The Valley Regional Transit (VRT) Board of Directors voted Monday to hire Elaine Clegg as the agency’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Clegg will start February 13 and is replacing executive director Kelli Badesheim, who is retiring after 22 years leading the Treasure Valley’s regional public transportation authority.
“The VRT Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve Elaine as the next CEO because we recognize her visionary mindset, passion for public transportation, knack for coalition-building, and deep ties to the community,” said Kuna Mayor and Chair of the VRT Board of Directors, Joe Stear. “These are critical attributes for VRT’s leader as we work to enhance public transit in a rapidly-growing region, and I look forward to working with her.”
Clegg is currently the President of the Boise City Council and its longest-serving member. In that capacity, she has held various leadership positions on the VRT Board of Directors and Executive Board. She is also a Program Manager at Idaho Smart Growth, where she has served as Executive Director, and serves on the boards of the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) and the National League of Cities. She has long been an advocate for public transportation and has led efforts to restore passenger rail service to the Treasure Valley.
“I believe deeply in the power of safe and effective transportation options, and I am excited to work on creating strong support for the VRT vision,” Clegg said. “There is an urgency to improving access to transit services, especially at this pivotal moment in the region’s development. I think we can get people in the valley excited about transit and the need for new and increased transit funding that will expand the possibilities and improve quality of life for the entire region.”
“I am grateful to the Board of Directors for their approval. I am indebted to Kelli and the VRT staff for their great work in establishing a high functioning organization” she added. “I am eager to get to work.”
The VRT Executive Board, a standing committee of the VRT Board of Directors, began the CEO search in May after Executive Director Kelli Badesheim announced her intention to step down. The Executive Board worked with Affion Public to conduct a national executive search, which provided a diverse applicant pool with experience in the transportation and public sectors.
After a comprehensive process that included multiple rounds of interviews and input from stakeholder and community panels, the Executive Board recommended Clegg to the VRT Board of Directors for final approval. Clegg, a member of the Executive Board, recused herself from the search process. The VRT Board formally approved the appointment by unanimous vote at Monday’s Board of Directors meeting.
“We interviewed many great candidates for this position,” said Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling, immediate past Chair of the VRT Board of Directors and Executive Board during the search. “We heard important voices from our community and stakeholders, and it was clear that Elaine is the right person for the job.”
“We also recognize that Elaine will start from a very solid foundation,” Kling added. “Kelli Badesheim has been a great steward of VRT’s mission, and we are so grateful for her dedication throughout her impressive career.”
Badesheim started her transit career in 1994 at Boise Urban Stages, a precursor agency to VRT that provided transportation within the City of Boise. In 2005, she oversaw the transition from a collection of local services into a regional transit system. VRT has experienced substantial growth under Badesheim’s leadership, including the development of VRT’s current transit system and facilities, launch of innovative and specialized transportation services, stewardship of education and outreach programs, adoption of new technology, coordination of community partnerships, and adoption of the agency’s ValleyConnect 2.0 plan, which charts the future for transit in the region.
“I feel incredibly honored to have had the opportunity to work in this space for so long,” Badesheim said. “When it comes down to it, public transportation is all about people – connecting people to places and providing the freedom for people to move around the region. It has been our hope at VRT that we help create a better community for everyone, and I am proud of the work we have done to shape the region. I look forward to watching VRT continue to grow into the regional authority we have envisioned.”
Learn more about Kelli’s work here.