Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning
The U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning Division provides expertise across all aspects of transportation policymaking and program/project delivery lifecycle, including interpretation, implementation, evaluation, and adaptation.
Our team of experts and specialists, include policy analysts, data scientists, geographic information system (GIS) and geospatial specialists, community planners, geographers, environmental protection specialists, and strategic planners to carry out work on a range of transportation-related topics, building and sustaining high-impact programs. We collaborate with our sponsors, such as FHWA, FTA, and National Park Service, to build strong relationships and yield high-impact outcomes.
The goal of our work is to visualize, analyze, and better understand all aspects of transportation to empower our sponsors to streamline processes and make informed, data-driven management and transportation planning decisions.
Economic and Policy Analysis
- Leverage a variety of techniques to address today’s transportation policy questions with focus areas including National Environmental Protection Act and permitting, infrastructure resilience, sustainability, noise, and air quality.
- Initiate, facilitate, and implement strategic planning efforts and provide targeted program design support related to policy implementation, rulemakings, and working groups.
Applied Data Science
- Use cutting-edge skills to gather, manage, visualize, and analyze data.
- Translate, simplify, and effectively communicate the data to a wide audience.
- Use numerous forms of mapping to advance spatial analysis and tools.
Impartial Investigations and Program Evaluations
- Conduct research, analysis, and evaluation on a range of project components, including interview and survey design, policy analysis, statistical analysis, qualitative data analysis, surveying and forecasting, and GIS.
- Build, sustain, and evaluate impactful programs by incorporating strategic planning into everything we do.
Meet Our Team
View selected staff biographies.
MCP Environmental Policy and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BFA Film, Television, and Radio, New York University
Julianne Schwarzer is the chief of Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center. She has worked at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center since 2007. Schwarzer’s technical work focuses on environmental permitting and regulatory reform, infrastructure project delivery acceleration, and mediation and facilitation.
Schwarzer holds a master’s degree in city planning with a certificate in environmental planning and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA). She also holds a bachelor’s degree in film, television, and radio from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (New York, NY). Schwarzer is a member of the Transportation Research Board Ecology and Transportation Committee (ADC30) and a member of the National Association of Environmental Professionals.
Technology Policy Analyst
MSCE Civil Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst
MPPA Public Policy and Administration, University of Massachusetts Amherst
BS Civil Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Angela Berthaume joined the U.S. DOT Volpe Center in 2017 as a technology policy analyst. Her work focuses on landscape and ecosystem-scale planning, environmental policy, accelerating project delivery, agency collaboration, and facilitation. Berthaume leverages her experience with and interest in wildlife and transportation research and policies to support FHWA, Federal Land Management Agencies, and other federal agencies with technical research, policy analysis, and program implementation. She also has experience coordinating and facilitating workshops, webinars, and peer exchanges that bring stakeholders together and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration.
Berthaume holds a Master of Public Policy and Administration, a master’s degree of science in civil engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a focus on natural resource conservation, all from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, MA). While completing her graduate studies, she focused her thesis studies on bats’ use of bridges throughout New England.
MA Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University
BA Environmental Studies, Providence College
Gina Filosa joined the U.S. DOT Volpe Center in 2006. She provides technical research and policy support focused on resilient transportation, environmental stewardship, and energy. Filosa has also led several policy and program evaluations, including an assessment of FTA’s Environmental Management System Technical Assistance and Training Program and an evaluation of FHWA’s eNEPA, an online workspace and collaboration tool used to facilitate the environment review process. She recently led a programmatic assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from transit projects and developed a greenhouse gas estimator tool that enables users to estimate the partial lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions generated from the construction, operations, and maintenance phases of projects across select transit modes.
Filosa holds a master’s degree in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University (Medford, MA) and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Providence College (Providence, RI).
Master of City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
BA Political Science and Environmental Studies, Washington University in St. Louis
Amy Plovnick has worked as a community planner at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center since 2016. She supports FHWA, National Park Service, and other federal agencies on research, program implementation, and policy analysis work. Plovnick is interested in the connections between transportation and the environment, and much of her work focuses on infrastructure resilience, sustainability, active transportation, and public health.
Previously, Plovnick worked on renewable energy and energy efficiency policy at two nonprofit organizations in Washington, D.C. She holds a master’s degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) and a bachelor’s degree in political science and environmental studies from Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO).
