The Orange County Transportation Authority has named a new CEO, following the news earlier this month that current chief executive Will Kempton plans to retire from the agency early in the new year. Darrell Johnson, deputy CEO of OCTA, will step into Kempton’s role at the beginning of March.
Johnson, a 20-year veteran of the transportation industry and member of OCTA for 10 years, has served as deputy CEO of the local transportation agency since 2010. In his current role, he helps lead the organization on local, state and national issues relating to transportation programs, policies and issues, and assists the chief executive in the agency’s business, operations and management across the organization’s seven departments.
“Darrell has extensive experience in the transportation industry and an unparalleled understanding of OCTA’s vision,” said Paul Glaab, OCTA’s board chairman and mayor of Laguna Niguel. “He has been instrumental in developing and implementing OCTA’s strategic goals and we are excited he will be stepping into this new role.”
Johnson’s experience in the transportation industry includes 12 years at Amtrak, the national rail services corporation, where he held various positions in operations, planning and finance, while working in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
Johnson's appointment to lead the agency is not without controversy, according to a report today in the O.C. Register. Some board members voiced concerns that he was selected without an outside search, and that the full board had not discussed or negotiated his contract.
Kempton expressed confidence in the selection of his successor, praising Johnson's leadership skills, knowledge of the agency, and position of respect within the transportation industry. “He is well respected among leaders in the transportation industry, as well as employees, and I am confident he will continue moving this agency on a successful path.”
Kempton, who will depart from the local transportation agency at the end of February, is taking on a new role as executive director of Transportation California, a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization that advocates for the development of better transportation and infrastructure in the state.
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