News | CalSTA Secretary David Kim Visits USC Sol Price

Stop the Video



by Brittany Cooper, CSULB

David Kim, Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and USC alumnus, recently attended Adjunct Associate Professor Eric Shen’s “Transportation Studio,” a graduate course within the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, to speak on “the Fast-Changing Supply Chain Ecosystem: Understanding Goods Movement and Developing Multi-Modal Transportation Strategies in Urban Settings.”  


With a long career encompassing both private and public transportation sectors, Kim has put his USC Master of Public Administration to beneficial use. After earning his MPA in in 1994, he rose within the public sector ranks from a Senior Legislative Assistant, later becoming Deputy Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2009. Since then, he has served in positions such as Vice President of Government Affairs for Hyundai Motor Company, the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and FHWA’s Associate Administrator for Policy and Governmental Affairs. 


As Secretary of CalSTA, Kim was in a prime spot to see the different changes confronting the transportation and logistics industries during this past year. His key takeaway was one that several transportation professionals have emphasized since the start of the pandemic: the industry will never be the same. While the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice protests have revealed weaknesses in the transportation and logistics infrastructure, Kim views this moment as the optimal time to change the transportation field for the better.  


When speaking about the future as it relates to COVID-19, Kim raised the topic of an upcoming vaccine and the strain that mass distribution will have on the logistics supply chain and the freight industry. The fact that the vaccine may require two doses, along with mass distribution and football field-sized storage with facilities maintaining subzero temperatures will require major planning. To put this in perspective, Pfizer’s vaccine requires storage of minus 70 degrees Celsius, which is said to be colder than winter in Antarctica. Kim remarked that California, along with other states, has started the planning process for vaccine distribution at the request of the federal government. When asked how the state is planning to fund programs that support the diverse needs of local governments with regard to last mile distribution, Kim labeled it a work in progress, explaining that transportation funding at the state level is complex, with laws limiting how funds can be used. He noted that a solution will likely require a legislative or Constitutional change, though dialogue with transportation providers is still ongoing. 


At the conclusion of the class, the students expressed how much they enjoyed having the opportunity to engage in discussions over the current state of transportation and CalSTA’s role in addressing some of the current issues. Kim’s genuine desire to serve the public was further emphasized when he availed himself to the classroom of young professionals and encouraged them to contact him for any advice in the future.