Kelley Coyner


Senior Fellow, Center for Regional Analysis, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University 


Web:  Center for Regional Analysis page  Eno page   LinkedIn Twitter

Phone: 571-641-9132
Address:  Center for Regional Analysis
3351 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201


A veteran of public, private and nonprofit sectors, Ms. Coyner has served at all levels of government and in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. She was a member of the 2008 Presidential Transition Team and was the Senate-confirmed head of the Research and Special Programs Administration. Ms. Coyner’s other appointments include Eno Foundation Board of Advisors, Obama Presidential Transition Team, Visiting Researcher, MIT; Observer, Critical Infrastructure Committee, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Advisor to SOUTHCOM, South American, U.S., and International NGOs, USAID Technical Advisor on Institutional Development, Communications and Social Media to PROCOSI; Civilian Advisor, Officer Candidate School, U.S. Coast Guard Academy; U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Institute. She oversaw the federal government’s University Transportation Centers Program and has lectured at more than 30 universities and colleges across the United States.

Ms. Coyner’s served as an advisor, member, or counsel to more than 70 nonprofits locally, nationally, and internationally.  In addition, Ms. Coyner has conducted multi-country and multi-sector program evaluations and stakeholder analyses of conservation, advocacy, housing, community health and other nonprofits in the U.S. and South America. These nonprofits included Save the Children, CARE, Christian Children’s Fund, Oxfam, ProDem, ProMujer, BancoSol, the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, IDEA, and ARCA. As an advisor to USAID, Ms. Coyner established “Friends of Nonprofit” for a network of Bolivian, U.S., and European nonprofits and secured 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

Her positons in the transportation field, include service as the Senate-confirmed Administrator of Research and Special Programs at the U.S. DOT, research appointments at MIT and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, counsel to independent flight attendant unions, and advisor to the Vice Chair of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and staff liaison to the Texas Highway Commission.

Ms. Coyner’s research experience includes development of a federal transportation research agenda, oversight of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, and design of a regional transit research network. Ms. Coyner’s decades of research and technology experience includes developing and overseeing research initiatives across disciplines, insuring the dissemination and application of research results, securing research funding, and founding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s first ever STEM initiative as part of the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Research Program.  Ms. Coyner’s served as Research Panel Member, Travel Impacts & Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Rural & Smaller Community Land Use Strategies National Highway Cooperative Research Program. She also served as a Member of Member, Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board Committee on the Effectiveness of the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture, National Academy of Sciences.

Ms. Coyner has authored numerous professional and legal articles and papers on the national security and export control law; federal and state lobbying, ethics, and freedom of information acts, transportation finance, policy, programs and law, and homeland security and emergency management. She has lead, facilitated, and written dozens of strategic plans. In addition, Ms. Coyner has published numerous articles, blog posts, and a travel book on South American culture, natural history, and adventure travel as well other nonfiction writing.

Ms. Coyner has testified before dozens of Congressional and state legislative committees, appeared on national and local television and radio and electronic media; lectured at more than 30 colleges and universities; and participated in numerous panel discussions. Recent presentations include connection between national economic trends and the regional economic outlook, what transit means to business and to regional economic competitiveness, increasing the value of congestion pricing across modes, innovation transit finance and funding, and use of performance metrics for transportation project selection.

A native Texan, Ms. Coyner holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a law degree from University of Virginia. She clerked for the Hon. George P. Kazen, Federal District Judge, Southern District of Texas.


University of Virginia School of Law
985 – 1988

Activities and Societies: Virginia Journal of International Law

Georgetown University
Near and Middle Eastern Studies
1978 – 1982


Senior Fellow
Center for Regional Analysis, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University
Jul 2016 – Present
Arlington, VA
Projects in development include:

Prototyping the policies, business models, and planning play book to create AV shuttles and fleets
Assessing the impact and opportunities of shared mobility for different aging populations
Creating the case for new governance and funding models for WMATA
Promoting a new paradigm for transit-oriented development incorporating all forms of new mobility

Executive Director
Northern Virginia Transportation Commission
May 2013 – Jun 2016
Northern Virginia
Led the transformation NVTC into a national, state and regional leader in transportation and infrastructure policy, planning, programming, funding and finance. Northern Virginia’s premiere transit organization, NVTC encompasses 6 cities and counties in Northern Virginia, a 20-member Commission, and transit systems that provide a half million trips each work day through 7 bus systems, Metrorail, and the Virginia Railway Express. With a spotless audit history, managed more than $300 million in state and regional transit funds including administering revenue from the regional gas tax assessed on wholesale distributors in the region.
Chief of Staff, Senior Policy Group, National Capitol Region
University of Maryland
Jan 2008 – May 2013
Led a regional council of senior homeland security and emergency preparedness officials representing Governors of Virginia and Maryland, Mayor of the District of Columbia, and the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Serve as all-in-one project manager, press and Congressional relations director, meeting facilitator, and liaison with the Council of Governments. Created and sustain multi-agency teams which join 17 local jurisdictions, dozens of state agencies, the business, educational and nonprofit communities to oversee the selection, implementation, and evaluation of federally funded projects.

