South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced Monday she has chosen American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Director of Policy and Government Relations Janet Oakley to lead the South Carolina Department of Transportation, pending Senate confirmation.
"We are blessed to have somebody that has the expertise to come in and take the department to new heights," Haley said in a statement. "Because of her extensive experience, Mrs. Oakley knows the issues at the local level, she understands the challenges at the state level, and she already has relationships on the federal levels and we couldn’t be more confident that our state will benefit greatly from having her take over at the Department of Transportation."
Oakley began her current position at AASHTO in July 1999 and has since managed national transportation policy development and advocacy at AASHTO on behalf of its state transportation department members, which includes that of freight, transit, aviation, passenger rail, water, planning, and environmental programs. Before joining AASHTO, Oakley served as director of government affairs for the National Association of Regional Councils and in 1994 formed the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, where she served as AMPO's first director for a period of five years. She has state DOT experience as well, as she began her career as a transportation planner for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, a title she also held when she worked for the Federal Highway Administration. Oakley also has experience working on Capitol Hill, as she served as a budget analyst for the U.S. House of Representatives' Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. Oakley holds a bachelor's degree in regional planning and a master's degree in planning and geography from Eastern Kentucky University.
"I truly believe that I will be able to work with a great staff and use my breadth of experience and depth of knowledge to help the entire state of South Carolina," Oakley said. "I will call on the entire network of colleagues I have developed over the past 30 years in the field to help us as we move forward on this journey."
A video of Haley announcing Oakley as her SCDOT secretary pick is available here.