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Cap Metro board approves new interim CEO as Clarke says farewell

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 by Samuel Stark

At its Monday meeting, the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors unanimously approved Dottie Watkins, deputy CEO of Capital Metro, to step into the role of interim chief executive officer of the transit organization.  

Watkins will lead Capital Metro until the board of directors decides on a permanent candidate to replace the current CEO and president, Randy Clarke, who announced his resignation earlier this month. The organization’s board plans to conduct a nationwide search for his replacement.

Watkins has slowly worked her way up the Capital Metro ladder since starting as a part-time bus operator in 1994 and then as a contracted coordinator nearly 20 years ago in 2003. She has been the deputy CEO of the organization since November 2021.

“Dottie has the trust of the community and Cap Metro board. I strongly believe in her leadership skills and know that the community and Cap Metro staff will remain in great hands with her as the interim CEO,” Jeffrey Travillion, chair of Capital Metro board, said in a press release. 

Clarke’s next stop is the nation’s capital, where he will become the new general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority later this summer. In his last president’s report Monday addressed to the board of directors, he said parting feels bittersweet.

“(It’s) somewhat emotional to have my last president’s report here at Capital Metro. So many things going on here, and I am so proud of this team,” Clarke said. “I will always be appreciative of the opportunity I was given here. This is an incredible agency, with incredible people doing incredible work.”

The rest of the board mirrored Clarke’s sentiment, expressing their gratitude for his four years of leadership, especially his work on passing Project Connect, the multibillion-dollar transit expansion plan that Austin voters approved in 2020.  

“‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’ That is why we hired you and that is exactly what you have done,” said Ann Kitchen, City Council member and board vice chair. “(The quote) really speaks volumes, particularly in regards to Project Connect. Your leadership made it really possible for us to get there.”

Clarke was hired as the CEO and president of Capital Metro in March 2020. During his tenure, he oversaw the passage of Project Connect and the Austin Transit Partnership, an interlocal agreement between Capital Metro and the city of Austin to help guide Project Connect.

“There has not been a moment that is too big for you, and we are proud of you,” Travillion said. 

“No human being could have worked any harder,” Wade Cooper, another board member, said.

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