Debra A. Johnson is a person in the people business, a transit executive guided by the knowledge that her decision-making has direct bearing on the public’s ability to make connections that benefit their lives. Her public transportation journey began as a child in Fresno, California, and encompasses more than a quarter-century of leadership experience honed at some of the largest transit agencies in the United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, D.C., and Southern California.
Johnson was selected as general manager and CEO of RTD by the agency’s board of directors on Aug. 25, 2020. She carries top responsibility for RTD’s budget, capital projects and service delivery, which include bus, light rail and commuter rail options across the Denver metro region.
Johnson joined RTD from Long Beach Transit, where she served as deputy CEO of the Southern California agency from May 2014 to October 2020. Prior to that, Johnson held executive positions at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
She moved into public sector service after beginning her transportation career in the private sector in the Bay Area. Johnson holds a Master of Arts degree in public administration from California State University Hayward (now CSU East Bay), and a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations from the University of California Davis. She is a proud alumna of civic leadership programs in San Francisco and Long Beach, as well as the Eno Center for Transportation’s Executive Development Program.