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The Honorable Ray LaHood

16th Secretary of U.S. Department of Transportation (2009-2013); Former U.S. Congressman (1995-2009)

Travels From:
District Of Columbia
Fee Range:
$15,000 - $25,000

With an impeccable 36-year public service career, the Honorable Ray LaHood emerged as a key thought leader on major national policy issues such as transportation, infrastructure and bipartisan leadership. As one of two conservatives in President Barack Obama’s first-term Cabinet, the Hon. Ray LaHood served as the 16th U.S. Secretary of Transportation and quickly became known throughout Washington as a bipartisan leader and skilled arbiter.

Sec. LaHood’s presentations will leave audiences inspired by his Midwest values, bipartisan approach and can-do spirit.

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Ray LaHood served as the 16th Secretary of Transportation from January 23, 2009 to July 2, 2013.

In nominating him, President-elect Obama said, “Few understand our infrastructure challenge better than the outstanding public servant that I’m asking to lead the Department of Transportation.”

Secretary LaHood’s primary goals in implementing President Obama’s priorities for transportation included safety across all modes, restoring economic health and creating jobs, sustainability, shaping the economy of the coming decades by building new transportation infrastructure, and assuring that transportation policies focus on people who use the transportation system and their communities.

As Secretary of Transportation, LaHood led an agency with more than 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget that oversees air, maritime, and surface transportation missions.

Under Secretary LaHood’s leadership, DOT made major improvements and investments in our nation’s infrastructure. Soon after being sworn in as Secretary of Transportation, LaHood began work implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the most significant public works program since the New Deal, awarding $48 billion in Recovery Act dollars for more than 15,000 transportation projects across the nation which created tens of thousands of jobs. The Recovery Act projects led to nearly 42,000 miles of road improved, over 2,700 bridges improved or replaced and the purchase or rehabilitation of over 12,220 transit vehicles. The Recovery Act also made the first-ever investments in American high-speed rail, with the construction of approximately 1,000 route-miles of new or improved track benefiting high-speed and faster intercity passenger rail corridor programs.

Between 2009 and 2013, the Department awarded $5.4 billion to rehabilitate runways, taxiways, and aprons at 1,115 airports around the country. It constructed or improved 6,500 miles of rail corridors and upgraded 40 stations. The Department also invested $7.9 billion to help build major new transit rail and bus infrastructure projects in 10 states and awarded 129 Small Shipyard Grants to shipyards in 77 cities.

Secretary LaHood led the Department’s aggressive national campaign to end the dangerous practice of distracted driving, and specifically texting and cell phone use behind the wheel. In 2009, only 18 states had laws against texting and driving. When Secretary LaHood left office, 41 states, D.C., Guam, and the Virgin Islands banned texting while driving, and 10 states, D.C., Guam, and the Virgin Islands banned all hand-held cell phone use behind the wheel.

Under Secretary LaHood, DOT issued two major rules that significantly strengthened protections for airline consumers. The rules have virtually ended lengthy tarmac delays, prohibited the largest U.S. airlines from scheduling chronically delayed flights, increased compensation for bumped passengers, required advertised airfares to include the full price to be paid by consumers, and taken numerous other consumer-friendly actions.

Before becoming Secretary of Transportation, LaHood served for 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 18th District of Illinois (from 1995-2009). During that time he served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the House Appropriations Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He also chaired four bipartisan retreats to help restore civility to the House of Representatives. Prior to his election to the House, he served as Chief of Staff to House Republican Leader Robert Michel, whom he succeeded in representing the 18th District, and as District Administrative Assistant to Congressman Thomas Railsback. He also served in the Illinois State Legislature.

Before his career in government, Secretary LaHood was a junior high school teacher, having received his degree from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. He was also director of the Rock Island County Youth Services Bureau and Chief planner for the Bi-States Metropolitan Planning Commission in Illinois.

Some 120 years ago, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s grandfather left the small Lebanese village of Aitou for the smaller Illinois town of Peoria. During his career in public service, Congressman and then Secretary LaHood repeated that journey in reverse more than two dozen times –  traveling to the Middle East on official government business, to monitor elections, and even to attend his son’s graduation. In this speech, former Secretary LaHood talks about the Arab-American values of family, education, hard work, and fair play. He shares his views on the indispensable contributions of Arab Americans to our national community. He discusses the prospects for peace and democracy across a troubled region with unbreakable ties to the United States.


Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood served more than three decades in Washington as a top staffer to House Republican Leader Robert H. Michel, as a seven-term Representative of Illinois’ 18th Congressional District, and as a cabinet official in the administration of President Barack Obama. In this presentation, former Secretary LaHood shares his insider’s view on Congress, the administration, and pressing topics of the day. He provides ideas about how to restore civility and bipartisanship in Washington. And he talks about how Washington used to work – and how it can work (and can put Americans back to work) once again.


When Republican Congressman Ray LaHood agreed to serve in Democratic President Obama’s cabinet, he took the extraordinary step of working for a president he had not even voted for. But this was not the first time that LaHood put civic duty ahead of partisanship. In fact, LaHood had earned a reputation as a champion of civility during his 14 years in the House of Representatives. In this speech, former Secretary LaHood shares his perspective on why too many American officials have lost their ability to disagree without being disagreeable. He details his plan to restore a system of government that rewards bipartisanship instead of punishing it. And he offers a roadmap forward to a more civil, less combative, public discourse.


Under U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s leadership, American workers paved 350,000 miles of highway, repaired 20,000 bridges, and laid 6,000 miles of track. At the same time, LaHood faced an unprecedented challenge: the politicization of government investments in jobs building the safest, fastest, most efficient ways to move people and products–a traditionally bipartisan issue. In this talk, former Secretary LaHood shares the high-drama, behind-the-scenes story of how gridlock in our politics has worsened gridlock on the daily commute. He brings his audience into the negotiations as several governors terminated some of our nation’s largest construction projects, as a Tea Party-controlled Congress shut down the FAA, and as Washington’s deadlocked discourse threatened to allow the continued degradation of Americans’ transportation systems. Ultimately, LaHood explains what the politics of infrastructure shows about how the United States government really works (and does not)–and he argues how we can and must repair the infrastructure of our politics.


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  • "A great example for how to get things done in Washington!"

  • "A globally respected thought leader on transportation, LaHood makes common sense."

  • "The audience loved it" and he was preaching to the converted…"