Nominated by President Joseph R. Biden as a director of the Amtrak Board in January 2023 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in January 2024, Mr. Szabat is president, aviation strategies, at Strong Port Strategies, LLC, a transportation consultancy focused on maritime, air, rail and intermodal transportation.
Mr. Szabat retired from the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) in 2022 as the deputy assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs after 38 years of government service. In that role, and his earlier position as assistant secretary, he oversaw a team that managed 140 bilateral air service agreements with other countries, licensed airlines operating in the U.S., reviewed airline joint venture proposals and ran grant programs to assure service to more than 200 small community airports nationwide.
While he was assistant secretary, Mr. Szabat also became acting under secretary of transportation for policy from 2019-2021, the third-highest position within the U.S. DOT.
Mr. Szabat represented the department to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and on the White House COVID-19 Task Force. He also spearheaded new policies on broadband and spectrum use, for drones and autonomous vehicles.
From 2011-2017, Mr. Szabat was the executive director of the U.S. Maritime Administration. His time at the U.S. DOT also included roles as deputy assistant secretary for management and budget and policy.
He served as the U.S. DOT’s designated federal official charged with managing $48 billion of transportation infrastructure investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This program led to the construction of 15,000 surface transportation projects across the country.
Mr. Szabat was the chief of staff of the Small Business Administration from 2006-2008 and served as the transportation attaché to the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq in 2005, overseeing $500 million to reconstruct Iraqi airports, ports and railroads.
Prior to joining the U.S. DOT in 2002, Mr. Szabat was the principal transportation consultant in the California State Assembly from 1993-2001. He began his career in government as a senior budget and management consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier he worked for a management consultancy, advising trucking and rail firms.
Mr. Szabat is a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served as a captain leading armored cavalry units in the former West Germany.
He received his Bachelor of Arts in economics from Georgetown University and earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
Together with his wife, Chiling Tong, Szabat founded the International Leadership Foundation in 2000 to promote the civic awareness and involvement of Asian Pacific American youth.
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