TriMet’s executive team consists of the general manager, the chief operating officer and the executive directors of the agency’s divisions.
The team works together to deliver safe and reliable transit service for residents of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. The executive directors are responsible for the performance of their employees, their budgets and ultimately their division’s role in the overall performance of the agency.
Sam Desue, Jr.
Interim General Manager and Chief Operating Officer
“Forward momentum and leadership will be critical during this time of transition, and I will bring a community-driven and consensus-building focus.
On February 24, 2021, TriMet’s Board of Directors appointed Sam Desue, Jr. as interim General Manager. Following the retirement of former General Manager Doug Kelsey, Sam will lead the transit agency while the Board conducts a search for a new General Manager. Sam is TriMet’s current Chief Operating Officer and assumed the role of interim GM on March 6.
Sam joined TriMet in March 2019 after more than 27 years of public and private transportation experience. He served at three different public transportation agencies in executive level positions. At the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, he served as the interim General Manager and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, providing strategic leadership.
Prior to Kansas City, Sam directed transportation services at both Pierce Transit and Community Transit in Washington. He also oversaw ground transportation at SeaTac International Airport as well as operations at Seattle Monorail.
As COO at TriMet, Sam oversees the operational function at the agency, providing executive leadership, strategic direction, and operational oversight for four operating divisions and three departments.
Sam is a proud US veteran and served 10 years in the United States Army. He is supported by his loving family and is driven by a desire to connect underserved individuals to economic opportunities.
Chief Information Officer
Ethan Benatan brings to TriMet more than 20 years of experience leading high-level IT functions and strategy. Benatan most recently worked for the State of Oregon as Modernization Director for the Oregon Employment Department for a year, and as Strategic Technology Officer for the state’s Enterprise Information Services for four years. While at the State of Oregon, Benatan led advancements in technology transformation projects and oversaw $500 million in statewide IT initiatives, governance and policy for agencies that serve more than a million Oregonians and employed more than 16,000 staff in the Health and Human Services sector.
Prior to working for the state, Benatan served in Chief Information Officer roles at Health Republic Insurance Company and at Marylhurst University. He also spent eight years as Director of Computer User Services at Reed College.
Benatan holds a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh, with a focus in artificial intelligence and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Microbology from the University of Cape Town. He is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum and a Fellow of the Leading Change Institute.
Originally from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Benatan grew up in South Africa and travelled widely before coming to Oregon in 2002. Benatan is passionate about promoting equity and has volunteered at EDUCAUSE, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to using information technology to advance higher education initiatives.
Executive Director of Safety & Security
Marla Blagg is responsible for leading the safety, security, emergency management and environmental service functions at TriMet.
Prior to joining TriMet, Marla spent six years as emergency manager at San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), where she established the transit agency’s first emergency operations center. She has nearly 20 years of emergency operations, management and training experience across law enforcement, fire, public health and transit.
Marla is a member of APTA’s Security Emergency Management Task Force Committee and serves as an adjunct professor for the Infrastructure Training & Safety Institute at Texas A&M University’s Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). She provides real-world training to first responders and public service professionals on disaster management, and she received a commendation for her emergency response efforts during Hurricane Irene in 2012.
Marla has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from the University of Calgary and a Doctor of Chiropractic from Palmer College West. She is also a graduate of the University of the Pacific’s Transit and Paratransit Management Training Program.
Executive Director of Finance & Administrative Services
“I believe that working with public transit is as much a calling as an occupation and working at TriMet provides the ultimate industry opportunity to serve a truly transit-oriented community at one of the country’s finest transportation organizations.
Dee Brookshire has more than 20 years of experience in public agency and private sector finance. Among her many community involvements, Dee has served on the finance committee for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and on the board of the Sacramento Business Services Center.
She also served as the Chief Financial Officer for the Sacramento Regional Transit (RT) District for seven years.
Dee led economic recovery efforts at RT, bringing back more efficient and cost-effective transportation services following the economic downturn.
In addition to her financial experience in transit, she has worked for public utility districts and city government, and as a public agency consultant. Her background includes substantial debt restructuring and multiple bond issuances for public agencies. She has also aided in successful labor negotiations for agencies with multiple bargaining units.
Dee joined TriMet in 2014 and is responsible for directing the agency’s financial services, providing oversight and directing procurement and contracts as well as financial analysis and grants. She will continue the work of the agency’s 5-year plan to ensure financial stability.
Dee received her MBA from the University of Nevada, Reno, and received her B.S. in Business Administration-Finance/Economics from California State University, Sacramento. She is also a Certified Government Financial Manager through the Association of Government Accountants.
