Where are they now? with Niko Goutakolis


Olivia Cevasco

It’s always exciting to talk with Bronxville alumni who have fascinating careers and are making an impact on the world. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Niko Goutakolis (‘17) who attends Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY and is pursuing a career in urban planning in New York City. Niko has “always loved transit. Since I was twelve, I memorized the New York City Subway map, the Chicago transit authority subway map,” and right now, he has “a working knowledge of the operation of most every transit system in North America.” Niko is thrilled by the logistics of big cities, especially New York and Toronto, that have rich transportation histories but also much to improve. Currently, Niko is participating in major efforts to optimize New York City’s transit systems. 

Niko has been working both for the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn since 2017 and for LaGuardia Airport since 2018. He’s an educator at the Transit Museum, housed in an authentic 1936 underground subway station, and he creates the museum’s curriculum and plans the visitor experience. In our modernizing world, Niko noted that it’s one of his priorities to make content scalable and accessible for museum visitors because “how New Yorkers get around and how New Yorkers have gotten around for over 150 years is very important.” The museum displays over 20 vintage subway cars, buses, and exhibits about the history of New York City’s mass transit. In addition, Niko works for LaGuardia Airport in marketing and operations and wears many hats during the top-to-bottom reconstruction that’s designed to transform the airport from “third world” to “world class” through modernization of its facilities. The rebuild will create two new terminals, walkways that planes taxi beneath, and two additional miles of taxiways to reduce plane congestion and flight delays, among other notable improvements. When the project is finished, LaGuardia will be the nation’s first new airport since 1992. Niko’s experience working at LaGuardia has been “fun; you know, sometimes, I’m dressed in a teal vest with a hard hat and I’m working in a construction site and I look like a chimney sweep when I leave. And then the next day, I wear a suit and a tie when I tour an executive around our new space.” It certainly seems exciting to participate in LaGuardia’s 21st century modernization in many different capacities! Niko’s work will benefit millions of LaGuardia passengers and have a lasting impact on the efficiency of New York City’s aircraft transportation system.  

When I asked Niko about what his plans are for the future, he said he’d like to stay in New York City and work in urban planning. “I love New York… I was born in the 1990s and have seen it change so much since I was alive,” he said. “While I definitely appreciate the history of New York City transit, I know there’s a lot that can be improved, both in terms of the signaling system, how the operation is run, and the customer experience can be optimized much better.” It certainly seems that Niko’s career is off to an impressive start. We wish him well and know he will continue to do great things for New York City!