And it starts with our people. We are a dynamic team
of creators, visionaries and doers all working together
to enable what’s next in travel.
Interested in exploring careers with Brightline
(soon to be Virgin Trains USA)?
Our leadership team
At Brightline, we rely on our employees, leaders and guests to bring
our shared vision for better travel to life. Together, we are pushing
the boundaries of what’s possible.
Patrick Goddard, President
Patrick Goddard is the President of Brightline Trains, soon to be Virgin Trains USA, the first privately owned and operated intercity passenger rail system in over 100 years.
Patrick was responsible for the company’s development and construction and bringing this innovative system to market. This includes the development of about 1.5msq of Transit Oriented Development around the system’s stations.
He comes from the hospitality industry having worked in hotel development and operations for Hilton Hotels, Loews Hotels and Rosewood Hotels. He also ran a large international Hotel Management Company, Trust Hospitality, for 5 years as its President and Chief Operating Officer prior to joining Brightline in 2016.
He has a degree in hospitality management from the Dublin Institute of Technology with a Bachelor's Degree in Strategic Management from Trinity College Dublin.
Jeff Swiatek, Chief Financial Officer
Jeff Swiatek oversees the financial aspects of the development and operations of Brightline. He has more than 25 years of experience in international corporate finance, strategy and business development. Most recently, Jeff spent 15 years at AIG in various senior roles spanning mergers and acquisitions, planning and budgeting, business analytics, portfolio management and business development activities. Prior to AIG, he worked in the investment banking department of Goldman Sachs where he helped companies execute capital raising transactions and review acquisition opportunities.
Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Asian Studies from Dartmouth College and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Cynthia Bergmann, General Counsel
Cindy Bergmann is responsible for directing the legal and compliance affairs of Brightline, as well as advising senior management on all significant legal issues. She brings more than 30 years of legal experience in mergers and acquisitions, financing, real estate, corporate and regulatory matters to the role, with significant transportation industry experience.
Prior to joining Brightline, Cindy was a partner with Freeborn & Peters in Chicago, where she served as co-chair of the firm’s Corporate Practice Group and chair of its Transportation Industry Team. She represented public and privately held companies in the rail, logistics, construction, manufacturing, petrochemical and solar industries in a wide range of transactions, including the purchase and sale of subsidiaries, financings, joint ventures, and the development of new facilities. Cindy also served as the US Corporate Counsel for Canadian National Railway Company. On behalf of CN, she led teams in the acquisition and integration of several strategic subsidiaries and managed all legal aspects of US financial matters.
Cindy received her Juris Doctor degree from the UIC John Marshall Law School and her BSBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Denver. She is a past President of the Association of Transportation Law Professionals and a Director and Treasurer of NeighborSpace, an urban land trust in partnership with the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to preserve community gardens within the City of Chicago.
Carla D’Alessandro, Chief Marketing Officer
Carla D’Alessandro has served as Chief Marketing Officer since December 2019. Carla has extensive expertise in brand building and digital marketing and will lead the strategy and execution of a new dynamic vision for the marketing and commercial teams.
Prior to joining the company, Carla was the CMO of IPIC Entertainment, where she built out national membership and digital programs for a premier experience-driven theater. She also held the position of SVP, Managing Director at Zimmerman Advertising. At Zimmerman, she oversaw marketing efforts across a diverse portfolio of brands including Sam's Club, McDonald's, Michaels Arts and Crafts and Tire Kingdom. She has partnered with marketing teams to navigate sectors and industries that have experienced tremendous change in recent years. Carla credits focusing on the consumer, taking a test and learn approach and investing in best in class technology partners as keys to success.
Carla has a Specialist BA from the University of Toronto and an MBA from the International University of Monaco.
Gary Smith, Chief Accounting Officer
Gary oversees the financial accounting aspects of the company, including all corporate financial reporting, maintenance of internal controls, and overseeing of compliance policies and procedures. Prior to joining the Brightline, Gary served as the corporate controller for Loews Hotels & Co. He also held senior technical accounting and operational controllership roles with the Commercial Real Estate Division of GE Capital, served as the deputy controller for SiriusXM Radio, and served as vice president and technical accounting advisor at American Express. He also served at Ernst & Young in various roles, including in the firm’s National Accounting Standards Practice. Gary began his professional career in public accounting in 1989 with Bond Beebe, a certified public accounting and advisory services firm based in Washington, D.C. Gary graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a BBA in Accounting and is a certified public accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Michael Cegelis, EVP of Infrastructure Development
Michael is responsible for overseeing the infrastructure development for the system’s expansion in Florida, including the additional in-line stations between Miami and West Palm Beach, Phase 2 to Orlando and proposed Phase 3 to Tampa. He manages the team responsible for schedule, budget, quality, implementation of safety measures, including Positive Train Control, and environmental oversight.