“I love that TriMet is all about connecting people with mobility options that invigorate this region and help keep it livable and sustainable for everyone.
Shelley Devine joined TriMet in March 2008 as Senior Deputy General Counsel and was promoted to General Counsel in March 2014. In addition to advising the General Manager and Board of Directors, Shelley oversees the Legal Services Division, which includes litigation, real estate, records governance and transit-oriented development.
Before joining TriMet, Shelley spent a decade as in-house counsel for two national corporations headquartered in Portland — KinderCare and Hollywood Video. Prior to her in-house work, she was a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of a national law firm.
Shelley received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was an editor of the California Law Review, and her B.A. in Journalism, with honors, from the University of Oregon. A native Oregonian, she lives on a small farm in Southeast Portland and is an enthusiastic regular TriMet rider.
Executive Director of Maintenance Operations
“A vibrant transportation system is the heart of a city; it builds community and provides opportunity for everyone. I am fortunate to be part of the TriMet team working to deliver safe and reliable service to our community.
Roland Hoskins oversees the maintenance of TriMet’s buses, light rail vehicles and non-revenue vehicles.
Roland has more than 30 years of expertise in business management, human resources, labor relations and organizational development. Before joining TriMet, he served as Assistant General Manager of Administration at Lane Transit District in Eugene, Oregon, where he directed the agency’s finance, administration, human resources and procurements departments, as well as managed its $185 million operational and capital budget.
Roland received his bachelor’s degree and MBA from George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.
Executive Director of Labor Relations & Human Resources
Kimberly Sewell has over 20 years of experience in law and labor relations. Formerly TriMet's Director of Legal Services, Kimberly has been with TriMet since 2002.
In her previous roles in the Legal Services Division, Sewell has developed a keen insight and understanding of employment and labor laws. She worked closely with the Labor Relations team, representing TriMet before the Employment Relations Board, resolving grievances, interpreting contracts and participating in negotiations and mediations.
Kimberly has also provided critical guidance to TriMet’s Human Resources team. She helped establish TriMet’s workers’ compensation program, assisted on development of HR policies and procedures, and advised the agency on state and federal employee rights and equal employment opportunity laws.
She has a J.D. from the University of Oregon's School of Law and received her bachelor's degree from Long Beach State University.
Executive Director of Public Affairs
“I love the Portland region so much that this is my second time living here. The opportunities to live, work and play are boundless. Having TriMet connect all those wonderful things is why I work here. It’s an honor to be a part of this organization that works to serve the community and make this such a great place to live.
Vannatta is a familiar face at TriMet, having distinguished himself in a variety of positions within the agency over the course of 14 years.
JC brought energy, strategic direction, skill and leadership to his previous position as TriMet’s Managing Director of Communications, Marketing and Customer Experience. In that role, he successfully developed the agency’s outreach and engagement framework, encouraged more diverse community engagement, and championed transparent, proactive, and positive strategic communication efforts.
Prior to serving in manager and director positions within TriMet’s Public Affairs Division, JC worked for the Regional Transportation Authority in Chicago, the financial and oversight body for the three transit agencies in northeastern Illinois. He also worked for the Chicago Transit Authority, in TriMet’s Capital Projects Division and in broadcast media.
JC earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Communications/Public Relations from Montana State University (Billings) and holds an Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), administered by the Public Relations Society of America and governed by the Universal Accreditation Board. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Explore Washington Park and is the former chair of the American Public Transportation Association’s Marketing and Communications Committee.
Executive Director of Engineering & Construction
“As a young person growing up in Portland, TriMet was my ticket to get to school, have fun with friends and travel to my summer jobs. TriMet’s investments in the region’s transit network have made this a truly special place. It is so rewarding to be a part of the team that makes this region one of the most livable communities in the nation.
Steve Witter directs all aspects of Engineering and Construction’s planning, development, design, construction and improvement of TriMet’s transit system, including many “state of good” repair efforts, the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project, and the Southwest Corridor light rail project.
He joined TriMet in 2001, working in various capacities on other capital projects, including conceptual design of the MAX Green Line (opened in 2009), the MAX Yellow Line (opened in 2004), WES Commuter Rail (opened in 2009) and planning work for the Columbia River Crossing. Most recently, Steve served as Program Manager on projects including the agency’s MAX Orange Line.
Steve has a master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Oregon and has taught design and graphics courses as an Adjunct Professor of Architecture at Portland State University.
A lifelong Portland resident, he lives with his family in SE Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood.
To reach a member of TriMet’s executive team, contact:
TriMet Executive/Board Administrator
1800 SW 1st Avenue, Suite 300
Portland, OR 97201