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RTD board selects history-making choice of Southern California transit exec as CEO

On Tuesday night, RTD’s board of directors approved Debra A. Johnson by a vote of 14-1, which will prompt the negotiation of an employment agreement with her.
Credit: RTD
Debra A. Johnson, the current deputy CEO of Long Beach Transit in southern California, will be the next CEO and general manager of the Regional Transportation District.

DENVER — Debra A. Johnson, the current deputy CEO of Long Beach Transit in southern California, will be the next CEO and general manager of the Regional Transportation District.

On Tuesday night, RTD’s board of directors approved Johnson by a vote of 14-1, which will prompt the negotiation of an employment agreement with her.

“I have been preparing to lead at this level for more than 25 years,” Johnson said during a video presentation to the public earlier this month. She wrote in her application to the board that she directs the operations of the Long Beach agency, which serves 14 cities and 23 million customers. Johnson has a master's degree in public administration and has also worked for transit systems in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles County.

“We made history tonight and I look forward to making a lot more positive history,” said Director Troy L. Whitmore, District K, referring to Johnson’s new status as the first woman, and also the first Black woman, to lead the eight-county, approximately 3,000-employee agency. 

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