Intercity Transit selects Emily Bergkamp new general manager


Intercity Transit’s own Emily Bergkamp is set to be the agency’s new general manager.

During an executive session on Wednesday, November 1, IT’s board of directors held an executive session to review the qualifications of the top three applicants chosen by the general manager selection committee and the agency’s HR team. Bergkamp was revealed to be the board’s choice later on during the public portion of the meeting when board member and Lacey Councilmember Robin Vazquez motioned to authorize Chair Clark Gilman to negotiate a contract with Bergkamp.

The board members unanimously voted in favor of the motion.

Bergkamp is currently IT’s interim general manager. She was appointed after Ann Freeman-Manzanares, the previous general manager, retired on March 31. Bergkamp has been with the agency since 2004, holding various roles such as vanpool coordinator, youth education specialist, and dial-a-lift manager. Before she was appointed interim general manager, she was IT’s Director of Operations.

The other top applicants for the position were Jana Demas, the deputy director of rail at King County Metro since 2021, and Ryan Wheaton, the executive director of planning and community development at Pierce Transit since 2018.

The applicants participated in various onsite activities on October 25 and 26, allowing board members and the public to meet them personally. The applicants attended an employee reception, another reception for external stakeholders, a tour of the community and IT facilities, and three-panel interviews.

After her selection, Bergkamp thanked the board for supporting the agency as they transitioned to new leadership. She also sent her heartfelt thanks to her family.

Bergkamp commended Deputy Director of Operations Dena Withrow for stepping in as the interim head of operations while she focused on her role as the interim general manager.

She also took time to honor the other applicants.

“I just want to let you know, that I've just grown in respect for you as professionals,” Bergkamp told Demas and Wheaton. “I look forward to working with you in the industry. I think we all really showcase just how passionate public transportation professionals can be.”

Board members also made brief statements, expressing their support for Bergkamp.

“With three candidates who each could push innovation [and] were each expert in their subject area, we need to choose the person who would best conduct the symphony,” Gilman said. “Clearly, Emily, you're absolutely the best choice we could make the be our conductor and to lead us to fulfill the promises that we've made to the community and to reimagine transportation for our transportation benefit area.”

Vazquez, who was part of the selection committee, also emphasized the importance of Bergkamp’s role as she would lead IT in a transitionary period.

“Intercity Transit is in its watershed moment where we're trying to make good on the promises that we made to the community before Proposition 1 passed. But we're also looking into the future into growing into a larger transportation district and transitioning to renewable fuel sources,” Vazquez said.

“So when we were reviewing the candidates, we were really trying to think about how is this person going to guide us into the future. And one thing that, I'm an HR professional, and it is rare I think, that when you speak to staff within an organization, that the feedback on a leader who's been with the organization for a long time is universally positive,” Vazques continued.

Board member and Tumwater Mayor Debbie Sullivan, who was also part of the selection committee, acknowledged that Bergkamp being already part of the IT was not the main consideration for her selection.

“We've all worked with [Bergkamp] and we all appreciate her but she was not a shoo-in candidate for this,” Sullivan said. “She had to compete as well as everyone else and so it was not a given…  Emily didn't get this because she was the one sitting in this organization, she got it because she was the best thing.”

IT received nearly 100 applicants, both from here, locally, and around the world, for the position.


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