Michael G. FordMichael G. Ford

Chief Executive Officer

Michael Ford is Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan. Michael is responsible for carrying out the Authority’s mission; for the planning, coordination, development and operations of all RTA efficient local and regional services; as well as passing a referendum in 2016.

Michael consults and collaborates with leadership from government entities, stakeholder and community partners. Michael has more than 30 years experience with leadership roles in both public and private transportation. Michael holds a BA in Sociology and Philosophy from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, and an MBA from City University in Seattle, Washington. Prior to coming to the RTA, Michael was the CEO at the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.

In the past year Michael led a governance change which resulted in the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority expanding from one jurisdiction (City of Ann Arbor) to three (adding the City of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township). Under his leadership at the AAATA fixed-route bus service was expanded yielding record ridership and national recognition, a successful van pool program was launched, an airport shuttle program was created through a public-private partnership, and he oversaw the completion of the new LEED gold certified Blake Transit Center. In early May 2014, voters in the three jurisdictions approved a millage to expand transportation in the greater Ann Arbor area by a 3-1 vote.

Michael was raised in Seattle, Washington and now lives in the city of Detroit, Michigan. Michael has previously served on many boards in Portland, Oregon where he was the Director of Transportation Operations for TriMet, the Portland area transportation service. He has also authored books to help the refugee and immigrant populations, many of which are in a variety of languages to help provide access to vital services. Michael has served in leadership roles on several boards of international, national and local organizations. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, the Business Development Committee for Ann Arbor SPARK, and three national panels for the Transportation Cooperative Research Program; serving in a leadership role on at least one of the panels.

Michael’s passions are cycling, working out, world travel, and jazz music.

Tiffany J. Gunter

Deputy CEO, Chief Operations Officer

Tiffany Gunter is the Deputy CEO and Chief Operations Officer for the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan. Ms. Gunter will support the CEO and the Board of Directors in organizing the effort to improve regional transportation and secure dedicated funding. Ms. Gunter is responsible for the day-to-day management of the RTA administration and operations.

Tiffany earned a Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration, both from the University of Michigan –Dearborn.

Prior to joining the RTA, Tiffany served as an Executive Dean of Inter-Institutional Affairs and Educational Partnerships at the Wayne County Community College District, where she provided support to the District in development of relationships and partnerships that strengthen institutional programs, resources, and networks. Tiffany advocated for strategic partnerships that advance the mission of the District and the Chancellor’s strategic priorities.

Tiffany is a native Detroiter and has worked in retail at the Kmart Headquarters in Troy, MI as an Inventory Manager. She worked in the automotive industry as a Material Cost Manager for Chrysler Corporation (Mopar Division) and as a Transportation Project Manager with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) with a focus on major capital investments and improved specialized transportation.

Prior to her recent entry into higher education, Ms. Gunter spent a decade with SEMCOG. Tiffany performed a critical role in the development of the Regional Transit Authority and is genuinely dedicated to the work of the RTA. Ms. Gunter is passionate about improving public transportation and understands the challenges of the area agencies and is working to find solutions.

Ms. Gunter is well-known for her nutritionally wonderful, but aesthetically undesirable “green drinks.” Tiffany spends her spare time researching and applying holistic health advice. Ms. Gunter currently resides in the city of Detroit with her husband and their son.

Virginia L. LickliterVirginia L. Lickliter

Office Manager, Staff Accountant, and Executive Administrative Assistant

Benjamin T.D. StupkaStupka_web

Planning & Financial Analysis Manager

Ben Stupka is the Manager of Planning and Financial Analysis for the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan. Mr. Stupka supports the RTA through management of planning activities associated with the Building Equitable Sustainable Transit (BEST) projects and the development of shorter term regional transit improvement projects. Mr. Stupka is also actively involved in managing current and future funding for the projects and programs prioritized thorough the BEST planning process.

Ben has extensive experience in the management and strategic investment of local funds in key transportation projects. Prior to joining the RTA, Ben served as a Principal Transportation Planner for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, where he managed the strategic planning, programming, allocation, and oversight of over $90 million in annual sales tax funds for a wide variety of transportation projects in the City of San Francisco. These projects included the Central Subway, Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit, Geary Bus Rapid Transit, and the Masonic Avenue Complete Streets project. In that position Ben also managed the public outreach, development, and adoption of 21 Five Year Prioritization Programs (5YPPs), which provided the strategic framework for the investment of those local transportation funds. Ben also managed multiple calls for projects that led to over $45 million worth of federal and state investments in San Francisco transportation projects.

Ben also worked as a Senior Capital Planning Specialist with the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, where he focused on acquiring and managing local, state, and federal capital and operating grants to support core transit services in the San Francisco Bay Area. This included developing a 10-year capital program, and associated funding projections, that focused on transit vehicle replacement and expansion, facility rehabilitation, and new rapid transit corridor projects. Ben started his career as a Land Use Policy Specialist with the Michigan Environmental Council, where he advocated for joint land use planning, statewide Smart Growth goals, and increased funding for public transit.

Ben earned his Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Michigan and his Bachelor of Arts from the James Madison College at Michigan State University. Ben is a native of Birmingham. He currently resides in Royal Oak with his beautiful wife Laura and their two children.