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Board names Allen interim president/CEO of Capital Metro

Tuesday, October 13, 2009 by Josh Rosenblatt

Capital Metro ushered in a new, albeit temporary, era on Monday. At a special meeting, the agency’s board of directors named executive vice president and chief development officer Doug Allen interim president/CEO, an appointment that takes effect at 5pm this Friday.


Allen will be replacing Fred Gilliam, who announced last week that he would be retiring on Friday, after seven controversial years as the agency’s chief, during which time he dealt with labor disputes, a shrinking budget, and the delayed launch of the city’s commuter rail line, Capital MetroRail. 


According to Mayor Pro Tem and Board Member Mike Martinez, the selection of Allen was an easy one to make. “We chose Doug,” he said, “because of his background and experience. He’s already on staff, he has intimate knowledge of the agency, and he had the experience necessary to step in, in the interim. He knows the challenges that the agency faces.


“We were looking for a dynamic leader, someone that understands how to get into the community to gain confidence and trust, someone that understands how to run a transit agency, and that understands all the regulations that apply to a multi-modal transit agency.”


Martinez also said that though officials had not yet been decided Allen’s salary, there is a salary range for CEOs of Cap Metro, starting with what he called an “entry-level tier.” If Allen’s current salary plus five percent doesn’t put him in that tier, then it will be bumped to meet that standard. Gilliam makes about $300,000 in salary, deferred compensation and allowances.


Martinez also told reporters that the board does have the budget to fund hiring a recruitment firm to begin a nationwide search next year to find someone for the permanent position. He expects the process to take up to eight months and cost between $50,000-70,000.


This particular board won’t be around (at least not in its entirety) during the job search, however. This board will not be serving past the end of this year, and, according to Martinez, they have no interest in starting the search process in earnest until the next board takes over on Jan. 1.


“The current board won’t have any say on what the recruitment process will be,” he said after the meeting. “What we’ve chosen to do is make any potential amendments to the job description and allow the new board to dictate the process. This is going to be their CEO and we want them to define what kind of search process takes place. The current board has two-and-a-half months to update the job description” the recruiting firm will use as the primary guideline for their search.


For Martinez, who hopes to continue his service on the board, the most important thing regarding the recruitment process is that it be transparent and involve the community, not just Cap Metro staff and board members. “My wish,” he told reporters, “is that there is going to be a nationwide search and that there is a public input process somewhere within that search, that we establish some type of citizen committee to give us a final recommendation.”


Meanwhile, Allen said that he felt “blessed to be given this opportunity by the board to lead this group.” He also said his job was to “keep the ball rolling” while the new board conducts their search for a permanent president/CEO. He declined to say whether or not he would be applying for that position.


Allen began his tenure at Cap Metro in April 2008, before which he worked in the public-transit field in Dallas, first for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, starting in 1978, then for Dallas Area Rapid Transit, which he joined in 1984. During his time at DART, he was instrumental in developing plans for the city’s light rail system and its high-occupancy vehicle network. 


In his capacity as Cap Metro’s executive vice president and chief development officer, Allen oversees all strategic planning, communications, marketing, community development, transit-oriented development, engineering and construction functions. No word yet on who, if anyone, is going to replace him in that position.   


At last night’s Transportation Policy Board meeting, Chair Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) said the application deadline for those who wanted to serve on the board as CAMPO’s representative closes on Wednesday. The committee appointed to consider the applications will meet on Oct. 19, where CAMPO staff will hand out copies of applications to review. Watson said he would like to see if the committee could be ready with a recommendation at the following CAMPO meeting. CAMPO will have three appointments to the new board under legislation passed during the last session of the Legislature.

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