Will Kempton

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Retired Transportation Executive

Transportation innovator and manager, Will Kempton, has almost 50 years of experience in transportation, government affairs, and public service, retiring in 2017. Almost three years later, Mr. Kempton came out of retirement to serve as the Executive Director of the Sacramento Transportation Authority, where he was focused on the development and management of a countywide transportation sales tax program.

Preceding his brief retirement, Mr. Kempton was Executive Director of Transportation California, an industry-based transportation advocacy group dedicated to the advancement of California’s transportation program. Transportation California worked for years to increase funding for the state’s ailing transportation infrastructure and was a leader in the effort to pass Senate Bill 1 which was approved by the Legislature and signed by then Governor Brown in early 2017.

Interrupting his time with Transportation California, Mr. Kempton also served as Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission (CTC), responsible for advising and assisting the Legislature and the Administration in the development of transportation policies and plans for California, initiating and developing state and federal legislation to secure funding for the state’s transportation needs and facilitating the programming and allocation of funds for highway, passenger rail, transit and active transportation improvements across California.

Throughout Mr. Kempton’s career, he has moved between public and private posts, starting with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in 1973. In 1985, Mr. Kempton assumed the role of Executive Director of the Santa Clara County Traffic Authority, managing its billion-dollar highway sales tax construction program, the first of its kind in the state.

In 1992, Mr. Kempton became a partner in Smith, Kempton & Watts, a Sacramento advocacy firm where he consulted in programs and policies to enhance the effectiveness of public and private resources. In 2004, he was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger as the Director of Caltrans, overseeing an annual operating budget of more than $13.8 billion and 22,000 employees. He served in this capacity for five years before taking over as the Chief Executive Officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority, a countywide transportation agency responsible for county transit services and management of the local half-cent sales tax program.

Will was recently named the recipient of the first annual Heinz Heckeroth Lifetime Achievement Award by the California Transportation Foundation for his many years of service to the industry and his commitment to the State’s transportation program.  He has been a member of the Mineta Transportation Institute Board of Trustees since 2004 and served as Chair during the 2021-2023 term.     

Kempton has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of San Francisco and completed graduate studies in Government and Public Administration at California State University, Sacramento. He resides in Folsom, California with his wife Beverley.



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