City Councilmember Cherelle Parker made history Wednesday by becoming the first woman elected to serve as the Delaware River Port Authority board chair. The 16-member board oversees operations of the bi-state agency.
“The Delaware River Port Authority is not only a critical part of our regional infrastructure but the continuation of our shared past and the backbone of our regional future,” Parker said in a news statement.
“Collectively, the Authority’s four bridges and PATCO high-speed line serve millions of commuters and local businesses. The task ahead of us is to revitalize and strengthen the region as we keep a steady, unrelenting focus on the communities we serve. I am honored to work collaboratively with this dedicated Board of Commissioners, DRPA’s exceptional senior leadership team, and the hundreds of men and women who commit themselves to the important work of the authority.”
In her new role, she will oversee a bi-state agency with a $305.1 million annual operating budget, an $846 million five-year capital budget and an 874-member workforce.
Parker replaces outgoing chair Ryan Boyer, the union leader of the Laborers District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity. He resigned effective Feb. 1, after leading the board for five years.
“Working with the DRPA’s Board, the management team under the gifted leadership of CEO John Hanson, and the entire DRPA team has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” Boyer said.
“I leave this position knowing that it is being entrusted to a dedicated, talented, and brilliant leader like Cherelle Parker. The DRPA is in great hands.”
Parker served as a state representative before inheriting the seat of her mentor Councilmember Marian Tasco. She has represented parts of Northwest and lower Northeast Philly since 2016.
DRPA New Jersey Commissioner Albert F. Frattali placed Parker’s name in nomination. The nomination was seconded by Pennsylvania Commissioner Donna Powell.
“One of the most important elements of our success at the DRPA has been our ability to work collectively and collaboratively in the interests of both Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” said DRPA Vice-Chairman Jeffrey L. Nash.
“I have had the opportunity to meet with Chairwoman Parker and have been extremely impressed by her insight and knowledge of the work of the DRPA. At a time when our nation and our region are faced with a host of significant challenges, I look forward to partnering with her as we successfully navigate the Authority through these difficult times.”
Some of the region’s business, political and union leaders hailed Parker’s election to the board in a press release announcing her new role.
“Gov. Wolf has made an outstanding choice in naming Councilwoman Parker to serve as chair of the Delaware River Port Authority,” said SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr.
“Throughout her career, Councilwoman Parker has been a consensus builder, working with diverse stakeholders to pursue the region’s transportation and infrastructure priorities. As a state representative, she led the passage of Pennsylvania Act 89, and I look forward to working with her in her new role to help grow the region’s economy and build stronger communities.”
“Everyone who’s been around Majority Leader Parker knows that she has a unique ability to see potential, seize opportunities and deliver results for Philadelphia,” said Harold Epps, former City Commerce director and a leading business executive.
“I have no doubt she’ll tap into the immense economic potential of the DRPA while lifting up and connecting the communities that need it most, at a time when we need it most. It’s not often that we see someone who is so uniquely qualified to lead from day one; Majority Leader Parker’s appointment is a huge win for the City, we’re all looking forward to her work.”