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Port Authority of Allegheny County begins public advertisements for CEO

| Friday, April 5, 2013, 12:09 a.m.

Port Authority of Allegheny County this week began publicly advertising its opening for a CEO and hopes to have one in place within four months, said board Chairman Jeff Letwin.

“I'd like to see someone with a significant number of years of experience who has run a transit agency successfully,” Letwin said when asked Thursday what he considered the top qualities in a candidate.

According to an advertisement at transittalent.com, a website for transit job-seekers, Port Authority is seeking a “seasoned and energetic” CEO to run the nation's 23rd-busiest transit agency, based on ridership numbers.

Interested candidates should have experience working with unions and tight budgets, the ad says. The CEO-to-be must be able to work with elected officials and local, state and federal agencies to obtain funding. At least 10 years of executive experience are wanted.

Port Authority's board of directors fired CEO Steve Bland in February after almost a year of tension between him and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Bland's salary was $185,000.

Chief Financial Officer Ellen McLean is the interim CEO.

“Historically, (the CEO position at) Port Authority has been a very sought-after job,” said William W. Millar, a former Port Authority CEO who became head of the Washington-based American Public Transportation Association after retiring from the local agency in 1996. He retired from APTA in 2011.

“Some candidates might ask questions about Bland's firing because (Bland) is very well respected in the industry, but people certainly understand that often new political leadership comes in and wants to make changes,” Millar said.

Millar said he expected the post to draw 50 to 75 applicants from across the country, with candidates ranging from top executives at smaller agencies to a “No. 2 or possibly a No. 3” at large agencies in cities such as New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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