CTA

CTA Hires First-Ever Chief Equity and Engagement Officer

August 29, 2023

Position will lead development and implementation of agency practices as a national leader in transit equity.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) today announced the appointment of Denise W. Barreto as the agency’s first ever Chief Equity and Engagement Officer. Barreto will spearhead the CTA’s ongoing efforts to deliver efficient and equitable transit services throughout its service area.

“Transit is about much more than getting from point A to point B—it’s about improving lives and communities by providing opportunities to everyone,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr.

“This new position will help achieve that goal, which has been my top priority since becoming CTA President. Denise Barreto has a long track record of championing equity and inclusion in Illinois, and we are thrilled to leverage her expertise to ensure the CTA’s efforts leading equity and diversity initiatives continue to advance and are institutionalized across the agency.”

The addition of a Chief Equity and Engagement Officer is among President Carter’s latest efforts to fulfill his commitments to advance racial equity at CTA. Under the vision and leadership of Carter, the CTA’s first black president, the agency has made diversity, equity and inclusion the linchpins in every decision.

In addition to a keen focus on hiring, retention and advancement of a diverse workforce, Carter has also advanced contracting policies to reduce the racial gap in contracting by creating and facilitating more prime, joint venture and equity contracting opportunities for historically under-utilized businesses, which will result in building generational wealth in communities previously left behind.  Carter has also worked to put programs in place that ensure the communities served by the CTA have access to training and job opportunities on major CTA capital contracts, specifically in the trades and other positions in the construction industry.

Barreto will work to further expand the CTA’s partnerships within the industry and the communities it serves to continue to advance equity initiatives and opportunities

Barreto, a native of south Cook County, has a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Judson University and is a graduate of Bloom High School in Chicago Heights.  

Barreto served as the inaugural Director of Equity and Inclusion at Cook County for the past three years and spent more than a decade as a private sector consultant to local government, corporate and philanthropic entities. Her firm’s clients have extended into 45 Illinois government entities across six counties and close to 150 jurisdictions across the United States.

Her public service also includes being twice elected to the Board of Trustees for the Village of Lake in the Hills – the first black person elected in that office and one of the first black women ever to win an election in McHenry County. In 2014, former Gov. Pat Quinn appointed her to the Illinois Business Enterprise Program Council, a state commission that implements, monitors and enforces goals of the Business Enterprise for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities Act. She has also served on the Parks and Recreation Board for the City of Evanston.

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