PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards Named First Female PA Turnpike Chair

Bill Lieberman named vice chair; Former Senator John Wozniak attends first meeting.

MIDDLETOWN, PA. (July 18, 2017) — PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards of Whitemarsh Township was named chair of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) as part of a reorganization commissioners approved today during a bimonthly meeting of the five-member panel. Pittsburgh businessman William K. Lieberman was appointed vice chairman of the PTC, and former Senator John N. Wozniak of Johnstown attended his first meeting as a Turnpike commissioner. In addition, PTC Commissioner Barry Drew of Mechanicsburg was named secretary-treasurer.

“I have had the honor of serving as the commonwealth’s first female transportation secretary since I was named to that post by Governor Tom Wolf in January 2015, and becoming the first female PA Turnpike chair is an equally remarkable privilege,” Richards said. “The first Turnpike commissioners were appointed in the spring of 1937, and accomplishing a milestone like this in an organization that was started more than 80 years ago is undoubtedly historic. I’d like to thank my fellow commissioners for the faith they have shown in me.”

Secretary Richards began her career in civil engineering and project management before being elected to the Whitemarsh Township Board in 2007 and the Montgomery County Board in 2011. A graduate of Brown University, Providence, R.I., and the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, she was vice chair of the Montgomery County Board and chair and vice chair of the Whitemarsh Township Board. In addition, she served on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) board and was chair of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) board.

Vice Chairman Lieberman was first appointed to the PTC in July 2010. He has been president of The Lieberman Companies, Pittsburgh, an insurance and pension provider, since 2003. He serves on the boards of AMPCO Pittsburgh and GENCO. A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University in State College, he is a University of Pittsburgh trustee and former chairman of the Manchester-Bidwell Corp., Pittsburgh.

Senator Wozniak was nominated by Gov. Tom Wolf to serve on the PTC on March 30 and confirmed by the PA Senate on July 9. He retired from the general assembly last fall after serving 16 years in the PA House of Representatives and 19 years in the PA Senate. During his career, Senator Wozniak sat on several legislative committees, most recently serving as the Democratic Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. He received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 1978.

Attorney and United States Air Force veteran Barry Drew became a Turnpike commissioner in December 2015. He had served as deputy secretary of administration at the Department of Revenue from 1995 until 2011. Prior to that, he was solicitor for the City of Erie and director of administration for the County of Erie. Drew holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Gannon University in Erie and a Juris Doctor from the Western New England College School of Law.

Bucks County businessman Pasquale T. (Pat) Deon Sr. continues to serve the PTC as commissioner. Deon was originally appointed to the Turnpike Commission in June 2002. He is chairman of the board for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and a service-industry entrepreneur and restaurateur involved in real-estate development, radio broadcasting, beverage distribution and construction.

The PA Turnpike Commission was created by the state legislature in 1937 to construct, finance, operate and maintain the Turnpike, which opened to traffic on Oct. 1, 1940. Four commissioners, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate, plus the secretary of transportation, serve on the commission for four-year terms. The commission oversees more than 550 miles of highway which carries about 550,000 vehicles per day. Learn more at

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Media Contact:

Carl DeFebo