The Metra Board of Directors today unanimously elected Romayne C. Brown, a public transit veteran who represents Cook County, to be its next chair.
“I am honored that my fellow directors have chosen me to lead them during the most difficult time in Metra’s history,” Brown said. “We have many challenges ahead due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I look forward to working with the Board and Metra staff to meet those challenges and work towards creating a better Metra.”
Ms. Brown was appointed to the Metra Board by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in September 2013 and was elected vice chair in October 2016. She will take over the chair’s post on Nov. 1 from Norman Carlson, the Lake County representative, who will remain on the Board as vice chair. Under the Board’s bylaws, the job as chair rotates between Cook County and the collar counties every four years. She will be the first African-American woman to lead the agency’s board.
Ms. Brown said her priorities will be maintaining Metra’s service and on-time performance; working to restore Metra’s ridership and finances in the wake of the pandemic; overseeing one of the largest infusions of capital dollars since Metra’s creation; and implementing a pilot project with Cook County to provide lower fares in south Cook County. She will also continue her strong support for Metra’s efforts to ensure diversity and inclusion in its workforce and fair and equitable contracting.
“Romayne is a great colleague and fellow board member,” Carlson said. “Since she joined the Board seven years ago, and especially during the last four years as vice chair, Metra has been the beneficiary of her experience and wisdom. Now it is her time to serve as the chair. As Board members, we are excited to pass on the torch and continue to support her. Romayne has the energy and earnest desire to make a difference and she will make a marked impact.”
“Ms. Brown brought a lifetime of public transit expertise to the board, and she has been both a valuable resource and a strong champion for Metra since she arrived,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “I am sure I speak for the entire organization when I say we are excited to work under her guidance, and we look forward to her taking the challenges of today and making them opportunities for Metra’s future.”
Ms. Brown is a professional transit manager with more than 31 years of operational and customer service experience at the Chicago Transit Authority. She started as a rail conductor in 1978 and worked her way through the ranks at the agency, finishing her CTA career in 2010 as the Vice President of Rail Operations.
In her last position, Ms. Brown oversaw a $1.3 billion budget and developed and administered policies, programs and procedures necessary to ensure the timely, clean, safe and courteous delivery of rail transit service to 550,000 customers a day. She also evaluated and monitored the performance of staff and analyzed the needs related to passenger service, budget and manpower planning, training, program and personnel development and safety functions and initiatives. In addition, she developed policies and procedures for collective bargaining negotiations and worked to maintain effective relationships with labor unions, governmental entities, transportation officials and CTA staff.
Ms. Brown also served as Director of Rail Operations and General Manager of Rail Operations, where she oversaw the operational, maintenance, administrative and customer service functions for CTA’s Elevated (Green, Orange and Brown) Lines as well as the Red, Purple and Yellow Lines. She was also Administrative Manager (Red Line), Transportation Manager, Rail Operations; Superintendent II, Rail Personnel; and Superintendent, Procedural Control and Rail Terminal Clerk.
Among her professional achievements and special recognitions are receiving the Kathy Osterman Award for superior public service in 1997; being featured on the cover of Mass Transit magazine in June 2009; and receiving the Presidential Employee Excellence Award in 2007.