Minnesota's Road to Volunteer Drivers Virtual Forum Series with State of Minnesota wordmark over an aerial view of a road and autumn leaves on treesWednesday, January 20, 2021
9:30 – 11:30 a.m. CST



This will be the third stop in the MCOTA volunteer driver virtual forum series, Minnesota's Road to Volunteer Drivers. The purpose of this virtual forum is to learn about ways to recruit volunteer drivers.



9:30 – 9:35 a.m.

Tom Gottfried, Executive Director, MCOTA, and Program Director of Mobility Management, Office of Transit and Active Transportation, Minnesota Department of Transportation


9:35 – 9:45 a.m.

Tim Henkel, Assistant Commissioner for Modal Planning and Program Management, Minnesota Department of Transportation

Research on Greater Minnesota Volunteer Driver Programs in Rural Communities

9:45 – 10:05 a.m.

Julie Tesch, President & CEO, Center for Rural Policy and Development and Whitney Oachs, Researcher, University of Minnesota

Volunteer Driver Recruitment and Promotion

10:05 – 11:30 a.m.

Martin Lepak, Recruiter, Arrowhead Transit Volunteer Driver Program


Tom Gottfried

Tom Gottfried is executive director of the Minnesota Council on Transportation Access (MCOTA) and program director for mobility management with the Office of Transit and Active Transportation at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), where he's served 30 years in various administrative roles. Tom has more than 40 years of transportation and transit experience from operations to management. Tom is a Metro State University graduate in business administration and has a master's in business management from the University of St. Thomas.

Tim Henkel

Tim Henkel is assistant commissioner for the modal planning and program management at MnDOT and serves as chair of numerous state and local committees, including MCOTA. During a transportation career of more than 35 years, he has worked with local government, the private sector, and MnDOT in several areas, including executive leadership of multimodal planning, program management, and project development and delivery. Tim also serves as chair of several national transportation committees for the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the Association of American State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP).

Julie Tesch

Julie Tesch has been president and CEO of the Center for Rural Policy and Development since 2018. The Center, based in Mankato, Minnesota, is a non-partisan, not-for-profit policy research organization dedicated to benefiting Greater Minnesota by providing policymakers with unbiased information and evaluation of issues from a rural perspective. Previously, Julie served as executive director of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

Whitney Oachs

Whitney Oachs is a second-year master's student in public policy at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a researcher at the Center for Rural Policy and Development. Whitney is from the St. Croix River Valley in northwestern Wisconsin and has lived in the Twin Cities for the past seven years. She is dedicated to fostering understanding between urban and rural points of view through policy, education, and open dialogue.

Martin Lepak

Martin Lepak has worked as a transportation advocate with the transit division of the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) since 2013. His main focus is to recruit and train volunteer drivers to provide medical- and employment-related rides to individuals in northeastern Minnesota. Prior to COVID-19, the Arrowhead Transit volunteer-driver program had in excess of 250 active volunteer drivers providing rides to individuals in 14 northeastern counties. Martin also has served on the Saint Louis County Board of Commissioners and the AEOA Board of Directors. In addition, he served as weatherization manager for the Duluth AEOA weatherization office and, earlier in life, had a career in the printing industry before owning and operating his own residential construction business.


The virtual forum is free to attend, but registration is required. After you register, you will receive an email confirmation with Zoom login information for the forum. You will also receive an email reminder with the login information one day prior to and one hour prior to the start of the event. Your login information should not be shared with others; each person must register individually.

Please note: By registering for this forum, you will automatically be registered for all forum series events. You may attend as many as you wish using the same Zoom information. If you have previously registered for any other forum events, you do not need to register again.

If you're unable to join the live broadcast, a recording with captioning and ASL interpretation will be available here following the event.


MnDOT invites and encourages participation by all. This event will include live captioning and ASL interpretation.

If you need a foreign language interpreter, documents in an alternative format (such as braille, large print, or a different language), or another reasonable accommodation for this web page, registration, or event, please contact Kaydee Kirk at least two weeks before the event by email at [email protected] or by phone at 612-626-5854.

Questions for the MCOTA Volunteer Driver Virtual Forum Series

You can submit questions for any of the virtual forum series topics now or at any time. Questions will be shared with the relevant speakers ahead of time. You can also submit questions during the live events through the Zoom webinar Q&A feature. Submit questions related to the MCOTA Volunteer Driver Virtual Forum Series topics before the event.

Virtual Forum Access

This webinar will be hosted using Zoom. We recommend that all registrants test their connection prior to the workshop using Zoom's test meeting. If you are new to Zoom, we recommend viewing the Zoom Tips for Joining and Participating in Webinars tutorial page.

Professional Development Hours

To the best of our knowledge, this event meets the continuing education requirements for 2.0 Professional Development Hours (PDHs) credit. If you participate in the virtual forum and would like to request a PDH form, please email [email protected] after the event. We will email the form to you following the event.

More Information

Please contact Kaydee Kirk at 612-626-5854 or [email protected] with any questions.


Sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the Minnesota Council on Transportation Access (MCOTA) in partnership with the Minnesota Volunteer Driver Coalition.