Management & Operations

TriMet board chooses COO Kelsey as agency’s next GM

Posted on March 1, 2018

TriMet Board of Directors has chosen TriMet COO Doug Kelsey as the agency’s next GM. Photo: TriMet
TriMet Board of Directors has chosen TriMet COO Doug Kelsey as the agency’s next GM. Photo: TriMet

TriMet Board of Directors has chosen TriMet COO Doug Kelsey as the agency’s next GM. The Directors approved a resolution directing Board Chair Bruce Warner to negotiate a contract with Kelsey. That process will likely take until March 6, at the earliest. Until then, interim GM Shelley Devine will continue to lead the agency.

The Board of Directors noted that it chose Kelsey for his long demonstrated track record of success in prior settings as well as his work since coming to TriMet in 2015. Kelsey has:

  •     Implemented a strategy to significantly improve rail on-time performance from 75% in November 2015 to more than 88% by November 2017. Kelsey has directed improvement in bus on-time performance as well, from 81 percent to 86% in one year’s time.
  •    Implemented the agency’s first comprehensive strategic business plan — to provide focus and a clear strategy for the future.
  •     Used key performance indicators for internal assessment and accountability to improve the customer experience.
  •     Proven his commitment to safety by launching a rail safety review that has led to a more than 200 percent reduction in rail rule violations in just a year.
  •     Focused on improving diversity within the operations division – increasing hiring in 2017 for both women and minorities to 22.4 percent and 25.1 percent, respectively.

The board found Kelsey to be a talented individual and the most qualified applicant who is well equipped with the skills needed to navigate the challenges ahead and lead the agency as it looks to implement HB 2017 and expand service.

Community outreach guided hiring process
Prior to the launch of the search for a new GM, the board of directors and TriMet staff conducted outreach and met with 39 diverse community stakeholders and groups to get input on the skills and qualities needed for the next agency leader. That helped shape and direct the recruitment done by KL2 Connects LLC, an executive search firm that focuses on public transportation. KL2 Connects posted ads in several public transportation-related venues and conducted direct outreach to leaders in the transportation industry. KL2 Connects identified 36 candidates, of which the top seven semi-finalists were brought forward to the board. All semi-finalist candidates requested confidentiality. The board then conducted three in-person interviews. Learn more about the GM search process and diversity of candidates.

Following the announcement in January that Kelsey was selected as the finalist, the Board solicited further comments from the public, and board members and Kelsey met with community leaders and stakeholders.

Community outreach
During that extended community outreach, Kelsey and the board of directors heard valuable feedback and Kelsey, once appointed as GM, has committed to acting on that feedback. At the board meeting, Kelsey outlined a plan to improve communication and better demonstrate TriMet’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, and ensure the agency has broad input and collaboration on issues such as safety, security and budget priorities going forward. Kelsey has committed to twelve actions and the following timelines:

  •     Host seven town hall listening sessions, one in each Board member’s district, within 90 days. In combination with these, TriMet will hold four, half-day participatory budget sessions to gather input for our HB 2017 advisory committee, within 120 days.
  •     Assist in the ongoing outreach and communications efforts, particularly for low income, historically underrepresented and vulnerable communities, TriMet will hire an additional staff member dedicated to this specific outreach.
  •     Expand TriMet’s Transit Equity Advisory Committee (TEAC) within 90 days to add more representatives from social service providers who support transit dependent riders, and ask the committee to take on additional tasks.
  •     The expanded TEAC would advise Kelsey in the area of management workforce diversity. TriMet will retain an outside consultant to develop a report by August on the agency’s current management diversity. From there, Kelsey has committed to closing any diversity gaps within 18 months and, budget allowing, close any compensation gaps within 36 months.

    TEAC will also advise on a number of recommended actions regarding safety and security:

  • First, within 120 days, examine the possibility of adding a customer liaison rider advocate position to the mix of safety and security staff on the system.
  • Commission an update to the PSU equity analysis of TriMet’s fare and code enforcement activities, also within 120 days.
  • Develop a safety and security dashboard that provides a public portal into the agency’s activities. A more defined date for that deliverable will be made after consultation with TEAC.
  • Lastly, within 180 days, create a forum for discussing and resolving issues related to safety, security and equitable outcomes of TriMet’s fare and code enforcement activities.

    Kelsey also heard concerns with TriMet’s transition from paper tickets to Hop cards. He is committed to, within 120 days, expand the agency’s work underway with community service organizations and make an additional 20,000 free Hop cards available to low income and vulnerable populations and work with these groups on the transition strategy.

Kelsey has also committed to greater transparency around these efforts with regular updates to the Board on the progress.

Prior to his position at TriMet, Kelsey worked at TransLink, the regional transportation authority in the Vancouver, B.C. metro area, where he served in many capacities including COO.

Kelsey and his wife have three grown children and enjoy spending time with their three grandkids whenever they get the chance. He’s an avid basketball and football fan, enjoys cycling, taking his motorcycle out on weekend trips, and hiking. Kelsey is a passionate believer in public transit and takes the Line 35 or 36 for his daily commute.

TriMet’s previous GM Neil McFarlane retired on February 21, 2017 after a 27-year career at TriMet, including serving as General Manager since July 1, 2010.

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