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 Biography

Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman

Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman is recognized as one of the nation's most visionary and passionate safety leaders who advocates for safety across all modes of transportation. Among her many initiatives, Chairman Hersman has focused attention and actions on distracted driving, child passenger safety, and helping accident victims and their families. She emphasizes the NTSB's role as "the conscience and the compass of the transportation industry."

Chairman Hersman has been the Board Member on-scene for 19 major transportation accidents, chaired scores of NTSB hearings, forums and events, and regularly testifies before Congress. Her leadership has created a more transparent and accountable organization by significantly increasing the quantity and quality of NTSB information available on the agency's website, holding more public meetings to highlight safety issues, and embracing social media to communicate with stakeholders and citizens.

Chairman Hersman has overseen the timely completion of several high-profile accident investigations during her tenure as Chair, including:

  • Crash of a Colgan Air commuter airplane near Buffalo, NY in 2009
  • Collision of two Metro trains in Washington, DC in 2009
  • Mid-air collision over the Hudson River near Hoboken, NJ in 2009
  • Collision between a barge and tour vessel on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, PA in 2010
  • Pipeline rupture in San Bruno, CA in 2010
  • Crash of a chartered airplane carrying Senator Ted Stevens in Aleknagik, AK in 2010
  • Study of curbside bus operators following several high-profile fatal accidents in 2011

Created as an independent federal agency in 1967, the NTSB has investigated more than 132,000 accidents and made more than 13,500 safety recommendations. The NTSB is recognized internationally as a preeminent accident investigation organization. Hersman serves as the chief executive of the agency, which has 400-plus employees and an annual budget of more than $100 million.

Hersman was first appointed as a Board Member by President Bush in 2004 and reappointed to a second five-year term by President Obama. Appointed Chairman by President Obama in 2009 and 2011 with unanimous Senate confirmation votes, she is now serving her second term as Chairman. Her Board position and chairmanship both expire in 2013.

Previously, Hersman was a senior advisor to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation from 1999-2004 and served as Staff Director and Senior Legislative Aide to West Virginia Congressman Bob Wise from 1992-1999. Her efforts contributed to the passage of milestone bills such as the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century, and Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act.

Chairman Hersman received B.A. degrees in Political Science and International Studies from Virginia Tech, and an M.S. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. She holds a commercial driver's license (with passenger, school bus, and air brake endorsements) as well as a motorcycle endorsement.