John Benish Jr., president and chief operating officer of Cook-Illinois Corp., led the National School Transportation Association through the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, he’s in the NSTA Hall of Fame.
“I am proud to call John Benish my friend and colleague,” said outgoing NSTA President Carina Noble. “John has been a great leader for NSTA over the course of many years and serving in several very important roles. He served with distinction as private school bus contracting struggled with many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking the reins after him at NSTA was easier because of the positive changes he implemented during his presidency.”
An emotional Benish thanked the association before urging drivers and trainers and other contractor leaders recognized with awards earlier in the evening to rise for recognition.
“These are the people who make it happen on a day to day basis,” Benish said.
Changing Routes in Leadership
Noble, whose term as president ended with this annual meeting, congratulated her successor, Dan Kobussen of Kobussen Buses. She talked about her admiration for an organization whose members may sometimes strive against each other in business but ally for common causes, such as the battle against illegal passing of stopped school buses.
“Over the years, we’ve seen it as competitors, we may take each other’s customers once in a while – or team members, but then we still show up to advocate together when it matters,” Noble said.
After his installation as president, Kobussen said: “I’d like to thank my family for allowing me to be able to be in this position. Particularly the First Lady, my wife.”
Other officers installed at the 2023 annual meeting included:
- Patrick Dean of Dean Transportation, President-Elect.
- Kim Worster of First Student, Vice President/Secretary.
- Brad Krapf of Krapf School Buses, Treasurer.
NSTA Recognizes Members with Awards
The NSTA Contractor of the Year Award went to First Student.
“We are proud to honor First Student as the NSTA Contractor of the Year,” said Curt Macysyn, NSTA executive director. “The association knows that we can always rely upon the knowledge and expertise of First Student to support important NSTA endeavors.”
NSTA Golden Merit Award recipients for 2023 included:
- Blaise Bodway, Kobussen Buses.
- Bobbie Hartman, First Student.
- Barbie Doherty, First Student.
- Shawn McGlinchey, Krapf School Bus.
- Shelly Hall, Student Transportation of America.
- Kirk Wilkie, Student Transportation of America.
NSTA Outstanding Driver Service Award recipients for 2023 included:
- Barb Moore, Benjamin Bus.
- Carlton Murray, North America Central.
- Monica Solis, North America Central.
Other awards given out during the banquet included:
- NSTA Go Yellow, Go Green Award: First Student.
- NSTA Committee Member of the Year: Bob Ramsdell, National Express.
- NSTA Committee Chair of the Year: Chloe Williams, B.R. Williams.
- NSTA Vendor Partner of the Year: Doug Campbell, Safe Fleet.
- Innovator Award: Bill Griffiths, Beacon Mobility.
The next NSTA meeting is scheduled for Jan. 21-24 in Ft. Myers, Fla. The 2024 annual meeting is planned for July 21-24 in Nashville, Tenn.