Less than one year after the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority hired away CEO Philip Washington from that same job at Denver’s Regional Transportation District, he has made a second high-level poach of his own in six months. Metro said on March 3 that, acting administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), will join the California transit agency as chief planning officer. She was awaiting U.S. Senate Banking Committee permanent confirmation to the FTA top job amid increased tension between the White House and Congress. President Obama nominated McMillan in 2014. Top committee Democrat, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, told Politico on March 4 that he “can’t blame” McMillan for taking the L.A. role. She joined FTA in 2009 as deputy administrator. McMillan also was a top policy executive at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which serves the San Francisco Bay Area.
|Robert J. Puentes|
Last October, L.A. Metro hired Joshua Schank as its first-ever chief innovation officer. He had been president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, a Washington, D.C., transportation think tank. Schank heads the California agency’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation, newly created to push mobility improvement ideas. On Feb. 29, Eno named Robert J. Puentes to replace him, effective on April 11. Puentes is now a senior fellow and director of the Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative at the Brookings Institution.
GHD Inc. Pty Ltd., the Sydney engineer, has elevated Ashley Wright to CEO. He succeeds Ian Shepherd, who has retired. Wright was the firm’s Perth-based general manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa. GHD ranks at No. 33 on ENR’s list of the Top 225 global design firms, with $1.26 billion in 2014 revenue. The firm, which bought Canada-based Conestoga-Rovers in 2014, told the Australian Financial Review that it targets about $1.5 billion in revenue by 2020, with purchases likely in North America and the U.K.
Richard C. Benson, Via College of Engineering dean at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, is leaving the role after 11 years to be president of the University of Texas-Dallas, effective on July 15. The school says that, during his tenure, applicants doubled and research spending reached a record level. He previously headed mechanical engineering programs at two universities. Benson was dean during the 2007 shooting rampage of Seung-Hui Cho, who attacked an engineering college building, killing several Via students and professors among 33 campus victims. Two weeks after Benson starts in Texas, a controversial law takes effect that allows those over 21 to carry concealed licensed handguns onto all state campuses. University presidents can declare limited areas as gun-free, say media reports.
.Arup has elevated Susan Baer to global aviation business leader. Based in New York City, she succeeds Peter Budd, who is retiring but remains a firm adviser. Baer joined the firm in 2013, heading its Americas aviation business. She was aviation director at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Edinburgh-based Budd also was chairman of Arup Scotland.
Walter J. Rabe succeeds Gordon M. Matheson as president and CEO of Schnabel Engineering Inc., Glen Allen, Va. Rabe was executive vice president. Schnabel ranks at No. 219 on ENR’s list of the Top 500 Design firms, with $54 million in 2014 revenue.