Former New York City Transit executive Joseph Leader has joined the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in Washington, D.C., as chief operating officer of regional rail, bus and paratransit services, effective Aug. 1.

Leader—whose nearly 30-year long career in New York included managing an 800-mile subway—now will run a transit system beset by high-profile operational, safety, and service issues, including a 2015 smoke incident that killed a passenger.  He had been senior vice president of the NYC transit agency’s subways department.

As a consultant since January for Bianco Associates, a firm founded by former NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco, Leader has been an advisor to WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedenfeld. In a statement, Weidenfeld said Leader’s approach to day-to-day safety culture is “consistent with the way I want Metro to conduct itself moving forward.”

Leader was widely credited for helping expedite restoration of New York subway service after Superstorm Sandy. He also led NYC Transit’s FASTRACK accelerated track maintenance program. He is the second longtime New York transit executive hired to revamp the regional Metro system, which includes 117 track miles and a 1,500-bus fleet.

Patrick Lavin, former deputy of NYC Transit’s system safety office, became WMATA chief safety officer in May. Acting COO Jack Requa resumes his role as Metro executive managing  officer.
Robin Hutcheson, Salt Lake City director of transportation since 2012, is set to head the Minneapolis Public Works Dept. Upon city council approval, she would be the first non-engineer to lead a 1,000-person department, which has an annual budget of $335 million and oversees city transportation and drinking water systems, parking facilities and trash and recycling service. In Salt Lake City, Hutcheson oversaw the $55-million Sugar House streetcar system project and began development of a transit master plan. She also co-founded the Women’s Transportation Seminar northern Utah chapter.

Michael Baker International has elevated Anna Lantin, a senior vice president, to director of its Orange County, Calif.-based west region, including Arizona, California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. She joined the firm in 1998.

Ernest Portfors becomes board chairman of engineer Louis Berger, effective July 1. He succeeds Nicholas Masucci, who is retiring. Portfors, a firm board member since 2008, was chairman of Klohn Crippen Berger, a Vancouver, B.C. engineer.

Separately, Louis Berger on June 10 sued former company executive Richard J. Hirsch in a New Jersey state court related to his admitted bribery of foreign officials, a company spokeswoman confirms.

The firm seeks to recover a $17.1-million fine paid to settle federal corruption charges in a 2015 pact with the U.S. Justice Dept., as well as unspecified amounts for added costs and damage to its reputation, according to several online analyses.

Louis Berger's settlement last year with the government stipulated a three-year deferment of criminal charges against the firm. The company said it found and reported the violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, involving bribes of foreign officials in Vietnam and Indonesia to win contracts, as part of an internal probe of fraudulent billing on government contracts abroad that occurred between 1998 and 2010.

Hirsch, a former senior vice president and Philippines-based executive who was terminated in 2012, pleaded guilty to federal charges last year, and is set to be sentenced in state court in July.

"The stakes continue to rise for individuals who violate the [Act]," said attorney John C. Fuller, an associate of law firm Fox Rothschild, Philadelphia, in a June 17 blog post. "Not only has the Department of Justice announced a new focus on individual liability, this recent action demonstrates that executives may be personally liable to the companies who defend them throughout their criminal proceedings. For individuals and companies alike, meaningful ...  policies which include strong personal educational components remain an absolute necessity as liability continues to increase."