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COMTO New Jersey Chapter Receives Chapter of the Year

NEWARK, NJ, August 4, 2003 – For the past four years, NJ TRANSIT Board Director Flora Castillo has been working diligently to ensure that NJ TRANSIT customers are getting quality service. Whether it’s championing for increased seating capacity, cleaner trains and buses or new equipment, Ms. Castillo has worked hard to make customer service among the Corporation’s top priority.

Her diligence continues to pay off, and during the recent annual Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) national convention, the El Salvador native was named “Emerging Leader of the Year” for 2003. In addition, the New Jersey chapter of COMTO received the organization’s “Chapter of the Year” award for having the largest chapter in the nation with more than 200 members – a chapter Ms. Castillo formed just one year ago.

“This is a great honor and most deserving award for Flora,” said NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman and State Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere. “She is the first and only Latina to serve on the Board of Directors in the Corporation’s 23 year history. She has a great understanding of the transportation industry and knows what is its most important asset – our customers.”

“Her role as a board director helps us greatly as we continue to further enhance rail and bus services for our customers,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George Warrington. “Flora understands the inner workings of the transportation industry, which is beneficial to the Corporation as we move forward with key initiatives to strengthen our services.”

In 1999, New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman appointed Ms. Castillo to the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors, where she currently chairs the Board’s Customer Service and Administration committees. She oversees an annual budget of more than $2 billion and 10,500 employees.

At NJ TRANSIT, Ms. Castillo has been a champion for minority employees, and quickly saw the need to bring this group together by reactivating the New Jersey chapter of COMTO. Last year, the chapter won the “Emerging Chapter of the Year Award,” at which time Ms. Castillo was elected to COMTO’s National Board. She is currently working with colleagues in COMTO, as part of the workforce development committee, to implement a leadership program and other succession planning initiatives for members in executive positions.

“This award is truly an honor that I am very grateful to receive,” Castillo said. “And while the recognition is wonderful, we must not forget the overall message of COMTO – which is to give voice to minorities, show that we are a viable and strong segment within the transportation industry, and to encourage our future leaders to enter a field that is in need of minority representation.”

As a member and leader of the state chapter, Ms. Castillo has initiated programs that celebrated several major events at NJ TRANSIT, including a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. program, a Women’s History Month program, a book drive, and a clothing drive where prom dresses were collected for disadvantaged teens.

Ms. Castillo has endeavored to help international neighbors as well. Using her ties to the business community and state government, she has assisted with numerous relief efforts in South and Central America. Last year, she helped secure a bus from Motor Coach Industries for use in a humanitarian aid effort for earthquake victims in El Salvador.

When not at NJ TRANSIT, Ms. Castillo is an associate vice president of public affairs and marketing with Keystone Mercy Health Plan, the largest Medicaid Managed Care Company in Southeastern Pennsylvania. In this position, she executes and oversees marketing activities to increase membership and market share. She is responsible for designing and implementing social marketing and outreach programs to promote the company, foster ties with local communities, healthcare providers and its

254,00 members. These include Keystone Mercy’s faith-based signature wellness program “The Health Ministry Program for Women”, mobile health van “Care-a-Van”, and The Health Education and Outreach Community Advisory Committee.

Born and raised in El Salvador, Ms. Castillo immigrated to Long Island, New York in 1981. She received her bachelor's degree in Public Administration, Marketing and Accounting from Long Island University. She currently serves as First Vice President of the Hispanic Alliance of Atlantic County and a member of the organization’s annual Latin American Festival committee. Other memberships include a Board member of the South Jersey AIDS Alliance, First Tee Golf Program, Sun National Bank Community Advisory Board, and the North Philadelphia Health System’s Latino Advisory Board. She is a member of the American Public Transportation Association’s Legislative Affairs Committee.

The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, founded in 1971 at Howard University in Washington, DC, is national organization with over 2,000 members in all areas of transportation located in 29 chapters throughout major cities in the United States. Its mission is to strengthen the position of minorities within the transportation industry.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 752,600 daily trips on 240 bus routes, two light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 161 rail stations, 28 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.


Editor’s Note: Photographs of Flora Castillo is available upon request by contacting Janet Hines at (973) 491-7078.