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Jeff Kessler

Jeff Kessler is a leader in developing strategy to improve systems both from the internal/technical and external/customer perspectives. From his technical, behavioral, and financial backgrounds, he is able to design innovative solutions to everyday challenges that are functionally optimized and maximize the attainment of stakeholder goals. With unparalleled experience in, and a particular passion for, the transportation industry, Jeff hopes to maximize his impact and employ his skills through leading one of our nation’s transportation agencies or as United States Secretary of Transportation.

Current Endeavors:

Executive Chair, SEPTA YAC | DRPA CAC | UPenn Management & Technology Program


Systems Engineering

Nothing we encounter functions in isolation; rather, everything is a set of components with complex interdependencies. Systems engineering utilizes engineering methodologies, optimization techniques, and sensitivity analyses to improve these systems. In 3 words: analyze, optimize, iterate.

Behavioral Economics

Why do optimized systems often fail? They regularly make incorrect assumptions about human behavior and rationality. Behavioral Economics provides a toolkit for analyzing decisions, optimizing systems, and developing creative solutions in light of known behavioral biases and decision processing.

Business & Finances

Virtually every system we encounter is governed by money and finances. Acting as the life-blood behind many systems, quite simply, solid financial understanding is critical to robust decision-making.



Executive Chairman, SEPTA Youth Advisory Council

Appointed May 2013, Chair August 2013 to Present

  • Chairing organization for 3rd Term; charged with representing interests of Philadelphia area youth (14-22) to SEPTA Leadership.
  • Analyze annual $1.36B Operating Budget, $534.5M Capital Budget, $6.8B Capital Program, and Annual Service Plan.
  • Formulate reports on operational improvements and service enhancements; present recommendations to Executive Leadership and SEPTA Board of Directors.
  • Piloting a SEPTA Student Discount Program and improving materials for use at our 80+ annual college outreach events.
  • Yielded more than 100 service enhancements through SEPTA YAC website design, “1+1” Work Plan, “SEPTAdventures” Ridership Campaign, and Google Hangouts Meeting Integration.

Delaware River Port Authority

Citizens Advisory Committee Member

Appointed December 2014

  • Review board financials to ensure DRPA operations serve the best interests of PATCO riders.
  • Appointment Overseen by Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley.
Delaware River Port Authority

System Data & Research Intern

Summer 2015

  • Directed “ORCA Select” team as Project Manager to establish platform for improving Operations Research Computation Analysis (ORCA) tool’s ease-of-use and agency adoption.
  • Designed site based on Plus/Delta evaluation assembled through field surveys and 7 self-conducted focus group sessions across numerous MTA NYCT departments.
  • Restructured ORCA Platform training model which led to a full-unit increase in both training and platform satisfaction.

Customer Development & Improvement Special Projects Intern

Summer 2015

  • Authored 75+ page report and developed LINDO optimization model identifying 35+ short-term and long-range initiatives to reach Customer Experience goals.
  • Built strategic recommendations through field work, observation, market research, social media, historical records, 15+ internal departments, and 5 external agencies.
  • Collaborated with Market Research Director to oversee multiple Customer Program focus groups, analyzed results, and evaluated surveys to assess initiative performance.
  • Administered and hosted more than 15 SEPTA Customer Connection events at various area destinations.
The Transit Navigator

Founder, The Transit Navigator

Founded 2012

  • Launched website and location-based trip guides to simplify public transit information.
  • Attained 131,457 collective tip views and garnered more than 3,900 “likes.”

Engineering Department Intern

September 2010 – May 2011

  • Advised CETC (Train Management) Quality Control Team, Dispatch, and assisted in NE Corridor Routing.
  • Supported designing of track structures and curve layouts; tracked Acela train on-time-performance.



University of Pennsylvania

Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology, Undergrad ’16, Graduate ’17

The Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology is a highly-selective program enabling the integrated study of both business and engineering.

‌The Wharton School

Bachelor of Science in Economics, 2016
Concentration in Behavioral Economics

a Combination of Business Economics & Public Policy
and Operations & Information Management

‌Engineering & Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Engineering, 2016
Systems Science & Engineering

Master of Science in Engineering, 2017
Systems Engineering

Additional Information & Endeavors

Previous Education

Science Leadership Academy, Class of 2012

Long Island School for the Gifted, Class of 2008

Specialization Education

Rail Transportation Program

Michigan Technological University

Dolan DNA Learning Center

DNA Restriction Analysis


Robotics in The Classroom

TA, Teachers Institute of Philadelphia

Technical Skills

Excel (w/ Optimization Tools)

Extensive Knowledge


Working Knowledge


Working Knowledge


Extensive Knowledge; 9+ Successful Deployments

Project Management

Trained in Best Practice Project Management

Speaking Engagements

Volunteer Organizations

Fantastic Friends Social Group

Web Integration Director | Volunteer Staff Member

Penn For Youth Debate

Volunteer | Tournament Director | Website Manager | Executive Board Member

M&T Student Board

Webmaster | Communications Chair

Conference Organization

EduCon Conference

Chief Process Engineer | Alumni Consultant

The Franklin Institute

Galileo Conference | Workshop Design

Philly Tech Week

“School 2.0“ Co-Chair, 2011

Philadelphia Science Festival

Organizer & Exhibit Leader, 2011


Richard K. Dentel Award

for Excellence in Urban Transportation

Davidson Institute for Talent Development

Davidson Young Scholar

American Mensa

Mensa Member

Johns Hopkins CTY

Visual-Spatial Ability National High Honors Award

9-Time Science Fair Award Winner

  • 1st Award (5.0/5.0), Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – State Competition, 2012
  • Orelin Award for Outstanding High School Science Student, 2012
  • 1st Award (4.9/5.0), Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – Regional Competition, 2012
  • 3rd Place, Education.com National Virtual Science Fair, 2011
  • US Air Force Science and Engineering Achievement Award, 2011
  • 1st Award, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – State Competition, 2011
  • 1st Award, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – Regional Competition, 2011
  • 1st Place, George Washington Carver Science Fair, 2010
  • 1st Award, Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science – State Competition, 2010