Black History Month: Stephanie Wiggins

Stephanie Wiggins at the February 12, 2019 presentation. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

In the second celebration of Black History Month, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presented a scroll to Stephanie Wiggins, the first female and first African American CEO of Metrolink.  In this role, she is now responsible for a commuter railroad that covers over 2.8 million train miles and transports over 400 million passengers per year.

“A true trailblazer, Stephanie Wiggins has enjoyed a stellar career in the transportation industry,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.

Stephanie Wiggins was named chief executive officer of Metrolink by a unanimous vote of the board of directors in December 2018. Wiggins assumed leadership in January 2019 and leads the 275-employee strong commuter railroad with a budget of $793 million.

As CEO, Wiggins directs an agency that operates a commuter rail network on seven routes across a six-county, 538 route-mile system.  Wiggins has held high-level positions at three of the five-member agencies that comprise Metrolink and is well-known as a customer -focused leader who finds solutions from a regional perspective.

Wiggins’ vision for the agency is to create value and exceed expectations by prioritizing a customer-first orientation with three pillars to provide an outstanding customer experience: safety and security, an integrated system, and modernizing business practices.

Prior to leading Metrolink, Wiggins was Deputy CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) where she assisted the CEO in providing leadership and formulating and achieving strategic public transportation objectives, including the passage of Measure M, a half-cent sales tax approved by 71 percent of voters in LA County. During her tenure at LA Metro, Stephanie also served as the Executive Director of Vendor/Contract Management, where she implemented procurement streamlining initiatives and greatly expanded Metro’s utilization of small and historically underutilized businesses.  Prior to that role, Stephanie was the Executive Officer and Project Director of the Congestion Reduction/ExpressLanes Program where she launched the first high occupancy toll lanes in LA County, the I-10 and I-110 Express Lanes, which improved travel times and travel reliability on two of the County’s most congested freeway corridors.

Prior to Metro, she served as Regional Programs Director for the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) and oversaw transit, commuter rail, rideshare, goods movement and rail capital projects.

Wiggins began her career in transportation when she accepted a temporary assignment at the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority and fell in love with the mission of the agency. The six-month temporary assignment turned into more than four years. She then accepted a policy analyst position with the RCTC where she worked for an additional nine and a half years in management and senior management roles.

Feeling the need for personal and academic growth, Wiggins earned a Master of Business Administration from the USC Marshall School of Business in 2007. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Whittier College in 1992.

Wiggins is a self-proclaimed “military brat” whose father made his career in the Air Force. She credits her experience moving from base to base and country to country as a child for teaching her the importance of diversity.

Wiggins is the founding president of the Inland Empire Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar. She is the recipient of many awards including the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials 2018 Women Who Move the Nation Award. She is a Board Member of the Los Angeles Chapter of Friends of the Children.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presents scroll to Stephanie Wiggins. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

EMT Program Inspires Young Women to Improve their Lives by Saving Others

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas recognizes the first female cohort of the Los Angeles Emergency Medical Technician pilot program during the February 12, 2019 board meeting. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas honored the first all-female and the final cohort of the intensive five-monthLos Angeles Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) pilot program designed to introduce young adults to sustainable career pathways in the public safety and health sectors.

“It wasn’t easy, but you persisted. You’ve achieved this milestone and you are one step closer to your ultimate dream career goal,” he told them. “No matter your selected path, rest assured the demand for professionals in the health and public safety industries are already high and projected to continue growing over the next decade.”

The earn and learn program provides career-technical education, life coaching and leadership development, and job placement assistance, mentoring, and integrated supportive services.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby shares remarks at the board meeting. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

“The motto of the LA County Fire Department is Proud Protectors of Life and Property and we have found people who had a need to be mentored and to be developed,” said LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby. “I saw these young ladies five months ago and to see their growth is just amazing.”

Graduates are guaranteed employment after successfully completing the program. Working as an EMT can lead to careers as nurses, physician assistants, firefighters and doctors.

“For me personally, this class was definitely a second chance,” said Zayana Ross-Torrance, one of the new graduates. “I am grateful for programs like this that let some of us take our first steps into the medical field and I’m glad to have these ladies continue on this journey with me.”

LA EMT Program participant speaks to the Board of Supervisors. Photo by Diandra Jay / Board of Supervisors

LA EMT Program partners include the Workers Education and Resource Center, Central Baptist Church, the Los Angeles County Stentorians, and McCormick Ambulance.

