Our Team

Our employees are our greatest asset

KOA presents our clients with talented & diverse multi-disciplinary teams in order to create vibrant and dynamic neighborhoods. We are wholly invested in our employees, our company, and the communities we serve!

Leaders with a Vision

Min Zhou, PE

Area Manager | Managing Director of Orange County Office

Min Zhou has 28 years of transportation engineering and planning experience with both private consultant companies and public agencies. She is knowledgeable in roadway design, traffic design, transportation modeling and studies, non-motorized transportation, database management, and statistical analysis. Min has managed several large-scale projects involving multiple stake holder groups and has a reputation of delivering projects on-time and under budget.

Favorite Way to Spend a Weekend: Hiking, yoga, and afternoon tea with friends
Newest Hobby: Planting/Gardening
Favorite Word: Smile
Favorite Project: 3rd & Broadway Cycle Track Study & Design, Long Beach, CA

A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.


Juan Gutierrez, CMA

Chief Financial Officer

Juan Gutierrez has more than 20 years of financial and fiscal management experience, and has knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. He is responsible for the firm’s strategic financial planning, including profit/loss, capital financing, cash flow operations, merger and acquisitions and he ensures compliance with local, state and federal reporting requirements. He also provides leadership and coordination in the administrative, human resources, budgeting, and project management efforts of the company. He also has extensive knowledge of accounting system conversions, and has developed and implemented finance, billing and auditing procedures for KOA.

Favorite Way to Spend a Sunny Day: At the pool
Newest Hobby: Bike Riding
Secret Talent: Latin Style Dance
Animal I Most Identify With: Dog

The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started.

Dawson Trotman

Carlos Velásquez, AICP

Managing Director of Los Angeles Office

Carlos Velásquez has experience in transportation planning, transit planning/operations, traffic circulation, bicycle/pedestrian planning an economic development. He has worked on projects addressing transit operations, pedestrian circulation and safety, bikeway planning, traffic studies, and economic revitalization and as been involved in the development of numerous bicycle and pedestrian plans, including the City of South Gate Bicycle Plan and the City of Lancaster Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. He has experience in working with downtown associations and businesses to develop and implement strategies to improve the physical appearance and livability of the commercial district. He also has experience in a number of planning studies that have addressed transportation planning for existing and planned rail transit stations and transit-oriented districts. Carlos is a certified Transportation Planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), #026845.

Favorite Movie: Batman Begins
What did you want to be when you were six years old? Astronaut
Guilty Pleasure: Pro Wrestling
Claim to Fame Moment: Becoming a dad

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.

Charles R. Swindoll

Ali Shahzad, PE

Managing Director of San Diego Office

Ali Shahzad brings to KOA 25 years of experience with a strong working knowledge of traffic and civil engineering, specializing in traffic signal system design and principles, signal operations, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), and construction inspection. His project experience consists of project management and oversight from the concept to the design stage and through construction. He has worked on several Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant applications, administration and design. His experience specifically includes traffic signal design and modification plans, roadway striping and signage design, all types of traffic safety studies, traffic control investigations, accident analysis, traffic calming, signal timing and coordination, street lighting design, signal interconnect, traffic control plan design, and traffic impact studies. Mr. Shahzad is dedicated to utilizing his experience to find creative solutions while completing projects in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Favorite Word: Awesome!
What Did You Want to be When You Were 6 Years Old: A pilot
Favorite Vacation Location: Oahu, Hawaii
Claim to Fame Moment: Being President of ITE San Diego

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Theodore Roosevelt

Joel Falter

Managing Director of Westside Office

Joel Falter is a Principal with KOA with 39 years of experience in the field of transportation planning and engineering. He has worked on a wide variety of transit corridor studies for bus and rail projects and has worked on many of the rail transit projects in operation today in Southern California or in the planning phase. He has prepared many area-wide transportation plans, traffic engineering studies as well as parking, complete streets, active transportation, neighborhood circulation, goods movement and pedestrian studies for agencies, cities, counties, and private development projects. He has also participated in the preparation of numerous CEQA/NEPA documents Joel has developed and applied a wide range of travel forecasting models for a variety of planning studies. He is experienced in working with the public to help develop consensus on controversial and/or challenging projects. He has also published articles and led webinars on a variety of transportation subjects.

