Governor Names New Minnesota DOT Commissioner; Montana Gov-Elect Announces Director Pick

AASHTO Journal, 14 December 2012

Charlie Zelle, current president and CEO of Minneapolis-based transportation company Jefferson Lines, was appointed Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation by Governor Mark Dayton on Wednesday. Zelle is scheduled to begin at MnDOT on Jan. 15, succeeding Commissioner Tom Sorel, who left MnDOT earlier this month to run AAA Minneapolis.

“Charlie Zelle’s outstanding record of innovation in the private sector will serve Minnesota well as we build a transportation system which will serve our needs and support our future growth and prosperity,” said Dayton in a statement. “I know that Mr. Zelle’s very successful business career and his strong commitment to public service will make him an outstanding Commissioner of MnDOT at this important time.”

Zelle has served in his current capacity at Jefferson Lines for more than 20 years. He has also been involved in various transportation policy and business issues while serving on various boards and committees such as the American Bus Association (where he chairs the organization’s policy committee), Minnesota’s Transportation Finance Committee, and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Zelle received the George Rucker Award from the Community Transportation Association in 2009 and the Ray L. Lappegaard Distinguished Service Award by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies in 2012 for his work in transportation policy.

“It is a great honor to join the Dayton Administration in an area that is critically important to all Minnesotans,” said Zelle. “MnDOT has a strong reputation for innovation and I look forward to helping lead the agency as it plays an increasingly important role in advancing the state’s future prosperity through key investments in infrastructure.”

Zelle holds a B.A. from Bates College and an M.B.A. from the Yale Management School. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Judy, daughter, Charlotte, and son, Nick.

In other news, Montana Governor-elect Steve Bullock recently announced his choice to lead Montana Department of Transportation.

Mike Tooley, former colonel and chief of the Montana Highway Patrol, has been tapped to take over as MDT Director on Jan. 7, pending approval by the Montana State Senate. Tooley succeeds Tim Reardon, who was named Director in 2011.

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