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Polly Trottenberg, Undersecretary, Policy Polly Trottenberg, Undersecretary, Policy

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Transportation Department

Polly Trottenberg, Undersecretary, Policy


(Richard A. Bloom)

Trottenberg has worked for some heavy hitters in the Senate. She landed her dream job in 1996 with then-Sen. Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., as a transportation aide. After Rep. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., entered the Senate in 1999, Moynihan announced he would not seek a fifth term in 2000, and the senior senator encouraged Trottenberg to join Schumer's staff. While making the transition, she was, in effect, working for both senators from New York. She says Moynihan was never in a hurry, while Schumer always "wanted to get it done fast." Trottenberg also worked for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, as a deputy chief of staff and legislative director. To borrow a term from transportation insiders, Trottenberg is "multi-modal"—meaning she has expertise in all kinds of transportation. As head of policy at DOT, she generates the ideas for legislation and regulations for cars, trucks, buses, planes, and trains. Before she was promoted to her current position, she focused on high-speed rail, livable cities, and freight rail. Trottenberg has also been employed by some heavy-hitting state officials—former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg—as the executive director of their infrastructure organization, Building America's Future. Trottenberg, 49, who grew up in Pelham, N.Y., and Cambridge, Mass., received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College and her master's in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University

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