At the monthly meeting of the Chicago Transit Board, Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett announced that she is stepping down after more than seven years of service.
Jarrett, the first woman to chair the Chicago Transit Board, was nominated to the board by Mayor Richard M. Daley in September 1995 and named Chairman the following month. Her appointment came at a time when the agency was experiencing financial difficulties and losing customers. Under her leadership, the CTA has been transformed into a financially stable, more customer-focused organization. Last month the CTA issued bonds for the first time since 1953. Ridership has also rebounded; the CTA has experienced ridership gains for each of the last five years.
"Valerie has been a valuable and effective leader of the CTA board and brought a high level of professionalism to her work at the agency," said Mayor Daley. ?There has been tremendous progress there over the past seven years. Her ability to work with community, business and civic leaders, and her willingness to tackle tough issues, have served to strengthen the agency."
With the completion of the bond sale in March, the selection of priority projects for the next federal funding cycle, and a new budget season about to begin, Jarrett said that the time is right to transition to a new chairman.
"My time at the CTA has been both exciting and challenging," said Jarrett. ?There have been difficult decisions, but the results have made it all worthwhile. I?m proud of the work we have done at the CTA to bring stability and improvements to this valuable resource. I am ready for new challenges and I feel the time is right to make a change."
?Valerie and I have worked together in many capacities, for many years, and I have great respect for her intelligence and her commitment to public service," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Due to her leadership, the CTA today is in much better condition, both physically and financially, than it was when she joined in 1995. She successfully navigated the CTA through difficult times and really brought it back on track. She was willing to make tough decisions, but she also always cared about the customers. I will miss her wise counsel."
With seven and a half years of service, Jarrett has worked with three CTA presidents?Robert Belcaster, David Mosena and current president Frank Kruesi. She has served longer than all but one previous board chairman. Virgil Gunlock served from 1949 until his death in 1963. More recently, Clark Burrus served for seven years, from June 1988 to September 1995.
The Chairman of the Chicago Transit Board also serves as a member of the Regional Transit Authority Board; both are part-time positions.
Jarrett is Executive Vice President and Principal of The Habitat Company, a premier developer and property manager.# # #