Senior Advisor
University of Maryland
Jul 2007 – Jan 2008
Activities included:
Designing and implementing disaster preparedness programs in collaboration with the nonprofits
Diversifying financial resources for the Center
Evaluating and reorienting print and online communications tools
Editorial supervision of research projects

The Nature Conservancy
Dec 2006 – Jun 2007
Strategic counsel, writing, editorial, and research support to the CEO, Chief Philanthropic Officer, and Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations in areas of:
—-New corporate partnerships
—-Foundation funding
—-Major Donors
—-Recruitment of Writers

Writer, Consultant
Public Policy, Writer, Nonprofit Professional
2001 – Jan 2007
Durinig six years in Bolivia and Paraguay, I worked for U.S. and South American non-profit and academic organizations. I focused civil society capacity building through strengthening of individual NGOs and developing coalitions and networks. I also served as Visiting Researcher with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Observer of the Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, 2001-2003. I served as a technical advisor on a USAID project under contract to the Manoff Group until May 2008. I began this work in La Paz and continued to support the project after my return to Virginia in 2006. During my transition back to the United States I continued freelance writing and worked six months as a consultant to senior leadership of The Nature Conservancy.I also worked as a freelance writer publishing articles on South American culture, travel, nature, and history and contributing a a travel guide on Latin America.

Visiting Researcher
Jun 2001 – Jun 2002
Visiting Researcher, guest lecturer on critical infrastructure protection and emergency preparedness and response in the transportation sector.

Administrator, RSPA
1998 – 2000

Administrator,Deputy Administrator, Director Policy Office
US Department of Transportation
1994 – 2000
As the Senate confirmed the chief executive officer, I headed USDOT’s operating unit responsible for inter-modal and multimodal research and technology coordination, civilian emergency transportation, natural gas and hazardous liquid pipeline safety and hazardous material transportation safety. RSPA included the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, MA, the University Transportation Center Program, and the Transportation Safety Institute, in Oklahoma City, OK.

Oversaw business modernization efforts in information management, contracting, financial management, personnel, and customer service. RSPA’s total payroll included approximately 2,000 federal employees and contractors and total budget of nearly $500 million including the operating budget of the Volpe Center.

Prior to being the CEO, served the Chief Operating Office, the Director of the Policy Office and the Acting Director of the Pipeline Safety Program and the Research and Technology Office.

Arent Fox
Dec 1989 – Nov 1994
Washington D.C. Metro Area

Law Clerk
Hon, George P. Kazen, Federal Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas
Aug 1988 – Aug 1989
Laredo, Texas

Community Development Coordinator
State of Texas Office of State Federal Relations
1983 – 1985

John Milliken, Arlington County Board Member
Jan 1983 – Sep 1983
Writer, aide on Metro Board issues, constituent services

Volunteer Experience

Team Member
Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, Department of Transportation
Nov 2008 – Jan 2009

Social Media Champion(Volunteer)
Doorways for Women and Families
Jan 2007 – Jun 2011
Social Media Champion, Doorways for Women and Families and other local nonprofits. Support the use of online meeting tools and Twitter and Facebook to support education, recruitment, outreach and fundraising; developed wiki sites for an advocacy campaign and a website redevelopment and online outreach effort; helped realize a 30% increase in annual campaign, improved volunteer communication, and lowered the cost of other fundraising efforts, mentored staff and the executive director in use of social media tools; and provided editorial and design assistance for Doorways blog as well as landing pages for online fundraising.

Basketball Coach
Arlington County Parks and Recreation
Dec 2006 – Present


Communities Can Benefit from Autonomous Vehicles with Fast Action Planning
Co-author, Lisa Nisenson
Jan. 30, 2017 | Eno Transportation Weekly

Kelley Coyner and Lisa Nisenson led the capstone session of Eno’s Capital Convergence, Taking it to the Streets: Creating the Strategies to bring an AV Shuttle to the Region

At Eno’s Capital Convergence conference, technology leaders like David Woessner of Local Motors demonstrated that transformative transportation technologies – including autonomous vehicles (AVs) – already exist in the DC area and in regions across the country.

While full replacement of the cars on the road now is still decades away, some driverless vehicles are already on the streets now. The question is how communities can move from “what if” to “what is?”

The choices we make now at the national, state, and city levels will shape whether AVs improve mobility or create new kinds of congestion. Actions taken can influence whether AVs improve safety on our roads or become a menace to drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. The alternatives we select now can either harness the economic and transportation benefits of AVs or cause us to lose jobs and leave some communities behind.

Read more




Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar