RTD selects Debra Johnson as new normal supervisor and CEO


The Regional Transportation District chosen Debra Johnson as its subsequent normal supervisor and CEO on Tuesday evening, selecting the primary girl to guide the Denver metro space’s transit company in its 51-year historical past.
Offered by RTDDebra Johnson, the brand new normal supervisor and CEO.
Johnson has been the deputy CEO of Lengthy Seaside Transit in California for the final six years and has expertise at a number of massive transit businesses. RTD’s board accredited the designation of the brand new CEO 14-1, pending the negotiation of a contract and wage.
She was amongst three finalists, all ladies. The others had been Adelee Le Grand, a vp at Transdev North America, a personal transit operator; and Tina Quigley, who retired in November as CEO of the Regional Transportation Fee of Southern Nevada, a regional planning group that oversees the Las Vegas bus system.
“These three ladies had been probably the most superb, dynamic ladies leaders I’ve had the privilege to interview,” board chair Angie Rivera-Malpiede mentioned. “I simply should say to you, this was in all probability one of many hardest selections I’ve ever made.”
It’s notable that after the board culled the pool of 58 candidates, it ended up with three outdoors finalists. The 2 most up-to-date CEOs of RTD had been promoted internally — Phil Washington in 2009 and Dave Genova in 2016. Genova retired in January.
“We made historical past tonight, and I stay up for making much more constructive, good historical past by way of this company,” Director Troy Whitmore mentioned after the vote.
The place at RTD will probably be Johnson’s first everlasting job on the helm, although she has labored in administration positions at a number of massive transit businesses, largely in California. Her resume features a quick stint because the interim CEO of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Company, in 2011.
Previous to Lengthy Seaside, she spent almost two years as deputy chief operations officer for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“I’ve been getting ready to guide at this stage for greater than 25 years,” Johnson mentioned in a video presentation that RTD posted on its web site this month. “I’ve government management expertise at transit businesses in main city metropolitan areas. I’m a talented negotiator and consensus-builder who has labored with various communities, elected and public officers, and different stakeholders.”
She is going to take over because the company faces vital short-term and long-term challenges. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, it despatched each ridership and gross sales tax income plummeting, straining the company’s finances with a shortfall projected at $166 million subsequent yr.
Even earlier than that, RTD had been struggling to shut massive funding gaps in its FasTracks rail-expansion plan. The company additionally has been reviewing its current service and plotting out its future as a part of the “Reimagine RTD” planning effort — one which has been difficult by the pandemic, with some actions now anticipated to be delayed.
The board deliberated privately for about two hours, ending a course of it launched final spring with assist from an government search agency.
Earlier Tuesday, RTD launched outcomes of a public survey it had posted on-line final week together with roughly 15-minute video shows by every finalist. Almost 700 individuals responded to the nameless survey; feedback left about every ranged from extremely important to glowing.

The general public suggestions different little, with all three candidates receiving a ranking of 10 out of 10 — “very certified” — from roughly a 3rd of respondents. Johnson’s common ranking was highest, at 7.72, whereas Le Grand averaged 7.36 and Quigley averaged 7.33.
Now the board and company leaders will flip to negotiating a contract with Johnson, together with determining her begin date. Interim CEO Paul Ballard possible will assist with the transition.
Among the many points to settle: the brand new CEO’s wage. That was a sticking level for Director Natalie Menten, who forged the one “no” vote not due to the candidate however, she mentioned, due to the probability that RTD would pay her too excessive a wage, because it has for prior CEOs.
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RTD’s long-standing job description for the job units a wage vary of $218,501 to $405,787, relying partially on expertise. RTD’s board accredited a $350,000 wage plus advantages whereas Ballard is in cost, whereas Genova’s ultimate wage was $295,000 a yr.
Menten, a fiscal hawk, needs to see that decreased by about $100,000. Whereas she’s not the one director with that concern, Director Shontel Lewis prompt that decreasing the pay when the primary girl takes the job would current an fairness difficulty.


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