Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld is continuing the build his executive team, this time hiring Joseph Leader, a former New York City Transit executive who was heavily involved in rebuilding that city’s system in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Leader will start work Aug. 1, as Metro’s new chief operating officer in charge of rail, bus and paratransit services.
He was part of a team of consultants to Metro’s general manager as he sought to reorganize the rail system following a series of service breakdowns and a fatal smoke incident that killed one person in January 2015.
“Working with Joe on restructuring Metro’s rail operations gave me an opportunity to learn his strategic approach to operational safety, day to day safety culture, and his customer service orientation, which are consistent with the way I want Metro to conduct itself moving forward,” Wiedefeld said. “I am pleased that Joe sees us as an organization that is changing and hungry for improvement, and that he is enthusiastic about taking on this crucial role.”
The COO job had been filled on an interim basis by Jack Requa, who will return to his role as executive managing officer. Leader, who will be paid $275,000, also will provide “executive management” of Metro’s police department according to a news release announcing his appointment.
He spent almost 30 years at New York’s MTA, most recently as head of of subway operations. According to an MTA news release announcing his appointment to that job in 2013, Leader was heavily involved in the transit agency’s FASTRACK program — an effort to rebuild parts of the subway that suffered extensive damage following Superstorm Sandy.
Leader will see another familiar face around the office from his New York days. Patrick Lavin, another former top MTA official, recently began work as Metro’s chief safety officer.
Leader’s retirement from MTA followed a larger leadership shake up at the transit agency, according to the New York Daily News. The newspaper reported that Leader applied for the top job but officials instead chose Veronique Hakim, the former head of the New Jersey Transit system. After his retirement, Leader went to work as a senior consultant for Bianco Associates, a consulting firm founded by Carmen Bianco, the former president of the MTA.
Leader has an electrical engineering degree from Manhattan College and serves as a local volunteer firefighter.
Earlier this month, Wiedefeld announced the appointment of two other key personnel. John Kuo, was brought on to be Metro’s chief of Internal Business Operations. Laura Mason, a former Bechtel executive, was hired to oversee the agency’s massive SafeTrack rebuilding program.