The Ray has implemented a regional staff strategy for accelerating net-zero transportation nationally. To better support net-zero projects at transportation agencies and accelerate project delivery by reducing the time required for planning and procurement, dedicated regional staff teams will work from satellite offices distributed among four U.S. regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and West. The strategy will be effective immediately, as The Ray currently works with more than 51 transportation agencies at the local, state, and regional levels across 29 states to scale infrastructure projects that will produce safer, cleaner and smarter outcomes in the transportation and energy sectors. The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation awarded The Ray a $250,000 grant to support the launch of the regional strategy and, more broadly, the innovative planning and solutions that The Ray deploys in the Southeast to make renewable energy and electrification accessible and more affordable.
“The Ray has pioneered technology applications and net-zero project concepts in transportation and energy for nearly a decade,” said Allie Kelly, Executive Director for The Ray, “and those ideas and our know-how have met the moment of tremendous opportunity.” She continued, “Across the country, state agencies and communities alike have an urgency for infrastructure that we can help them build, projects such as roadside solar; smart highway systems that are safer and less congested; longer-lasting, quieter roads paved with scrap tire rubber, and using empty transportation ‘right-of-way’ for expanding and securing the energy grid, instead of stringing new wires across neighborhoods.”
As an organization with a national reach, grouping partner activity by region and distributing the pipeline of projects and analyses between regional teams at The Ray creates process efficiencies that produce faster results for transportation agencies – helping the agencies themselves to go faster. Regional coordination of agency partner activity also facilitates the visibility and viability of opportunities for multi-state collaboration. The Ray provides:
- Technology transfer
- Connections to private sector technologists and experts
- Connections to peer transportation agencies
- Advanced planning tools and software
- Technical assistance
- Procurement assistance
- Project organization and facilitation
- Policy analysis
- Public awareness and promotion
These services directly address the gaps and challenges facing transportation agencies with expertise, tools, analysis, collaboration, and, indirectly, by building confidence in and enthusiasm for innovation. In both formal and informal collaborative partnerships, The Ray continues to promote and scale net-zero infrastructure that will support decarbonizing transportation and enable the safe operation of connected and autonomous vehicles.
The Ray’s mission is to reimagine how advanced transportation infrastructure and technology connects communities, lives, and the world in a way that is safer, more responsive to the climate, more regenerative to the environment, and more capable of creating economic opportunity through innovative ideas and technologies that will transform transportation infrastructure. At The Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway on Interstate 85 in West Georgia, The Ray is catalyzing net-zero transportation infrastructure on a real-world test bed – zero carbon, zero waste, zero deaths. Leading the way with some of the world’s boldest thinking, The Ray has built more than a dozen projects that are literally changing the facts on the ground in transportation, showing that the technologies to achieve net-zero in transportation already exist. The Ray has experienced phenomenal growth since its first project in 2015, the installation of a solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) charging station at the Georgia Department of Transportation rest area at the Georgia-Alabama state line.
Led by the new Director of Regional Programs, Beverly West, The Ray has organized its partner agencies across the nation by four contiguous geographies to create a regional approach to service delivery, as opposed to centralizing all service delivery out of one office. The regional approach will be performed in collaboration with The Ray’s new GIS Manager, Jessie Hong-Dwyer, Ph.D., and the GIS team. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) play a crucial role in this regional work, by utilizing The Ray’s partnership with Esri and their powerful tools, the GIS team can identify, propose, and provide informed recommendations for suitable clean energy and connectivity projects within transportation infrastructure’s right-of-ways that effectively align with The Ray’s net-zero objectives.
“This team of teams strategy will allow The Ray to leverage our partnerships and the know-how that we have cultivated over the last decade to deliver technology solutions to transportation agencies across the country in an efficient and effective way,” said Beverly West, Director of Regional Programs.
Four Regional Managers will report to the Director of Regional Programs. The Regional Managers will be responsible for delivering services to transportation agency partners in the following regions:
Northeast / Mid-Atlantic: Maine, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland
Southeast: Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana
Midwest: Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin
West: Montana, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, California
About the Director of Regional Programs
Beverly West is the Director of Regional Programs at The Ray. Prior to joining the team, she enjoyed a 23 year career with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Most recently she served TxDOT as Section Director in the Strategic Planning Division with oversight of multiple programs including: Emerging Technologies Initiatives, Business Intelligence & Performance Management, Enterprise Policy Governance, Business Continuity of Operations, and Internal Risk Management and Prevention. Her teams created, led or facilitated enterprise initiatives such as the Connected & Autonomous Vehicle Task Force (CAV), Urban Air Advisory Committee (UAM), National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) plan, TxDOT’s Strategic Plan and COOP plans.
About the Western Regional Manager
David Peters serves as the Western Regional Manager for The Ray. Prior to joining The Ray, he worked in various roles as the American Association for State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). Most recently he served as the Associate Program Manager for Resilience and Sustainability as a member of the Policy & Government Relations team. Before his time with AASHTO, David was a member of the Energy, Infrastructure, and Environment Division at the National Governors Association (NGA), working closely with Governors’ staff on energy and infrastructure policy.
About the GIS Manager
Jessie Hong-Dwyer, Ph.D. serves as the GIS Manager for The Ray. Before joining the team, she was a professor of geography, teaching introduction to advanced-level GIS courses and conducting numerous GIS research projects for more than ten years at the University of West Georgia. She has collaborated with the Georgia Department of Education, Cobb County School District, and the National Geographic Society as a GIS professional. Jessie is a published author of 35+ scientific articles and a presenter of 25+ papers at regional, national, and international professional conferences. She holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Colorado Boulder, an M.S. in geography from San Diego State University, and a B.S. in geography from Ohio State University.