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Hersman was nominated for the two-year term as chairman by President Barack Obama on June 18 and confirmed by the United States Senate on July 24. She was also nominated and confirmed for a second five-year term as board member, which runs through December 31, 2013.
“The NTSB is an outstanding organization that commands respect across the globe for its comprehensive investigations of transportation accidents,” Hersman said. “I am grateful to have this extraordinary opportunity to lead a talented, dedicated staff to make a world-class organization even better.”
Hersman became a member of the safety board on June 21, 2004. Since then, she has chaired a number of public events hosted by the board. In October 2008 she chaired a two-day public hearing on an accident in Victoria, Texas, involving a motorcoach that did not comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In September 2006, she chaired a two-day public forum on motorcycle safety. In July 2006, she chaired a two-day public hearing investigating a fire on board UPS Airlines flight 1307. She also chaired a three- day public hearing in June 2005 on a crash involving a regional jet in Jefferson City, Missouri.
She has been the board member on scene at 16 major transportation accidents, including a freight train collision and hazardous materials release in Graniteville, South Carolina, in 2005 that killed 9 people; the 2006 crash of a regional jet in Lexington, Kentucky, that killed 49 aboard the jet; the 2006 accident in which a small aircraft crashed into a high rise apartment building in Manhattan; the 2007 allision of a container ship with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge that resulted in major environmental damage; and, most recently, last month's collision between two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority trains that resulted in 9 fatalities.
Chairman Hersman holds a commercial drivers license with passenger, school bus, and air brake endorsements. She successfully completed a motorcycle basic rider course and holds a motorcycle endorsement. She is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. She has also completed the 40- hour HAZWOPER (Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard) training course.
Before joining the Board, Chairman Hersman was a Senior Professional Staff Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation from 1999 to 2004 where she was responsible for a number of transportation issues, and earlier served as Staff Director and Senior Legislative Aide to Congressman Bob Wise of West Virginia.
Chairman Hersman earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and International Studies from Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, and a Master of Science degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She is married and is the mother of three sons.