Director, Arizona Department of Transportation
John Halikowski was appointed director of the Arizona Department of Transportation in 2009, and reappointed in 2015, to lead the agency responsible for planning, building and maintaining the state’s multimodal transportation system, managing transportation revenue and providing Motor Vehicle Division services.
Prior to his appointment, Mr. Halikowski served for 12 years as the director of research at the Arizona House of Representatives, where he drafted major transportation-related legislation in collaboration with constituencies most affected by policy changes.
As a co-chair of the Arizona Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance, Mr. Halikowski is working with Arizona’s business community to fully utilize the state’s transportation system to connect Arizona’s export economy with regional and global markets. He is the chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Research, on the advisory board of the Eno Center for Transportation, and the past president of the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
Kini L.E. Knudson, PE
Street Transportation Assistant Director and City Engineer, City of Phoenix
Kini currently serves as the Assistant Director and City Engineer for the Street Transportation Department. In his City Engineer role, he oversees all contract procurements and project management activities in support of the City’s $3.5 billion capital improvement program. As part of his Assistant Director duties, Kini is responsible for the planning, design, and construction of Phoenix’s network of nearly 5,000 miles of streets. Kini has worked for the City of Phoenix for nearly 17 years.
Prior to his employment with the City of Phoenix, Kini was an Officer in the United States Navy Civil Engineer Corps. Kini spent time stationed in southern Spain and in the Washington DC area. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Arizona, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Arizona, and a MBA from Arizona State University.
Public Transit Director, City of Phoenix
Maria Hyatt began her career with the city of Phoenix in 1989 and has worked in a variety of departments and positions, including roles with the City Manager’s Office, Human Services Department, Budget and Research, and the City Council.
Maria was named the city’s Light Rail Manager in 2001, coordinating the City’s role in planning, design and construction of the $1.4 billion 20-mile starter line. Working on light rail required extensive interaction with the Mayor and City Council, peer cities and their elected officials, neighborhoods, and businesses, along with state and federal government agencies. As part of this role, Maria also managed planning and analysis of an additional 16 miles of proposed light rail extensions.
CEO, Valley Metro
Scott Smith is the CEO of Valley Metro responsible for the planning, design, construction and operation of an expanding regional transit network in metro Phoenix, Arizona. The Valley Metro system is a partnership of 16 cities, towns and Maricopa County, offering bus, light rail, paratransit and vanpool services to more than 73 million riders annually.
Smith’s leadership is a continuation of his public service as the former Mayor of Mesa and president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the only Arizona mayor to have served in this position. As Mayor, he strategically guided the city to an economic rebound between 2008 and 2014. He also has a wealth of experience in the private sector as a certified public accountant, lawyer and CEO of a regional homebuilding and development company. In 2015, Smith served as a Resident Fellow in the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Smith’s passion for public transportation stems from his belief that transportation infrastructure is critically important to the regional, state and national economy and to improving the quality of life for those who need and choose transit as their mobility option. His strong customer service approach keeps the organization focused on serving the interests of several customer groups, including riders, voters, the business community and city leadership.
Special Projects Administrator, Design and Services, City of Phoenix Aviation Department
Candace Huff is a professional engineer who has been working with the City of Phoenix Aviation Department for over seventeen years. She is currently the Special Projects Administrator for the Design and Services Division. She oversees and manages the Capital Improvement Program implementation, Job Order Contracting and Tenant Improvement efforts for the division, ensuring thorough and effective execution for the Aviation Department. She has worked on several key airport development projects for Sky Harbor (PHX), Goodyear (GYR) and Deer Valley (DVT) Airports and has managed projects such as the reconstruction of the north and center runways as well as the new construction of the south runway for PHX.
Candace began her career in engineering more than 20 years ago as a Transportation Engineer working on floating bridges. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington. She is also a Certified Member of the American Association of Airport Executives.
Candace finds her time occupied with her greatest accomplishment, her daughter who attends University of Arizona and her son who plays baseball for Arcadia High School. She also finds time to run for exercise so she can cook Greek food with her husband and family.
Deputy State Engineer - State Wide Operations
Jesse Gutierrez is the Deputy State Engineer for Statewide Operations in the Infrastructure Delivery and Operations Division (IDO). He oversees all construction and maintenance operations in the state.
Mr. Gutierrez has over 25 years of experience in the industry and has worked for the City of Tucson, Pima County, engineering and heavy civil construction firms. In 2013, Jesse began his ADOT career as the Globe District Engineer and in 2015 became Deputy State Engineer.
He holds both business management and engineering degrees. Jesse completed his masters degree at the University of Arizona, and is registered as a Professional Engineer in Arizona. Jesse is a licensed pilot and enjoys traveling, cooking and spending time with his grandchildren.