About Citrus Connection
Executive Director: Tom Phillips
Director of Safety, Security and Training: Bill Knieriem
Chief Financial Officer: Kelly Bennington
Director of External Affairs: Erin Killebrew-Kinlaw
Director of Revenue Services: Paul Simms
Director of Regional Mobility Call Center: Marcia Roberson
Director of Maintenance: Jay Steinbauer
Director of Human Resources: Steven Schaible
Chicago’s loss has definitely been Polk County’s gain.
Citrus Connection Executive Director Tom Phillips’ arrival in Lakeland seven years ago from Pace Suburban Bus in Chicago has added an innovative approach to public transportation in Polk County resulting in the merger of all the county transit systems while still being a good steward of taxpayer’s dollars.
A Minnesota native, Phillips brings 15 years of transit experience to the table which has already enabled him to increase ridership by 27 percent, reduce operating cost by 8.6 percent and refund more than $100,000 to the Polk County Board of County Commissioners.
Phillips has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of New Mexico and when he isn’t being responsible for the present and future of public transportation in Polk County, he is either serving as a member of the VISTE Board of Directors or at Disney World with his family.
He resides in Lakeland with his wife Michelle and sons, William and Marshall, his dog Benny and guinea pig Starfox.
Director of Safety, Security and Training
With two million rides per year, Bill Knieriem’s focus is on making sure every rider is safe getting where they need to go.
It’s a pretty daunting task, but as the Citrus Connection Director of Safety, Security and Training, Knieriem loves the responsibility of overseeing the safety, security and training.
Knieriem has been with Citrus Connection for nearly two decades after a career that included working as a Customs Agent in New York working with cargo ships in New York Harbor. He was also a UPS driver, FDOT certified Redi Mix plant manager for Florida Rock Industries, school bus operator in Atlanta and Lake County, FL.
A native of Staten Island, Knieriem graduated high school in 1979. He earned numerous management and safety certifications from the Center for Urban Transportation Research, the Transportation Safety Institute, the National Transit Institute and others. He has certifications in Transit Supervision, Transit System Safety, Fundamental and Intermediate Bus Collision investigations, and Transit Mid Manager Certification from The ENO Center for Transit.
When he’s not making sure the entire Citrus Connection system is running safely, Bill can be found casting a line into salt or freshwater looking for that big catch. A proud father of six, Bill boasts about his 17 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Chief Financial Officer
An accountant with a personality who isn’t scared to throw on her steel toe boots and get her hands dirty, Citrus Connection’s Chief Financial Officer, Kelly Bennington, relocated to Lakeland from Roanoke, Virginia. She brings more than 18 years of financial experience in the transportation industry including three years of governmental experience at the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Bennington has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a concentration in Accounting from Bluefield University and a Master of Accounting and Information Systems from Virginia Tech. She is also a Certified Public Accountant licensed in Florida and Virginia.
Bennington is no stranger to working through complex business initiatives and coordinating multifaceted financial transactions after spending 15 years at a Fortune 300 company. She brings with her system implementation experience as she worked on a two-year, multi-million-dollar system implementation team.
She is married to her husband, Kevin, and has three children, Britney, Linsey, and Kole. She is also a ‘Gigi’ to her two grandchildren, Carson and Rylee. She loves to be outside walking or jogging, spending time with family, and cooking.
Director of External Affairs
There always has to be that one person who can talk to anyone and get things done. We look no further than to Erin Killebrew-Kinlaw, the Citrus Connection Director of External Affairs.
Whether it’s a member of Congress or a rider who needs assistance, Killebrew-Kinlaw is that liaison who does more than just hears what people are saying. She listens.
A Winter Haven native and daughter of Sam and Eileen Killebrew, Erin joined the Citrus Connection team in her role in May of 2015 after serving in the same capacity for three members of Congress.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology with minors in English and Political Science from the University of South Florida. You better watch out. She is also a certified Law Enforcement Officer in the state of Florida.
When she isn’t working, Erin is an avid Cross-Fit enthusiasts working out six days a week. When she has any extra time, you can find her enjoying time by the water.
Director of Regional Mobility Call Center
When the phone rings at the Citrus Connection Regional Mobility Call Center, Marcia Roberson makes sure that the person on the other end of the line knows that everything is being done to make sure that their transportation needs are met.
For more than two decades, Roberson has been part of the Citrus Connection family. She knows from experience with a view from the driver’s seat, the importance of public transportation has in the lives of the residents of Polk County.
In her role as the Regional Mobility Call Center Director, Roberson is responsible for overseeing the dispatching and communication for both fixed-route and paratransit service countywide.
Roberson and her team call center team has a goal to find transportation solutions for all Polk County residents. Whether they are scheduling paratransit or fixed-route trips or referring passenger to other agencies for assistance through other county, state and veterans’ programs.
Originally from Trenton, NJ, Roberson has lived most of her life in Lakeland where she proudly raised two daughters and enjoys her seven grandchildren. When she’s not working, she enjoying family time, sports, relaxing watching HGTV or reading a book.
Director of Maintenance
If it has wheels and a motor, Jay Steinbauer loves to work on it making him an ideal fit as Citrus Connection’s Fleet Maintenance Director.
Moving up the ranks in our Maintenance Department, Steinbauer has a wealth of talent and experience. He has been named the Florida Transportation Association Technician of the Year and is a graduate of the Center for Transportation Research Bus Master Technician Program. He also graduated from the Universal Technical Institute
Originally from Miami, Steinbauer, an ASE Master Certified Mechanic, has 10 years of transit maintenance experience where he developed a keen eye for detail and quality work.
When he’s not overseeing the maintenance of the ever-growing Citrus Connection fleet of vehicles, he enjoys spending time at racetracks, offshore fishing, and spending as much quality time as possible with his wife Logan and son, Braxton.
Director of Human Resources
Steve Schaible comes to Citrus Connection with a diverse background making him a perfect fit to serve as our Director of Human Resources.
A Human Resource Professional with over 20 years of diversified experience in Hospitality, Manufacturing, Utilities and Child Welfare, Schaible uses his experiences to enhance his capabilities to work and adapt in any environment.
All of that makes him an innovative life-cycle solutions professional with the flexibility to adapt and communicate effectively with all levels of our workforce.
With Masters of Science degrees in College and Personnel Counselling and Public Administration, Schaible will oversee Human Resources, support Risk Management, Safety and Security, Training, Employee Relations and Benefits Administration.
Outside the workplace, Schaible, a father of three college students, enjoys volunteering his time to a youth basketball program. When he isn’t playing or coaching basketball, you will find him on the water in the Gulf of Mexico or under the water in SCUBA gear.