Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new team to lead the state's transportation initiatives. The Governor will nominate Joseph J. Lhota to serve as the chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The nomination of Mr. Lhota was the recommendation of the Governor's MTA Search Advisory Committee. Nuria Fernandez will serve as the Chief Operating Officer of the MTA. The Governor will appoint Karen Rae to serve as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation in the Governor's Office.
"I am pleased to accept the recommendation of the extraordinary search committee and nominate Joe Lhota to be the next chairman and CEO of the MTA," Governor Cuomo said. "Joe Lhota brings one-of-a-kind managerial, government, and private sector experience to the job and a lifelong commitment to public service that will benefit all straphangers. I look forward to working together as we continue to reform the MTA, reduce costs, and improve service for New Yorkers. I thank the members of the MTA Search Advisory Committee for their diligent work and thorough review."
Joseph Lhota said, "Millions of New Yorkers depend on the MTA every day and they deserve the most efficient and effective service. Throughout my career in both the public and private sectors, I have initiated reforms that are performance-based and that cut costs, and I look forward to bringing this same approach to the MTA. I thank Governor Cuomo for this exciting opportunity to serve the people of New York."
The Governor's MTA Search Advisory Committee conducted a national search to find and recommend the most talented candidate to serve as the chairman and CEO of the MTA. The advisory committee was comprised of leading public transportation experts and management professionals in the public and private sectors. An executive search and recruitment firm, Krauthamer & Associates, was also engaged to assist in the process. The Governor's appointment of an MTA chairman and CEO is subject to Senate confirmation. Mr. Lhota is expected to come on as interim CEO within one month. The Governor will recommend reducing the compensation for Mr. Lhota by 5 percent from the previous level.
Mr. Lhota served as the New York City Deputy Mayor for Operations under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, where he oversaw day-to-day management of the City and supervised City agencies. He also served as Budget Director, where he managed the City's $36 billion operating budget and $45 billion capital budget, cut costs, led agency reorganizations and consolidations, and implemented performance-based strategic planning. Mr. Lhota also served as the Commissioner of Finance for New York City and has been a Board Member of the MTA.
Mr. Lhota currently serves as the Executive Vice President, Administration for The Madison Square Garden Company. His previous private sector experience includes serving as the Executive Vice President of Corporate Administration for Cablevision, the Director of Public Finance for First Boston, and the Managing Director of the Municipal Securities Group for PaineWebber Incorporated.
Mr. Lhota received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and graduated cum laude from Georgetown University. He was born in the Bronx, raised on Long Island, and lives in Brooklyn. He is the son of a retired New York Police Department lieutenant and the grandson of a New York City Fire Department firefighter and a New York City taxi driver.
Governor Cuomo said, "Nuria Fernandez will bring a wealth of private and public sector experience to the MTA. Throughout her impressive career, she has planned and improved transportation systems all across the globe. I am pleased that her expertise and talents will now benefit New Yorkers through her position on the MTA."
Nuria Fernandez will serve as Chief Operating Officer of the MTA. She is currently the Senior Vice President of CH2M Hill, a firm that provides engineering, construction, and operations services for businesses and governments throughout the world. In this position, Ms. Fernandez has been responsible for building the firm's strategic planning and consulting practice focused on urban environments and for developing sustainable solutions for large-scale, mixed-use urban communities. Ms. Fernandez previously served as the Commissioner for the Chicago Airport System, where she directed all airport operations, planning, engineering, and management services for O'Hare and Midway International Airports, the second busiest airport system in the world. She has also served in executive positions at the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the Chicago Transit Authority.
Governor Cuomo said, "Karen Rae brings nearly three decades of experience with all transportation-related issues to the Executive Chamber. She has worked at all levels of government and knows how to manage transportation systems safely, efficiently, and on-budget. Together we will continue to improve New York's transportation systems so they can better serve the millions of people that rely on them each day."
Karen Rae will serve as Governor Cuomo's Deputy Secretary of Transportation. In March 2009, Ms. Rae was named Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration by the Obama Administration. In this position, Ms. Rae has managed the federal high speed rail initiative as well as comprehensive safety programs and regulatory initiatives, and developed national freight and passenger rail policy. Ms. Rae previously served as Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Planning at the New York State Department of Transportation, where she was responsible for advocacy and finance activities. She has also served as Deputy Secretary for Local and Area Transportation at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, where she created a streamlined, performance-based funding program for transit. She has also served as Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and as director or general manager of transit systems in Austin, Texas, Glens Falls, New York, and Buffalo, New York.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said, "Today's nomination of Joe Lhota as Chairman of the MTA comes at a critical time for the MTA, and once again highlights the importance of mass transit in New York City and the entire 12-county service region. The MTA faces significant challenges that need to be resolved, including finding a way to repeal the onerous MTA payroll tax. I, along with Senator Fuschillo, the Senate Transportation Chair, and our other members, look forward to receiving and reviewing the Governor's nomination, and getting to know Joe Lhota better during the upcoming confirmation process."
