Secretary of Transportation
Leslie S. Richards
In her two years as Secretary of PennDOT, Leslie S. Richards has instituted new strategic directions based upon a policy of sustainable infrastructure investments as well as innovation throughout the department.
She instituted the Transportation Investment Plan, a metric-driven strategic investment approach for the 12 Year Capital Program where progress toward reducing structurally deficient bridges and accomplishing more roadway reconstruction in each district and planning region was measured and benchmarked toward statewide goals.
In addition, the secretary recently announced a $2.1 billion maintenance and system preservation initiative, termed PennDOT Road MaP, to address improved maintenance of the state's 40,000 miles of roads along with an increased emphasis on the interstate system.
She also launched a new initiative, called PennDOT Connects, for the planning and delivery of capital and maintenance projects. This new policy will enhance PennDOT's collaboration with our local governments and ensure the department's investments consider the mobility needs of our communities in project design.
Her vision is a PennDOT with continuing improved efficiencies to meet the funding challenges ahead, a diversified workforce that offers employees fulfilling career opportunities, and a broadened planning and project development process that considers input from all stakeholders reflecting a truly multimodal approach.
The secretary also was recently named chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and serves as chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Public Private Partnership board.
The secretary was recently honored in New York with the 2016 Gold Stevie Awards for Female Innovator of the Year and Female Executive of the Year. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania, she also has served her township and county as a local elected official in Montgomery County while working in various capacities in the planning and engineering fields.
Secretary Richards has extensive leadership experience in the management of transportation projects both in her private-sector work in the planning and engineering fields over the past two decades, as well as in her work in local government. Her private- and public-sector backgrounds give her a unique perspective on understanding stakeholder issues, and on the importance of bringing projects to completion on time and on budget. Secretary Richards is recognized in the public and private sectors for her ability to build consensus in order to find solutions to problems. She was appointed by Governor Tom Wolf on January 20, 2015, and on May 11, 2015, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously confirmed her nomination as secretary.
In the public sector, Secretary Richards focused on transportation and planning issues. She served as the vice chairwoman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, where she led the transportation and planning initiatives for the third-largest county in the Commonwealth. Under her leadership, the county restructured its road and bridge division resulting in increased efficiencies and $1 million in savings, and adopted an aggressive program to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges. In addition, Secretary Richards served as the chairwoman of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, as well as on the boards of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVFTMA). She played an active role working with state legislators to educate them on the importance of passing Pennsylvania's far-reaching transportation plan, Act 89, and provided official testimony during legislative hearings. Before being elected commissioner, she served as the chairwoman and vice chairwoman of the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors.
Secretary Richards is a graduate of Brown University, where she concentrated in economics and urban studies. She received a master's of regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Secretary Richards is a lifelong Pennsylvania resident. She lives with her husband and three children in Montgomery County.