DRPA Chairwoman Cherelle Parker Announces Resignation from Board of Commissioners
Parker’s tenure marked with accomplishments and a rich legacy as she focuses on new role as Philadelphia’s mayor.
Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) Chairwoman Cherelle L. Parker has announced her resignation from the Board of Commissioners, effective January 18, 2024, to focus on her new role as Mayor of Philadelphia.
“It has been an honor to serve on this board and lead this incredible agency with a talented group of professionals who are committed to excellence,” said Parker during the Authority’s January Board Meeting. “As Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, it is true that I must devote my full attention to the needs of the city and its residents.”
Parker made history on February 17, 2021, when she was elected to serve as the first woman chair of the 16-member board that oversees operations of the bi-state transportation authority.
As Chairwoman, Parker led an agency with a $316.8M annual operating budget, a $794.2M five-year capital budget, and an 824-member workforce.
Notable activities and accomplishments under Chairwoman Parker’s leadership include:
- Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic. Parker demonstrated remarkable leadership skills with resilience and fortitude throughout all phases of the pandemic, placing the primary focus on the well-being of every DRPA/PATCO employee. In April 2022, all employees were transitioned back to in-person work, full time.
- Maintaining Strong Financial Discipline. Since Parker became Chairwoman, the Authority has paid off nearly $250 million in debt and kept operating expenses under budget.
- Advancing DRPA’s Stewardship Mission. During Parker’s tenure, the Authority took necessary measures to ensure bridge and train assets were safe, secure, and serviceable as well as to ensure equity, access, and fairness. This included:
- Rehabilitating the Ben Franklin Bridge to extend the life of the nearly 100-year-old span.
- Bringing back Franklin Square Station to create additional access from the PATCO transit line to the City of Philadelphia.
- Painting and repairing steel on the Betsy Ross Bridge. The bridge was last painted in 1999 and this project will help protect critical elements and extend the life of the structure.
- Generating energy through solar to provide more than 50% of the total electricity consumption for DRPA and PATCO. The project is one of the largest transportation-related alternative energy initiatives in the region and will result in millions of dollars of electricity cost savings to DRPA/PATCO.
- Installing elevators in all PATCO Stations so stations are fully accessible to individuals with disabilities and those using wheelchairs, strollers, and bicycles. This ensures equity for all PATCO customers.
- Advancing a commitment to livable wages, equity, access, and fairness. Under Parker, the DRPA has negotiated fair collective bargaining agreements and subsequent extensions will all four of its unions. The board also implemented a paid parental leave benefit for all employees regardless of gender, and recognized Juneteenth National Independence Day as a paid holiday before it was a federal holiday.
“What the DRPA has learned, and what Philadelphia is now learning, is that Cherelle Parker gets things done. She is driven by doing what is right but is done so with a sophisticated finesse that is admirable and likable,” said Vice Chairman Jeffrey L. Nash. “I am grateful I had an opportunity to meet Cherelle and to develop a friendship. She is an outstanding talent and I suspect there is no limit to her success, and I am just grateful her road to success stopped by the DRPA.”
“Working with Mayor Parker has truly been a pleasure. Her ability to bring groups together, working in a bipartisan nature, is a true testament to her leadership skills,” said Pennsylvania Auditor General and DRPA Commissioner Timothy L. DeFoor. “We were fortunate to have her as Chair of the Delaware River Port Authority and the City of Philadelphia is lucky to have her at the helm.”
“During her nearly three-year tenure, Cherelle was a champion for inclusiveness, equity, and placing the needs of the working people at the forefront of the agency’s top priorities,” said Commissioner Donna Powell.
DRPA CEO John T. Hanson praised Chairwoman Parker and her philosophy of appreciative inquiry, stating that that this approach resulted in a deep understanding of the DRPA’s operations and played a critical role in formulating the Authority’s plans and decisions.
“Chairwoman Parker’s command of details and personal engagement to understand what we do and how we do it has inspired action and innovative solutions,” said DRPA CEO John T. Hanson. “I am saddened to see her leave our leadership team but am excited to see her continue her excellent work in our region as the newly elected Mayor of Philadelphia.”
“As I transition into this role as Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, it is important to know that many of the great lessons and accomplishments that we achieved here at the DRPA and PATCO that I will take that experience with me to the City of Philadelphia,” added Parker.
In reflecting about her time as Chairwoman, she said, “As a Board, we remained committed to our stewardship mission, strategic thinking, and access. We approved policies that will make meaningful differences in the lives of DRPA and PATCO employees.” She added, “I am so very proud of the rich legacy we will leave behind and am incredibly optimistic about the future of DRPA and PATCO.”
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