Sound Transit to kick off search for new chief executive officer

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Joni Earl announces plans for early 2016 retirement

The Sound Transit Board of Directors is beginning a process to hire a new chief executive officer as Joni Earl prepares to retire next year.

Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine directed human resources staff to begin working with an executive search firm to assist the Board with a national search for candidates and is convening a committee to oversee the process.

"Joni has provided visionary leadership since the formative years of Sound Transit," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. "From the delivery of Sound Move to the success of ST2 to the planning for ST3, her work is remaking our region around reliable mass transit. Her successor will inherit an able, professional, well-respected organization."

Earl has been on medical leave since April 2014, and Sound Transit Deputy CEO Mike Harbour will continue to serve as Acting CEO until the hiring process is complete. Harbour does not intend to be a candidate for the permanent CEO position. Before retiring in the first quarter of 2016 following the opening of University Link, Earl will work in a limited capacity to help with the transition to a new CEO.

"The Sound Transit Board and staff have tackled huge challenges and have successfully provided the first mass transit system in our region," Earl said. "I am so proud of what they have done. It has been both a privilege and an honor to serve as CEO of Sound Transit. Now, as the agency prepares for Sound Transit 3, it is time to hand the reins over to the next staff leader."

With ridership and demand growing fast, Sound Transit remains on track to complete more than 30 miles of light rail extensions in the next eight years. Early next year Sound Transit will open the University Link light rail extension six to nine months early and approximately $150 million under budget.