Community Transit names Charles Steams CIO

June 1, 2023
Stearns joins Community Transit after 12 years with Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

Community Transit has named Charles Stearns its chief information officer (CIO), a key executive role supporting the agency’s work to expand fast, reliable and innovative public transit options for Snohomish County.

“Charles will bring deep experience to help carry our public transit services into a future that offers people better options to get around,” said Community Transit CEO Ric Ilgenfritz. “His technical knowledge, emphasis on people and proven leadership abilities will help us harness technology and service innovation to make transit easier to choose and use while strengthening our local economy.”

“I am honored to be selected for this leadership role with Community Transit,” Stearns said. “I was drawn to Community Transit as a mission-driven organization committed to innovation and sustainability, and I am excited to implement technology solutions that benefit customers as we greatly expand our services over the next two years.”

Areas of upcoming focus at Community Transit include network expansions throughout Snohomish County, connecting with Link light rail in Lynnwood and extending the Swift bus rapid transit network, as well as consideration of options for deployment of zero-emission buses. Stearns’ talented department will also support the agency’s exploration of expanding innovative transportation options such as on-demand zip service now being piloted in the Alderwood area.

Stearns joins Community Transit after 12 years with Kaiser Permanente Northwest, serving members in communities across Oregon and southwest Washington state. As regional information officer, he was responsible for a 60-person department providing technology support and project implementation to care delivery and health plan operations.

During eight years of previous work at the international consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton, Stearns served as a project delivery lead and client manager for strategy, organizational change and software development initiatives.

Stearns retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Washington Army National Guard after a 21-year career. During this time, he led the 81st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, headquartered locally in Everett and Marysville, Wash. Stearns also held leadership roles in operations, logistics and cyber operations on active duty and in the National Guard.

Stearns earned a master's degree in strategic planning for critical infrastructure from the University of Washington and a bachelor's degree in history from Claremont McKenna College. He earned a project management professional certification from the Project Management Institute.