The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) today named Therese Watkins McMillan as its new executive director. This position also serves as the top executive for the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). McMillan, who currently serves as the chief planning officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, will replace Steve Heminger, who is retiring next month after serving as MTC’s executive director since January 2001 and as ABAG’s executive director since July 2017.
McMillan is no stranger to the Bay Area or to MTC, having worked for 25 years a member of the Commission staff, and for more than eight years as MTC’s deputy executive director for Policy before her 2009 appointment by then-President Barack Obama to serve as deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation. McMillan subsequently served as Acting FTA administrator from March 2014 to March 2016 before taking the position as LA Metro’s planning chief in April 2016. During the final five years of her original MTC tenure, McMillan also was an instructor of transportation funding and finance in the Transportation Management Graduate program at San Jose State University’s Mineta Transportation Institute.
“I am excited to return to the Bay Area, and to all its beauty and opportunities,” said McMillan. “One of my primary goals is to make the Bay Area’s transportation and housing opportunities attainable to all people who reside across the Bay Area. Tackling this challenge will take vision. It also will require new and innovative partnerships among Bay Area communities, service providers, and leaders across government and the private sector. Working with the Commission, I will strive to lead MTC forward as an extraordinary visionary and partner.”
McMillan received her bachelor of science degree from U.C. Davis in 1981, a master’s degree in Civil Engineering Science from U.C. Berkeley in 1983, and a master’s in City and Regional Planning from U.C. Berkeley in 1984.
McMillan has served since 2012 as a member of the Advisory Board for the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, and was named a senior fellow for the 2011-12 academic year at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She received an Alumni Award of Distinction from the U.C. Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies in 2016; a ‘Women Moving the Nation’ award from the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials in 2013; and a Distinguished Alumna Award from the U.C. Berkeley College of Environmental Design in 2011. McMillan has long been active in the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) and served as president of the San Francisco Chapter in 1989 and 1990. She was named WTS National Woman of the Year for 2016, and as Woman of the Year for the Washington, D.C., Chapter in 2015 and the Los Angeles Chapter in 2011. WTS’ San Francisco Bay Area Chapter named McMillan its Member of the Year for 2002 and as its Woman of the Year for 2010.
“I would like to thank my colleagues on the Commission for the many, many hours of time put into this national search to find the best possible pool of candidates for us to consider. I am confident that Ms. McMillan is the right person to lead the Commission into the future,” said Jake Mackenzie, chair of MTC.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. ABAG is the official regional planning agency for the nine counties and 101 cities and towns of the Bay Area.