Six Automotive, Transportation and Manufacturing Experts Appointed to Independent Takata Quality Assurance Panel

These members join Samuel Skinner, who was appointed to lead the Panel in Dec. 2014

Chicago, Jan. 20, 2015 – Former Secretary of Transportation and White House Chief of Staff Samuel Skinner today announced that six leading experts in transportation safety, manufacturing, quality assurance and engineering will join him as members of the Independent Takata Corporation Quality Assurance Panel (the Panel). Secretary Skinner was appointed on Dec. 18, 2014, by Takata Corporation to lead the Panel.

“I look forward to leading this important effort to ensure that Takata is responsive whenever questions are raised about the quality or safety of its air bags. Each member of our panel is a highly respected and accomplished professional in areas directly relevant to our review. Together, their collective expertise and perspective will be invaluable,” said Secretary Skinner. “My colleagues and I look forward to conducting a thorough and informative review and to publicly releasing our findings and recommendations.”

The Panel will review and assess Takata’s current policies, practices, procedures, structure and personnel to ensure that, going forward, Takata is fully and promptly responsive to the traveling public, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), other regulators and original equipment manufacturers whenever questions are raised about the quality or safety of Takata air bags.
The Panel will review and assess Takata’s current policies, practices, procedures, structure and personnel to ensure that the company achieves best practices for:

  • Expeditious, accurate and thorough internal and external reporting of questions or concerns about the quality or safety of Takata air bags
  • Development and implementation of action plans to fully, promptly and conscientiously resolve any such questions or concerns
  • Integration of quality and safety principles at every step in Takata’s supply, manufacturing and delivery channels
  • Global coordination of all aspects of Takata’s management of air bag quality and safety issues

The Panel has been assured complete access to the information it needs to fulfill its mandate in a thorough and independent fashion, including Takata’s current safety, quality, design, and manufacturing policies, practices, procedures, structure, and personnel. Upon completion, the report produced by the Panel will be made public.

Each member of the Panel has specific expertise and experience in disciplines that are critical to the Panel’s mandate, ensuring a diverse membership that brings 360-degree expertise in business and regulatory processes devoted to quality and safety in the transportation field. Panel members include:

  1. Marion C. Blakey
  2. Nelda J. Connors
  3. John C. Landgraf
  4. Dr. Julio M. Ottino
  5. Dr. Jeffrey Runge
  6. Samuel K. Skinner
  7. John W. Snow


Marion C. Blakey brings more than two decades of experience in the transportation industry, and served as Administrator of the FAA from 2002 to 2007 and Chairman of the NTSB from 2001 to 2002. Ms. Blakey also served as Administrator of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a role focused on reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. Prior to her service at NHTSA, Ms. Blakey held key positions at the United States Department of Commerce, the United States Department of Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, White House and United States Department of Transportation. Ms. Blakey currently serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aerospace Industries Association, an American aerospace and defense industry trade association.

Nelda J. Connors has more than twenty years of global experience in the automotive, transportation and manufacturing sectors, including more than a decade in various roles at global automotive companies, including Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corporation and a supplier for Toyota Motor Company. An expert in operational excellence and a proven leader, Ms. Connors served as President of Tyco International, Electrical and Metal Products Division, from 2008 to 2011. At Eaton Corporation, she was Vice President, Global Clutch Division for the Truck Group and Vice President of Operational Excellence for the Truck Group from 2007 to 2008; Vice President and General Manager, Asia-Pacific for the Fluid Power Group from 2004 to 2007; and Vice President, Operational Excellence for the Fluid Power Group from 2002 to 2004. In 2011, Ms. Connors founded Pine Grove Holdings, LLC, a minority-woman-owned business enterprise that invests and operates in mid-cap manufacturing-based companies. She is also a Director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, worked in the automotive industry in Japan and speaks Japanese. Ms. Connors holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton. Her graduate thesis was in Japanese Manufacturing Techniques.

John C. Landgraf serves as Executive Vice President at Abbott, and runs the largest of Abbott’s four core business segments. Mr. Landgraf has experience leading manufacturing and quality assurance at the highly regulated, health care corporation. Abbott is a global company and more than 70 percent of its sales and 70 percent of its employees are located outside the U.S. In his 37 years at Abbott, he has had significant roles in all four key segments of Abbott’s business: pharmaceutical, diagnostics, devices and nutritional products. In his career, Mr. Landgraf has dealt with complex compliance issues with various regulatory agencies around the world. His extensive global experience in operations makes him a highly complementary addition to the Panel. Mr. Landgraf earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in microbiology from Northern Illinois University. He also holds a master’s in business from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

Dr. Julio M. Ottino is Dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University, where he holds the titles of Distinguished Robert R. McCormick Institute Professor and Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. The Northwestern University Transportation Center, a multidisciplinary center in the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, was the first university transportation center in the U.S., and has since been recognized as a leading interdisciplinary education and research institution. Dr. Ottino earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota. He then held a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and held chair and senior appointments at The California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the University of Minnesota before joining Northwestern in 1991 and rising to Chairman of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in 1992.

Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, MD, FACEP, served as Administrator of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from 2001 to 2005 and Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2008. His areas of expertise include road transportation safety; emergency medical services and injury prevention and control; medical preparedness and emergency care; and biodefense strategy and countermeasures. As NHTSA Administrator, Dr. Runge instituted programs that led to the first absolute declines in U.S. motor vehicle deaths in nearly a decade and the lowest highway fatality rate in history. Dr. Runge’s emphasis on safety belt use through the innovative “Click It or Ticket” program led to national belt use of more than 80 percent, saving more than 3,000 lives a year. His focus on rollover crashes and incompatible vehicles led the agency to enhance the 5-star rating program and introduce regulations for crash avoidance technology and side impact protection, resulting in industry-wide improvements in vehicle design and a drastic reduction in the fatality rate.

Samuel K. Skinner, an Attorney and former U.S. Attorney, has had a career in both the public and private sectors. Mr. Skinner is the former White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. As Secretary, Mr. Skinner served as the nation’s senior regulatory official for rail, aviation, maritime, pipeline and highway safety, and was credited with the development of the President's National Transportation Policy and the development and passage of landmark aviation and surface transportation legislation. Mr. Skinner acted as the President's point person in numerous crisis situations, including the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the Eastern Airlines strike, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the northern California earthquake, Hurricane Hugo and the 1991 national rail strike. Mr. Skinner is the retired Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of USF Corporation, one of the nation's leading transportation and logistics companies.

John W. Snow served as the 73rd Secretary of the Treasury under U.S. President George W. Bush from 2003 to 2006. Mr. Snow served as Assistant General Counsel for the Department of Transportation from 1972 to 1973; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Plans and International Affairs from 1973 to 1974; and Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs in the Department of Transportation from 1974 to 1975. In 1975, he was appointed Undersecretary in the Department of Transportation and was named Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 1976. In 1977, Mr. Snow entered the railroad industry where he held leadership roles of increasing responsibility before becoming CEO of CSX Corp., an international transportation company offering a variety of rail, container-shipping, intermodal, trucking and contract logistics services, in 1989, a position he held until his appointment as Secretary of the Treasury in 2003.

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