COTA names smart mobility leader CEO
Joanna Pinkerton, chief operating officer of Transportation Research Center Inc. at The Ohio State University, will be the new president and CEO of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). Pinkerton was recommended by the COTA CEO Selection Committee and then unanimously approved by the full Board of Trustees March 14.
A licensed professional engineer with a history of implementing solutions to capitalize on Ohio’s rich legacy of transportation, manufacturing and technical resources, Pinkerton has expertise in developing unique partnerships for faster delivery and economic gain. She starts at COTA April 16.
“I am honored the Board of Trustees has selected me to lead COTA and build on the successes of this outstanding team. I am thrilled to offer my passion for investing in people and technology to enhance our mobility systems at COTA,” Pinkerton said. “Central Ohio is perfectly positioned to continue leading transportation innovations to accommodate a rapidly growing community, and COTA will be at the forefront of that conversation.”
The largest multi-user vehicle proving ground in the United States, Transportation Research Center hosts more than 800 automotive and mobility customers where advanced technologies are developed and cutting-edge vehicles and systems are tested. Pinkerton has been responsible for strategy, oversight and implementation of new partnerships and capital investments to enable the center’s continued growth.
“Joanna brings to COTA a vision for advanced transportation that is aligned with the activity and energy generated by Smart Columbus,” Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said. “Her leadership qualities and her innovation expertise will take COTA – and Columbus – to the next level in the mobility arena.”
Pinkerton previously served in notable positions at The Ohio State University, where she implemented new strategies for increasing transportation research opportunities as co-director of the Honda – Ohio State Partnership and, prior to that, as chief operating officer for the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research. Previously, she served in leadership roles at the central office of the Ohio Department of Transportation and in Union County, home to the state’s first connected vehicle corridor, the U.S. 33 Smart Mobility Corridor.
“Franklin County is growing at a rapid pace, and we need a transportation system that can accommodate this growth and meet the needs of our residents,” said Franklin County Commissioners President Kevin L. Boyce. “As COTA takes on these challenges of the coming decade, I am confident Joanna Pinkerton is the right person to lead this conversation.”
Pinkerton replaces W. Curtis Stitt, who retired in September after serving more than five years as president and CEO. Emille Williams, the former vice president for operations, has served as interim president and CEO since Stitt’s departure. Williams will serve in an expanded role on the executive leadership team at COTA.
“Joanna understands how smart mobility technology can create a new model of public transit,” said Jean Carter Ryan, chair of the COTA Board of Trustees. “Under her leadership, COTA will evolve beyond a bus company into an engine of economic and community development.”
The 13-member CEO Selection Committee developed its executive profile for the position by speaking with more than 80 community stakeholders, who shared their priorities for COTA’s next leader as well as desired professional experience, leadership characteristics and attributes.
“Joanna has demonstrated over the course of her career that she is a consensus-oriented and results-driven leader,” said Trudy Bartley, chair of the Selection Committee and vice chair of the Board of Trustees. “We are excited to work with her to advance COTA’s role in our community.”