Feinberg Named First Woman MTA Chair

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Sarah Feinberg

Feinberg, 43, and a Railway Age 2020 Women in Rail honoree, has been Interim President of MTA New York City Transit since March 2020. Foye is expected to be appointed as Interim President and CEO at Empire State Development Corp., New York State’s economic development arm. Feinberg, whose nomination by fellow Democrat New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo must be approved by the State Senate, will lead an agency with an $18 billion annual budget that, pre-COVID, carried about 8 million daily riders on subways, two commuter rail systems and buses.

“I am thrilled to be stepping into a position that allows me to continue to play a significant role in how our subway and bus systems operate, but to also have even more of an impact in shaping the future of the agency, and of transportation in this city and region,” Feinberg said. “There should be no higher priority than ensuring we are doing all we can to bring ridership back—and as ridership comes back, so will the city’s economic recovery.”

Feinberg’s appointment as MTA Chair signals a fundamental change in how the massive agency’s senior management is structured. Foye holds the combined role of Chairman and CEO, which is specified in current state law. Cuomo, who controls the MTA, sent a bill to the State Legislature late on June 7 splitting the two positions. Janno Lieber, the MTA’s Chief Development officer, will be appointed CEO, running day-to-day operations and overseeing capital spending.

“The COVID crisis proved once again that mass transit is New York’s linchpin, in good times and bad,” Lieber said. ”Now we need to keep building a system that connects people from all communities to jobs, education and opportunity. I look forward to taking on this important new role and to lead MTA in support of the New York City region’s economic revival.”   

Feinberg served as Federal Railroad Administrator from 2015 to 2017, during the Obama Administration. Cuomo appointed her to the MTA Board in 2019, where she was Transit Committee Chair. She replaced Andy Byford as NYCT President following his departure, albeit in an interim role.

A native of Charleston, W.Va., Feinberg  attended Washington and Lee University, where she obtained a B.A. in Politics in 1999. She also attended National Defense University from 2008 to 2009, studying Middle East foreign policy. Feinberg spent a number of years on Capitol Hill beginning in 1999, including working for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, as Communications Director for the House Democratic Caucus, Press Secretary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and National Press Secretary to then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. From 2009 to 2010, she served in the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President, and Senior Advisor to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. From 2013 to 2015, she served as Chief of Staff for United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx.

Feinberg also worked in the private sector, in communications, as Bloomberg LP’s Global Communications Director (2010-11), and  Director of Policy and Crisis Communications at Facebook (2011-13). In 2017, she founded Feinberg Strategies, LLC, a strategic business and communications consulting practice focused on the tech sector. 

Categories: Commuter/Regional, News, Passenger, Rapid Transit Tags: , ,