Board of Directors



Martin J. Oberman was appointed to the Metra Board of Directors in September 2013 by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and was elected Chairman in February of 2014.

Mr. Oberman came to Metra after a long career as a lawyer and public servant, most notably serving as an alderman from Chicago’s 43rd Ward from 1975 to 1987. Highlights of his career at City Hall include creating the Planned Manufacturing District concept, the first in the nation, to protect heavy industrial areas; being the first Chicago alderman to champion community policing, a groundbreaking concept at the time; and sponsoring and being the catalyst for numerous anti-corruption measures, structural reforms of city government, gay rights and non-smoking ordinances. He received a Best Alderman award from the Independent Voters of Illinois.

He also served as chairman of an ad hoc commission comprised of labor and management representatives that was appointed in 1979 to develop a municipal employee collective bargaining system.

From 1987 to 1988, he was chairman of the Shoreline Protection Commission, which produced a detailed report to rehabilitate Chicago’s shoreline while ensuring environmental protection.

In 2013, he served as a member of the Midway Advisory Panel, a committee established to oversee the potential privatization of Midway Airport.

Mr. Oberman received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Yale University in 1966. He then attended the University of Wisconsin Law School, receiving his Juris Doctor in 1969. He served as Note Editor of the Wisconsin Law Review in 1968-1969 and graduated Order of the Coif.

His legal career began in 1969, working as an associate at the firm that is now Sidley & Austin until 1972. He then served as the first General Counsel to the Illinois Racing Board from 1973-1974, handling numerous assignments, including rewriting the Board’s regulations, advancing proposals to prevent abuse through drugging, drafting a completely new statute for the industry and conducting investigations of corruption.

He had a private, part-time law practice during his City Council tenure.

He was a partner at Gould and Ratner from 1988 to 1989. Since 1989, he has been in private practice handling complex litigation across a broad array of matters. He has argued appeals in federal and state appellate courts, and has been admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court, Illinois Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third and Seventh Circuits and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Mr. Oberman is married and the father of two adult children. He still lives in Lincoln Park, the Chicago community he represented in the City Council.

John Partelow

Vice Chairman

John E. (Jack) Partelow was appointed to the Metra Board in July 2009 by the Will County Executive, and was elected Vice Chairman of Metra in November of 2012.

Mr. Partelow was chairman of the Will County Republican Party from 1998 until 2008. Prior to his selection as chairman, he served from 1996 to 1998 as the party’s secretary.

Mr. Partelow retired in 1994 after a 32-year career at Dunn and Bradstreet, where he rose to the position of senior vice president, national field operations.

Following his retirement, Mr. Partelow volunteered for the American Red Cross, focusing on strategic planning for the organization. He also served from 1995 to 1996 as a member of the Naperville Citizens Advisory Committee, working on the development of the city’s Master Transportation Plan.

Mr. Partelow and his wife Lorena have been married for 50 years and reside in Naperville. They have five children and eight grandchildren.


Director & Treasurer

John Plante was appointed to the Metra Board of Directors in October 2013 by the north suburban members of the Cook County Board.

Mr. Plante retired from the Chicago Transit Authority in 2013 after 35 years at the agency. He began his tenure as a trial attorney, and then moved to trial supervision and then Managing Attorney. He created and managed the CTA’s first in-house major litigation team. 

Mr. Plante’s next assignment was Managing Attorney of the Claims Department, which involved management of the in-house claims staff and all pre-litigation claims both against the CTA and those made by the CTA for losses it suffered. From this position, Mr. Plante moved to Managing Attorney of Risk Management, which entailed the identification, management and control of all types of risks. Following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Plante’s activities became focused on external risks. As this area began to dominate his work activity, it was a natural move to his next position, Senior Manager of Emergency Preparedness, the position he held upon his retirement.

Mr. Plante, who is accredited by the State of Illinois as a Professional Emergency Manager, served as the CTA representative to the Chicago Urban Working Group Transportation Committee, which assists in coordination of the Urban Area Security Grant Program. He also served as chairman of the Regional Transit Security Working Group, which is responsible for the Regional Transit Security Strategy as well as coordination of the Regional Transit Security Grant funding; the co-chairman of the Regional Catastrophic Planning Team Transportation Committee; and as a member of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force Transportation Committee Evacuation Working Group. 

