Under the Dome

Gene Conti

Office District Status
Transportation Secretary Statewide Appointee
Party In Office Since Term Ends
Democrat 2009
Level of Government  
Date of Birth Birthplace Now Lives In
, Pittsburgh, PA ,


Gene Conti is the secretary of the N.C. Department of Transportation and a member of Gov. Beverly Perdue's Cabinet. After earning graduate degrees at Duke University, Conti served as assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation and chief deputy secretary for the N.C. department. He also worked for U.S. Reps. Brad Miller and David Price. In 2009, Gov. Beverly Perdue appointed him secretary, one of 10 Cabinet positions.



Marital Status

Gene Conti is the secretary of the N.C. Department of Transportation and a member of Gov. Beverly Perdue's Cabinet. He is also a former state and federal transportation official and former Maryland labor secretary.

Early Life and Education

Eugene A. Conti Jr. was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa.

He studied from 1964 to 1966 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., then spent time as a Vista Volunteer in eastern Kentucky. 

He earned a bachelor of arts in sociology and anthropology from Eastern Michigan University in 1971.

He earned a master of arts in policy sciences and public affairs and a doctorate in anthropology from Duke University in 1978. 


His wife, Betsy, served for three years as chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue.

Political Career

From 1979 to 1987, Conti worked as a career civil servant in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Treasury Department

From 1987 to 1993, he worked as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. David Price of Chapel Hill.

From 1993 to 1995, Conti served as deputy assistant secretary for budget and programs for the U.S. Department of Transportation under President Bill Clinton.

From 1995 to 1998, Conti served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, a Cabinet-level appointment, under Gov. Parris Glendening.

From 1998 to 2000, Conti returned to the U.S. DOT, served as assistant secretary for transportation policy on such issues as infrastructure, finance, transportation safety and environmental impacts.

From 2001 to June of 2003, he served as chief deputy secretary for the N.C. Department of Transportation under Gov. Mike Easley, handling cash management, safety initiatives, transportation planning and programming and technology. 

From May 1, 2003, to April 30, 2004, he worked in a district office for U.S. Rep. Brad Miller of Raleigh — a post that proved controversial. Conti had taken the job because he was eight months short of becoming eligible for a federal pension. Easley asked him to leave the state Transportation department because of concerns about a conflict of interest.

In 2004, Conti worked as campaign manager for the second U.S. Senate campaign of Erskine Bowles

Since 2002, he has been a vice chairman of the N.C. Global Transpark Authority, which runs a 2,400-acre industrial site near Kinston.

Perdue Administration

After controversies over political patronage at the state Board of Transportation in 2008, Governor Perdue's choice for Transportation secretary was closely watched. 

After the November elections, Senate leader Marc Basnight publicly endorsed DOT board member and Democratic fundraiser Lanny Wilson for the job. 

Several other names were floated, with Perdue saying she was looking out of state and seeing what departments in other parts of the country were doing.

On Jan. 5, 2009, Perdue announced she would appoint Conti, saying she wanted to "professionalize" the department and make road-building decisions "based on data."

Conti had given $4,200 to Perdue's campaigns since 2004.

Research and reporting by Ryan Teague Beckwith.


Community Involvement:
Not specified.

Contact Info


bachelor of arts
Eastern Michigan University
Graduated: 1971
master of arts
Duke University
Graduated: 1978
Duke University
Graduated: 1978


Not specified.


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