MassPort Names New York’s Richard Davey and Miami-Dade’s Eulois Cleckley as CEO Finalists

May 17, 2024

A former Massachusetts transportation secretary and the head of the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation and Public Works were named Thursday as the two finalists to become the next chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Richard Davey, who served as the head of the Bay State’s Department of Transportation under Gov. Deval Patrick, and Eulois Cleckley, a transportation executive in Florida, advanced to the final stage of the quasi-public agency’s search for its next top staffer, a role that has come in the past with a $400,000-plus yearly salary.

MassPort Board of Directors Chair Patricia Jacobs made clear during a public meeting that board members had not yet made a final decision and planned to schedule a meeting next week to vote on finalists.

The reminder was an apparent effort to bat down reports earlier this week from local New York news outlets that said Davey had already secured the job in Boston and planned to leave his post as the president of New York City Transit, the agency overseeing the city’s buses and subways.

“To be clear, I know you guys all know this, but I want to state for the record, the board has not yet deliberated or voted,” Jacobs told fellow board members. “As a gentle reminder, because I know you all know this, board members can only deliberate in public session and are required by the open meeting law to do so in public session.”

 

Related Articles

Davey — who once served as chair of the MassPort Board of Directors while a cabinet secretary here — has a long history in Massachusetts that stretches beyond transportation.

 

After serving as transportation secretary under Patrick, he took over as the chief executive officer of Boston 2024, a non-profit group that led the unsuccessful effort to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to the hub.

He would later take a trip slightly south in May 2022 when New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Davey as the next president of the New York City Transit Authority.

Davey denied rumors that he had plans to leave the transit agency as recently as Tuesday, telling reporters in New York that he was “lucky enough” to have his current job and quipping at them to “get better sources.”

In a statement provided by the MTA, Davey said he appreciates the recommendation to serve on the MassPort Board, which he called “an amazing opportunity in my hometown.”

“However, serving as president of New York City Transit — working every day for our six million customers and 47,000 transit employees with critical and consistent support from Gov. (Kathy) Hochul and MTA Chair (Janno) Lieber — is a privilege and one of the best jobs in the transit world. I will continue to push forward to deliver faster, cleaner, and safer service for subway and bus customers every day I serve in this role,” he said.

Brian Kane, executive director of the MBTA Advisory Board, crossed paths with Davey at the MBTA in the early 2010s when Davey was the general manager and Kane worked in the agency’s budget office.

Kane said the next CEO of MassPort needs to have an “external focus” as migrants sleep at Logan International Airport, an issue that will take “a real deft hand” to deal with. Davey is a “very capable, very smart, a very good public administrator,” Kane said.

“He’s got the confidence of several governors. I think it’s a good move for MassPort if they ultimately go in that direction. I have a feeling he’s been talking to Thomas Glynn quite a bit, who’s also former MassPort and an MBTA general manager,” Kane said, referring to the current chair of the MBTA’s Board of Directors. “I got a feeling that’s where a lot of this is coming from and that’s a good thing.”

Cleckley also has a lengthy history in transportation, which includes time at the U.S. Department of Transportation as a “transportation specialist” starting in 2004, according to his online resume.

After stints in the consulting and nonprofit worlds, Cleckley served for seven years at the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation.

He also took transportation-related jobs in Houston and Denver before ending up in Florida as the director and CEO of the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works, according to his online resume.

A communications aide at the Miami-Dade Department of Transportation could not immediately be reached for comment.

The top staff role at MassPort opened up last year when former CEO Lisa Wieland announced in August that she planned to step down from the role to take over National Grid’s New England operations. Director of Aviation Ed Freni took over as interim CEO in November.

The agency — which oversees Logan International Airport, Worcester Regional Airport, and Hanscom Field as well as the Port of Boston — enlisted the search firm Isaacson, Miller to help find candidates.

Nearly 100 people expressed interest in the role, including 35 “unsolicited applications,” Jacobs said. Only 48 people actively considered the opportunity, a majority of which were screened and interviewed by the search firm in January, February, and March, she said.

A three-person screening committee led by Jacobs reviewed 19 resumes and invited 10 people to first-round interviews in late March — five were women and six were people of color.

“We feel very good about the diversity aspects and the degree that which we were able to attract a pool of diverse, interested applicants,” Jacobs said.

The screening committee narrowed the pool to three candidates, who moved on to second-round interviews earlier this month, including one woman and a person of color. Davey and Cleckley, two men, were officially recommended to the full MassPort Board on Thursday.

“We are presenting two highly qualified experienced transportation executives,” Jacobs said. “It is for the full board to decide between the two of them based on their experience, fit, and the qualities and attributes that we included in our position description. The screening committee believes that they are both highly qualified, and both capable of performing as MassPort’s next CEO.”

©2024 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at bostonherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.