Eno Welcomes Morgan State City Planning Master’s Candidate as 2022 Thomas J. O’Bryant Fellow
The Eno Center for Transportation has selected Ethan McLeod as our 2022 Thomas J. O’Bryant Fellow. The fellowship is designed to provide a professional development opportunity for aspiring transportation specialists.
Ethan has a bachelor’s degree in public communication from American University in Washington D.C. and is currently working towards his Master of City and Regional Planning degree at Morgan State University, where he also serves as a graduate research assistant. His research interests include transportation planning and governance, vacant housing and historic preservation.
How did you become interested in transportation?
So one of my first stories I ever wrote about transportation was for DCist. It was about high-speed trains. Governor Hogan threw a little weight behind The Boring Company in 2017, and there was the Maglev program, and there was the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak’s plans. I did a longform piece exploring all the options and I absolutely loved it. There was so, so much to learn. It was a massive learning curve. I also had moved to Baltimore in 2016 and I got into reporting on the “bikelash” that happened with bike lane expansions. Baltimore is a very car-centric city. I was reporting a lot of bike lane-related content and on multi-modal projects, I was writing a lot on the MTA (Maryland Transit Authority), which there wasn’t a lot of coverage of in the city. And then I went to planning school last year. I have a few things that I’m really into, but transportation is high on the list.
What is something you’re passionate about within the transportation industry?
Eno helped with a report in 2020 for the Greater Washington Partnership discussing how Baltimore’s transit system being state-controlled can really hamper its ability to expand. It allows for unilateral decisions by the governor to spike an entire east-west expansion project, like in 2015. They’re just a massive anchor around the city. It’s a problem that I am comfortable devoting my entire career to fixing, and that is extremely important to me. Public transit in Baltimore – and public transit in general – has an equity component. I think that’s the biggest part of it, with economic development and regional growth, and it affects everyone from the C-Suite to regular people who just want to get to work.
What made you apply for the fellowship?
I’m really interested in policy and higher-level stuff, and this position seemed like the right mix between writing and getting into the weeds a little more than I get to as a journalist. It stuck out as a really unique opportunity. I was offered a couple of other positions and I had to reason with myself: “I could probably do those at some other point in school or in my life, and this is probably the only time I will be offered something like [the Fellowship] to work with some policy experts.”
What are you looking forward to about the fellowship and your future career?
I’m about a month in now and it’s a 10-week program, so I have a good idea of what I’m looking forward to the most this summer. I absorb so much information when I’m copy-editing because it’s obsessing over every word and piece of punctuation. I am really looking forward to diving in and getting to flex my editing muscles while also being a sponge for a lot of this information. I am definitely am already growing my world — I’ve been so Baltimore-focused for years.
Public transit in Baltimore – and public transit in general – has an equity component. I think that’s the biggest part of it, with economic development and regional growth, and it affects everyone from the C-Suite to regular people who just want to get to work.
2022 Thomas J. O’Bryant Fellow
What is your work like in school?
I work as a research assistant for my professor and have been editing and fact-checking his book. I’ve done a couple of research-related projects and really, I think the thesis requirement will be the research pinnacle of the program. I start thesis prep during the upcoming fall semester and have the spring semester to throw the body of work together.
What do you think is, if any, the intersection, between journalism and transportation?
It can be extremely granular. Transportation is very visceral for people, so reporting on transportation, journalism about transportation, I think it has heavy impact because it is seen by all. Everyone has felt these things someway. And, I think it’s easy to hit home if you do it right and make it something that people can feel.
The Thomas J. O’Bryant Fellowship provides a high-quality professional development opportunity for aspiring transportation specialists. Each summer, Eno selects a Fellow who will gain in-depth knowledge of transportation policy and practice under the guidance of Eno staff.
Along with a successful career in the financial industry, transportation policy was a large part of Thomas O’Bryant’s life and legacy. Tom was a driving force behind Eno’s Future Leaders Development Conference and devoted a significant amount of his time to serving Eno’s transportation leadership and policy research efforts. He was a member of Eno’s Board of Directors for 12 years, spending nine of those years as treasurer, and served on the Eno Board of Advisors and Regents.