RTA Board Approves Contract for New CEO

Aug 20, 2019

India Birdsong Takes Over as Greater Cleveland Public Transit Chief on Sept. 16

CLEVELAND, OHIO, August 20, 2019 – The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Board of Trustees today unanimously approved the contract making India Birdsong RTA’s Chief Executive Officer and General Manager.

Birdsong’s official first day is Sept. 16.

“I’m thrilled to lead the RTA and serve the Greater Cleveland community. As a city undergoing lots of positive changes, there is no doubt that Cleveland residents deserve a vibrant transit system that will attract robust ridership and deliver the services that meet riders’ needs,” Birdsong said. “We’re going to commit every day to transparency and reliability. Communicating how and why we’re spending taxpayer money and making sure people know when their next train or bus will arrive will be a daily priority.”

Birdsong arrives from Tennessee, where she was Chief Operating Officer of Nashville’s public transportation authority. She spent nine years with the Chicago Transit Authority in a variety of roles.

“We are pleased that India is as excited as we are that she’s taking the reins of RTA,” said RTA Board President Dennis Clough. “There is no doubt that she is the leader who will help take this organization to the next level. She has a unique skill set that will establish the best transit priorities for this community, enhance RTA’s strengths and create solutions to improve access and service,” he said. “Our region is experiencing a renaissance that is just beginning. We are delighted to have an energetic CEO who’s going to drive our public transit system into that future.”

Birdsong’s appointment came after a 10-month nationwide search. She succeeds Joseph A. Calabrese, who left the CEO role in September after 18 years. Dr. Floun’say R. Caver, who served as Interim CEO for the past year, said the staff is excited to meet the new CEO.

“India will be working with very capable people – who are committed to RTA and to northeast Ohio,” Caver said. “I know I speak for the entire RTA leadership team and staff in welcoming India. We’ll do everything we can to help her hit the ground running and make this a smooth transition.”

In Cleveland, Birdsong will oversee 2,300 employees and a $292 million annual budget.

Birdsong earned her bachelor’s degree at Temple University and has a master’s in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has been active in several transit industry organizations, including the American Public Transportation Association, the Transit Cooperative Research Program and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.

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