Latinos of the Business Record Forty Under 40: Luis Montoya


Latinos of the Business Record Forty Under 40: Luis Montoya

Chief planning officer, Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART)

Age: 39


Spouse: Niki Hinton

Children: Emerson and Levi

Mentor: Angela Connolly, Polk County supervisor 


Reasons he is a Forty: Luis led the process to create a new long-term vision for DART’s transit services. He helped DART launch innovative pilots, modernize its data dashboards, and build meaningful connections with the communities DART serves. As a board member at the Polk County Housing Trust Fund, Luis leverages his urban planning knowledge and regional relationships to promote affordable housing and ensure public and private funds are invested wisely to serve the region’s housing needs. Over the past two years, Luis has helped both DART and the housing trust navigate new challenges and find new ways to meet the region’s pandemic response needs.

What are your goals in your role at your company? My goal is to continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of DART’s transit services. Our region is rapidly evolving, and I aim to understand the needs of our customers, local businesses and member communities, and to lead our teams to plan and implement mobility solutions to meet those needs.

Luis Montoya at the Business Record Forty Under 40 event on March 30.
Photo Duane Tinkey / Business Record

What are your goals for your community involvement? In my personal life I focus on my family’s happiness and well-being. My two sons keep me active, but I also enjoy running and cycling, as well as traveling and cooking healthy meals with my wife.


What’s your biggest passion, and why? My biggest passion is my family. Having a happy and healthy home life gives me balance for achieving everything else in my life. I’m blessed to have a close-knit extended family, and I want my kids to have the memories and support structure that I have benefited from.


What is it that drives you? I am driven by a desire to help others succeed. In my first job as a lifeguard and swim instructor, I got to help children learn to swim. I coach soccer because I enjoy watching kids improve and grow their skills. My career is dedicated to helping people get to jobs and essential services.

What are your future aspirations? I aspire to do whatever I can to help more residents of our region enjoy the prosperity and high quality of life for which Central Iowa is known. To do that, we need equal access to economic opportunity, housing for all members of our community, and a reliable and affordable transportation system.

Three hobbies: Running, traveling, coaching/playing and watching soccer.

Fun fact: Luis has visited most of the National Parks on the West Coast. Yosemite is his favorite because of its breathtaking hikes, big trees and the many fond memories he has of his visits there.

One word to describe you: Active.


What is your wish for the Central Iowa business community? My wish is that remote work does not undermine the value of a thriving downtown. We need to see each other socially, support great local businesses and the arts, and find ways to be surprised and inspired by all the great things that so many people have worked so hard to create downtown.

Anything else you haven’t addressed that people must know about you? I am originally from California. People often wonder why someone would move from the Bay Area to Iowa, and I tell them that they don’t know how great we have it here.

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a young professional? I would advise a young professional to invest in getting to know and helping their colleagues. Academics focuses on individual achievement, but organizations rely much more on teamwork. Being a high performer will only take you so far in your career, and at some point being able to inspire and lead people will take you much further.

What is one issue you would like to see Central Iowa leaders address? Our health and livelihood hinges on water quality. There are other environmental issues that can seem too daunting to try to address, but water quality should be an issue that unites us and inspires collective action to address issues that are entirely within our state’s ability to control. I think that we would find we have much more in common in our desire to protect our community and find common-sense solutions.


Profile originally published in the Business Record

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