Mr. Plante also served as a member of the Chicago BioWatch Advisory Committee and the Chicago Incident Management Team. He was the leader of the CTA Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team and is qualified as a Level C HazMat Technician. He continues to serve on the Chicago Local Emergency Planning Committee. He has worked with the Chicago Office of Emergency Management, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Public Health, Chicago and Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies and suburban police and fire departments in planning and executing drills and exercises.

Mr. Plante has served on the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Board of Directors and as chairman of the APTA Risk Management Committee. He continues as a member of the Risk Management Committee and all the APTA Security Emergency Management Standards Committees.

He lives in Wilmette.


Director & Secretary

Rodney S. Craig was appointed to the Commuter Rail Board (Metra) in 2014 by the suburban members of the Cook County Board.

Mr. Craig, who is in his third term as president of the Village of Hanover Park, has resided in the village since 1974, following a six-year tour of duty in the United States Navy. Upon leaving the Navy Mr. Craig worked in systems operations for the Federal Aviation Administration retiring in 2009.

Mr. Craig entered public service in 1995, serving as a trustee of the Hanover Park Fire Protection District and becoming president of the district in 1999. During his tenure, he led the fire district in its transition to a municipal fire department.  He was appointed village trustee in 2001 and was first elected village president in 2007.

He is a past president of the DuPage Mayors & Managers Conference and currently chairs its Inter-Governmental Committee. He is also active in the Northwest Municipal Conference, where he serves on the Transportation Committee; the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus, where he serves on its Regional Economic Development Committee; and the Choose DuPage Executive Board. Additionally, he serves as secretary on the board of the Campanelli YMCA, is a member of the Schaumburg School District 54 Foundation, and is vice president of the Illinois Municipal League.

Mr. Craig is a graduate of Palatine Township High School, Harper College and Concordia University.



Manuel Barbosa was appointed to the Commuter Rail Board (Metra) in 2013 by the Chairman of the Kane County Board.

Director Barbosa retired in 2013 from the U.S. Federal Court for the Northern District of Illinois where he had served as a bankruptcy judge since 1998. He began his legal career in the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office as an assistant state’s attorney from 1977 to 1979 and was in private practice until his appointment to the federal bench.  

In 1980, Barbosa was appointed to the Illinois Human Rights Commission and served as chairman throughout his tenure on the commission. He was reappointed to the commission three times and served until 1998.

Barbosa is a 1969 graduate of Benedictine University (formerly St. Procopius College) and received his Juris Doctor from John Marshall School of Law in 1977.

Barbosa has received numerous awards from civic and legal groups including multiple awards from the Illinois Hispanic Lawyers Association, including its Vanguard Award in 2011. He is presently involved in the Club Guadalupano’s Annual Scholarship Banquet and is on the Board of Visitors of the Northern Illinois University Law School.

Barbosa was born in Mexico and resided in Elgin for the past 56 years. He and his wife, Linda, have three children.



Romayne C. Brown was appointed to the Metra Board of Directors by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in September 2013.

Ms. Brown is a professional transit manager with more than 31 years of operational and customer service experience at the Chicago Transit Authority. She started as a rail conductor in 1978 and worked her way through the ranks at the agency, finishing her CTA career in 2010 as the Vice President of Rail Operations.

In her last position, Ms. Brown oversaw a $1.3 billion budget and developed and administered policies, programs and procedures necessary to ensure the timely, clean, safe and courteous delivery of rail transit service to 550,000 customers a day. She also evaluated and monitored the performance of staff and analyzed the needs related to passenger service, budget and manpower planning, training, program and personnel development and safety functions and initiatives. And she developed policies and procedures for collective bargaining negotiations and worked to maintain effective relationships with labor unions, governmental entities, transportation officials and CTA staff.

