Susan Kupferman, senior advisor to the chairman of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, died Wednesday morning at age 54 after a long illness.

“The MTA has lost a true professional in our industry, and her wisdom and counsel will be sorely missed,” chairman and chief executive Thomas Prendergast said in a statement. “Susan brought to the MTA not just her expertise in mass transit, which was substantial, but a clear understanding of the political and social environments in which we operate, making her an invaluable advisor on many different policy issues.”

Kupferman was also the first full-time co-director for the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University, conducting research, education, and public service in urban transportation. There, she was appointed the executive director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. 

“She brought energy, intellect and warmth, and a passion for public service to every task and every activity. She was a central player in a transportation policy that shaped the New York region for decades,” current Rudin Center director Mitchell Moss said in an interview.

According to the MTA, Kupferman throughout her career served the agency as deputy executive director for policy, planning, and capital programs; as chief operating officer; as a member of the MTA Board; as president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels; and as senior advisor to the chairman.

She also worked extensively in state government as director of the department of strategic planning and external affairs at the New York State Thruway Authority and assistant secretary to the governor for transportation. She also held positions at the New York state legislature and the state Department of Transportation.

While serving on the MTA board, Kupferman was director of the New York City mayor’s office of operations, where she oversaw the management of city governmental operations.

She also received numerous awards, including Woman of the Year from the Greater New York chapter of Women in Transportation.

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