Kelley S. Coyner, J.D.



Kelley Coyner serves as a Senior Fellow at the Center for Regional Analysis and Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University where she’s focused what makes regions smart and sustainable. As the newest addition to the Center for Regional Analysis, Ms. Coyner brings wide range of experience deploying innovative policies and programs that make communities thrive. At Mason, she’s focused on innovation and smart cities and communities. Ms. Coyner is also on the Board of Advisors of the Eno Foundation where she collaborates on research on transportation governance and funding.

Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission 2013- June 2016, Ms. Coyner secured millions of dollars of funding for the region’s transportation system and built the technical strength of NVTC through innovative partnerships with the region’s research community.  Prior to joining NVTC as Executive Director she served as Chief of Staff to the National Capital Region’s Senior Policy Group on homeland security and emergency management where she led the region’s cities and counties and 500 subject matter experts through an overhaul of its strategic plan that guides management and selection of homeland security and emergency management grants.

A veteran of public, private and nonprofit sectors, Ms. Coyner has served at all levels of government and in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. She was a member of the 2008 Presidential Transition Team and was the Senate-confirmed head of the Research and Special Programs Administration. Ms. Coyner’s other appointments include Eno Foundation Board of Advisors, Obama Presidential Transition Team, Visiting Researcher, MIT; Observer, Critical Infrastructure Committee, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Advisor to SOUTHCOM, South American, U.S., and International NGOs, USAID Technical Advisor on Institutional Development, Communications and Social Media to PROCOSI; Civilian Advisor, Officer Candidate School, U.S. Coast Guard Academy; U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Institute. She oversaw the federal government’s University Transportation Centers Program and has lectured at more than 30 universities and colleges across the United States.

Ms. Coyner’s served as an advisor, member, or counsel to more than 70 nonprofits locally, nationally, and internationally.  In addition, Ms. Coyner has conducted multi-country and multi-sector program evaluations and stakeholder analyses of conservation, advocacy, housing, community health and other nonprofits in the U.S. and South America. These nonprofits included Save the Children, CARE, Christian Children’s Fund, Oxfam, ProDem, ProMujer, BancoSol, the Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, IDEA, and ARCA. As an advisor to USAID, Ms. Coyner established “Friends of Nonprofit” for a network of Bolivian, U.S., and European nonprofits and secured 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

Her positons in the transportation field, include service as the Senate-confirmed Administrator of Research and Special Programs at the U.S. DOT, research appointments at MIT and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, counsel to independent flight attendant unions, and advisor to the Vice Chair of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and staff liaison to the Texas Highway Commission.

Ms. Coyner’s research experience includes development of a federal transportation research agenda, oversight of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, and design of a regional transit research network. Ms. Coyner’s decades of research and technology experience includes developing and overseeing research initiatives across disciplines, insuring the dissemination and application of research results, securing research funding, and founding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s first ever STEM initiative as part of the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Research Program.  Ms. Coyner’s served as Research Panel Member, Travel Impacts & Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Rural & Smaller Community Land Use Strategies National Highway Cooperative Research Program. She also served as a Member of Member, Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board Committee on the Effectiveness of the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture, National Academy of Sciences.

Ms. Coyner has authored numerous professional and legal articles and papers on the national security and export control law; federal and state lobbying, ethics, and freedom of information acts, transportation finance, policy, programs and law, and homeland security and emergency management. She has lead, facilitated, and written dozens of strategic plans. In addition, Ms. Coyner has published numerous articles, blog posts, and a travel book on South American culture, natural history, and adventure travel as well other nonfiction writing.

Ms. Coyner has testified before dozens of Congressional and state legislative committees, appeared on national and local television and radio and electronic media; lectured at more than 30 colleges and universities; and participated in numerous panel discussions. Recent presentations include connection between national economic trends and the regional economic outlook, what transit means to business and to regional economic competitiveness, increasing the value of congestion pricing across modes, innovation transit finance and funding, and use of performance metrics for transportation project selection.

A native Texan, Ms. Coyner holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a law degree from University of Virginia. She clerked for the Hon. George P. Kazen, Federal District Judge, Southern District of Texas.

Areas of Research

  • Transportation Law and Policy
  • Smart Cities/Digital Communities
  • Presidential and Gubernatorial Transitions
  • Workforce
  • Employment
  • Forecasting-population
  • Housing Policy
  • Regional Analysis and Economic Development
  • Evidence-Based Nonprofit and Public Policies and Programs