Familiar faces will serve in newly created MAG roles
For Immediate ReleaseContact: Kelly Taft, MAG, 602-452-5020
PHOENIX (September 21, 2023) - The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) has named Audra Koester Thomas as its new chief of staff and John Bullen as the agency’s chief transportation officer, following a selection process that included a multi-agency review panel. The two staff members will serve under the direction of Executive Director Ed Zuercher in the newly created MAG roles.
“Both Audra and John have a long record of success at the agency, most recently helping to develop the long-range regional transportation plan known as MOMENTUM 2050 and spearheading MAG’s legislative efforts to allow voters to extend Maricopa County’s dedicated half-cent sales tax for transportation,” said Zuercher. “Their strategic talent and ability to facilitate consensus will play a central role in ensuring high-level policy support and service to our 32 member agencies."
As chief of staff, Koester Thomas will oversee the Environmental and Communication divisions and policy, administration, and intergovernmental teams. She also will be in charge of policy committee processes and special projects. Koester Thomas came to MAG in 2015 as transportation planning program manager to facilitate long-range transportation planning. During development of the MOMENTUM 2050 plan, she led a public engagement and stakeholder effort that included more than 600 input opportunities to solicit feedback and inform plan development. Koester Thomas previously worked in the private sector as a land use and transportation planner and started her career in local government with The Woodlands, Texas, township in suburban Houston. Koester Thomas has a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University and master’s degrees in political science and public administration from the University of Houston.
As chief transportation officer, Bullen will oversee two transportation divisions: the Transportation Policy and Planning division and the Transportation Technologies and Services division. If an extension of Proposition 400 is approved by voters in 2024, Bullen will have primary executive responsibility for the implementation of the extension of Proposition 400, as well as the transition of the existing Proposition 400 program. Bullen began his career as a transportation planner at the city of Glendale. He came to MAG in 2012 as the Arterial Life Cycle Program planner and was promoted in 2018 to transportation funding policy program manager. He has worked with MAG’s 32 governmental agencies across the region to develop consensus on transportation policy and planning issues. He has administered development and implementation of regional transportation funding programs, including the multibillion-dollar freeway program, arterial program, and Transportation Improvement Program. Bullen holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.