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New LA Metro CEO Imports Denver Leadership in Re-organization

Metro Interim CEO Stephanie Wiggins urges congress to Stand Up 4 Transportation this morning's rally in downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Then-Metro Interim CEO Stephanie Wiggins speaks at a StandUp4Transportation rally last April. CEO Phil Washington appointed Wiggins as Deputy CEO. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
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In a July 23 memo [PDF] to Metro staff, new CEO Phil Washington outlined his initial foray into Metro restructuring, including leadership changes at many key posts. In May, Washington left his post as head of Denver RTD to lead Metro. Washington now brings former Denver colleagues to staff three high-level Metro leadership positions.

The memo [PDF] details the follow specific changes:

    • Stephanie Wiggins is now Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO.) Wiggins was the interim CEO serving after Art Leahy's departure until Phil Washington's arrival. Wiggins has been at Metro for seven years, and was Metro's lead on implementing its ExpressLanes program.
    • Rick Clarke (Richard F. Clarke) takes over as Executive Director of Engineering and Construction, which Washington is renaming "Program Management." Since 2010, Clarke worked under Washington as Assistant General Manager of Capital Programs at the Denver RTD.
    • Elba Higueros is Metro's new Chief Policy Officer. Higueros has been at Metro since 2003, and was a Transportation Planning Manager working in Congestion Reduction for the past 3 years primarily on the ExpressLanes program.
    • Alex Wiggins is Metro's new Executive Director of Security. Wiggins was Vice President of Security Services for Transit Safety and Security Solutions where he was responsible for security on Denver RTD's successful public-private partnership (P3) Gold Line light rail project.
    • Pauletta Tonilas is Metro's new Chief Communications Officer. Tonilas also comes from Denver RTD where she serves as Senior Manager of Public Relations and Public Information. She is credited with shepherding Denver's passage of a transportation sales tax measure to fund Denver RTD's FasTracks rail expansion.
    • Washington created a new of Office of Extraordinary Innovation. While that sounds like hoverboards, it actually starts with a new strategic plan and a focus on public-private partnerships. The new Innovation Office is highlighted in this article at The Source.
    • There are a few other miscellaneous internal changes mentioned in the memo. Asset Management (responsible for the agency's much referenced bus and rail system's "state of good repair") moves from the Operations Department to Risk and Safety Management Department. Metro will also increase annual safety training for operators.

As far as SBLA can discern, Metro staffers formerly in these positions, including Bryan Pennington and Ann Kerman, remain at the agency. Deputy Executive Officer for Communications Ann Kerman resumes her actual deputy status, though she was effectively acting head since Noelia Rodriguez' departure. The outline of Washington's restructuring was initially summarized via Twitter by Laura Nelson of the L.A. Times.

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