League of Railway Women and Progressive Railroading magazine recognized excellence in the rail industry with this singular award at the annual NRC conference
January 11, 2024, Pueblo, CO – MxV Rail is proud to announce that President & CEO Kari Gonzales was honored with the ‘2023 Railway Woman of the Year’ award.
The League of Railway Women (LRW) presents this award annually with co-sponsor Progressive Railroading to honor a woman who exhibits leadership and excellence while supporting the personal and professional growth of others in the rail industry. She was honored on January 6 at a conference held in Scottsdale, AZ, hosted by the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) and Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association.
“It’s an honor to be recognized in an industry that brings tremendous value to our communities nationwide. Considering past nominees, I am grateful to be recognized among some amazing women in rail,” said Gonzales. “Reflecting on my journey, I continue to be proud of the nearly 300-strong MxV Rail team members around me rising to challenges and succeeding together. This is our moment to celebrate and recognize the value our technical breakthroughs in safety, reliability, efficiency, and sustainability of rail bring to our industry.”
With Gonzales at the helm, MxV Rail completed a groundbreaking, multi-million-dollar project to build a new full-scale test facility in Pueblo, CO representing a significant investment in the future of rail research and testing. The successful execution of this plan included retaining top talent, building new testing and support infrastructure, movement of over $100 million in assets, and 128 Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) hazmat training props with minimal disruption to clients and research partners.
MxV Rail’s facility—designed to support not only current industry needs but also future R&D— reflects a dedication to research and innovation for railroads, responders, researchers, and suppliers alike. It makes novel equipment like the Rolling Contact Fatigue Simulator, the only one of its kind in the world, available to railroads and suppliers. The Facility for Accelerated Service Testing (FAST) Loop and laboratories were construction priorities at the new facility. As a steward of these investments, Gonzales has prioritized the research and testing needs of North American railroads in ways that will advance safety and innovation for years to come.
In 2021, Gonzales assumed the role of President and CEO of MxV Rail, a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads, becoming the first Latina to hold this position. While overseeing the continuation of research initiatives, Gonzales recognized that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reinvent MxV Rail and reaffirm its commitment to the long-term success of the rail industry.
Taking a “people first” approach, Gonzales worked hard to earn trust and create a vision across the industry. She formed a new leadership team, including six executive female leaders, that leverages insights from 40 years of legacy and translates them into progressive business philosophies. She regularly connects with employees on an individual level, creating numerous avenues for communication and improvements in the interest of team satisfaction, wellness, mental health, and work-life balance.
Among early career highlights, Gonzales was recognized among Progressive Railroading’s “Rising Stars,” and she was named in the inaugural Railroad Exchange Program to spend a year embedded at BNSF Railway. Insights from those experiences have greatly informed business operations and been a significant influence on the MxV Rail mission and vision.
Gonzales was raised in Pueblo, Colorado, and her commitment to the community is evident in MxV Rail’s move to the PuebloPlex industrial park, which contributes to Pueblo’s evolution as an innovation hub for rail.
Her involvement in education and workforce development underscores her dedication to supporting the next generation of rail professionals, most recently by brokering partnerships with Colorado State University Pueblo and Indian River State College, and personally engaging with local students in career exploration programs. In 2021, she created “Pueblo Works,” a collaborative mentoring program with Pueblo School District 60 Paragon Online School.
Gonzales strongly supports MxV Rail’s early career railroader workshops and “University Day” events as a featured speaker sharing her perspective with new and future engineers, including minorities and women.
“Kari’s energy and leadership have been pivotal to launching MxV Rail’s new chapter,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “With her at the helm, MxV Rail is working each day to help a safe industry get even safer and find real-world solutions to today’s biggest transportation challenges. We’re proud to have her leading MxV Rail into the future and to see her recognized for her expertise and dedication to our industry.”
Read more about the ‘2023 Railway Woman of the Year’ award here
Take a virtual tour of MxV Rail with President and CEO Kari Gonzales here
About MxV Rail: MxV Rail (formerly TTCI) is a subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads established to provide vital support to the nation’s rail industry as the premier research and engineering partner. Through focused funding and strategy planning, MxV Rail is making key investments in its people and facilities to undertake new technological challenges in the rail industry and beyond. Building on its legacy of excellence, the team offers a full suite of advisory and research services including consulting, testing, research, maintaining standards, and training. Learn more at www.mxvrail.com.
Contacts: Niki Toussaint, Senior AVP Marketing and Education, email@example.com, 719-671-8676
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