The Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) selects Stuart Summers as the transit agency’s chief communications and engagement officer, following an extensive national search. Summers joins RTD from Idaho State University, where he served most recently as associate vice president of marketing, communications and strategic initiatives.
“Stuart brings more than 15 years of experience developing and managing crisis communication strategies, leading outcomes-based marketing campaigns and prioritizing and implementing community engagement strategies,” said RTD General Manager and CEO Debra A. Johnson. “He is the right person for the right time.”
At RTD, Summers will oversee a 2023 communications budget of $16.2 million and a division of 119 employees executing strategic communications, media relations, public relations, customer care, marketing and community engagement.
In the top communications role at Idaho State, Summers led the large regional university’s multimillion-dollar rebrand, its first comprehensive marketing campaign to increase awareness, grow enrollment and bolster community engagement – work that was nationally recognized. Over an 11-year career with the institution, Summers oversaw the advancement and promotion of Idaho State’s mission and goals through a combination of earned, owned and paid media efforts.
Prior to joining the university, Summers began his communications career as a television anchor and reporter for KPVI-TV News 6, an NBC affiliate in Pocatello, Idaho. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and mass communication from Idaho State University and is completing coursework from the same institution for a master’s degree in communication, with special concentrations in public relations and internal communications.
Summers, who grew up in Idaho Falls, loved the life he built in that state and was intrigued when he heard about the opening at RTD. His love of mass transit began after his first year of college when he signed up to be a volunteer English teacher in the capital city of Mongolia.
“Public transportation was truly the way to services, and the connection to getting to resources, getting to work, getting to where you needed to be, and every time I have traveled since that experience, I make it a habit to ride the subways, buses and light rail to figure out what makes a city tick. I think that's where you really get to experience a culture, through riding the buses and using public transportation,” Summers said.
Summers said he is looking forward to making the shift from higher education to public transportation.
“You’re serving a community need. You're helping people connect to the resources they need to move forward and be successful,” he noted.