Denver RTD finalizes contract with Debra Johnson

Sept. 30, 2020
The agency’s new general manager and CEO will begin Nov. 9, 2020.

Debra Johnson, the Denver Regional Transportation District’s (RTD) new general manager and CEO, and the board of directors finalized her contract, completing a nationwide search the agency’s board began in May with support from the executive search firm Krauthamer & Associates.  

The terms of Johnson’s five-year contract include an annual salary of $315,000, with cost of living adjustments and potential incentive awards and increases tied to performance goals and metrics. She will assume her role with RTD on Nov. 9.  

“We are excited to have Ms. Johnson on board. She is a top-notch candidate and the package we have agreed upon is reasonable, given her talent and the current circumstances the agency faces,” RTD Chair Angie Rivera-Malpiede said. “We have much to do to continue to serve this community in these unprecedented times, and we are eager to get started with Ms. Johnson as our leader.” 

Johnson, by phone, expressed excitement about joining the agency. She further stated that she understands the financial challenges facing RTD and is prepared to stand in solidarity with employees in taking similar pay reductions and furlough days.  

"I look forward to working collaboratively with the great men and women who keep RTD moving 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I will stand with the men and women of the organization and have my salary temporarily adjusted as we navigate the year ahead,” said Johnson.  

Johnson – a transit executive with more than 25 years of diversified, progressively responsible experience – now serves as deputy CEO of Long Beach Transit in Long Beach, Calif. She has held executive positions at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  

Johnson succeeds CEO and General Manager Paul J. Ballard, who assumed the role for an interim period in February. RTD’s former permanent General Manager and CEO Dave Genova retired in January.    

“We thank Mr. Ballard for keeping the agency moving during a year that posed many unexpected challenges,” Rivera-Malpiede said. “His experience has been invaluable during this time and we appreciate all that he has done.”