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Melissa Porter, Chief Counsel

Photograph of Melissa PorterMelissa Porter is the principal legal officer and advisor to the Administrator and FRA officials. In this capacity, she provides oversight and advice for FRA’s safety and rail development programs and leads the FRA legal team, consisting of two divisions: the Safety Law Division and the General Law Division.

In 2002 as a trial attorney, Porter began her career with the Federal Railroad Administration in the safety law division. She wrote and enforced regulations in the railroad industry specializing in the area of signal and train control, including implementation of the rule that addresses development and deployment of positive train control systems. Porter also briefly served as the Acting Deputy Regional Administrator of FRA’s Cambridge, MA office.

In 2008, Porter left the FRA and served as Senior Transportation Counsel to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, focusing on surface transportation issues.  Her responsibilities included drafting surface transportation safety and security legislation related to rail, bus, truck, pipeline, and hazardous materials; researching issues regarding legislation; preparing for and attending Committee hearings and legislative markups; discussing with industry representatives the cause and resolution of concerns; and participating in legislative conferences.  In the 110th Congress, she worked on passage of P.L. 110-432 (rail safety and Amtrak reauthorizations). More recently, Porter worked on the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2009, which the Commerce Committee reported out in December 2009.

She graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center where she participated in the Institute for Public Representation doing environmental litigation.  During law school she also worked at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland in the criminal defense division and at Goulston & Storrs, a Boston law firm, on a variety of legal issues. She received a B.B.A. in Economics and B.A in Spanish from Cleveland State University. 

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