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SEPTA Welcomes Two New Chiefs

January 26, 2023

This month – SEPTA announced two new major hires at the Authority. Ronald Keele has been appointed as the Authority’s Chief Safety Officer and Emmanuella Myrthil is now appointed as the Authority’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. Both Keele and Myrthil will report to SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards.

Keele comes to SEPTA from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) –  where he served as Chief Safety Officer. At WMATA – Keele oversaw the Authority’s Department of System Safety and Risk Management, which includes passenger, vehicle and fire life safety; environmental safety and health; safety training; and the workers’ compensation and quality assurance offices.

As the Chief Safety Officer - Keele will lead the development – monitoring, and necessary adjustment of SEPTA’s plan to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all employees, riders, and community members. Keele will develop methods to measure the Authority’s safety performance and establish programs to routinely involve Executive Leadership in safety planning.

“Ron’s experience makes him the ideal candidate to take on this role,” says SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards. “Under his leadership, we will enhance our system and occupational safety standards, ensuring the best environment for our employees and riders.”

Keele brings more than 35 years of experience in the safety field – with 29 years in mass transit safety. Before being appointed as WMATA’s Chief Safety Officer – he was the Executive Director of Safety, Quality Assurance, and Risk Management for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), where he managed the investigation of all accidents involving fatalities or serious injuries, reported unsafe acts, unacceptable hazardous conditions, derailments, and collisions. He also managed the system safety design review of all of MTA’s new facilities and equipment, system safety certification, fire protection engineering, and fire life safety code requirements.

Keele also worked as the System Safety Manager of Space Shuttle Operations for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); served as the Director of Safety and Security for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA); and served as the Director of Passenger, Vehicle, Fire Life Safety and Emergency Management for WMATA.

As for Emmanuella - as the new Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer she will be tasked with continuing to build and cultivate a culture within SEPTA that promotes inclusion, diversity, equity, and access for employees, customers, vendors, contractors, and diverse communities. She will provide the vision, leadership, and direction for SEPTA’s diversity and equity programs, including the Diversity, Equity, and Belonging (DEB) strategy and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs. Myrthil will provide counsel and guidance to the SEPTA Board and management team – and report on SEPTA’s equal opportunity compliance and equity-related statistics both to them and to outside regulatory agencies.

“I am extremely proud of SEPTA’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts,” said SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards. “I am excited that Emmanuella Myrthil will continue to build on that foundation to further strengthen SEPTA as an organization that is diverse, inclusive, and enables all people to get equal opportunities.”

Myrthil comes to SEPTA from HNTB – a national infrastructure engineering and design firm – where she served as Division Diversity Director for the company’s Southeast Division. At HNTB – Myrthil worked to change business as usual practices to remove barriers and expand access for minority businesses, as well as diversify small business participation in transportation projects throughout the Southeast. To create greater cultural effectiveness, shared learning, and increased engagement, she piloted an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Allyship program at the company, and implemented a social responsibility employee resource group and adoption program to support Atlanta’s Thomasville Heights Elementary School community.

Myrthil brings more than 18 years of experience in the transportation industry. Prior to joining HNTB – she was the DBE manager for the Georgia Department of Transportation. She has also been active in the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), and was named Engineering Georgia’s 100 Top Influential Women in 2021 and 2022.

We are excited to have Keele and Myrthil join the SEPTA family and look forward to the change and innovations they will bring in the future. For more information regarding the Authority and future plans, keep it here and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for recent news and updates.