The success of this model was identified in the County’s Preparing Los Angeles for County Employment, or PLACE program, as a pipeline for training potential future firefighters.

“This program goes back to 8 years ago when I was appointed and wanted to do things in the community to make a significant difference,” said Chief Osby. “We have maintained this commitment and this is the fruit of our labor.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are unrepresented as firefighters and the percentage of women firefighters in the County and City of LA is slightly below the national average at 2 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

More than 70 young adults have participated in the program since it launched its first cohort in May 2017.

The Gateway at Willowbrook

Ribbon Cutting for the Gateway at Willowbrook, an affordable living development. All photos by Dave Franco / Board of Supervisors

The Gateway at Willowbrook: Before and After

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas celebrated the grand opening of the Gateway at Willowbrook, an affordable living development with 105 apartments for seniors, including 22 apartments for seniors who had been homeless.

It is the County of Los Angeles’ first mixed-use development featuring apartments built on top of a public library

“The Gateway at Willowbrook marked the first time that Los Angeles County partnered with the private sector to provide not only housing but also a library,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is the epitome of what high-quality and affordable development and services can and should look like.”

Developed by Thomas Safran & Associates, the development features one and two-bedroom apartments designed to accommodate seniors ages 62 and older. Each apartment features wall-to-wall carpeting, vinyl flooring and a modern kitchen, complete with appliances.

The exterior facade of the new Gateway at Willowbrook.

The property is beautifully landscaped with an outdoor barbecue area and seating. There is also a spacious community room, computer room, fitness center, laundry facilities, and ]secured entry with intercom. Community movie nights, arts and crafts, bingo, monthly birthday parties, and more are provided by the onsite management staff.

As an added bonus, the newly built 8,0000-square foot Willowbrook Los Angeles County Public Library is located on the ground floor of the building. Within walking distance are the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus and the Willowbrook-Rosa Parks Station.

“This project truly serves as a new gateway into the neighborhood of Willowbrook, providing much needed affordable housing – and public gathering space – supporting the entire community,” Andrew Gross, President of Thomas Safran & Associates, said.


Creative Economy Takes Center Stage

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas discusses the release of the 2019 Otis College Report on the Creative Economy. Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors

The newly released 2019 Otis Report on the Creative Economy demonstrates the tremendous impact and influence that the creative sector has on the economies of both California and the Greater Los Angeles region, and encourages investment in arts education, economic development, and cultural planning.

The Otis College of Art and Design partnered with Beacon Economics for the first time to generate the report, and obtained support from the California Arts Council on its statewide findings.

“Working for the first time with Beacon Economics, in this eleventh year of the report, we take advantage of much learning that has evolved over the last decade,” said Otis College President Bruce W. Ferguson. “Sectors have been consolidated, race and gender are examined for the first time, and more attention has been placed on providing a richer context.

“Against the backdrop of these innovations stands the underlying truth that this report helps illuminate: Los Angeles and California are home to rich and vibrant creative communities with robust and growing economies that deserve to be taken seriously in their own right,” he added. “It is critical that leaders from public, private, and non-profit sectors work together to support this type of examination in order for the larger creative economy to continue to flourish and thrive.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who helped sponsor the research, said, “This report is an important and unique contribution that illustrates and quantifies what we’ve known to be instinctively true—an investment in our creative economy is a meaningful investment in the growing future of this region, one that’s now reached a magnitude of more than $207 billion countywide and more than $600 billion statewide. The Board of Supervisors for the County of Los Angeles will continue to do all that we can to extend our region’s cultural and creative influence as a hub for the creative economy.”

Significant findings include:

  • In total, the direct employment generated by creative industries account for around 11% of total employment in Los Angeles County, and statewide in California, creative industries were responsible for 15% of total employment overall, in terms of direct and indirect employment;
  • This impressive figure means Los Angeles County is the largest hub by employment for the creative industries in the U.S., with 10% more creative workers employed in the County than the next largest center for the creative industries in the country, New York City;
  • On average, a creative industry job is higher than the county-wide average. (Creative: $103,000 versus non-creative average: $61,000);
  • The Fashion sector in Los Angeles County employs around 24% more workers than its East Coast counterpart in New York City;
  • There has been a very robust increase in employment in the field of Architecture and Related Services & Fine Arts and Performing Arts – increasing by 32%, demonstrating the health of arts and design in Los Angeles as a key growth area in the economy.