Ms. Brown also served as Director of Rail Operations and General Manager of Rail Operations, where she oversaw the operational, maintenance, administrative and customer service functions for  CTA’s Elevated (Green, Orange and Brown Lines) as well as the Red, Purple and Yellow Lines. She was also Administrative Manager (Red Line), Tranportation Manager, Rail Operations; Superintendent II, Rail Personnel; Superintendent, Procedural Control and Rail Terminal Clerk.

Among her professional achievements and special recognitions are receiving the Kathy Osterman Award for superior public service in 1997; being featured on the cover of Mass Transit magazine in June 2009; and receiving the Presidential Employee Excellence Award in 2007.

Ms. Brown attended classes at South Suburban College in South Holland, and is a 1999 graduate of the Chicago Transit Authority’s Transit Management Program at Harold Washington College. She also attended the City of Chicago Intergovernmental Executive Development Program in 2003.

Ms. Brown is a native of Chicago’s South Side who has lived in Dolton for more than 20 years.



Norman Carlson was appointed to the Commuter Rail Board (Metra) in April 2013 by the Chairman of the Lake County Board.

Mr. Carlson spent 34 years with Arthur Andersen Co. being appointed as the North American Rail Industry Head in 1985 and the Worldwide Managing Partner of the Transportation Practice in 1990. He served in that capacity until exercising the early retirement option in 2000. In 2000 he formed Carlson Consulting International serving as a short-term executive in challenging situations including being the non-executive chairman of the board of RailWorks during its successful bankruptcy reorganization.

Mr. Carlson is active in supporting Catholic Charities with a focus on veterans programs, a member of the Business Advisory Committee to the Transportation Center at Northwestern University, moderator of the monthly railroad discussion group at Northwestern, pro bono advisor to the City of Lake Forest on transportation matters, and managing editor of a publication on the history and current operations of rail passenger service in Chicago.

Mr. Carlson is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a BS of Accountancy degree and is a certified public accountant. He served as a U. S. Army Infantry officer in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service.



Don A. De Graff was appointed to the Commuter Rail Board (Metra) in 2011 by the south suburban members of the Cook County Board.

Mr. De Graff has served as president of the Village of South Holland since 1994. In addition, he has more than 40 years of leadership in the banking and commercial lending industry. He currently serves as the President of MB Financial Bank, Southeast Region. Prior to this, he was president of First Savings and Loan of South Holland.

Mr. De Graff holds leadership positions in a number of civic and planning organizations. He currently serves as Chairman of the Chicago Southland SES Metra Commuter Rail Development Board and the MWRD Little Calumet River Watershed Planning Council. He is treasurer of the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission. He is past president of the South Holland Business Association and former chairman of the Chicago Southland Alliance. He is also a member of the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chicago Southland Chamber and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.

He holds a B.A. in Business Economics from Calvin College and a M.B.A. in Finance from Northwestern University. He has also completed career development course work at the University of Illinois, Champaign and is a licensed representative of the National Association of Securities Dealers.

Mr. De Graff is the recipient of an award of excellence from the South/Southwest Association of Realtors, a community leadership award from Christ Community Church of South Holland and an appreciation award for Christian leadership and support from the South Holland Ministerial Association. During his term as village president, South Holland received the outstanding municipality award from the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce.



Brian K. Reaves was appointed to the Commuter Rail Board (Metra) in October 2013 by the south suburban members of the Cook County Board.

Mr. Reaves is the founder and president of Integrated Warehouse Systems (IWS) located in Romeoville, Ill. In addition to being a business owner, Mr. Reaves also serves as mayor of the Village of Lemont, Ill.  He was elected mayor in 2009 after having served as a village trustee and chair of the village board’s finance committee since 2003.

Reaves also serves on the Transportation Committee for the Southwest Conference of Mayors where he currently chairs the Legislative Committee. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Will County Governmental League, where he chairs the Will County Electrical Aggregation group. Reaves is vice president of the Northern Will County Water Agency and has been a member of the Metra Heritage Corridor Alliance since 2009.

Reaves and his wife, Sherrie, have four children and reside in Lemont.



John P. Zediker was appointed to the Commuter Rail Board (Metra) in 2013 by the Chairman of the DuPage County Board.

