Nuria Fernandez has stepped down after her seven-year tenure as the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority CEO and general manager to take a position with the U.S. Department of Transportation under the new administration of President Joe Biden.
Fernandez will become Deputy Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), according to a VTA new release.
Fernandez has had 35 years of experience in transportation agencies around the country, serving in leadership roles at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Chicago Transit Authority and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
She also served as commissioner for the Chicago Department of Aviation overseeing O’Hare and Midway airports.
In the South Bay, she was responsible for 2,100 employees and several projects — most notably the BART Silicon Valley extension.
“It has been pure joy to lead the VTA organization and see the early seeds of plans develop into programs and projects that will continue to transform mobility in this region for many years to come,” Fernandez said. “In my seven years, my team of talented public servants delivered great transportation accomplishments, of which I was humbly a part of in making our community better.”
VTA Board Chair Glenn Hendricks said Santa Clara County residents were the “beneficiaries of her nationally recognized leadership in transportation, policy, management and social equity.”
“I’m extremely grateful for that and overjoyed for the people of the United States of America who will get to have this experience and benefit from it too,” Hendricks said.
While the VTA conducts a national search to replace Fernandez, VTA general counsel Evelynn Tran will serve as interim general manager and CEO.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said Fernandez leaves “big shoes to fill,” noting her management and success in the BART extension project.
“Her leadership has prodded the VTA to break out of conventional, rigid thinking, and she’s been a wonderfully collaborative and insightful colleague,” Liccardo said.
Fernandez’s last day was on Tuesday, a day before the inauguration of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.