Home > PUM Women's History Salutes: Ellen McLean, Chief Executive Officer of Port Authority of Allegheny County

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PUM Women's History Salutes: Ellen McLean, Chief Executive Officer of Port Authority of Allegheny County 

"In addition to the standard work hard, have integrity, and project confidence, everyone should learn to be a problem solver and an excellent communicator, both written and verbal.  Equally important, don't believe that there are only a set number of seats at the table for women.   You don't get there alone so bring others with you.   Don't dwell on the "glass ceiling."   Ellen McLean

PittsburghUrbanMedia.com-Celebrate Women’s History Month, March 2014

National Women's History Month's roots go back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women's Day was first observed in 1909, but it wasn't until 1981 that Congress established National Women's History Week to be commemorated the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month. Every year since, Congress has passed a resolution for Women's History Month, and the President has issued a proclamation.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, the leaders featured during the month of March all demonstrate that they are significantly shaping the world – in business, government, academia, the non-profit sector and more.  They are advancing their influence exponentially by shaping and creating a new generation of leaders who are poised to help lead our world forward. We hope their stories will serve as an inspiration to encourage others to be motivated and inspired to achieve their goals and dreams.  

Ellen McLean was named Chief Executive Officer of Port Authority of Allegheny County effective February 1, 2014. Prior to her appointment, she served as interim CEO starting in February 2013.

Ms. McLean joined Port Authority as Chief Financial Officer in October 2010. In that position, she supervised multiple departments, including Financial Planning and Budgets, Grants and Capital Programs, Accounting and Treasury, Information Technology and Purchasing/Materials Management, and served as trustee for the Authority’s three pension plans.

 Before joining Port Authority, Ms. McLean was Managing Director of Infrastructure Initiatives at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC, where she led a team in research, development and distribution of policies promoting smart infrastructure investment and financing.  

 Ms. McLean was Chief Financial Officer for the City of Pittsburgh from 1999 to 2005 during the administration of Mayor Tom Murphy. She was responsible for managing the City’s $450 million budget, and served as executive director of the City’s Comprehensive Municipal Pension Trust Fund and treasurer of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. She was a key player in developing and implementing the City’s fiscal strategy, resulting in legislative approval of broader regional taxing power and wide-ranging cost controls through the adoption of a budget plan under State Act 47.  Prior to that, she served as the City’s assistant director for the Office of Management and Budget, and assistant director of the Finance Department. Over the course of her career, she has also served as a consultant in the areas of strategic and financial planning for public entities, nonprofits and foundations, including Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Three Rivers Arts Festival.  

Ms. McLean received a Master of Public Management degree with a focus in Financial Management from the H.J. Heinz School of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree in English from Duquesne University. She is a resident of Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PUM ONE ON ONE WITH ELLEN McLEAN,  CEO of PORT AUTHORITY of ALLEGHENY COUNTY

PUM: Celebrating Women's History Month what does that mean for you in terms of what you have been able to accomplish in your career?

McLean: There have been many women throughout history who made significant differences in our country and communities.  It's appropriate to celebrate those particularly if it serves to encourage one girl to strive for her dreams.  I think today's younger generations are not hindered by a sense of limits as women were in the past.  That's a good thing.  There should be no sense of constraints.

PUM: You are one of the few women CEO's to oversee a major transportation system, what are your thoughts about your role? How will you be evaluating the increased revenue that will be generated by the state’s new transportation funding bill and how best to use it?

McLean: While today there are only a few women CEO's in transit, there are many very talented and capable women who make transit work.  They drive our buses and trains, change out transmissions, design transit stations or busways, and manage key operating and support services, like procurement, finance, customer service and planning.   As to our new funding, our first priority is to enhance current service by improving on-time performance and the ridership experience.  We are in the process of installing sophisticated technology that will allow us, in time, to offer many ways in which our customers can track their buses and trains.  While we're working on this priority, we will also engage the community in discussions on what should a modern transit system look like for this region. Projects like bus rapid transit, transit-oriented development partnerships, and improved park and ride opportunities will be key pieces of our future plans.

PUM:  What is your advice and recommendations to women as they break through the glass ceilings in their careers? How were you able to persevere?

McLean: In addition to the standard work hard, have integrity, and project confidence, everyone should learn to be a problem solver and an excellent communicator, both written and verbal.  Equally important, don't believe that there are only a set number of seats at the table for women.   You don't get there alone so bring others with you.   Don't dwell on the "glass ceiling."   How am I able to persevere?   Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, "Every woman in public life needs to develop skin as tough as rhinoceros hide.”

PUM:  Balancing career and home life, what has worked for you on your path to success?

McLean: I have a supportive husband, fabulous kids, and a dog that loves me unconditionally.

PUM: What are you most proud of as a Women who inspires other women every day?

McLean: I am most proud of all the employees of the Port Authority.  We are a team.  Together we are working to make this transit agency among the best in the nation.

 

 

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