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For Immediate Release:

February 26, 2018


Three MDOT Employees Selected Through Competitive Process for
Professional Development Program

HANOVER, MD – Secretary Pete K. Rahn today congratulated three members of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) on their selection for Leadership Maryland, a professional development program dedicated to harnessing the strength of Maryland’s local business and community leaders and building a better state.

The group of 52 chosen for the prestigious program include Nimisha Sharma, director of the MDOT Office of Real Estate and Economic Development; Sonal Ram, director of the Office of Environmental Design for the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA); and Rhashad T. Johnson, director of field operations for the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA).

“MDOT has the most talented professionals in the transportation industry, who dedicate their lives to delivering the best transportation network in the nation,” said Secretary Rahn.

Ms. Sharma, Ms. Ram and Mr. Johnson were chosen in a competitive process for Leadership Maryland’s 26th class. Participants will complete an eight-month, hands-on learning program that launches in April, focused on the state’s social, economic and environmental issues.

Following a two-day opening retreat, the class will attend five intense two-day sessions, crossing the state and focusing on Maryland’s economic development, education, health and human services, criminal justice, the environment and multi-culturalism/diversity. More than 100 experts from business, government, education and the non-profit community will serve as panelists and guest speakers.

Renée M. Winsky, president and chief executive officer of Leadership Maryland, said the three MDOT directors were picked from an “extraordinary” pool of candidates. “They represent a diverse and broad spectrum of highly qualified executives from across the state. Every member of the class is sure to have an experience unlike any other as they traverse the state, grow their personal and professional networks and gain a greater understanding of the critical issues and challenges facing our state.”

Ms. Sharma, a licensed architect, joined MDOT in 2012 to manage Transit Oriented Development projects in The Secretary’s Office of Real Estate and Economic Development. She was promoted to office director in 2017. Before joining MDOT, she served as an architect for various firms, offering engineering, architectural, planning, environmental and construction management services. The Ellicott City resident has 20 years of experience in the private and public sectors. She has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the
BMS College of Engineering in Bangalore, India, and is a graduate of the Project Management Institute. She also holds a professional certification in Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design.

“I am so excited to be part of Leadership Maryland Class-2018 and look forward to this journey of sharing and learning,” said Ms. Sharma. “The interaction and the knowledge I gain will help me make informed decisions for the benefit of Maryland. This experience will be beneficial for my personal and professional growth, and I will make invaluable life-long connections.”

Ms. Ram joined MDOT SHA as a Transportation Engineer in 1996 and has dedicated 24 years to Water Resources Engineering for the agency. Her career encompasses environmental engineering, compliance, mitigation and stewardship. The Columbia resident completed her bachelor’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Gujarat University, India. She holds a master of science degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Maryland College Park.

“Leadership Maryland is a comprehensive and challenging program, and it is a great honor to be selected,” said Ms. Ram. “I look forward to applying the knowledge I acquire to take our department to a higher level.”

Mr. Johnson has 25 years of public service experience. He joined MDOT MVA as a contractual employee in 1997 and was promoted to director of field operations in 2017. Prior to MDOT MVA, he served in the United States Navy, where he specialized in cryptologic communications, Morse code and computer science. He has studied at the University of Maryland and is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert. The Frederick resident is a graduate of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) Leadership Academy.

“It is a tremendous honor to represent MDOT MVA and learn leadership styles from individuals in different industries,” Mr. Johnson said. “With that training, I can push someone else forward, mentor and help others, paying back what I learned.”

Leadership Maryland’s first class graduated in 1993, and its alumni include more than 1,150 leaders from the state’s industries and regions. To learn more, call Leadership Maryland at 410-841-2101 or visit

The Maryland Department of Transportation is a customer-driven leader that delivers safe, sustainable, intelligent, and exceptional transportation solutions in order to connect its customers to life’s opportunities.


Erin Henson
MDOT Public Affairs



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