Facing a tighter budget, the Metra board of directors on Wednesday decided to look within the agency for its next CEO, turning to a 20-year veteran who is used to dealing with the costs of repairing and replacing the railroad’s aging equipment.
In a unanimous vote during its regular monthly meeting, the board hired James Derwinski, 49, currently Metra’s chief mechanical officer, to replace current Executive Director Don Orseno, who is retiring at the end of the year. Orseno also had been a longtime Metra veteran, and the board decided again to go with an internal candidate to lead the commuter rail service after a nationwide search.
A resident of northwest Indiana who commutes via Metra now and again, Derwinski was hired by the transit agency in 1997, working his way through the ranks to management. As chief mechanical officer, he oversees 650 employees responsible for repair, inspection, cleaning and maintenance of nearly 1,200 rail cars and locomotives. His 2016 pay was $171,704, according to Metra.
In the CEO’s seat he’ll be paid a salary of $275,000 effective Jan. 1, a drop from Orseno’s salary of $317,500. The salary is lower because Derwinski has less experience, said Metra spokesman Michael Gillis.