Sound Transit today announced two new executive appointments that will provide the agency with a greater focus on—and shared responsibility for—the care of and communication to the people and communities it serves through the advancement of its mission, vision, and organizational values.
Nora Friend will join the agency as its Chief Communications and Engagement Officer, a newly created position overseeing Government and Community Relations as well as Communications, Marketing and Engagement. Friend most recently served as Vice President of Public Affairs and Business Development at TALGO, Inc., a Spanish high-speed rail manufacturer. Friend will start her new role on August 14.
In addition, the agency announced the promotion of Russ Arnold as Deputy CEO and Chief Service Delivery Officer. In this newly created role, Arnold will oversee the rider experience through the Sound Transit system as well as external system operations and maintenance.
“Nora brings deep national-level experience collaborating with local and state stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest to congressional delegations in DC. Her leadership will push greater transparency in Sound Transit’s communications and trust-building with our riders and communities,” said Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm. “Russ’ proven experience driving internal change to elevate passenger-first values in Sound Transit is essential to building the trust of our riders and to the successfully activation of Link Extensions over the next several years. The next several years are critical for the success of Sound Transit’s mission to connect and expand the region’s high-capacity transit network, and having leaders with this level of passion, vision, and expertise puts us ever closer to successfully completing our values-based mission.”
Friend joined Talgo in 1994 and has led the successful establishment of a subsidiary of a foreign company in the US market as a key competitor at the same levels of other original equipment manufacturers. In her most recent role as Vice President of Public Affairs and Business Development, she was responsible for all government, community and, corporate communications, media, marketing, and institutional relations as well as all client interfacing. She represented the firm at a variety of industry associations, including the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
Friend started her professional career working for the City of Boston’s Public Facility Department, where she oversaw the revitalization of economically depressed commercial and residential neighborhoods. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) from Boston University and a post graduate degree in Advanced Languages, English to Spanish, from Georgetown University.
“I am excited to be joining Sound Transit at such an important juncture in its growth,” said Friend. “I know from my experience how important communications and relationship building are in the industry, and I’m looking forward to working with Julie and the entire team at the Agency to deepen and extend our work in those areas.”
Arnold joined Sound Transit in 2018 as the Agency’s first Chief Customer Experience Officer. In that position, he transformed the agency’s understanding and priorities associated with the daily needs of all riders and elevated our commitment for current and future services to connect people and places and to improve lives. He has led numerous changes in Sound Transit from system wayfinding and accessibility strategies to re-imagining fare compliance by creating one of the industry’s most equitable and passenger-centric policies. He enters every room with a strong and undeterred voice to advocate for the needs of riders and future operations in all of Sound Transit’s planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance activities.
Prior to Sound Transit, Arnold held management-level experience at transit agencies around the Country, including as Director of Marketing and Communications with the San Mateo County Transit District. Earlier in his career, Arnold worked in marketing at the University of Oregon and The Ohio State University. He earned a master’s in marketing and communication from Franklin University and a bachelor’s in visual communications from Ohio Dominican College.
“I’m honored to have this opportunity to take our focus on how our operations affect our riders to the next level,” said Arnold. “As our system grows and we increasingly become an operating agency, we need to ensure that we are prepared to deliver the quality service that we want our riders to have.”