Leading Generational Transformation in Local Transportation
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors gathered to discuss Stephanie Wiggins’ new role as CEO of the company, leading L.A. Metro.
On April 8, Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the final tally in Wiggins’ favor, succeeding the role of retiring CEO Phillip Washington.
Wiggins is currently seated at the helm, as the CEO of Metrolink; various leaders of the Los Angeles community have been celebrating her continual growth. Mayor Garcetti stated, “Metro is in the midst of a generational transformation that will mean more jobs for local workers, more growth for our economy, and more ways for Angelenos to move around our region — and nobody is better prepared to carry the torch of progress than Stephanie Wiggins.
“Stephanie’s career makes her ideally suited to lead this agency at this moment: she’s experienced, determined, committed to equity, and steeped in L.A.’s transportation history, and she is the perfect candidate to carry Metro into its next chapter,” Said Garcetti.
Washington announced his retirement in February, after serving roughly six years in Metro leadership. After a national search for the ideal candidate to take up the CEO mantle, they appointed Wiggins and met for a final vote on Thursday, April 8.
In reflection of Washington’s leadership, Mayor Garcetti said, “Phil Washington has been a visionary leader, a force for trailblazing growth and lasting progress across our transit network. Phil leaves this agency better off than he found it — a legacy of an expanding public transportation system that gets Angelenos where they need to go and remains a force for sustainability, equity, jobs, workforce development, and shared prosperity across the L.A. area.”
Wiggins will begin a four-year term as Metro CEO between May 30 and June 14. She has built a strong rapport in her previous position as chief executive officer; pushing the needle forward with hand in Measure M; an initiative that raised financial support for transportation through half percent sales tax.
Her first role in the transportation industry was temporary; dedicated to a six-month assignment with San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, Wiggins stayed in that position for four years.
Earning her Masters from USC Marshall School of Business, and years of crafting exceptional leadership, Wiggins became an undeniable force that will be seen in new role at L.A. Metro.
In December of 2018, Wiggins began her tenure as CEO of Metrolink. She conducted a network of regional passenger railing that expanded over a 500-mile-route-system.
Her talent has been acknowledged by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials; she received their Women Who Moved the Nation Award (2018) and the League of Railway Womens’ ‘Women of the Year award’ (2020).
Before stepping into her role, she learned varied levels of executive placement; Wiggins assisted the standing chief executive officer and designed of viable methods of implementation for high profile projects like Measure M.
Through her credentials and experience as Metro’s executive director of vendor/contract management, she has helped various parts of the L.A. region. When she aligned herself with Metrolink, she was appointed CEO in 2018, and became their first woman of color in a chief executive officer position.
When her position was announced back in December of that year, Washington was quoted in the press release, “Over the last decade, Stephanie Wiggins has distinguished herself as a talented, resourceful and hardworking leader at Metro, most recently in her role as deputy chief executive officer since 2015.”
As the Metrolink CEO, Wiggins oversaw a $793 million annual budget led 282 full-time employees. As the new CEO for L.A. Metro, she will oversee its multi-billion-dollar budget. She will be trusted with another multi-billion-dollar financial plan that recent calculated reports have counted Metro’s current fiscal year to be $6 billion.
In similar, work Wiggins served as regional program director for Riverside County Transportation Commission. Under Riverside County, she managed their transit, commuter rail, rideshare, and major rail projects.
Los Angeles County has shown their solidarity in the transition of roles for Wiggins; Supervisor Holly Mitchell stated, “Ms. Wiggins is the leader Metro needs, as we head into a new era of atonement, addressing inequity, and making our system more dignified for our riders. I thank Mr. Washington for his illustrative service, and for the tireless work that he did to position Metro as the best – and most exciting — transit agency in the world.”
L.A. Metro’s Bd appointee, Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, spoke highly of Wiggins work ethic and loyalty to this sector, “Stephanie Wiggins is what LA Metro and LA County need for such a time as this. She has proven leadership – qualities of serving and valuing all the people, integrity and strong experience, and a track record for making and conveying tough decisions to all stakeholders.”
Dupont-Walker continued, “I am humbled to have had to opportunity to be a part of selecting two outstanding Metro leaders and departing CEO Phil Washington agrees with this board choice. Together, we will not lose a beat in our quest to be the best public transit system in the world. In the end, the people win!!”
Chairwoman of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors Hilda Solis stated in response to Wiggin’s new responsibilities, “Stephanie Wiggins’ appointment as the first woman of color to serve as CEO of Metro, marks a historic shift in the agency’s leadership.
“Stephanie has demonstrated time and time again her commitment to equity by bridging transportation and community health while adapting to emerging needs like the pandemic …”
Solis went on to paint a vivid picture of Wiggins’ dedication to this field, “Her experience as the chief executive officer of Metrolink and her previous executive-level experience at Metro makes her the ideal candidate to lead this agency through recovery. She has had a number of successes over her career including the expansion of Metro’s Express Lanes program.
“The formation of Metro’s Women and Girls Governing Council, and the advancement of Metrolink’s $10 billion SCORE program. As Metro’s new CEO, Stephanie will ensure equity is considered in every decision made, from improving customer service to increasing contracting with small businesses,” Said Chairwoman Solis.
Wiggins feelings about her new position were captured on the Metro’s reporting board, The Source, she stated, “I am honored by the opportunity to return to LA Metro as its CEO and am grateful to Mayor Garcetti and the LA Metro Board for the faith they have placed in me for this important role. I am thankful to my team at Metrolink for all of our successes together – and those that are still to come throughout this transition and as we work together in the future.
“LA County has great mobility needs that we must develop with goals of achieving better health, opportunity and equity for all of the region’s residents, and I look forward to bringing transformative leadership and collaboration with the region’s transportation authorities to make this vision a reality.”