Partner 
Patton Boggs, LLP

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater helps clients integrate their interests in the overall vision for the transportation system of the 21st Century—a vision he set as Transportation Secretary to promote a safer, more efficient, environmentally sound and sustainable worldwide transportation infrastructure. Mr. Slater also helps state and local government clients address the vexing challenge of closing the gap between transportation demand and capacity, by employing public/private strategies and innovative financing solutions. Mr. Slater’s practice focuses on many of the policy and transportation objectives that were set under his leadership, including aviation competition and congestion mitigation, maritime initiatives, high-speed rail corridor development, and overall transportation safety and funding. He continues to embrace the framework he established as Secretary to lead visionary and vigilant Department of Transportation professionals in making transportation decisions that called for more open, collaborative and flexible decision-making across the transportation enterprise here and abroad.

Mr. Slater’s bipartisan and inclusive approach to problem solving has earned him tremendous respect and admiration on both sides of the aisle, enabling him to have one of the best relationships with the White House, Congress, and business, labor and political leaders worldwide in the history of the Department of Transportation (DOT). His work at DOT forever altered America’s and the world’s appreciation of transportation as more than just concrete, asphalt and steel. Mr. Slater brings the same strategic, results-oriented and collaborative approach to the practice of law.

As Secretary of Transportation under President Bill Clinton, Mr. Slater spearheaded several historic legislative measures over his tenure, including the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which guaranteed a record $200 billion in surface transportation investment though 2003, and the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21), which provided a record $46 billion to improve the safety and security of the nation’s aviation system. Under his leadership, the federal transportation budget doubled and, in the Department’s "best in government" strategic and performance plans, the scope and definition of transportation was expanded to include a focus on safety, mobility and access, economic development and trade, the environment and national security.

Further, Secretary Slater oversaw the designation of the eleven proposed High Speed Rail Corridors across America and the institution of the Acela service by Amtrak along the Northeast Corridor. He played a leadership role in the Clinton Administration’s Partnership for a New Generation Vehicle Initiative, headed by Vice President Al Gore, along with other green economy initiatives championed by the Administration. Mr. Slater also helped shepherd the completion of the multi-modal Alameda Corridor in Southern California, the near completion of the Central Artery Third Harbor Tunnel in Boston and he encouraged varied intelligent transportation system projects and exploration of the promise of nanotechnology as relates to infrastructure improvements. Secretary Slater advocated and the DOT lead an effort to address the transportation access challenges faced by Americans with disabilities as well as mothers moving from welfare to work; and he promoted a renewed push to liberalize aviation relations between the United States and countries around the globe that resulted in a record forty (40) “open skies” agreements, including the first ever multi-lateral agreement among the U.S. and four APEC economies (Chile, Brunei, New Zealand and Singapore).

Previous to his tenure as Transportation Secretary, Mr. Slater served as Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, where—as the Agency’s first African-American Administrator in its century-long history—he oversaw the development of an innovative financing program that resulted in hundreds of transportation projects being completed two to three years ahead of schedule with greater cost efficiencies. Over that time, the federal highway budget increased an unprecedented 104 percent.

Secretary Slater is a past Senior Fellow with the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University; a fellow with the National Academy of Public Administration and a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, and a NCAA Silver Anniversary Award recipient. He also is a member of a number of corporate and non-profit boards. The corporate boards include Atkins Global, Kansas City Southern Railroad, Southern Bancorp, Transurban, Inc and Verizon. Non-profit boards include the United Way of America (former Chairman), and the United Way Worldwide Board, the National Smithsonian Board and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Board, as well as the National Urban League, Africare Inc., the Leon Sullivan Foundation, and the Arkansas World Trade Center.

Secretary Slater is married to Cassandra F. Wilkins, an attorney, and they are the proud parents of a daughter, Bridgette Josette.

Professional Affiliations

  • Chair of the Toyota North American Quality and Safety Advisory Panel
  • Vice Chair of the Congressional Award Foundation
  • Founding Partner, Washington Nationals Baseball Team
  • Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation
  • Former Administrator of the U.S. Federal Highway Administration
  • Former Director of Government Relations, Arkansas State University
  • Former Special Assistant for Economic and Community Programs to then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton
  • Former Executive Assistant for Community and Minority Affairs to then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton
  • Former Assistant Attorney General, Litigation Division of the Arkansas State Attorney General’s Office
  • Former Secretary-Treasurer, Arkansas Bar Association
  • Former Vice-Chairman and Senior Advisor of James Lee Witt Associates
  • Education  

University of Arkansas, J.D., 1980 
Eastern Michigan University, B.S., 1977