Debra A. Johnson

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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. Johnson was selected as General Manager and CEO of Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) by the agency’s Board of Directors on Aug. 25, 2020. She is the first woman to lead the agency in its 52-year history.

Johnson joined RTD on Nov. 9, 2020, 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).

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. Johnson serves on the American Public Transportation Association (APTA)’s Board of Directors, Commuter Rail CEOs Committee and Emerging Leaders Committee. She is a board member of the American Public Transportation Foundation.

Johnson is also active with the Women’s Transportation Seminar and the Conference of Minority of Transportation Officials (COMTO). She has received numerous awards and accolades, including being named in 2019 by COMTO as one of 10 “Women Who Move the Nation.”


Debra Johnson   Debra Johnson

Listen to Debra Johnson discuss her background and story.


In this segment, Debra Johnson discusses her philosophy of leadership.


Debra Johnson   Debra Johnson

Hear Debra Johnson elaborate on the importance of fostering collaboration as a leader of highly skilled experts.


Debra Johnson shares her advice for aspiring leaders.


Debra Johnson   Debra Johnson

In this segment, Debra Johnson elaborates on changing your organization's culture.


Debra Johnson shares her thoughts on diversity and inclusivity.


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In the final segment of the series, Debra Johnson talks about leadership during a crisis.





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