Mr. Zediker is currently partner and chief operating officer of Ruettiger, Tonelli & Associates, Inc., a design firm with emphasis in civil engineering, planning, surveying and GIS.  Mr. Zediker is a licensed real estate broker and holds certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners.  

Mr. Zediker brings to the Metra Board executive experience in both the public and private sectors, having worked as the Director of Transportation, Engineering and Development for the City of Naperville and as president of Moser Enterprises, Inc. He has extensive experience in land acquisition, development, construction oversight and strategic planning.

In addition, Mr. Zediker represented the residents of Aurora, Naperville and Lisle as a commissioner on the DuPage County Board from 2009 to 2012. He has also served as a director of the Choose DuPage Economic Development Agency and as a member of the City of Naperville’s Transportation Management Advisory Committee. He currently serves on the North Central College Board of Trustees Associates and as a director of the Naperville Development Partnership.

Mr. Zediker holds an M.B.A from the University of St. Francis and a Master of Science, Urban and Economic Geography from Northern Illinois University.  He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Carroll College.

He is involved in numerous charitable and service organizations, including the Naperville Sunrise Rotary, Naperville Heritage Society and the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry.

Mr. Zediker resides with his family in Naperville, Ill.

One and a half years have passed since Metra emerged with a new leadership team in place committed to putting our agency’s past behind us and ensuring that we are ready to provide commuter rail service that meets the needs of customers today and for generations to come.

In 2014 and 2015, our agency set out to change the way we do business, restore the public’s trust and continue to operate a commuter rail system that delivers customers to their destinations safely and efficiently.

Those familiar with how government agencies operate understand that change does not come easily to them. It takes hard work, innovation and an uncompromising commitment to make things happen.

Finding Our Path Forward

Flash forward one and a half years and you will find that Metra is a different agency than it was before – with a host of new challenges and opportunities and a new set of goals and aspirations. With this renewed spirit comes a list of accomplishments we are proud to have achieved in such a brief amount of time.

First and foremost, we have worked to adopt a more customer-focused approach to everything we do, including making investments that help our customers access the technology they want and need. This year, we will unveil the Ventra App in partnership with the CTA and Pace, which will allow our customers to buy and display mobile tickets on their smartphones. We will complete installation of charging stations at all five downtown stations, and we continue to install outlets on our train cars. We will install free Wi-Fi in the waiting areas of our downtown stations, and we will be installing free Wi-Fi on 11 railcars as part of a new test. We have adjusted our website to allow customers to buy tickets with more than one form of payment, which is an important upgrade for the many riders who use pre-tax transit benefit programs. We also upgraded the schedule finder tool and train tracker on our website – and more improvements are coming. We upgraded our email alerts to make them more useful.

With our customers top of mind, we also developed a new winter plan for the agency to ensure that that we were as prepared as possible for the bite of cold and snow; implemented the first Confidential Close Call Reporting System in the nation to proactively address safety issues and create a more positive safety culture; and initiated a successful pilot program to offer weekend express service on the Rock Island Line.

To restore the public’s trust in the agency, Metra looked inward and committed itself to establishing a culture of integrity and ethics in our workplaces. We have a new Ethics Manual available to all Metra employees. We now have a training program in place to provide guidance to employees on issues such as conflicts of interest and the Freedom of Information Act and are proactively promoting the role of the state’s Office of the Inspector General to our employees and the public.

We also posted a variety of new information on the agency’s website to enhance transparency and accountability. New information includes Metra employee compensation information, a summary of awarded contracts, a listing of the agency’s monthly expenditures, Freedom of Information Act requests, contract bid tabulations and our annual procurement plan, as well as live streaming of Board meetings and an archive of meeting videos.

Last year, the Metra Board enacted sunshine measures focusing on patronage hiring requests and imposed penalties upon employees who are complicit in them. The Board also made the decision to stop retaining outside Board counsel and transition legal work back to in-house counsel to build institutional knowledge and reduce legal expenses.

