CHSRA Announces Several New Hires
One of the common criticisms made of the California High Speed Rail Authority has been that they’ve not filled numerous open positions. This was always an unfair criticism, given that the CHSRA’s never had the kind of budget certainty anyone needs to go out and make good hires to fill these positions. Until the State Senate approved the release of voter-approved bond funds to build the initial construction segment of the project, it wasn’t even assured that there would be a California HSR project to manage.
With that hurdle overcome, the CHSRA had the stability and certainty they needed to hire the right people to fill the vacancies. And they appear to have done exactly that. The new hires bring a great deal of experience managing transportation projects and working with state and local governments, which will be very important as the project moves to the construction phase.
From the CHSRA’s news release today, here are details of the new hires:
The following are the Authority’s latest appointments to its executive team:
Dennis Trujillo, Chief Deputy Director, has diverse experience in executive positions in state transportation and finance. He was appointed last year as Deputy Secretary of External Affairs at the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. He has served as Deputy Director of External Affairs for Caltrans and as Deputy Treasurer to California Treasurer Phil Angelides.
Jon Tapping, Risk Manager, most recently was the Project Risk Management Coordinator for the $6.3 billion seismic retrofit of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Project (SFOBB). Tapping was hired to independently manage the refinement, implementation, and maintenance of an improved and enhanced SFOBB risk management plan. His transportation program management career spans over 28 years, including management positions in project management, design, maintenance, and mega-project construction.
Wendy Boykins, Chief Administrative Officer, started her career as a member of the United States Air Force and later transitioned from a non-profit organization to various state agencies. Her experience in personnel administration and human resources spans over 25 years, and served as Human Resource manager at the Department of General Services.
Karen Greene Ross, Assistant Chief Counsel, has held various management positions in state government. She served as Deputy Secretary for Legislation at the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, and held legislative policy positions in both the State Senate and Assembly. Greene Ross also previously served as Deputy for Investments for California State Controller Steve Westly, representing him on the Investment Committees of the Boards of the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California Teachers Retirement System.
Melissa White, Chief Deputy, External Affairs, has extensive experience in outreach and public affairs having worked as senior staff in the U.S. Senate and as senior legislative counsel for the National League of Cities. Most recently she was the Federal Affairs Coordinator and Senior Analyst at the Regional Council of Rural Counties in Sacramento. At the RCRC, White advocated for federal issues for the 31 rural counties in California, and was instrumental in building stakeholder coalitions to support county priorities in DC and Sacramento, including successful grassroots and press strategies.
Diana L. Gomez, Central Valley Regional Director, has close to 25 years of experience in California transportation garnering wide experience in technical, managerial and communication areas. Most recently she was part of the California Department of Transportation’s executive management team in Los Angeles. At Caltrans Gomez was involved in the implementation of QuickMap, which displays statewide traffic information, TMCal statewide software tool to track all activities associated with responding to incidents, and the consolidation of permit offices and reorganization of the Division of Traffic Operations in Los Angeles.
Ben Tripousis, Northern California Regional Director, for over a decade has served as the Transportation Policy Manager for the City of San Jose. In that role he was responsible for the development of Transportation Policy Guidelines for the City of San Jose and was the liaison to all local and regional transportation agencies. He was also the Chief Transportation Policy Advisor to the Mayor of San Jose and served on local Congressional and State Assembly staffs.
Rob Wilcox, Deputy Director, Communications, most recently served as communications director for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission which drew the state’s legislative and Congressional districts. Prior to that he was the Chief Deputy to California Inspector General Laura Chick who oversaw the spending of the state’s Federal ARRA funds. He served as Deputy Controller for Communications for the Los Angeles City Controller’s Office and previously operated his own public relations consulting business.
The release also noted that the CHSRA has already been working with Caltrans to fill other important roles within the Authority.
This is yet another sign that the California high speed rail project is on the right track (sorry) and should inspire even more confidence about the CHSRA’s ability to begin construction on-time and bring the project in on-budget.