The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) on Jan. 25, 2023, recognized Therese W. McMillan, executive director of MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) since 2019, with a Resolution of Appreciation for her nearly four decades of “innovative, inclusive and uplifting work” at multiple levels of government. McMillan will retire on January 31, 2023.
McMillan, who first joined the MTC staff in 1984 as a transportation planner/analyst, served in a series of positions with increasing responsibility over the next 25 years, including nine years as MTC’s Deputy Executive Director for Policy before her 2009 appointment by then-President Barack Obama to serve as Deputy Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration in the U.S. Department of Transportation. McMillan subsequently served as Acting FTA Administrator from March 2014 to March 2016 before returning to California in April 2016 as planning chief for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. During the final six years of her original MTC tenure, McMillan also was an instructor of transportation funding and finance in the Transportation Management graduate program at San Jose State University’s Mineta Transportation Institute.
Commissioners lauded McMillan for her career-long dedication to ensuring healthy and equitable transportation systems and corridors in communities throughout the Bay Area. Some of McMillan’s accomplishments as Executive Director include establishing the agencies’ Equity Platform, guiding the agencies through the COVID-19 pandemic, forming the Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force, expanding efforts to solve the Bay Area’s longstanding housing affordability problems, establishing the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority, championing a new Transit-Oriented Communities policy, overseeing the development and implementation of Plan Bay Area 2050, and updating her own work on the regional transit expansion policy adopted by the Commission as Resolution No. 3434 with a new Major Projects Advancement Policy.
“It's interesting to be at a point where you can say ‘in the decades that I've worked in public service’—and I'm very proud of that,” McMillan told Boris Lipkin, Northern California Director for the High-Speed Rail Authority, while reflecting on her 39-year career in a recent interview. "Looking back, I would say that my equity work clearly is, if you want to use the term, [my] legacy…. If there's a singular thing [that] I'm most proud of, in large part because other people are picking it up, is this idea that equity in our public sector work is not a project. It's not a program. It's a paradigm shift.”