Toks Omishakin was appointed the 4th Secretary of Transportation for the state of California by Governor Gavin Newsom in February of 2022. As Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CALSTA), he has oversight of 8 State Departments, Boards and Commissions that, combined, have more than 42,000 people and a budget that exceeds $30 billion annually. Safety, Equity, Climate Action, and Economic Prosperity—the Core Four—are the top transportation priorities established for the state. Prior to his appointment as Secretary, he was Director of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) where, as the chief executive of the department, he managed a $17.5 billion budget and more than 22,000 employees that oversee 50,000 lane miles of highways, maintain more than 20,000 bridges, provide permitting of more than 250 public-use airports, fund 3 of Amtrak’s busiest intercity rail services and provide transit support to more than 400 local and regional transit agencies. In 2020, he and the Caltrans executive team established a new strategic direction for the department prioritizing partnerships and community engagement to accomplish its goals to create a cleaner, safer, more equitable and connected transportation system for California.
Omishakin came to Caltrans following eight years as Deputy Commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). There, he successfully established environmental and multimodal local and national groundbreaking planning policies and programs, including a new Multimodal Access Grant program and new Office of Community Transportation. Prior to that, he served as Director of Healthy Living Initiatives in the Nashville Mayor’s Office. In that capacity, he led development of Metro Nashville’s Complete Streets Policy and helped establish a more balanced approach to transportation planning and design for the city. This included spearheading the creation of two bicycle sharing programs.
In 2019, Omishakin became Chair of the Council on Active Transportation for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). This came after two years serving as Vice Chair as well as serving as Inaugural Chair of AASHTO’s Multimodal Task Force. He served for 10 years on the board of America Walks and is now an emeritus advisor to the national organization. He also serves on boards at the Mineta Transportation Institute, Veloz and has advised the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis through its Transportation Council Board. In work with institutions, he serves on the advisory board at Tennessee Tech University for Civil and Environmental Engineering and at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Institute for Transportation studies.
In October of 2020, Omishakin was appointed to then-President-elect Biden-Harris Transportation Transition Team. In December of 2020 he was recognized with the Excellence in Leadership award by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) NorCal and named Person of the Year by the California Transportation Foundation (CTF) in May of 2021.
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Secretary Omishakin and his wife have two children. He has a Ph.D. in Engineering Management from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Jackson State University; and a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Technology from Mississippi Valley State University.
Listen to Toks Omishakin discuss his background and story.
Listen to Toks Omishakin discuss his philosophy of leadership.
Gain insight into Omishakin’s leadership style of making people feel valued.
Hear Toks Omishakin elaborate on the importance of achieving consensus.
In this segment, Toks Omishakin discusses the future of transportation.
Listen to Toks Omishakin's advice for future leaders.
Omishakin shares guidance for aspiring leaders.