December 2


The Future of the Institute of Transportation Engineers

By Mike Spack

December 2, 2014

Institute of Transportation Engineers, ITE

ITE is undergoing a massive change this summer.  Shawn Leight, the District 4 Director to the international board, told me Tom Brahms (Executive Director) and Phil Caruso (Deputy Executive Director) are retiring this summer.  Pete Frentz retired last year as the other Deputy Executive Director.  I thought there was a chance Aliyah Horton (Associate Executive Director) on staff was being groomed to succeed Tom Brahms, but Shawn told me she is leaving to be the executive director of a trade group.

It blows my mind our executive director and deputy executive directors have been on staff for more than 35 years and they all retire together.  Not the smoothest succession planning, but it does leave a big opportunity for changing how the Institute is run.

I’ve written quite a bit about how ITE needs to evolve or it will die a slow death (here, here and here).  I even wrote a satirical post about ITE merging with ASCE, which got the old guard wound up even though it is an interesting thought experiment.

Things are getting better at ITE since I wrote my post  10 Ideas for Big Changes at ITE.  The website is getting better and the Journal is orders of magnitude improved.  Webinars are more plentiful and cheaper.  A reduced dues structure is being implemented for young members.  And the ITE Leadership program seems to be a huge success.

But there’s still a long way to go.  Shawn told me ITE’s finances (more than $6 million in revenue) are kept in a series of spreadsheets. This fact blew my mind and is another example of how ITE needs to evolve into a 21st century organization.

As a counterpoint – my wife Jane does bookkeping on our million dollar plus business in about three hours a week – Quickbooks combined with credit cards and banking automation are awesome. And she has no background in accounting – I taught her the basics I knew and she did some google searches.

The elected leadership are currently underway on the search for our new executive director.  I hope they find someone who has the talent and openness to update ITE.  I believe there are many efficiencies available to to trim ITE’s budget even further.  Those savings in turn could be used to adjust the dues structure further and provide things the membership values.  Which in turn would hopefully lead to membership growth.


  • Opportunity awaits! Existing comfort and languishing in the present are always a detriment to organizations trying to keep up with competition and technology. Change is always good.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

    Get these blog posts sent to your email! Sign up below.