Following a thorough nationwide search, Portland City Commissioner Steve
Novick has tapped Leah Treat as the city’s new Portland Bureau of Transportation Director.
Treat will be relocating from Chicago, where she is currently serving as chief of staff to Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein.
“Transportation is something that affects us every day,” Novick said. “Portland needs a transportation leader who has the budget management background to help us address our deficit in basic street maintenance and who understands the value of sustainable modes such as biking and walking. We know we have found the right person for PBOT in Leah Treat and we are excited to have her join us in Portland.”
Treat and Klein were selected by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to join his new administration in 2011, to deliver innovative projects and to push the city ahead of the curve in progressive transportation. Treat also served as Klein's director of finance in the Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation when its bikeshare system was launched and the streetcar network was designed.
Treat is passionate about livability and her love of transportation was born out of the connection between economic development, mobility and livability.
“I have always loved Portland,” Treat said. “It is one of the most Progressive cities in the country and it syncs with my personality and lifestyle. I believe Portland to be a national leader in sustainable transportation modes and know we can continue to push an aggressive agenda by developing smart, fiscally responsible budgets, focusing on efficient operations and incorporating smart planning and economic development strategies into future city goals.”
Mayor Charlie Hales said that filling the leadership role at PBOT was not an easy task. “The job requires common sense plus innovation,” Hales said. “The new leader needs to help the bureau take care of the assets we have, and help us dream about the assets we could have. In selecting Leah Treat, I think Commissioner Novick threaded that needle.”
Treat has a deep background in public budgeting and finance, as well as operations. She managed a $1 billion transportation portfolio, including both highways and transit projects, while simultaneously increasing dedicated revenue.
Treat's career began in her native state of New Mexico where she served both the governor and the Legislature. Her love of cities brought her east to work for newly elected Mayor Anthony Williams in the District of Columbia. During her eight-year tenure with Mayor Williams, helped lay the groundwork for that city to become what is now nationally considered one of the best cities to live. Williams’ successor, Adrian Fenty, retained Treat when he took office in 2009, and much of her career during his term was dedicated to innovative financing and crafting policies to balance mode share.
Novick noted that, while in the District of Columbia, Treat worked closely with regional partners in Maryland and Virginia. “It’s critically important for us in Portland to work closely with our regional partners, so that part of her experience was very important to us,” he said.
Treat will move to Portland this summer with her husband, Charles, their four small children and a Siberian husky that likes to sing.