TriMet Announces New Chief Financial Officer and Diversity Leader – Mass Transit Magazine | Vette Leader

TriMet announced two internal promotions for new roles that will keep the agency on a solid financial footing while expanding its equity and inclusion efforts.

Chief Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Officer

TriMet General Manager Sam Desue Jr. has appointed John Gardner as the first Director of the Agency for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA). Gardner has been with TriMet since 2015. He previously served as Director of Transit Equity, Inclusion and Community Affairs.

In the position of IDEA chief, Gardner will play a key role at TriMet, which will focus and drive government policies and initiatives to support a safe, accessible, and welcoming transit system. He reports directly to the General Manager.

“John has championed issues around inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility and strengthened TriMet’s position as an industry thought leader,” said Desue. “Under his leadership, we launched our successful concession fare program for low-income drivers and took other important steps to ensure fair access to transit for traditionally underserved communities.”

Gardner added, “I look forward to working to advance TriMet’s commitment to justice. There is more we can do together to build on TriMet’s efforts to ensure everyone is welcome into our agency and the transit system, and I am committed to using internal and external expertise to promote diversity and inclusion to expand.”

Gardner will also oversee the expansion of management of civil rights, disadvantaged enterprise (DBE) and employee participation programs. During his seven years at TriMet, Gardner has been a central figure in inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility initiatives. He worked to strengthen the civil rights program and deepened relationships with community-based organizations, particularly those representing traditionally underserved communities.

Among the achievements made under Gardner’s leadership, TriMet has worked internally and with community partners to reinvent a transportation system that is safer and more welcoming for all drivers.

Initiatives implemented include the creation of the Safety Response Team. Aware that not all incidents that occur in the system require a police response, the Safety Response Team helps connect vulnerable drivers and those in the vicinity of the transport system with programs and services to improve their lives.

In 2018, Gardner led TriMet to become one of the first transit companies in the United States to offer riders a discounted fare based solely on annual income. The program offers up to 72 percent off the adult fare and grants unlimited travel in our transit system for just $28 per month. In the first four years, more than 42,000 participants have registered for the program. This program is a complement to TriMet’s Access Transit programs, which offer free or low-cost rates to nonprofit and community-based organizations that serve the most vulnerable in the community.

Working with TriMet’s Engineering, Construction & Planning Division, under Gardner’s leadership, TriMet has expanded support for black and women-owned businesses through the nationally recognized Disadvantaged Businesses (DBE) program. In 2018, the agency awarded the principal contract for the Division Transit Project to Portland-based Raimore Construction, a certified DBE. This was the largest construction project award ever to a DBE in the state of Oregon.

Managing Director Finance and Administrative Services/CFO

Nancy Young-Oliver, who served as TriMet’s acting general manager of finance and administrative services/CFO from May to July, was promoted in August to officially assume the position.

Young-Oliver has been with TriMet for more than seven years and serves as Director of Budgets and Grants. She has overseen TriMet’s annual financial planning and budget development, including the development of TriMet’s $1.9 billion fiscal year 2023 budget effective July 1, 2022. Under her leadership, TriMet’s budget team redesigned the TriMet budget format to add communication about agency priorities and planning and achievements. TriMet received its first Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association for the fiscal year 2020 budget and continues to receive the award annually.

Young-Oliver was also responsible for debt management, performance reporting and analysis, fare revenue analysis, and grant administration at TriMet. She oversaw the issuance of TriMet’s first sustainability bonds in October 2021 to fund projects that deliver environmental and/or social benefits. The sale of bonds raised $200 million in new money to fund capital projects including A Better Red: MAX Red Line Extension and Improvement Project and renovations at the Powell Operating Facility to accommodate the return of 60-foot articulated buses and a growing Prepare electric bus fleet.

“Nancy has a proven track record at TriMet and I am delighted to have her in this leadership position,” said Desue. “Nancy’s commitment is clear and benefits our employees, drivers and the public. She pushes the agency for continuous improvement and always makes sure we are good stewards of the public funds we receive.”

Young-Oliver led the creation of TriMet’s Clean Fuel Credits program in 2020 as part of Oregon’s DEQ Clean Fuels program. The program aims to reduce CO2 emissions from the state’s transportation fuels by 10 percent by 2025. Young-Oliver led the negotiations for the sale of TriMet’s Clean Fuel credits to a third party, which has resulted in a $1.5 million annual increase in miscellaneous revenue.

“I am honored to lead TriMet’s finance and administrative services division and look forward to continuing to keep the agency on a strong financial footing,” said Young-Oliver. “We will continue to look for ways to bring in more local and federal resources to keep our community moving while remaining accountable to the region in which we operate.”

Young-Oliver is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Municipal Chartered Accountant, Chartered Information Systems Chartered Accountant and Chartered Fraud Assessor. She has in-depth knowledge of the Oregon Budget Law, Oregon Municipal Standards, and Government Accounting Standards Board standards. She is an Associate Professor at Portland State University in Governmental Accounting and Forensic & Investigative Accounting/Justice for Fraud Victims.

Prior to TriMet, Young-Oliver worked at Moss Adams, LLP and the Oregon Secretary of State Audits Division, where he led audits and fraud investigations. She currently serves as Chair of the Oregon Board of Accountancy.

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