Transportation Industry Analyst
MA Energy and Environmental Analysis, Boston University
BA Interdisciplinary Studies/Environmental Policy and Planning, Appalachian State University
Carson Poe is a transportation industry analyst in the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Center for Planning, Policy, and Environment. His areas of expertise include climate change mitigation, innovative and sustainable use of transportation right-of-way, and pipeline emergency response. Poe has led research efforts to explore the implications of sustainable land management practices along highways, including carbon sequestration and accommodating photovoltaic noise barriers, among other sustainability-minded technologies.
Poe holds a master’s degree in energy and environmental analysis from Boston University (Boston, MA) and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies/environmental policy and planning from Appalachian State University (Boone, NC).
Gina Barberio Solman
Environmental Protection Specialist
MA Energy and Environmental Analysis, Boston University
BA Environmental Analysis and Policy, Boston University
Gina Solman is a senior project manager and environmental protection specialist who has worked at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center since 2005. She solves complex problems across all modes of transportation, analyzing policy and building consensus on technical topics of national concern.
Solman specializes in noise policy and facilitates interagency coordination on a range of topics. She leads multidisciplinary teams of engineers, scientists, and planners to serve clients and the public good. Solman conducts research to inform the development of policies, regulation, and guidance in support of FHWA, FAA, FRA, and Department of Housing and Urban Development to assess transportation-related noise and other technical areas. This work includes strategic design, qualitative and quantitative analysis, evaluation and risk assessment, facilitation, and technical writing.
Solman is the vice president of WTS-Boston, which is an organization that is committed to advancing the transportation industry through educational programs, mentoring, and networking for transportation professionals.
Geospatial Team Leader
MA Software Engineering, Harvard Extension School
BS Geography, University of Massachusetts
Gary Baker joined the U.S. DOT Volpe Center as a GIS specialist in 1996. He is the GIS team leader and has more than 20 years of experience working with GIS. Baker also has extensive software development and data science skills. Since joining U.S. DOT, he has provided expertise in mapping, spatial analysis, and custom GIS solution development for all modes of transportation, from the local to global scale. Baker now leads a team of GIS specialists, working directly with sponsors and providing critical expertise throughout Volpe on all aspects of geospatial visualization and analyses.
Selected projects that Baker has been involved with include:
- Alternative Fuel Transportation Optimization Tool (AFTOT)
- National Park Air Tour Management Plans (ATMP)
- Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT)
- Management of FAA’s unstaffed infrastructure (UISGIS)
- Assessing aviation's global emissions
- Noise modeling and measurement in Grand Canyon and Southern Florida
- Rail traffic simulations
- GIS web-based FRA grant tracking
- Positive train control and hazmat risk analyses
- Highway rail crossing and historical rail incident geolocation
Certificate in GIS, Pennsylvania State University
BA Geography and Environmental Studies, Middlebury College
Alexander Oberg joined the U.S. DOT Volpe Center as a geospatial specialist in 2016. He has an extensive background in GIS, and prior to joining the U.S. DOT Volpe Center, was a GIS support associate for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries. Oberg provided front-line reference and one-on-one research consultation support to a broad GIS user community, including current and future professionals in transportation, urban planning, and environmental fields. He also prepared and led GIS presentations and workshops to illustrate and explain GIS analyses, tools, models, and applications.
In addition, Oberg has two years of environmental consulting experience in the private sector, primarily involving contracts with federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement. His work included GIS analysis, mapping and relational database creation, and maintenance.
MA Geography, Portland State University
BS Geography, University of Vermont
Sara Secunda joined the U.S. DOT Volpe Center as a GIS specialist in 2000. She has been involved in GIS-based analyses and developing customized GIS solutions for various modes of transportation. As project lead for FHWA’s HEPGIS mapping website, Secunda assisted in development of the interactive mapping application, which serves maps and provides an analysis tool for transportation planners. She is currently the website manager, updating and maintaining the website’s functionality, maps, and data.
Since joining U.S. DOT, Secunda has provided GIS analysis and support for the National Park Service and FAA’s National Park Air Tour Management Plans (ATMP) program. This support includes mapping air tour and air flight layers, and generating various input to noise models. She also provides GIS analysis and mapping for FHWA’s Alternative Fuel Corridors project.
Before joining the U.S. DOT Volpe Center, Secunda worked for 11 years as a GIS specialist in federal and local government and private industry.