November 2015 Industry Speakers

Industry Speakers

Keith Parker
General Manager/CEO


Keith T. Parker, AICP, is the General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), the nation’s 9th largest transit system which includes heavy rail, bus and paratransit services. MARTA provides over 400,000 passenger boardings a day. Parker took the helm of MARTA on Dec. 10, 2012. Under his leadership, the Authority is focused on working with employees, customers, transit stakeholders and the community to provide safe, efficient, and high quality transit services to the Atlanta region.

Parker’s career has included public and private sector experiences in diverse communities around the country, including Virginia, California, Washington State, North Carolina and Texas. Most recently, Parker served as CEO for transit systems in San Antonio (the nation’s seventh largest city) and Charlotte. In both cities, the transit systems utilized public involvement and technological innovations to dramatically improve the overall public transit experience. Under Parker’s leadership, San Antonio and Charlotte transit systems enjoyed some of the highest ridership increases in the country, while maintaining some of the lowest costs. The transit agencies won numerous local, state, and national awards in areas such as safety, maintenance, environmental innovations, and overall excellence. Parker won Texas CEO of the year awards in 2011 and 2012. Since arriving in Atlanta, Parker was recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” by Georgia Trend and was selected as 2013 Transit Manager of the Year by the Georgia Transit Association.

In Oct. 2014, METRO Magazine listed Parker as one of the twenty “Most Influential People of the Decade,” recognizing his ability to transform agency efficiencies and cost-effectiveness and engender a culture of innovation in diverse environments.

Consistently active in civic and charitable organizations, Parker serves on notable national and local Boards of Directors including the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, the Transportation Cooperative Research Board, the American Public Transportation Association, and the 100 Black Men of Atlanta.

Parker holds a MBA from the University of Richmond, as well as a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and a BA in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University. He also holds professional certification with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Parker is married to his college sweetheart, Dawn, and they are the proud parents of two daughters and a son.

William A. Strauss
Senior Economist
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago


William A. Strauss is a Senior Economist and Economic Advisor in the Economic Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, which he joined in 1982. His chief responsibilities include analyzing the current performance of both the Midwest economy and the manufacturing sector for use in monetary policy. He produces the monthly Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index and organizes the Bank’s Economic Outlook Symposium and Automotive Outlook Symposium. In addition, he conducts several economic workshops and industrial roundtables throughout the year.

Mr. Strauss earned a B.A. in economics and geography from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and an M.A. in economics from Northwestern University. He has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Loyola University Chicago and Webster University in Chicago. He currently teaches at DePaul University Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, and at the University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. At the latter institution, he was named winner of the 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award in the Business and Professional Programs. He was recognized by the University at Buffalo as a Distinguished Alumni in 2012.

His research papers include analysis of the manufacturing sector, the automotive sector, the Midwest regional economy, the trade-weighted dollar, business cycles, and Federal Reserve payments operations.

Mr. Strauss has been interviewed on numerous television and radio shows and quoted in the major business magazines and newspapers. He has also provided testimony concerning manufacturing issues to the U.S. Senate.

He is a past president of the Chicago Association of Business Economists; a past board member for the National Association for Business Economics; a member of the National Business Economics Issues Council; a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the University at Buffalo; a member of the Advisory Board for the Center of Excellence on Human Capital, Technology Transfer, & Economic Growth and Development, a member of the Advisory Council for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Economic Education; a member of the Economic Advisory Committee for the Council on Competitiveness; a board member of Global Interdependence Center; and a member of the Council of Great Lakes Governors Maritime Advisory Committee.

Max Darnell
Managing Partner
First Quadrant


Max’s leadership style – carefully cultivating intellectual friction alongside truly constructive engagement – has made it possible for a group of talented, spirited individuals to come together and thrive as a team.

Max Darnell has served as First Quadrant’s Managing Partner since 2012, and Chief Investment Officer since 2002. Max is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the firm and for overseeing the firm’s investment products with emphasis on strategic research and development initiatives. Max began his
career at First Quadrant in 1991, managing derivatives research throughout the decade. In 2000 he was named Director of Research. Max earned a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1991.