Metro

Ex-transportation chief to head Boston 2024 campaign

Richard Davey (right) served as Governor Deval Patrick’s transportation secretary from 2011 to 2014.
Steven Senne/Associated Press/File
Richard Davey (right) served as Governor Deval Patrick’s transportation secretary from 2011 to 2014.

Boston’s Olympic organizing group has appointed a new leader, installing a former state transportation secretary as its top executive as it launches an intense 2½-year international campaign to win the 2024 Summer Games.

Richard A. Davey, who served as Governor Deval Patrick’s transportation secretary from 2011 to 2014, has taken over as chief executive of the nonprofit Olympic planning group, Boston 2024, replacing Daniel O’Connell, another former Patrick administration official who had shepherded the bid since its earliest planning stages in 2013.

“This is a terrific opportunity to build upon all the great work and planning that has already been done,” Davey said in a statement. “But in many ways, this is just the beginning. Over the next year, we will be in every community in Boston — and in every region of the state — to get the thoughts and input of the public on what a 2024 Games would look like and the kind of legacy it could and should leave for Massachusetts.”

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Davey will make $300,000 a year.

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O’Connell, who was Patrick’s economic development and housing secretary from 2007 to 2009, helped Boston 2024 beat competing domestic bids from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., to emerge two weeks ago as America’s Olympic bid city, chosen by the United States Olympic Committee.

With the backing of the USOC secured, O’Connell, who is 65, did not want to commit to the intensive 32-month, full-time job of formally developing the US Olympic bid and winning the favor of the International Olympic Committee, which will select the 2024 host city in mid-2017. He will stay involved in the effort as a member of the Boston 2024 Executive Committee.

“Working with the team to craft the initial proposal and to win the support and confidence of the USOC is one of the proudest moments of my career,” said O’Connell, president of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, a group composed of 16 chief executives of prominent local companies. “Rich will now grab the baton for the next two years, and I look forward to working with him . . . to bring the Games to Boston.”

Davey, 41, will help the group build political, business, and public support for its bid. With his knowledge of the state’s public transit system, he will also help Boston 2024 press its case that it intends to host the most transit-friendly, walkable, and sustainable Olympics in modern history.

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“Rich Davey is the perfect fit to continue the work that Dan helped launch,” John Fish, chairman of Boston 2024, said in a statement. “His reputation for smart, innovative leadership and management of large and complex transportation systems and projects will be indispensable as we enter this next stage of our efforts.”

As transportation secretary, Davey worked directly on many of the transit projects that Boston 2024 considers important to its bid, such as a $1 billion expansion of South Station — which remains stuck in the planning stages — and the extension of the Green Line into Somerville, which is underway.

Davey was credited with stabilizing Massachusetts’ sprawling transit bureaucracy, which had been overseen by three different transportation secretaries within three years and was still emerging from the shadow of the Big Dig. He led 10,000 employees and was responsible for overseeing the MBTA, the state’s 15 regional transit authorities, and the freight and commuter rail systems.

Before joining the Patrick administration, he spent about a year as general manager of the MBTA and, before that, was general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad, the private company that operated the T’s commuter rail service.

Davey will be just the latest Patrick administration alumnus to join Boston 2024.

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Doug Rubin, Patrick’s former chief of staff and top political consultant, is a consultant to the group. Former US senator William “Mo” Cowan, who also served as a Patrick chief of staff, cochairs the government and community outreach committee.

Nikko Mendoza, another former top Patrick aide, is vice president of engagement and external affairs.

O’Connell, a real estate lawyer, has had a long career in government and business. He was an aide to US Representative Edward J. Markey in the 1970s, was a MassPort official in the 1990s, and was a developer of Fan Pier in South Boston and NorthPoint in Cambridge.

Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.