PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards has extensive leadership experience in the management of transportation projects both in her private sector work in the planning and engineering fields over the past two decades, as well as in her work in local government. Her private and public sector backgrounds give her a unique perspective on understanding stakeholder issues, and on the importance of bringing projects to completion on time and on budget. Secretary Richards is recognized in the public and private sectors for her ability to build consensus in order to find solutions to problems. On May 11, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously confirmed her nomination as Secretary.
In the private sector, Secretary Richards served as a senior project manager at a woman-owned civil engineering firm. In addition, she served as a public involvement specialist at a consulting firm. She is experienced with managing multi-million dollar infrastructure projects such as bridge rehabilitation, road repairs, street scape improvements, trail and park development, environmental assessments, and feasibility studies, as well as writing annual and long-range strategic plans. She has facilitated public meetings with residents, business owners, and government officials regarding transportation issues in urban, rural, and suburban communities. As a consultant, she received special recognition for minimizing the negative impacts of construction, detours, and road closures on the local business community.
In the public sector, Secretary Richards focused on transportation and planning issues. She served as the vice chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, where she lead the transportation and planning initiatives for the third largest county in the Commonwealth. Under her leadership, the county restructured its road and bridge division resulting in increased efficiencies and $1 million in savings, and adopted an aggressive program to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges. In addition, Secretary Richards served as the chair of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, as well as on the boards of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVFTMA). She played an active role working with state legislators to educate them on the importance of passing Pennsylvania’s far-reaching transportation plan, Act 89, and provided official testimony during legislative hearings. Before being elected commissioner, she served as the chair and vice chair of the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors.
Secretary Richards is a graduate of Brown University, where she concentrated in economics and urban studies. She received a master’s of regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Secretary Richards is a lifelong Pennsylvania resident. She lives with her husband and three children in Montgomery County.