M-1 Rail Taps Two for Executive Positions

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DETROIT — M-1 RAIL President and CEO Matthew P. Cullen today announced the hiring of Heather Carmona as chief administrative officer and Sommer N. Woods as director of governmental & community affairs.

They are the newest team members of the 501(c)(3) organization charged with managing the design, construction, and future operation of the 3.3-mile circulating streetcar along Woodward Avenue from Congress to E. Grand Boulevard.

“We’re very pleased to have Heather and Sommer as members of the M-1 RAIL team,” Cullen said. “Both are talented, results driven, and possess proven track records when it comes to coalition building and community outreach, amongst other things.” We’re fortunate to have them working on behalf of this important project for Detroit and the larger region.”

Carmona, who has lifelong ties to the Woodward Corridor, has served as executive director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association for the last 15-years. She led the efforts to obtain the National Scenic Byway and All-American Road designations for Woodward Avenue and advocated for regional transit along the 27-mile long Woodward Corridor.

Carmona will remain executive director of the Woodward Avenue Action Association until April 19. In her new role as CAO for M-1 RAIL, which begins on April 22, Carmona will be responsible for administrative functions including oversight of fund raising, donor relations, grant administration, government relations, human resources, marketing, communications, and community engagement functions.

“I am looking forward to joining a group of community leaders and visionaries who are helping to advance a transportation project that will be the centerpiece for economic development and future connectivity for the entire region,” Carmona said. “This is truly a pivotal moment in our history that has captured the collective ingenuity of Detroit, the state, and our nation. It’s an honor to be a part of this initiative.”

Woods, a lifelong Detroiter, began her work last fall in a consulting role and now moves to a full-time position, effective immediately. In her position as director of Governmental & Community Affairs, she will be responsible for ensuring strong interactions with the Detroit community as the M-1 RAIL project is designed, built, and operated. One of her first tasks will be to work with partners in the Woodward Corridor to develop processes and supports for businesses during the construction process.

Prior to joining M-1 RAIL, Woods was an events and marketing consultant who regularly managed relationships with government agencies and the community organizations on behalf of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, the Belle Isle Grand Prix, The Parade Company, the Super Bowl XL Host Committee, and the PGA TOUR.  She’s also served as director of Film, Culture and Special Events for the City of Detroit.

“With an infrastructure project that will have such a significant impact on the future of transportation in Detroit and our region,” said Woods, “it will be important to have an open line of communication with residents, businesses, and government agencies. I look forward working with all of those groups in the coming weeks, months, and years.”

Carmona and Woods join a team that includes Cullen as president and CEO, and Paul Childs as COO. They are guided by a board of directors that has Roger S. Penske as its chair.

Construction on the 3.3-mile circulating streetcar along Woodward Avenue from Congress to E. Grand Boulevard is scheduled to begin this summer.

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