Favorite Way to Spend a Sunny Day: Out and about
Favorite Snack: Snickers
Favorite Word: Please
Newest Hobby: Making coffee

Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

John Lennon

Walter Okitsu, PE, TE, PTOE, PTP, RSP2I


Walter Okitsu is a VP/Principal at KOA and has extensive experience in transportation planning and traffic design. He is responsible for a wide variety of highway, transit way, and bikeway projects which includes design for traffic signals, street lighting, signing & striping, and worksite traffic control. He collaborates with company-wide project managers to ensure the delivery of high-quality products to our clients. Walter has field and managerial experience on traffic impact, feasibility analysis, and circulation projects. He has been instrumental in developing and implementing KOA’s QA/QC process while serving as QA/QC Manager for traffic engineering projects. While at KOA, Walter was the inaugural awardee of the Institute of Transportation Engineers Western District Individual Achievement Award in 1998. He has served as Past President for the Western District of Institute of Transportation Engineers in 2013. Most recently, Walter was awarded the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award by Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) – Southern California Section.

Favorite Movie: La La Land
Favorite Thing About California: The weather is boring, and that’s a good thing
Newest Hobby: Arranging songs for ukulele
Claim to Fame Moment: Being a contestant on Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune

Done is better than perfect.

Sheryl Sandberg

Shirjeel Muhammad, MS, PE

Director of ITS

Shirjeel Muhammad is a Licensed Traffic Engineer in the State of California with more than 20 years of Traffic engineering, Traffic Safety, Transportation planning and Infrastructure Project management experience with supervisory responsibilities both in private and public sectors. His portfolio involves traffic impact studies, travel demand modeling, traffic operations, corridor studies, simulations, parking demand, internal/external circulation, site access, accident study, warrant studies, traffic signal synchronization, preparation/review of signing/marking plans, traffic management plans, and traffic signal plans. Most recently his work includes managing contracts from preliminary engineering to notice of completion and ITS which includes establishment of citywide GIS system, city traffic management center (TMC) and developing a statewide ITS infrastructure procurement strategy. He also worked for Ashghal (Public Works Authority) in the State of Qatar as a Senior Traffic Engineer to oversee design and operations of Traffic Signal Systems and ITS.

Favorite Band: Beatles, Backstreet Boys
Newest Hobby: Badminton with the kids
Favorite Word: Awesome
Claim to Fame Moment: Winning the City Manager Leadership Award in Costa Mesa, ITE Section President in Inland Empire

If you don’t try, you won’t get!


Chuck Stephan, PE

Managing Director of CM Division and Inland Empire Office

Chuck Stephan has 38 years of experience in civil engineering design and project management on projects for many municipalities and private firms. He has diverse project experience in planning, design, management, and construction of transportation, educational, institutional, industrial, aerospace, municipal, residential and commercial projects. He works in multiple capacities as Principal-In-Charge, project manager, project engineer, lead engineer, design engineer, and construction engineer in both the civil and construction management disciplines. Chuck specializes in Project Management, Civil Engineering Design, and Construction Management for municipal Capital Improvement Projects, including pavement design and rehabilitation; ADA improvements; water pipelines; storm drain and sanitary sewers; medians and landscaping; parking lots; site improvements; plan checking; NPDES requirements. He provides staff assistance to municipal engineering departments on temporary or part-time basis as needed; provide staff training in project management, design, and construction management skills, and manages various funding sources including local, state, and federal-aid projects; SR2S; SRTS; STPL; various grant applications and reimbursement requests.

Favorite Thing About California: The amazing geography and biodiversity
What Did You Want to be When You Were 6 Years Old: Seven years old
Favorite Vacation Location: Anywhere worth exploring
Favorite Word: Bumptious

Michael Nilsson, AICP CTP

Director of Mobility Planning

Michael Nilsson, AICP CTP, has over 20 years of experience. He understands how to link land use, environmental, and mobility policies to create high-quality sustainable environments. His project experience includes urban/mobility planning, policy, and outreach; CEQA/NEPA environmental review; and project funding/implementation. Working with regional and municipal government agencies, private developers, non-profit organizations, and advocacy organizations, Michael has guided a diverse array of complex, innovative projects from vision to reality, including cap parks, pedestrian plans, and complete/ green street projects. He has participated in the successful adoption of parking management plans, zoning ordinances, and transportation infrastructure projects – many of which have received awards from American Planning Association, American Public Works Association, Southern California Association of Governments, and Westside Urban Forum.

Favorite Movie: Vacation (the original 1983 one)
Newest Hobby: Nature photography
Favorite Word: Happy
Claim to Fame Moment: Michael’s claim to fame moment was when he escorted Bette Midler to the main stage of the National Conference for the American Planning Association in 2000.

There is no such thing as failure. There are only results.

Tony Robbins

Join Our Team

Our employees are our greatest asset

At KOA we know the success of our clients’ projects is determined by the skills and abilities of our people, and we are dedicated to their professional and technical development.

Our Careers