 2 years of college, Customer Service experience, most of the population may not be aware of this so they are initiating the outreach program in the community, where diverse populations live. Young adults into the possible careers, so they can work with their counselors and prepare for careers, by taking the needed classes such as advanced math, or physics. Also junior colleges will also be included in this outreach effort.

When asked if any of this outreach effort/job opportunities were available for returning indiviuals, they responded, "there are no specific programs for reentry candidates." The Lilliana, EEO representive noted they do not ask whether a person has been convicted, on their job applications and that there specific EEO guidelines they follow as a corporation.

Metra is also participating in Woman’s Shelter, Donation, Deborah’s place that is collecting (looking for toothbrushes, soap deodorant etc. hygiene kit wish list.

Metra has approximately 241 police officers that works closely with in general. Tanya shared a story that she saw a Metra police car behind her, while she was driving one day and was excited to see that she was a woman. There was a reported incident, that she was aware of and when she stopped to communicate with the Metra police, introdced who was etc., she was glad to hear the Metra police woman had already been to the scene and defused the situation!

We also found out that Mobile ticketing is finally coming, integrated with Ventra services, this coming May/June. This is great news!!!

In closing, Tanya summed up, as we leave, a final fact, Metra had 84.4M passengers, the second largest ridership in history! This will be a gem of the community and your cheerleader for this project has been a joy to work with, Senior Jacqueline Collins and Alderman Thomas, and we are pleased to be part of the community. Thank you for having for us today. 

** Linda brought up that 14 years ago, Carlos had this vision of community economic development and he honestly has been our biggest cheeleader, since the day it was included in the Auburn Gresham quality of life plan, under tranisit oriented development. **

Meeting adjourned.

Keywords: gadc, Metra, Transit Oriented Development

Posted in Auburn Gresham in the News, Business, Housing, Economic Development


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