Joanna Pinkerton, chief operating officer of Transportation Research Center Inc. at The Ohio State University, will be the new president/CEO of Columbus’ Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA).

Pinkerton was recommended by the COTA CEO Selection Committee and then unanimously approved by the full Board of Trustees. A licensed professional engineer with a history of implementing solutions to capitalize on Ohio’s rich legacy of transportation, manufacturing, and technical resources, Pinkerton has expertise in developing unique partnerships for faster delivery and economic gain.

“I am honored the Board of Trustees has selected me to lead COTA and build on the successes of this outstanding team. I am thrilled to offer my passion for investing in people and technology to enhance our mobility systems at COTA,” Pinkerton said. “Central Ohio is perfectly positioned to continue leading transportation innovations to accommodate a rapidly growing community, and COTA will be at the forefront of that conversation.”

The largest multi-user vehicle proving ground in the U.S., the Transportation Research Center hosts more than 800 automotive and mobility customers, where advanced technologies are developed and cutting-edge vehicles and systems are tested. Pinkerton has been responsible for strategy, oversight, and implementation of new partnerships and capital investments to enable the center’s continued growth.

Pinkerton previously served in notable positions at The Ohio State University, where she implemented new strategies for increasing transportation research opportunities as co-director of the Honda — Ohio State Partnership and, prior to that, as COO for the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research. Previously, she served in leadership roles at the central office of the Ohio Department of Transportation and in Union County, home to the state’s first connected vehicle corridor, the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor.

Pinkerton replaces W. Curtis Stitt, who retired in September after serving more than five years as president and CEO. Emille Williams, the former VP, operations, has served as interim president/CEO since Stitt’s departure. Williams will serve in an expanded role on the executive leadership team at COTA.

The 13-member CEO Selection Committee developed its executive profile for the position by speaking with more than 80 community stakeholders, who shared their priorities for COTA’s next leader as well as desired professional experience, leadership characteristics and attributes.

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