Metra names Derwinski to be next CEO

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Metra CEO-designate Jim Derwinski
CHICAGO — Metra’s board of directors Wednesday decided to again stick with in-house leadership and named the agency’s chief mechanical officer as head of the commuter rail agency.

James M. Derwinski, 49, will take over as executive director and CEO on Jan. 1, 2018, replacing Don Orseno. Derwinski will receive an annual salary of $275,000.
Derwinski was selected from among “several” candidates after a nationwide search, Metra Chairman Norman Carlson said.

“In Jim Derwinski we have an inspirational leader, well known for his effective communications and ability to develop people, thus earning him great respect within Metra. Using his intelligence and skills, Jim has developed processes and procedures that make efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” Carlson said in a statement.
“Prime examples are his department’s rolling stock rehabilitation, remanufacturing and maintenance programs that keep our aging cars and locomotives running — helping us to meet our on-time performance goal for 29 months and counting,” Carlson said.

A three-member committee of Metra directors, Metra Vice Chair Romayne Brown, Jack Partelow, and Don De Graff, reviewed the candidates. The full board voted unanimously for Derwinski Wednesday after meeting in a closed session.

Brown called Derwinski “an innovator who is willing to try new things that have achieved very effective use of precious capital dollars.”
Derwinski said he was “humbled” by his selection. He praised Orseno for his oversight of the agency, calling him “a guy who makes it look easy.”

Derwinski said he intended to keep Metra headed in the same direction as Orseno. “(That’s) the direction we need to go.”

Orseno will remain on the job until the end of the year to smooth the transition. Orseno’s salary is $317,500. A lifelong railroader, Orseno served at Metra for more than 30 years.

“With Jim’s background, railroad knowledge and collaborative working relationship with BNSF, Union Pacific and the regulatory agencies, I am confident he will hit the ground running when he takes the helm at Metra in 2018,” Orseno said in a statement. “I will be pleased to leave the agency under Jim’s leadership.”

Orseno took charge of Metra in the wake of the board’s controversial ouster of former Executive Director Alex Clifford in 2013. Hired from California, Clifford had been hailed as a reformer but his tenure ended in a dispute with board members over allegations of political interference and patronage.

According to a Metra biography, Derwinski was named Metra’s chief mechanical officer in September 2014. In that role he was in charge of 650 employees responsible for the repair, inspection, cleaning and maintenance of the railroad’s 1,164 pieces of rolling stock used in commuter service. The department is also responsible for Metra’s fleet of more than 460 trucks and automobiles.

Derwinski began his railroad career as a locomotive electrician with the Chicago & North Western Railroad which later became part of the Union Pacific. He joined Metra as an electrician in 1997 and has risen through the ranks in the Mechanical Department serving for the past two years as the railroad Senior Director, Mechanical Operations.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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