Etherton succeeds Dr. Charles Emely, who served the association as executive director and CEO since 1998. The association's board of governors will undertake a search for a permanent replacement.
Etherton began his career in 1969 as a student engineer at Norfolk and Western Railway. He held various positions at Norfolk Southern and its predecessor company before retiring in 2009 as director engineering. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois, where he studied under Dr. W.W. Hay in the field of railway engineering. He also studied at Duke University Fuqua School of Business Executive Education and completed the Norfolk Southern Corporation Management Development Program.
Etherton is a Life Member of AREMA and has served as AREMA president, 2007-2008, senior vice president, 2006-2007, group vice president - Track, 2005-2006, director-Track, 2004-2005, and AREMA Educational Foundation director. He has also served on various AREMA technical committees and has been the chair of the AREMA Conference Operating Committee for many years.
In a September 2008 interview with RT&S where he looked back on his year as president of the association, Etherton has this to say, "Sometimes, I am not sure what my next AREMA-related activity will be. However, during [my years at NS and Norfolk & Western], I have been given the opportunities to develop leadership, communications, administrative and other skills required to focus on the job at hand, no matter what it may be and get it done."