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Darrell Johnson named next CEO of the OCTA

Karina Onofre Banner


Update: We broke this story on Nov. 20, 2012.  The OCTA confirmed it today with a press release we are including below our original post:

Darrell Johnson is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Orange County Transportation Authority, serving in the position since 2010.  My sources tell me that Johnson will be appointed next week to step in as CEO of the OCTA when the current CEO, Will Kempton, leaves at the end of February, next year.  Kempton is leaving to join a non-profit organization in Sacramento – Transportation California.

Here is additional info about Johnson, from his online bio:

Johnson is responsible for coordinating all business, operations, and management activities among the functional divisions, which include Capital Programs, External Affairs, Finance, Government Relations, Human Resources, Internal Audit, and Transit Operations. 

Johnson represents OCTA on local, state and national issues related to transportation programs and policies and in 2012 he was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the American Public Transportation Association. He recently was selected to participate in the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Since 2003, Johnson has served at OCTA in a number of positions, including most recently as the Executive Director of Rail Programs.

Prior to joining OCTA, Johnson worked at Amtrak for 12 years, where he held positions in operations, planning, and finance and contributed to the development of passenger rail corridors in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

Johnson lives in Rancho Santa Margarita with his wife and two daughters.

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Johnson Named Next CEO of OCTA

Darrell Johnson, a 20-year industry veteran, will take over the reins March 1

ORANGE – Darrell Johnson, the current deputy CEO of the Orange County Transportation Authority, was selected by the board of directors today to become the next chief executive officer effective March 1.

“Darrell has extensive experience in the transportation industry and an unparalleled understanding of OCTA’s vision,” said OCTA Chairman Paul Glaab, also the 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 will replace CEO Will Kempton, who announced his retirement effective Feb. 28, to become the executive director of Transportation California.

Johnson joined OCTA in 2003 and has served as the deputy CEO since 2010. He helps lead OCTA on local, state and national issues related to transportation programs and policies, and assists the CEO in coordinating all business, operations and management activities among the agency’s seven divisions.

Prior to joining OCTA, Johnson worked at Amtrak for 12 years where he held positions in operations, planning and finance, and contributed to the development of passenger rail services in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

“Darrell’s superior leadership skills and in-depth knowledge of OCTA are a winning combination for this agency,” said Will Kempton, current CEO of OCTA. “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.”

Johnson was recently elected to serve on the board of directors for the American Public Transportation Association and in July participated in the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

“I am honored and humbled by the board’s decision and intend to build upon the successes this agency has experienced in providing innovative transportation solutions,” said Johnson. “It has been a privilege to serve as the deputy CEO and I plan to ensure that OCTA continues our legacy of delivering on the promises we have made to improve the lives of people in Orange County.”

Johnson lives in Rancho Santa Margarita with his wife and two daughters.

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One Response

  1. Dave Davis

    Darrell is a reasonable choice — he’s a personable guy, and far far better than what he’s replacing. Let’s hope he’s less influenced by the likes of Curt Pringle, Lucy Dunn, Peter Buffa, the Disney “where’s mine” crowd and the SOAR-suckups on the Anaheim City Council.

    With this pick, the OCTA Board can save the expense of hiring a recruiter for the usual “exhaustive nationwide search” that somehow always produces the best-connected local guy or gal for the job — for one big fee.

    Darrell’s obviously a train guy, so we can hope he’ll be forthcoming some day with what the Metrolink really costs to operate and the significant waste of resources it actually is.

    But the most important thing he can do is wisely and judiciously protect our investments in Measures M and M2. Orange County simple needs more pavement (and fewer $$$ trains) — that’s why M/M2 was passed — not for Pringle’s legacy ARTIC barn which will go unused with no High-Speed rail a’comin, and streetcars for Disney.