Members of the Governor's MTA Search Advisory Committee expressed their support for the new team to lead the state's transportation initiatives:
Mortimer Downey, Former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said, "I thank Governor Cuomo for the opportunity to serve on the MTA Search Advisory Committee. Though we reviewed many qualified and impressive candidates, Joseph Lhota demonstrated the depth of knowledge and experience needed to serve as the MTA Chairman and CEO, and we were proud to recommend him."
Fernando Ferrer, Board Member of the MTA, said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for his selection of Joe Lhota as the new chairman and CEO of the MTA. Following an extensive search process, where we reviewed many top public transportation professionals, it was clear that Mr. Lhota was the best candidate for the position. He is a dedicated public servant with unparalleled expertise in business and government who will bring great energy and vision to the MTA. I am also very pleased with the selection of Nuria Fernandez to serve as the COO of the MTA. Ms. Fernandez has vast experience working on complex transportation systems throughout the world. Her background in the public and private sectors will be a valuable asset as the MTA moves forward in serving the needs of the greater New York City area."
Denis Hughes, President of the New York State AFL-CIO, said, "With this appointment, Governor Cuomo is selecting a recognized public leader who will work hard to make sure the primary goal of the MTA is to fully serve New Yorkers. In these difficult fiscal times, Joseph Lhota's leadership will be a valued addition as the MTA works to balance budgets and improve service for straphangers."
Mitchell Moss, Director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, said, "When Governor Cuomo created the MTA Search Advisory Committee, we were charged to search nationally to find the best candidate to take on the monumental task of overseeing the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Joseph Lhota is that candidate and I applaud Governor Cuomo's selection of him as the new Chairman and CEO."
Richard Ravitch, Former Lieutenant Governor of New York, said, "The ideal candidate to lead the MTA is experienced in finance, business, and government, and cares deeply about public service. Joe Lhota meets all of these criteria, and I can think of no one better suited to this critical position."
Bill Rudin, Chairman of the Association for a Better NY, said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for appointing Joseph Lhota to lead the MTA. As an experienced manager and public servant, Mr. Lhota will work every day to keep costs down and revitalize vital infrastructure, while keeping straphangers as a priority. The MTA is relied on each day by millions of New Yorkers, and together with Governor Cuomo and Mr. Lhota, we will continue to improve public transportation here in New York."
Gene Russianoff, Senior Attorney at the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, said, "Joe Lhota will be taking on one of the toughest jobs in government in one of the harshest economic times in America. The Straphangers Campaign believes that he has the necessary financial, political, and management experience to be a good MTA Chairman and CEO. The riders will be counting on him and will judge him on his accomplishments on their behalf."
Desmond Ryan, Executive Director of the Association for a Better Long Island, said, "Millions of New Yorkers depend on the MTA to operate efficiently and effectively each and every day, and there is no one better equipped to ensure that the MTA is working than Joseph Lhota. I congratulate Governor Cuomo for picking such a proven and experienced leader to run the MTA."
Thomas Schwarz, President of SUNY Purchase, said, "Joseph Lhota has the seasoned administrative experience and deep knowledge of state and local government needed to be an effective manager of the MTA. I commend Governor Cuomo for selecting this veteran public servant to run such a vital organization."
Robert Yaro, President of the Regional Plan Association, said, "Joseph Lhota will work to make the MTA run more efficiently and better serve the many New Yorkers who use public transportation each day. I commend Governor Cuomo for choosing a fiscally prudent and seasoned manager to lead the MTA, and riders throughout New York will benefit from Mr. Lhota's leadership."
Stanley Brezenoff, President and CEO of Continuum Health Partners, former Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and former First Deputy Mayor of New York City, said, "As a fiscally responsible, innovative public leader, Joseph Lhota is an outstanding selection for the next chairman of the MTA. New Yorkers deserve a transit system that is affordable and well-maintained, and under Mr. Lhota's leadership, the MTA's first priority will be the many riders who depend on public transportation each day. I commend this selection by Governor Cuomo."