Metra also took on the challenge of restructuring its police department in 2014 and hired a new Chief of Police who has worked to decrease overtime pay costs while maintaining safe operations systemwide. In 2015, the agency hired a new Chief External Affairs Officer to reorganize its communications and government relations departments and work to evolve Metra’s brand to ensure that the agency is able to attract the next generation of commuter rail customers.  Also in 2015, Metra hired a new Chief Human Resources Officer to enhance this critical agency function.

Other structural reforms implemented recently include passing an ordinance to create a new Chief Audit Officer position who reports directly to the Executive Director and the Metra Board. Today, the agency is working to develop a robust and independent audit department to improve internal processes and implement new controls aimed at making sure that Metra is operating as efficiently and effectively as possible.

In addition, Metra is currently undertaking a major initiative to replace its aging mainframe systems with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The new ERP, scheduled for completion by the end of 2017, will enable much-needed integration across various business functions currently supported by disparate systems, improving integration across the agency's various departments and back-office business functions, including accounting, inventory, procurement and grant management.

And, perhaps most notably, Metra has committed itself to being a responsible steward of public funds and finding ways to continue to invest in our railroad infrastructure with increasingly limited financial resources.

Today, despite operating with the oldest fleet and on the most complex commuter rail system in North America, Metra provides the most reliable on-time service at the lowest cost of any other railroad in the nation.

Making Smart Investments in Our Future

Last year, for the first time in the agency’s history, Metra unveiled a $2.4 billion plan to modernize its rail fleet, the first long-range rolling stock plan in Metra history. To do that, Metra increased fares to address current and future operations, equipment and other critical infrastructure needs like the federally mandated Positive Train Control system rather than respond in a fiscally irresponsible manner by kicking the proverbial budget can down the road.

Also for the first time, Metra released a projection for fare increases for the next 10 years to cover further financing and projected expense growth. While this action may not have been popular, we believe it demonstrates the transformation of Metra, its employees and its Board.

Over the past few months, as we looked ahead and began planning for 2016, several important themes have guided our efforts. First, we must continue to invest in infrastructure to meet our growing list of unmet capital needs – now totaling more than $11.7 billion over the next decade to achieve and maintain a state of good repair. Second, we must make good on the promise we made to our customers to focus our resources on new railcars, locomotives and continuing our work to install PTC. Third, if we can find ways to avoid higher fares, we will do it.

We also promised our customers that we would continue to review our budget to find ways to cut costs. As we began our work on the 2016 budget, our goal was to comb through our spending plans to identify additional efficiencies and to look for ways to do more with less. In September, we were pleased to announce savings and efficiencies totaling $5.7 million. These cuts are in addition to the $7.8 million in reductions achieved as part of last year’s budget process and nearly $6 million of recurring budget savings found in the years prior to 2015.

The 2016 Budget we are proposing today continues to make smart investments in our agency’s future and includes $759.8 million for operations and $185.7 million for capital improvements.

Last year, Metra projected that it would likely need a 5 percent increase in fare revenue in 2016, including 3 percent to cover expected inflationary costs.  By finding budget efficiencies, making management improvements and being responsible with our finances in 2015, we are now proposing a 2 percent net increase in fare revenue – $6.5 million – to pay for the new PTC operating costs and to help fund a bare-bones capital budget. Even with this proposed increase, Metra’s one-way and monthly fares remain the lowest of any of its peer railroads in the nation.

But, we want to be clear – without a state bond program in 2016 and due to the budget stalemate in Springfield, approximately $400 million of Metra’s capital projects are currently on hold, including improvements to 16 Metra train stations, two rail yards, a major bridge replacement program on the Union Pacific North Line and the completion of a third track on the Union Pacific West Line.  Further, if the state’s bond program proceeds do not materialize in 2016, we may need an even larger-than-expected increase in fare revenue in 2017.

We hope our customers are on board with the plans we have to invest in Metra’s future in 2016. Without them, our agency would fall even further behind – and that’s not a risk we are willing to take. As we’ve said, it takes hard work, innovation and an uncompromising commitment to make things happen. We assure our customers that we are up to the challenge.

Martin J. Oberman
Board Chairman

Don Orseno
Executive Director/CEO