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SEPTA Board Member Named 'Woman Of The Year' By Local Organization

Andrew Busch
SEPTA Public Information Manager

With more than two decades of experience focusing on transportation and related issues - and degrees from Ivy League universities in planning, economics and urban studies - Leslie Richards has a well-deserved reputation for her public transit expertise.

Now, Richards can add a prestigious honor from an advocacy group for women in the transportation industry to her impressive resume.

Richards, a SEPTA Board Member and Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, has been named the "2013 Woman of the Year" by the Philadelphia chapter of the Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS).

Richards received the award during a ceremony on Dec. 5 at the Philadelphia Marriott in Center City. She will also be honored at the WTS International Conference in May.

"I never imagined I'd received an award like this," Richards said. "I have so much admiration for those who have received it in the past. It's just an honor being considered someone who is of the same caliber as the remarkable women who have come before me."

A graduate of Brown University, where she concentrated in economics and urban studies, with a masters in regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania, Richards has spent much of her career in the private sector, including work in roles focusing on transportation and the environment. Her experience ranges from managing multi-million dollar infrastructure projects, such as bridge rehabilitation, road repairs, street scape improvements, trail and park development, environmental assessments and feasibility studies, to writing annual and long-range strategic plans.

Richards was elected to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2011, and heads the county's planning, transportation and economic development initiatives. She was appointed to the SEPTA Board in 2012.

Richards also serves as secretary of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and is a former chairwoman of the Whitemarsh Township supervisors.

"I have always been an advocate for public transportation," Richards said. "SEPTA plays a huge role in promoting economic vitality, improving the environment and enhancing the quality of life for residents in Montgomery County and the Philadelphia region as a whole."

Richards, a long-time member of the WTS whose experience also includes a role as a senior project manager for a women-owned civil engineering firm, said the "Woman of the Year" honor is particularly gratifying because it comes from her peers.

"I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition," she said. "This award shows women that they can not only enter, but succeed in professions and industries that have traditionally been associated with men."

Richards said she is proud to be associated with the WTS, which provides women with mentoring programs and network opportunities.

"The WTS is an organization that promotes advancement for women and advocates for transportation issues, which are two efforts I strongly support," she said. "If this award means I can be a small example of what is possible when women break through glass ceilings and stone walls separating professions, then it is that much more meaningful to me."

SEPTA Board Member and Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, Leslie Richards, speaks at Norristown Transportation Center on Nov. 18 during an event marking the re-opening of the Bridgeport Viaduct on the Norristown High Speed Line.

Leslie Richards

Richards (at left, standing in second row) attended a Nov. 15 event during which Gov. Corbett signed Pennsylvania's new transportation funding bill.

Richards and SEPTA Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel test equipment on a Norristown High Speed Line train that will be used when SEPTA moves to a new fare payment system.