Hurricane Sandy Aftermath
October 22 – November 2, 2012
Natural disasters such as 2012’s Hurricane Sandy provided yet another challenge, as sections of the subway system were shut down for more than a year.
Kennedy’s office had provided the analysis on how to best repair the tunnel. The question: shut it down for 13 months or only on weekends for a period of years? “We chose the option to shut down completely,” says Kennedy. “In the end all the asbestos, an occupational hazard, was removed, the work was completed and it reopened on time.”
“She’s a pro,” said Bianco. “When I was president, I spent little time worrying about her department.” During her career, Kennedy has overhauled outdated repairs and maintenance procedures in favor of providing a safer environment for employees. She implemented a system to take larger sections of track offline and do more intense and productive work. She has also made it safer for the transit customer, implementing platform safety programs and customer awareness programs in order to curtail and eliminate incidents on the system.
Today, customers can press a button to instantly reach the command center when help is needed. And a Customer Awareness program that includes announcements and posted “Help Points” are meant to increase safety and decrease incidents. And in 2014, Kennedy investigated a controversial train derailment in Queens and published her findings after the months-long investigation.
Kennedy’s love for WVU began when she stepped on campus in 1977 as an 18-year-old, and along the way she has converted most of her family to the gold and blue. Five years after his big sister enrolled, brother Doug, now a police officer in upstate New York, joined her on campus.
Donald and Elizabeth Kennedy, Cheryl’s parents, also fell in love with the University over the eight years their children were in school. After their children graduated, they continued to make the six-hour trek from New Jersey to Morgantown for Mountaineer home football games and quickly made lifelong friendships with other fans.
Even as she was climbing the corporate ladder, Kennedy found time to sneak away to WVU on football weekends with her husband, Mike, and daughter, Kelly.
In 2012, Kelly became a member of the WVU family, spending two years on campus and receiving a master’s degree in sports management from CPASS. Last year Kelly became the first Kennedy family member to make Morgantown her permanent home, joining WVU
Trademark Licensing as a full-time program coordinator.
Sports has always run deep with Kennedy, who walked on to the women’s basketball team in 1977
and played two seasons.
“The role of sports helped me tremendously in managing people,” she says. “As I was promoted into managerial jobs, the skills that I developed playing on sports teams truly translated much more than you would ever think. You eventually figure out where your employees are weak and where they are strong. Knowing how you can help them is more useful as you get higher in the corporate world, “ she said. “Likewise, safe and reliable transit service to customers only comes about when you function as a team. Whatever I do affects the organization. The value of being united on a team toward the same goal — that really helped me in my career.”
The Safety Studies program at WVU, which moved from CPASS to the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources in 1991, also prepared Kennedy for the high-pressure scenarios that she has encountered during her career. “WVU helped me to have the mindset of looking at a problem and analyzing it — looking at the big picture and figure out how to manage it.”
It’s safe to say that Kennedy learned her lessons well.