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Judith S. Kaleta

Deputy General Counsel

"Judy Kalet picture"Judith S. Kaleta is the Deputy General Counsel, U.S. Department of Transportation. As the senior career attorney in the Department, Ms. Kaleta supports the General Counsel to lead the Department’s more than 400 attorneys to address a wide-range of issues impacting transportation law and policy and the Department’s more than 55,000 employees. She counsels senior Departmental leadership on extremely sensitive and highly contentious matters involving the transportation industry and the workings of the Department.

Prior to being appointed to her current position in 2012, Ms. Kaleta worked on a multitude of legal opportunities and challenges in the Office of the General Counsel and in different operating administrations of the Department.

She served as the Assistant General Counsel for General Law, where she provided advice on personnel matters, grants processes, and fiscal law issues. She developed and motivated the Department-wide “ethics team” resulting in more consistent advice, more timely reviews of financial disclosure reports, and more innovative training.

As the Senior Counsel for Dispute Resolution, Ms. Kaleta promoted the use of collaborative problem-solving approaches.  She developed the Department’s response to set time zone boundaries in Indiana, a highly contentious, emotional, and divisive issue in the State. She increased the effective use of mediation in Federal court cases to ensure effective mediation strategies.

She served as Chief Counsel of the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), where she initiated and implemented RSPA’s first negotiated rulemaking to set equipment standards, attendance provisions, and safety procedures for unloading liquefied compressed gases from cargo tank motor vehicles. As Acting Chief Counsel of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), she negotiated the first Memorandum of Understanding between FTA and the U.S. Department of Justice concerning the coordination of investigations of, and enforcement against, transit agencies for alleged disability rights violations, which served as a model for other DOT entities.

She was also the Special Assistant to the Chief Counsel of the Federal Highway Administration, and staff attorney in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Before joining the Department, Ms. Kaleta served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Illinois Attorney General Consumer Protection Division.

Ms. Kaleta received the prestigious Distinguished Executive (2018) Senior Executive Service Presidential Rank Awards for sustained extraordinary accomplishments in management of programs and for leadership exemplifying the highest standards of service to the public.

Ms. Kaleta is the recipient of numerous Departmental awards including The Secretary's Gold Medal Award (Surface Transportation Reauthorization Team), 2016; The Secretary's Partnering for Excellence Award (Whistleblower Safety Disclosure Investigations Team), 2011; The Secretary's Partnering for Excellence Award (Presidential Transition Team), 2009; and The Secretary's Gold Medal Award (in support of the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures Program), 1999.  

A member of the American Bar Association (ABA), Ms. Kaleta serves in the ABA House of Delegates.  She has served as a member of the Council of the ABA's Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice and Section of Dispute Resolution.  Ms. Kaleta is the recipient of the 2016 Mary C. Lawton Award for Outstanding Government Service, presented by the ABA's Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.  She is also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Ms. Kaleta has been an adjunct professor, teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution.  She co-authored an article on ombuds ethics, about the ABA Standards for the Establishment and Operation of Ombuds Offices, an article on agency review of regulations, and "The Caring Lawyer," an article which encourages an approach to client interviewing based on the mediation process.

A Chicago native, Ms. Kaleta is a summa cum laude graduate of De Paul University and Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.

Last updated: Tuesday, March 30, 2021