Member spotlight: Jason Thomas

Member Spotlights,

Meet Jason Thomas, Secretary of ACT's Mid-Atlantic Chapter! In this month's member spotlight, you'll learn about Jason, his time in TDM, and how he first joined ACT, and more. 

Please introduce yourself and your organization.
We’re responsible for managing parking, fleet operations, and TDM programs at Penn State’s University Park campus and serve more than 47,000 students and 14,000 full-time employees. I started with the department as a student, working as an event parking supervisor while I completed my degrees in public relations and history. I returned several years after graduation to work full-time in parking operations, which I did for seven years before moving into a newly created role managing our marketing and communications efforts. I’ve had that role for 10 years, and two years ago added project management to my responsibilities.

What brought you to TDM and how did you get involved in the field?
I first became aware of TDM as a concept about 10 years ago when I began managing our marketing and communications efforts. Soon after, we hired our first sustainable transportation program manager (shout out to my colleague and 2023 ACT 40 Under 40 winner Cecily Zhu!), and since then I’ve worked with her and our team to promote our ever-growing TDM offerings, including campus transit, reduced-fare community bus access, biking, bike sharing, and ride sharing. My career path has been unexpected, but I enjoy and feel good about the work that I do.

Why did you get involved with ACT?
I joined ACT in 2017 to gain access to their educational webinars and to attend the International Conference, which I did for the first time in Anaheim in 2018. However, it was the 2019 conference in New York City where I first connected with the Mid-Atlantic Chapter and decided to get involved in membership engagement. The great experience with this group over the next few years led me to run for chapter secretary in 2022.

What has been the most memorable moment of your experience in ACT?

Without question it's the friendships and professional relationships gained from ACT membership, especially because of my participation in the Mid-Atlantic Chapter Leadership Team. TDM work can feel isolated at times, especially in a small town like State College, so getting to know great people doing similar work across the country, but especially here in PA and neighboring states, has been amazing.

What would you tell someone thinking about becoming a member of ACT?
The educational and networking opportunities available throughout the year, not to mention the International Conference and other in-person events offered annually, make the small financial investment of membership more than worth it. Whether you’re a new TDM professional or a seasoned veteran, ACT membership will help your day-to-day work and professional development.

What do you see as future opportunities and/or challenges for TDM?
There is more available technology to support and enhance TDM efforts than ever before, but the same basic challenges related to behavior change remain. Finding meaningful but affordable incentives that create lasting change, the reliance on parking revenue to pay for programs that reduce the number of people parking, and offering service that meets the expectations of an on-demand society are some of the biggest issues we face related to our TDM efforts.