Modernizing Metro: The New Blue

The Metro Blue Line is undergoing a comprehensive $350-million modernization to improve reliability, upgrade safety and enhance the customer experience. Work to update the Blue Line — which opened in 1990 and is Metro’s oldest rail line — has been ongoing since 2014 with a series of safety and operational improvements.

“The Blue Line is Metro’s workhorse and in need of significant investments — not just to  provide a modern feel, but also to ensure  the infrastructure continues to work for many more decades to come,” said Metro Board Director and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

The upcoming improvement project will require two extended four-month closures. Work on the southern segment of the line began on January 26.

In addition, Blue Line service to Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station will be closed for eight months while the station is rebuilt with more capacity, a new customer service center and community plaza, easier connections to local buses and surrounding communities, and upgrades to safety and security systems. During the closure, Green Line service will operate normally at Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station.

Work on the Blue Line will include improvements to the signaling, tracks and overhead wires that delivers the electricity to power the trains. Four new crossover tracks will be built to reduce service interruptions. There will also be numerous station improvements, including new interactive digital map displays for all stations, which will display train arrival and departure times, service alerts, and maps of the system and nearby area. Other visible amenities will include new signage and landscaping.

The Metro Board of Directors recently approved the naming of rail lines with letters and colors to accommodate a growing system and make our rail and bus rapid transit network easier to understand and more custom friendly. Upon completion of the entire New Blue Improvement Project, the new name for the Blue Line will be the “A” Line with the color blue.

“We have implemented a comprehensive public outreach program to notify the public of Blue Line rail service interruptions, construction and the bus shuttle service,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “Metro is committed to improving reliability, upgrading safety and enhancing the customer experience on the Blue Line.”

The closures are as follows:
Southern segment:

  • January 26 to late May 2019: rail service will be suspended from the Blue Line 103rd St/Watts Towers Station to the Downtown Long Beach Station and replaced by expanded shuttle bus service. The Blue Line will continue running between 7th St/Metro Center in downtown Los Angeles and 103rd St/Watts Towers Station.

Northern segment:

  • Late May to September 2019: rail service will be suspended from the Blue Line Compton Station to 7th St/Metro Center and replaced by expanded shuttle bus service. The Blue Line will continue running between Compton Station and Downtown Long Beach Station. Red and Purple Line service will operate normally at 7th St/Metro Center.
  • During the northern segment closure, Expo Line rail service will be suspended for 45 days at 7th St/Metro Center and Pico Station with train service in that segment replaced by bus shuttles. Expo Line trains will continue to run between LATTC/Ortho Institute Station and Downtown Santa Monica.

Metro will offer three types of Blue Line Bus Shuttle Service during the closures:

  • Blue Line Local Bus Shuttle Service will be free with buses serving all closed Blue Line stations and 103rd St/Watts Towers, where customers can transfer to the trains heading to/from downtown Los Angeles. The shuttles will run the same hours as the Blue Line, seven days a week.
  • Blue Line Select Bus Shuttle Service will have a $1.75 fare and serve busier stations during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to the Blue Line or other lines within two hours of starting a trip. Select bus shuttles will run Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. During the closure between Downtown Long Beach and 103rd Street Station, the Select Bus Shuttles will serve the following stations: Pacific, 1st Street/Downtown Long Beach, 5th Street, Anaheim, Pacific Coast Highway, Willow, Wardlow, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks, and 103rd/Watts Towers. During the closure between Compton and 7th St/Metro, the Select Bus Shuttles will service 7th St/Metro, Pico, Grand/LATTC, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks and Compton.
  • Blue Line Express Shuttle Service will have a $1.75 fare with limited stops between Long Beach and Downtown Los Angeles during morning and afternoon rush hours. Customers with a valid TAP card can transfer for free to other lines within two hours of starting a trip. The Express Bus Service will run Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Stations served will be Pacific Ave, Downtown Long Beach/1st St, 5th St, Anaheim St, Pacific Coast Hwy, Willow St, Wardlow, LATTC/Ortho Institute, Grand/LATTC, Pico and 7th St/Metro Center.

Metro is launching a robust outreach campaign to Metro customers, cities, communities, stakeholders and the public about the New Blue. The New Blue website at includes a fact sheet and map with the three bus shuttle services.