People News: New Orleans RTA, KCATA, NTSBWritten by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) appoints Mark Raymond Jr. as Chair of the Board of Commissioners. Also, Frank White III is named Interim President and CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCTA), and President Biden nominates Alvin Brown for Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
New Orleans RTA
The New Orleans RTA announced on Aug. 5 the appointment of disability advocate Mark Raymond Jr. as Chair of the Board of Commissioners following a unanimous vote. He succeeds Flozell Daniels, who served as Chair for the last four of his 11 years on the Board of Commissioners
Additionally, Arthur Walton was voted as Vice Chair and Chair of the Finance Committee.
Raymond, who is the founder of the Split-Second Foundation, an organization “committed to breaking barriers for people with disabilities,” and who operates the first fitness facility in Louisiana dedicated to people living with paralysis, stroke or amputation, was nominated by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and approved by RTA’s Board of Commissioners.
In his previous roles as Vice-Chair of the Board and Chairman of the Finance Committee, Raymond helped RTA introduce the first two Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant streetcars on the historic St. Charles Streetcar Line, upgrade the paratransit fleet by replacing 21 vehicles that were past their useful life, receive federal grant funding for the MOVE Pilot—an on-demand paratransit service, and initiated an agency-wide ADA transit system assessment.
RTA says it is also implementing a complete redesign of its bus network, improving access and service quality for transit-riding populations, and connecting more people to jobs, healthcare and other essential services.
Raymond also serves on the New Orleans City Council Street Renaming Commission, an advisory committee recommending renaming streets, parks and public places that honored white supremacists. Most notably, the Commission renamed Jefferson Davis Parkway after Norman C. Francis, the longtime president of Xavier University and a civil rights pioneer who was instrumental in supporting the Freedom Rides. Raymond also serves on the Louisiana Governor’s Advisory Council on Disability Affairs.
“Commissioner Raymond is a proven, solutions-oriented leader with a deep commitment to improving the lives of underserved and disabled communities,” said Alex Z. Wiggins, RTA CEO. “He brings vision, dedication and experience to the Board, and I am excited to continue working together to build a world-class transit system that remains equitable and inclusive.”
“It is an honor to receive this appointment as Board Chair,” said Raymond. “I have dedicated my adult life to raising awareness and being a voice for people with disabilities. As a wheel-chair-bound individual, I understand firsthand the lack of accessibility within our society. I applaud RTA for taking the necessary steps to ensure people within our most vulnerable populations have more support and tools they need to make their lives a little bit easier. I look forward to continuing to build a world-class transit system with accessibility for all transit riders, especially those who need an additional voice in the room where decisions are made,” Raymond added.
On Aug. 8, Frank White III was named Interim President and CEO of KCATA until a permanent replacement can be found following the departure of Robbie Makinen, who was forced to resign recently, Yahoo! News reported.
KCATA is governed by a 10-person board in which Jackson County has one representative appointed by the county executive. The county’s current representative is David Bower, who along with the rest of the board, voted unanimously for the interim appointment. According to Yahoo! News, Jackson County is also KCATA’s partner in the financing agreement that led to the purchase of Rock Island railroad corridor on which the county built a hiking biking trail. KCATA is responsible for any commercial development along the corridor and pays half the debt service.
According to Yahoo! News, White, who is currently the Vice President of RideKC Development Corp., the KCATA real estate development subsidiary, was initially hired at $80,000 a year to be Senior Manager off Marketing. White is the son of Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. and has been working at KCATA since 2016 when he was hired by Makinen for a newly created job after his father was appointed to the county’s top job, Yahoo! News reported.
White III’s salary and other benefits, Yahoo! News reports, are still being negotiated.
President Joe Biden announced on Aug. 3 his intent to nominate individuals to serve as key leaders in his administration, including Alvin Brown as nominee for Member of NTSB.
Brown, who was the first-ever elected African American Mayor of Jacksonville, Fla., achieved numerous successes in Jacksonville with “bold and collaborative approaches to many modern challenges,” including helping to turn the city into one of America’s leading cities for innovation and improving quality of life.
Brown began his career as a senior member of the White House leadership team under President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. As Vice President Al Gore’s Senior Advisor for Urban Policy, and Vice Chair of the White House Community Empowerment Board, Brown advised President Clinton and Vice President Gore on a wide range of domestic issues, including community revitalization, job creation, new business development and affordable housing. As Executive Director of the White House Community Empowerment Board, Brown led the Administration’s $4 billion community empowerment initiatives, including the Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community programs. Brown also served as Senior Advisor to the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
Brown was appointed President and CEO of The Willie Gary Classic, a foundation established to provide forums and scholarships to students. He served as Executive Director of the Bush/Clinton Katrina Interfaith Fund, a philanthropic $20 million fund to rebuild houses of worship throughout the Gulf Coast. Brown also served as an Executive in Residence at Jacksonville University’s Davis School of Business, connecting students and faculty with best practices for building public-private partnerships. Brown worked as a meat-cutter at Winn-Dixie to become the first member of his family to graduate from college.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Jacksonville University, and completed postgraduate work at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Edward Waters College and Jacksonville University. Brown resides in Jacksonville with his wife and two sons.
Other key nominees include:
- David Crane, Nominee for Under Secretary for Infrastructure, U.S. Department of Energy
- Richard Weiner, Nominee for Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
- Colleen Joy Shogan, Nominee for Archivist of the United States
- Robert Harley Shriver, Nominee for Deputy Director of the Office of Personnel Management
- Bijan Sabet, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Czech Republic
- Eric W. Kneedler, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Rwanda
- Elizabeth Rood, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Turkmenistan