RTA names Lona Edwards Hankins as permanent CEO

Today, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) announced the appointment of Lona Edwards Hankins as its permanent Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The announcement comes after the Board of Commissioners voted in support of the resolution to appoint the agency’s permanent CEO at today’s board meeting.  Mrs. Edwards Hankins has served as interim CEO since December 2022, following the retirement of Alex Z. Wiggins.

“The RTA Board of Commissioners is pleased to select Lona Edwards Hankins as the next permanent CEO,” said Mark Raymond, Jr.  “Since joining the RTA in 2019, Lona has demonstrated time and time again her commitment to our community, her integrity and her ability to bring in over $64M in competitive federal funding to build a modern, rider-centered transit system.”

“Our goal when selecting the next leader of RTA was not only to ensure we continue our transformative progress in the right direction but also to ensure they represent our transit ridership and the New Orleans community as a whole,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “As interim CEO, Hankins exceptionally demonstrated her ability to be inclusive and forward thinking across all spectrums of our public transit system. She is well-equipped to permanently lead RTA and will be instrumental in ensuring a world-class transit system for all transit riders.”

“I am humbled to be selected by the Board of Commissioners to steward the RTA in this next and important phase of the agency’s history,” said Lona Edwards Hankins. “Public transit is an important lifeline for our region’s families, workforce, and youth.  It is the pathway to economic mobility for families and the foundation of job growth and economic development in our region. I am eager to partner with the community to build the efficient, reliable, and equitable transit system our riders so richly deserve.”

Lona Edwards Hankins joined the RTA in 2019 as the agency’s Chief of Infrastructure and Long-Term Planning. In that position, Lona oversaw the development and execution of capital assets and the implementation of infrastructure improvement projects across all modes of RTA’s transit operations and administration. In her over 30 years of work experience in the industrial and public sector, Lona notably spearheaded the rebuilding of New Orleans schools during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Previously serving as the Director of Major Capital Projects for the Recovery School District (RSD), Lona completed over $2B in projects across 40 school campuses for children of New Orleans.

The RTA is a subsidiary of the State of Louisiana and is governed by its Board of Commissioners which is composed of eight publicly appointed representatives.  The Board sets agency policy, oversees funding, and the expansion of public transportation in the region. Five representatives are appointed by the Mayor of New Orleans, and three representatives are appointed by the President of Jefferson Parish.