The Sound Transit Board unanimously approved the hiring of Julie Timm as the agency’s next CEO at a base salary of $375,000 per year.
“In hiring Julie Timm, the Sound Transit Board chose an accomplished CEO who offers the right mix of skills and knowledge to guide our transit system forward,” said Sound Transit Board Chair and University Place Council Member Kent Keel in a June 23 news release. “It’s no easy task to plan, build and operate the largest transit expansion in the nation. Julie brings the leadership and collaborative approach to ensure our successful work continues.”
The board’s action June 23 followed the recommendation of the board’s CEO Selection Committee, which considered 90 applicants from around the country. Timm will join Sound Transit on Sept. 26 after relocating from Virginia, where she is finishing her current role as CEO of the Greater Richmond Transit Company.
Timm replaces Peter Rogoff, who was hired in 2015 and left the position May 31. The Sound Transit Board voted 14-3 in September 2021 to replace Rogoff rather than extend his contract for another year. Rogoff had an annual salary of $379,600.
“Over the next few years Sound Transit is poised for transformational growth, and Julie Timm is the right choice to lead the agency as we deliver the largest, most ambitious expansion of transit in the nation,” said Sound Transit Board Vice Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I know that Julie will collaborate with our partners and earn the trust of the people we serve, and I look forward to working with her as we usher in this new era of high-capacity, zero-emission transit in the Puget Sound region.”
Timm said she’s ready for her new job.
“I am profoundly grateful to join the Sound Transit team’s work to transform lives across the Puget Sound region for generations to come,” Timm said. “Together, we will continue to show what is achievable when we prioritize the health of our people and our planet. More than doubling the reach of light rail in the next few years represents a historic level of investment. We will keep these and further projects rolling through strong partnerships and innovative solutions that benefit our parents, our children, and our children’s children. It will not be easy or comfortable to complete this vision. I am truly humbled to become part of such a tremendous effort.”
Timm is known as a highly collaborative leader who forges strong relationships with community groups and partners, and for building an agency culture focused on dedication to public service and equity, according to the news release.
From 2016 through 2019 Timm served as chief development officer for WeGo Public Transit in Nashville, Tennessee. Her efforts included directing development activities and agency staff across functions including engineering, outreach, customer care, planning, grants, marketing, communications, service quality and innovation. She oversaw the implementation of major regional capital projects associated with the more than $6 billion nMotion Strategy that the Nashville region adopted in 2016.
From 2012 through 2016, Timm served as transit development officer and Title VI and environmental justice compliance officer for Hampton Roads Transit in Norfolk, Virginia. She worked with state and local partners and the Federal Transit Administration to manage capital project and strategic planning processes supporting light rail and other transit projects through approval, funding and implementation.
From 2000 through 2012 Timm worked in North Carolina in senior positions developing transit, highway and other projects for Moffatt and Nichol, Carter and Burgess, and URS Corporation. From 1996 through 2000 she worked as a contract employee managing projects and programs for the United States Air Force Air Combat Command Headquarters in Virginia.
Timm earned a master of business administration degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.
Sound Transit Interim CEO Brooke Belman will continue to lead the agency until Timm’s arrival in September.
Sound Transit builds and operates regional transit services for growing urban areas of Washington’s Pierce, King and Snohomish counties. The region is home to more than 50 cities and more than 40% of the state’s residents, who have authorized the most ambitious transit expansions in the nation.
Sound Transit receives most of its funding from voter-approved sales taxes, vehicle tab fees and property taxes. The agency also receives large federal grants.
Over the next three years Sound Transit’s Link light rail system will grow from 26 to 62 miles, before reaching 116 miles following the completion of further voter-approved projects. The system is the first nationally to operate entirely on carbon-free electricity.
Timm will help oversee the opening of light rail to the Eastside in 2023 and to Lynnwood, Federal Way and Redmond in 2024. The 7.8-mile light rail extension from SeaTac through Kent to Federal Way is scheduled to open in 2024.
Sound Transit is also preparing to add Stride bus rapid transit service to its mix of services, alongside Sounder rail service that will continue expanding and a broad network of ST Express regional bus routes. Sound Transit’s trains and buses integrate seamlessly with services of other local transit agencies.
Timm received a contract with a base salary of $375,000 per year to run from Sept. 26, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2025 with a one-year renewal option in 2026 at the board’s direction, according to Sound Transit documents.
Timm will receive a minimum 3.5% annual increase contingent on a successful performance rating. The board may elect to give more than 3.5% performance consistent with the agency’s compensation guidelines applicable to all employees.
For the performance period beginning Jan. 1, 2023, the board may authorize a contribution performance sward. The board will establish goals and a compensation range for the award by March 31 of the annual performance period.
Sound Transit will provide the standard benefits (e.g., medical, dental, vision and ORCA pass) available to all employees. Sound Transit will also provide a fully funded Health Care FSA up to the IRS limit starting in 2022 (the 2022 IRS limit is $2,850). Ms. Timm will accrue 35 personal time off days a year.
Timm will participate in the retirement and deferred compensation plans available to all employees. Sound Transit is required by law to contribute an amount equal to 12% of her annual base salary to her 401(a) retirement account. Sound Transit will also contribute the maximum allowable amount to her 457(b) deferred compensation retirement account each year including the catch-up contribution allowed by the IRS, however for 2022 the contribution will be $10,400 to comply with IRS annual contribution limits.
Timm will receive a taxable expense allowance of $8,500 a year, prorated in 2022, to defray miscellaneous routine business expenses incurred consistent with Sound Transit policies.
Sound Transit will reimburse Timm for approved travel, food and lodging associated with professional conferences consistent with Sound Transit policy, including APTA conferences and the Washington State Transportation Conference.
Timm will receive $64,000 for relocation expenses. She will be required to repay this amount on a prorated basis if she voluntarily resigns without good cause or is terminated for cause within the first year of employment.