By Danielle Chavira

DENVER (CBS4) – RTD announced Tuesday night its board of directors named Debra Johnson as the agency’s next general manager and CEO. The choice comes after a months-long and nationwide search for a new leader.

Johnson is also the first woman to hold the position ever. She has 25 years experience as a transit executive, most recently as Deputy CEO at Long Beach Transit in Long Beach, California.

Debra Johnson (credit: RTD)

The board came to their decision on Tuesday night after considering three finalists.

“We are leading through an unprecedented time of transition for RTD, in weathering a global pandemic, technological changes and new considerations that guide the service we provide,” said Board Chair Angie Rivera-Malpiede in a news release. “At the heart of Debra’s diverse, impressive background, creativity and best practices, she is guided by people: our dedicated team of employees and the public we all serve. We are excited for the people of the Denver region to meet her, and we look forward to working with Debra as she continues to elevate and position RTD as the world-class agency we are all so proud to be a part of.”

Johnson is expected to be solidified in her new role by the end of October.

“I am extremely humbled and equally excited about this opportunity. I look forward to working with the dynamic men and women who have made RTD such a progressive transportation agency. Moreover, I am elated to become an integral part of the community as I work with all stakeholders to improve service quality and enhance RTD’s image,” Johnson said in a news release.

Johnson’s predecessor, Dave Genoa, stepped down in January after announcing his retirement in November.

In June, Gov. Jared Polis announced an independent performance review of the agency which has suffered budget and service issues over the years causing some projects to be decades behind schedule.

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Danielle Chavira

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