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News / Business / Clark County Business

C-Tran CEO Shawn Donaghy to take job in San Diego; leaves award-winning legacy for Vine lines

By William Seekamp, Columbian staff writer
Published: December 19, 2023, 12:03pm

After six years as C-Tran’s CEO, Shawn Donaghy is moving on.

On Thursday, Northern San Diego County’s North County Transit District board of directors will vote on hiring Donaghy as the agency’s CEO. If approved, his first day there will be March 1.

Once Donaghy formally announces he is leaving C-Tran, the board of directors will begin looking for his replacement. Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, the vice chair of C-Tran’s board of directors, said discussions about Donaghy’s replacement will start in January.

Under Donaghy, C-Tran won two North American Transit System of the Year awards in 2022 and 2019; opened a new bus rapid transit line ahead of schedule and under budget; moved two additional bus rapid transit lines into the planning phase; launched The Current, an on-demand ride-share service; and brought battery electric buses into C-Tran’s fleet.

Perhaps Donaghy’s most lasting legacy in Clark County will be his work and advocacy for the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program. The replacement program recently received a $600 million federal grant, a massive vote of confidence in replacing the bridge.

“Shawn waited until everything was in pretty good shape before he moved on,” McEnerny-Ogle said.

Under his proposed contract, Donaghy will receive a starting base salary of $377,500 with an annual increase of 2.5 percent based on performance. He will also receive an annual contribution of $22,500 to his 401(k), $25,000 in relocation funds and a $15,000 short-term housing allowance. Donaghy made $250,000 a year at C-Tran.

A C-Tran spokesperson declined to comment until after the North County Transit District board meeting.

“We’re sad to see him go,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “We absolutely understand that this is a fantastic opportunity for him. … They’re lucky to have him.”

C-Tran departures

After Donaghy was approached about other job offers last spring, the C-Tran board of directors extended his contract to 2026 and increased his base pay from $216,000 to $250,000.

“We could have lost him way back last spring,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “The headhunters have been after Shawn for some time. We still have him for another two months.”

Donaghy’s departure marks the third high-level official leaving C-Tran in the past 15 months. In addition to Donaghy, Monica Tellez-Fowler, C-Tran’s former deputy CEO and treasurer, joined the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus, and Inessa Vitko, the former chief operations officer, went to TriMet in Oregon.

McEnerny-Ogle said each of them has made C-Tran a better organization.

“As we look at it, C-Tran is the training ground,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “We help them, and they help us, as leaders, move projects forward. And as you become stronger, you’re building your resume but you’re also building C-Tran. And look at the successes that C-Tran has had in those years.”

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

Columbian staff writer