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Leading the way with education resources for a new generation of railroaders
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We are working on new events to be scheduled in 2021 and 2022. Check back here for updates.
The talent shortage. We've all heard about it, read about it and had to deal with it every day. The Michael A. Paras Foundation has decided to do something about it. By gathering resources for scholarships, we are working to develop the next generation of rail industry leaders. Are you in? We hope so. Please donate.
Who is Michael A. Paras?
Mike Paras was a longtime general manager for the Belt Railway Co. of Chicago (BRC) and renowned freight-rail expert in the Windy City.
Paras had served the BRC as GM of transportation for the past decade. During his 43-year railroad career, he also held various positions at the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad — such as trainman, yardmaster and trainmaster — and at Southern Pacific/Union Pacific Railroad, including service unit superintendent and GM of safety initiatives.
Mike Paras was known for his jovial demeanor and constant smile. A native of Price, Utah, he graduated from the University of Utah in 1977 with a bachelor of science degree in finance and business management.
During his BRC career, Paras assumed an active role in rail traffic coordination efforts in Chicago and in the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency, or CREATE, Program, helping to better coordinate freight-rail traffic in the city.
“He became a household name, if you will, at each Class I, and was well known to many people,” says Ron Batory, president and chief operating officer of Conrail, and a former BRC president who met Paras in 1990. “He always found ways to do what was right for all [railroads].”
“Mike was the most passionate and dedicated railroader I have ever known. His knowledge of the rail industry was all-encompassing and his desire to share his expertise with all was truly inspirational,” says BRC President Pat O’Brien. “Plus, he was a wonderful guy.”
Paras served as a board member for the American Association of Railroad Superintendents — he won the association’s Operations Leadership Award in 2013 — and made a number of leadership and rail presentations at the universities of Michigan State and Wisconsin. He was charismatic and upbeat — it didn’t matter if he was speaking to a student, a peer or a higher authority, “he was always Mike Paras,” says Batory.