Mitchell of Virginia DRPT resigns; DeBruhl named interim director

Jennifer DeBruhl has been named Acting Director of the Virginia Department of Railroads and Public Transportation (DRPT) following the announcement that Director Jennifer Mitchell has left to become Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). DeBruhl’s appointment takes effect March 18; Mitchell starts at FRA in April.

“Jennifer Mitchell has served the Commonwealth well over the past eight years, leading it through a number of major initiatives, including dedicated funding for WMATA, the extension of Amtrak service to Roanoke and the cornerstone, 3 .7 billion Transforming Rail in Virginia. Jennifer has done Virginia proud and we wish her well as she takes on this exciting and important position. We look forward to continuing to work with her in the future,” Virginia Secretary of Transportation W. Sheppard Miller III said.

In 2020, in recognition of her significant accomplishments, Mitchell received the Virginians’ Thomas W. Rice Award for High Speed ​​Rail and was named by COMTO as a “woman moving the nation.” In 2018 she was named by Railway Age as Woman of the Year.

“It has been a great honor to serve the Commonwealth, and I am proud of what this agency has done to improve our public transport and rail systems,” Mitchell said. “There’s still a lot of work to do, especially coming out of the pandemic, and I’m thrilled the Governor has chosen Jennifer DeBruhl to move this agency forward.”

Part of the United States Department of Transportation, the FRA administers rail funding, provides safety oversight, and studies new improvements and innovations. Mitchell will play an important role in implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“As excited as I am about the Jennifer Mitchell opportunity, I am also thrilled that we have such a talented professional in Jennifer Debruhl to take on this role. I have known her and worked with her for over 10 years and I know she will do a great job,” Miller said.

DeBruhl, who joined DRPT in 2016 as head of public transportation, has more than 25 years of public service in the transportation community. She led the assessment, assistance and delivery of a $4.2 billion portfolio of public transport, commuter assistance and congestion management programs across the Commonwealth. Prior to joining DRPT, DeBruhl worked at the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

DeBruhl holds an undergraduate degree in urban studies, a master’s degree in urban and regional planning, and a certificate in public management, all from Virginia Commonwealth University.

“I look forward to continuing the innovative work taking place at DRPT and meeting the pressing needs of the Commonwealth for rail and public transport,” said DeBruhl. “I look forward to working with everyone at the department and with our partner agencies to meet the challenge of getting public transit back on its feet after the coronavirus pandemic.”

Melvin Z. Madore