James A. Santilli Jr. has more than sixteen years of transportation safety experience and began his career with the Transportation Improvement Association (TIA) on May 15, 2006. He was appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer by the Board of Directors on June 24, 2011. He is the fourth leader in the fifty-year history of the agency. Previously, Santilli worked in the criminal justice and public safety fields.
Under Santilli’s leadership, TIA has reinvigorated a culture known for high employee engagement, fiscal responsibility, and award-winning safety initiatives. Since 2011, TIA significantly improved its financial position, eliminated all debt, and enhanced and expanded its services.
Santilli is currently the Chairman of the Michigan Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commissions’ Distracted Driving Action Team and President of the Intelligent Transportation Society of Michigan’s Board of Directors. He also serves on the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee, Oakland County Transportation Committee, and as a co-founder, the M-59, Ferris State University, and Oakland University Traffic Safety Team’s. During 2016, Santilli was appointed by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson to serve on the Oakland County Connected Vehicle Task Force. He previously served as an Ambassador at Detroit Metro Airport from 2014 to 2015, and was a 2010 candidate for State Representative in the Michigan Legislature.
As a leader in distracted driving awareness, Santilli led the development of the “Remembering Ally: Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign.” The campaign was one of five traffic safety programs in the nation to receive a Peter K. O’Rourke Award during 2013. It also received a 2012 Outstanding Traffic Safety Achievement Award from the Michigan Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission. A component of the campaign, a realistic distracted driving crash education video, received an Eclipse Award for production excellence and has been viewed in more than 90 countries. Since 2011, Santilli has been speaking about the dangers of distracted driving and promoting increased enforcement. Most recently, Santilli conducted extensive research and provided State Representative Martin Howrylak with language for a hands-free distracted driving bill that was introduced in the Michigan Legislature.
During 2012, Santilli was the recipient of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s prestigious ‘Elite 40 Under 40’ leadership award. Furthermore, he was acknowledged by Delta Air Lines CEO Gerald Grinstein for his commitment to transportation safety during 2007.
Santilli holds an Airman Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with a Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) rating. He has training in aviation and highway safety, emergency medical services, homeland security, and corporate law. He also continues to share information with other professionals throughout the nation and internationally to remain on the cutting edge in transportation safety.
Santilli is a graduate of Dakota High School and Ferris State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. At FSU, Santilli received the Torchbearer Leadership Award and an award from the Department of Public Safety.
Santilli and his wife, Patricia, reside in Sterling Heights, Michigan.