Joseph Szabo

Executive Director
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning  (CMAP) 

Joseph C. Szabo joined the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in January 2015 as a Senior Fellow and was appointed the organizaiton’s Executive Director in June 2015. CMAP developed and is now guiding implementation of the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan, which was developed to address the fundamental challenges — including land use and transportation — that shape residents’ daily lives.  The agency benefits from Joe’s expertise in issues at the local, state, and federal levels, including his experience as a mayor, as the head of a federal administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation, as a leader of organized labor, and as a fifth-generation railroad professional.

Joe served 2009-15 as the twelfth Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the first to come from the ranks of rail workers. He led a staff of over 900 professionals located in Washington, DC, and at field offices across the U.S. who develop and enforce safety regulations; manage financial assistance programs; and oversee research and technology development programs.  Their mission: To enable the safe, reliable, and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future.

From 2006-09, he was Vice President of the Illinois AFL-CIO. He has served as mayor of Riverdale, Illinois, a member of the South Suburban Mayors Transportation Committee, and Vice Chairman of the Chicago Area Transportation Study’s Executive Committee. In 2002, he chaired the Governor’s Freight Rail Sub-Committee and, in 2005, was assigned by the United Transportation Union International to the FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC), where he participated in the development of rail-safety regulations.

His prior service also included membership on the Executive Council of Chicago Metropolis 2020 (later known as Metropolis Strategies) and on the Chicagoland Metropolitan Planning Council. He holds a baccalaureate degree in Labor Relations from Governors State University and received an honorary doctorate from Lewis University for his lifetime commitment to public service.