Council chair announces leadership changes

Date: Monday, January 14, 2019

Metropolitan Council Chair Nora Slawik today announced leadership changes for the agency, focused on tackling the challenges facing regional transit, housing, equity, and the continued investments in the region’s planning and infrastructure that contribute to its economic vitality and competitiveness.

Chair Slawik will seek confirmation from the Council to name Meredith Vadis the next Regional Administrator for the Council. Vadis has served as Deputy Regional Administrator since 2015; prior to that she was the Communications Director for four years. As Regional Administrator, Vadis will be responsible for overseeing operations of all areas of the Council’s work, from planning, housing, and parks, to wastewater infrastructure and transit. She is the first female Regional Administrator in the agency’s history.

“The Metropolitan Council is critical to our region’s economic competitiveness and community prosperity,” said Chair Slawik. “We have enormous challenges ahead, and I know Meredith will help us tackle those challenges. In my term as Council Chair, partnerships with business will help us ensure our region is strategically planning for the future and is a place people want to live, work, and raise their families. That future depends on everyone having a seat at the table, so that all are equitably sharing in the region’s prosperity.

“In the coming years, I want to bring Southwest LRT to completion, secure stable transit funding, convene a conversation about the critical need for housing, and advance technology, sustainability, and innovation in our wastewater and transit operations. Under the Walz-Flanagan administration, we have an opportunity to help the Council be responsive, agile, and ready to lead into the future.”

Chair Slawik announced that Wes Kooistra will become the next Metro Transit General Manager. Kooistra has served as the Council’s Regional Administrator since 2015; prior to that he was the Deputy Regional Administrator and Chief Financial Officer. Kooistra has served in executive leadership roles at public agencies for more than 20 years, most notably with the Council and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. His leadership spans policy, finance and budget, operations, government relations, and communications. His deep background in executive leadership, finance and cross-cutting policy solutions will help him address some of Metro Transit's most vexing challenges.

“Wes has helped our region build and plan a top-notch transit system but now his focus and ability to advance that work will be amplified,” continued Chair Slawik. “I’m confident he can lead Metro Transit into the future, as we look to bring financial stability to the bus system and embrace sustainable options for our future operations. He understands the importance of collaboration, listening, and relationship-building – especially with employees and communities – and I know he’ll prioritize the work of One Minnesota to bring more people to the table and ensure everyone has a voice.

“Meredith and Wes both embody the values of servant leadership at the crux of the Walz-Flanagan administration. For more than 50 years, the Council has convened partners to accomplish ambitious goals, unrealistic for a single community, but possible as a region. The Council has a huge role to play in bridging the divides between communities, and I know together, we can move us in that direction.”

Kooistra will replace Brian Lamb, who is not being re-appointed. Lamb has served as General Manager since 2004, when he was appointed under the Peter Bell Administration at the Council. During that time, Metro Transit was named System of the Year by the American Public Transportation Association in 2016, ridership hit its highest levels in a generation, and the agency opened several new transit lines, including the Green Line LRT and the A Line rapid bus line. Prior to becoming General Manager, Lamb worked in a number of positions at Metro Transit and also spent time at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and served as state Commissioner of Administration, in the Pawlenty Administration.

“Brian has been committed to the Council’s goal of improving mobility in our region for decades,” continued Chair Slawik. “I want to thank him for his years of service and work to build a talented and dedicated staff. Our region will benefit from his leadership for decades to come.”

The Metropolitan Council is the regional policy-making body, planning agency, and provider of essential services for the Twin Cities metropolitan region. Nora Slawik was appointed by Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan to the position of Chair in January. Read more about Chair Slawik.

Posted In: Council News

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