Szabo is a fifth-generation railroader who for many years worked commuter and freight trains in the greater Chicago area. Between 2006 and 2009, was Vice President of the Illinois AFL-CIO. He has served as mayor of Riverdale, Illi., a member of the South Suburban Mayors Transportation Committee, and Vice Chairman of the Chicago Area Transportation Study’s Executive Committee. In 2002, he chaired the Governor’s Freight Rail Sub-Committee and, in 2005, was assigned by the United Transportation Union International to the FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC), where he participated in the development of rail safety regulations.
Szabo has served on the Executive Council of Chicago Metropolis 2020, focusing on Land Use Planning and Transportation issues, and was a member of the Chicagoland Metropolitan Planning Council. He holds a baccalaureate degree in Labor Relations from Governors State University and is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Lewis University for his lifetime commitment to public service.
Nominated March 20, 2009, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 29, 2009, Joe Szabo is the twelfth FRA Administrator and the first to come from the ranks of rail workers. He leads a staff of more than 900 professionals located in Washington D.C. and at field offices across the U.S. who develop and enforce safety regulations; manage financial assistance programs; and oversee research and technology development programs.
Pictured, left to right: Simmons-Boardman Rail Group Publisher Jonathan Chalon, Szabo, and Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono.