Less than a year after being named to head the Area Transportation Authority, former Kansas City, Kan., mayor Joe Reardon is leaving to lead the Greater Kansas City Area Chamber of Commerce, The Star has learned.
An announcement is set for Wednesday when the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority board of commissioners meets.
The chairman of that bistate board, Robbie Makinen, is expected to be nominated to replace Reardon as interim president and CEO.
Reardon was 46 when he began serving in that $199,000-a-year job last April.
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At the chamber, he succeeds Jim Heeter as president and chief executive. Heeter announced last spring that he intended to retire at the end of this year.
Heeter had held the chamber’s top administrative position since April 2010. Heeter, 66, a lawyer, told the chamber board that he intended to spend more time with his grandchildren and continue to be involved in the city.
Heeter’s leadership at the chamber has been highlighted by development of the Big 5 priority program, which focuses civic attention and dollars on specific projects to improve the community.
The chamber’s current volunteer chairman, Terry Bassham, CEO of Kansas City Power & Light, headed the chamber’s search committee. Bassham said previously that the committee had several outstanding candidates, including some from outside Kansas City.
Reardon was KCK’s mayor for eight years and was a member of the Unified Government board of commissioners before that. Reardon is a member of the chamber board of directors and comes from a political family. His father, Jack Reardon, was a popular three-term mayor of Kansas City, Kan., and an uncle, Bill Reardon, was a state representative.
Like Heeter, Reardon is a lawyer.
He had no previous experience running a bus system, but that wasn’t one of the job requirements. The ATA board instead wanted someone with the leadership and public relations skills to build metrowide consensus for a more unified transportation system.
As ATA chairman, Makinen has been working toward that goal for several years. During his tenure, he convinced Johnson County to allow the ATA to manage The Jo bus system, which broke away from the ATA 30 years before.
He is expected to step down as Jackson County’s director of government relations should the ATA board appoint him to the top paid job at the agency.