The Senate also confirmed Hersman as a member of the board until Dec. 31, 2013.
President Obama announced plans to appoint Hersman as chairman in June. Hersman has been a member of the board since June 2004, serving as its representative in 15 accidents. Mark Rosenker, who has been chairman or acting chairman of the agency since March 2005, has resigned his post.
A commercial drivers license holder and a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, Hersman has chaired several public events at the board, including a two-day forum on motorcycle safety and a public hearing on motor coach safety.
Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, applauded the Senate's decision.
"Transportation unions are pleased the Senate has confirmed Deborah Hersman to lead the National Transportation Safety Board," Wytkind said. "Hersman is deeply committed to the safety mission of this agency and has demonstrated her passion to learn from accident investigations and advocate federal safety policies that make the U.S. transportation system safer. And rather than simply assigning blame to individuals, she investigates the policies, procedures and practices that threaten safe operations."
"Ms. Hersman has always understood that well trained front-line workers play a critical role in moving goods and people safely across our vast transportation network. We applaud Hersman's confirmation and look forward to working with her to advance transportation safety."
Prior to coming on board with the NTSB, Hersman served as a senior professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In this position, she led legislative agenda and policy initiatives related to surface transportation, including economic and safety regulation of railroads, trucks, buses, pipelines and hazardous materials transportation. From 1992 to 1999, she worked for Congressman Bob Wise of West Virginia as staff director and senior legislative aide.
Hersman earned undergraduate degrees in Political Science and International Studies from Virginia Tech, followed by a Master of Science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University in Virginia.
As Hersman takes over, Rosenker says he will most likely enter the private sector, according to KSTP.com. Before joining the board in 2003 as a member and vice chairman, Rosenker served as deputy assistant to the president and director of the White House Military Office under President George W. Bush.