Academy of Distinguished Alumni
Therese Watkins McMillan B.S., M.S., M.C.P.
Inducted to the Academy of Distinguished Alumni on
Therese McMillan received both her M.S. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering (1983) and Master of City Planning degree (1984) from the University of California, Berkeley. She also received a B.S. degree (1981) in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from the University of California, Davis. After graduation, Ms. McMillan joined the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), in 1984, staying there for 25 years and rising to the position of Deputy Executive Director-Policy. In early 2019, Ms. McMillan returned to the Bay Area as Executive Director of MTC/ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments), placing her at the helm of transportation and metropolitan planning and funding for the nine-county Bay Area region.
In 2009, Ms. McMillan was tapped by the Obama Administration to lead the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), first as Deputy Administrator, and then as Acting Administrator. In her role at FTA, she managed an organization of more than 500 professionals, administering a $10 billion annual budget for transit funding. She assisted in the administration of the transit component of President Obama’s economic stimulus fund as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2008, administering more than $8 billion for revitalizing urban areas nationwide through investment in urban public transportation systems. During her time at FTA, Ms. McMillan also led reforms in FTA's transit safety, emergency response and resiliency investment, capital planning and oversight, and civil rights development and oversight programs.
In 2016, Ms. McMillan joined the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) as Chief Planning Officer. In that capacity, she provided executive leadership for Metro’s planning, grant funding, and real estate functions. Key responsibilities included implementing the agency’s “Measure M” transportation sales tax ordinance; developing the countywide long range transportation plan; administering their strategic fund program; and leading focused initiatives in transportation equity and community engagement, transit-oriented development, and Metro’s contributions to the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Throughout her career, Ms. McMillan has been committed to advancing women in the transportation and planning professions, for which she has received numerous awards and recognitions including the U.C. Berkeley College of Environmental Design Distinguished Alumni Award (2011) and U.C. Davis College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies Award of Distinction-Alumni (2016); Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) National Woman of the Year (2016); and a Conference of Minority Transportation Officials “Women Moving the Nation” award (2013). She has been a long-time friend of Berkeley CEE by providing numerous student internships and frequent guest lectures.