janno lieber
Gov. Kathy Hochul joins MTA Acting Chair & CEO Janno Liebe aboard a test train from Jamaica to the East Side Access complex at Grand Central Terminal on Sun., October 31, 2021. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

Gov. Kathy Hochul officially nominated Metropolitan Transportation Authority acting Chairperson and CEO Janno Lieber to keep his job at the top of the state-controlled transit agency.

The governor also tapped New York Building Congress Chairperson Elizabeth Velez for a seat on the MTA’s 21-member board, according to the Saturday announcement.

“As Governor, my first duty to New Yorkers is to ensure that those who serve our state are experienced, committed, and ready to tackle the challenges we face,” Hochul said in a statement. “Janno is leading the MTA forward with expert management and vision, and Elizabeth will bring a wealth of invaluable knowledge and expertise to our challenges together.”

Both still need confirmation by the state Senate, which returned to session in Albany last week.

Lieber, a former head of Construction and Development at MTA and a real estate executive at Silverstein Properties before that, was originally picked for the top MTA job by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo in July after Pat Foye left the position.

The acting chief quickly had his hands full at the helm of the 67,000-strong Authority, as repeated extreme weather battered the city’s public transit system, with storms and accidental power outages bringing the subways to a standstill this past summer.

Hochul confirmed in November that she wanted to keep Lieber in the role.

One rider advocate voiced her support for Hochul’s choice.

“From the time Janno stepped in, he’s shown that he’s the right person for the job,” said Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory to the MTA. “He has shown in the intervening months that he gets stuff done.”

Velez chairs the influential Building Congress where Hochul first boosted her plans to revive a slightly pared-back version of Cuomo’s massive real estate deal around Penn Station at a breakfast event in October.

She is the second-generation president of Velez Organization, a construction firm that has worked on 600 affordable housing units in the Bronx and Harlem, according to the governor’s office.

Velez also serves as a commissioner on New York City’s Property Tax Reform Commission, is a trustee of Boricua College, and a member of Board for Catholic Charities and the New York City Police Foundation.

It is unclear whether Velez will fill the current vacancy on the board left by Cuomo ally and former state Department of Financial Services chief Linda Lacewell, who stepped down in August soon after the ex-governor announced his resignation.

Another confidante for the former governor, board member Larry Schwartz, announced in the fall he will leave the board when lawmakers confirm a replacement for him.

Hochul’s press office did not respond to a follow-up request for further information.

Due to new politicians taking office, the MTA board will open up for several nominations, including from Governor Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, and newly-elected Nassau County Executive Executive Bruce Blakeman, who intends to keep David Mack as Long Island’s representative, Newsday reported.

This story first appeared on amNY.com.

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