He is a 40-year construction industry veteran, who previously served as senior vice president at American Bridge Company, one of the nation’s leading civil engineering firms that specializes in building and renovating bridges and other large civil engineering projects.
Michael’s major project construction experience includes the $3.5 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement in New York, the $1.9 billion San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge self-anchored suspension span, the Angus Macdonald Bridge in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Las Vegas High Roller Observation Wheel, and the $1.3 billion Queensferry Crossing in Scotland. He also has extensive experience in the Florida construction industry. Michael brings a deep understanding of the success factors for the controlled delivery of large and multi-disciplined infrastructure projects with numerous stakeholders.
Michael earned a Bachelor of Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Rollins College. He also completed an executive education program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Virgin Trains USA West
& Head of West Coast Operations
Sarah Watterson, Chief Development Officer & Head of West Coast Operations
Sarah Watterson is responsible for all aspects of business development and delivery for Virgin Trains USA West, including the transit oriented development and rail infrastructure strategy, design and execution. She was most recently the Head of Development at Florida East Coast Industries, a multi-faceted real estate and transportation company headquartered in South Florida. Sarah has been employed by Fortress Investment Group or its affiliates in various leadership capacities since 2011.
Previously, Sarah was the CEO of Drive Shack (NYSE:DS), an owner and operator of 75+ golf courses. During her time at Drive Shack, she internalized the management of the company, converted the company from a REIT to an operating company and built out a new business line, called Drive Shack, which nationally develops and operates 10+ acre technology driven entertainment driving range facilities.
Sarah helped lead the acquisition, ownership syndication and restructuring of the Milwaukee Bucks for Fortress owner, Wes Edens, and co-owner, Marc Lasry. Following the acquisition of the team, Sarah moved to Milwaukee to work on the development of a 725,000 SF arena and 20 acres of surrounding mixed use development.
Prior to her time in Milwaukee, Sarah was on the Private Equity team at Fortress Investment Group. She began her career at Goldman Sachs in the Sales & Trading Division.
Sarah graduated summa cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in Applied Economics and Management.
John L. Rinard, PE, EVP of Rail Infrastructure Construction of West Coast Operations
John is responsible for overseeing the rail infrastructure and vehicle maintenance facility construction for the Southern California to Las Vegas system. He manages the team responsible for schedule, budget, quality, implementation of safety measures and environmental oversight.
John has more than 36 years of seasoned heavy civil construction and has experience as owner (public and private), operator, engineer and contractor. He previously served as the director of a Parson led joint venture and had the single-point responsibility for provision of the PMCM services on the $17 billion metro project in the capital city of Saudi Arabia. John was overseeing two design-build contracts for the largest metro under construction in the world. The project employed approximately 50,000 personnel, consisted of 100 miles of double track, 20 miles of tunnels, 60 stations, 32 miles of viaducts, 12 park and rides and 114 train sets.
John has managed or constructed infrastructure with a value more than $220 billion. He began his career with the Southern Pacific Railroad in the USA, has served on five continents and has managed or developed projects in India, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Guinea, Qatar, Libya, Philippines, South Korea, United States, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. In the USA he has managed projects from Chicago to San Francisco, and from Miami to Seattle.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Utah. John is a registered Professional Engineer, licensed general contractor, and a serving Arbitrator or Mediator with the American Arbitration Association. He is an expert in the origination and management of major contracts for complex projects, as well as alternative dispute resolutions.
Adrian Share, PE, EVP of Rail Infrastructure of West Coast Operations
Adrian is responsible for overseeing the environmental, design, and engineering of the rail system and assisting with the rolling stock procurement for a new high speed rail service connecting Southern California and Las Vegas. He previously oversaw the development and construction for Brightline’s Phase 1 system.
Adrian brings more than 30 years of extensive passenger rail experience and leadership to the team. He previously served as HNTB Corporation Florida district leader and program manager for the Virgin Trains USA Florida project. While at HNTB Corporation, Adrian served as the Florida High-Speed Rail Project Manager where he assisted the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in its application and strategic planning process for the Orlando-Miami and Tampa-Orlando-Miami segments. He’s also worked on dozens of infrastructure projects, ranging from bridges to toll lanes to highways.
Adrian holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Tulane University and an MBA from Northeastern University. He is a Professional Engineer in Florida (1999) and previously served as the Chair of the Transportation Committee of the Florida Institute of Consulting Engineers (FICE) while leading several subcommittees over the past decade. In 2012, Adrian was awarded the prestigious Ben Watts Partnership Award by FDOT.
What we're into
Travel—we love it. To us, any time is a good time to get up and go, and
the trip is just as important as the destination. That’s why we’re here.
And because we’re all in this together, here’s what we hold dear: