IL: Railroad Veteran Named Metra's Interim Executive Director

The Metra Board of Directors selected Deputy Executive Director/Chief Operations Officer Donald A. Orseno, a lifelong railroader, as the interim Executive Director/CEO of Metra.

Orseno has worked for the railroad industry for 40 years. A native of the Chicago area, he began his career as a Rock Island Railroad trainman. Since joining Metra in 1984, he has quietly risen through the ranks based upon his stellar performance and no-nonsense work ethic.

Orseno has held progressively responsible management positions throughout his career at Metra, including senior trainmaster, director of mechanical, director of suburban operations, director safety and rules, chief customer service officer and chief transportation officer, prior to his position as chief operations officer.

Well-known and respected in the railroad industry nationwide, as well as by Metra’s rank-and-file and senior staff, Orseno is an active participant and member of the safety and operations management committee of the Association of American Railroads. He served as vice president and then president of the American Association of Railroad Superintendents (AARS). He is an active member of the Chicago Railroad Superintendents Association, having served ten years as their president.

By selecting an interim executive director, the Metra board is responding to comments that Metra needs one leader, albeit an interim one, until the board can select a permanent executive director. This decision continues the board’s response to items raised by the RTA board and its preliminary audit. In light of other recent criticism, acting Chairman Jack Partelow severed Metra’s relationship with board counsel and is transitioning much of the legal assignments to the in-house legal staff, comprised of career professionals. All such assignments will be performed by or through the office of general counsel, which includes the risk and insurance departments. This transition strengthens the role of internal counsel and helps eliminate confusion in their communication with the board.

Metra board members will continue to meet with senior staff and its funding authorities in an effort to enhance Metra’s operation and the board’s oversight role. The board will be reviewing its administrative organization and recently passed ordinances to review the right balance of board oversight and staffing.