Opening Remarks from:

Toks Omishakin
CalSTA Secretary

Toks Omishakin was appointed the Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) by Governor Gavin Newsom and sworn in February 2022. He previously served as Director of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) since 2019. 

Omishakin’s transportation vision for California features a safe, equitable, sustainable, and multimodal transportation system that builds on strong local partnerships. As Caltrans Director, he and the leadership team established the 5 Priorities for the Department in 2019 and, in 2020, finalized a new Strategic Plan with a focus on Caltrans’ foundational principles of Equity, Climate Action and Safety. He also encouraged a Caltrans culture of innovation and intelligent risk-taking, as transformative innovation will be needed to achieve zero traffic-related deaths and reduce GHGs by 40% by 2030. 

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.

Tony Tavares
Caltrans Director

Tony Tavares was appointed the 34th Director of the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) by Governor Gavin Newsom and sworn in June 2022. Director Tavares manages a nearly $20 billion budget and more than 22,000 employees who oversee 50,000 lane miles of highway, maintain approximately 20,000 bridges, provide permitting of more than 400 public-use airports, fund three of Amtrak’s busiest intercity rail services and provide transit support to more than 200 local and regional transit agencies.

Director Tavares’ transportation vision for California addresses critical climate issues and advances a safe, equitable, accessible, sustainable, and multimodal transportation system that builds on strong partnerships and robust stakeholder engagement. He fosters a people-first culture built on the principles of Safety, Equity, Climate Action, and Economic Prosperity -- furthering a California for all.

Tavares is a graduate of University of California, Davis, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He is a Professional Engineer (PE) and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). 

Dennis T Agar

Caltrans District 10 Director Innovation Leadership Council Chair

In October 2020, Dennis T. Agar was appointed to the position of Caltrans District Director in District 10 based in Stockton, CA. Dennis assumed the responsibility to oversee over 3,500 highway lane miles in eight counties. As the District Director, Dennis oversees several programs. He is responsible for more than 700 permanent and temporary employees, including 1,400 highway centerline miles open to pedestrians and bicycles, over 850 bridges, four Sierra snow passes, three rest areas, 24 maintenance stations, etc. He oversees an annual budget of approximately $182 million and over $3 billion worth of programs and highway construction projects.

Dennis has over 30 years of diverse and valuable Caltrans leadership managerial, supervisory, and technical experience from the district and headquarters. Dennis is a 1989 graduate of the California State University of Sacramento with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering and he is a California licensed Professional Civil Engineer and a Project Management Professional. 

George Akiyama

Caltrans Chief Information Officer Innovation Leadership Council Vice-chair

George Akiyama was appointed as the Chief Information Officer, for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). In this position, he leads and provides oversight for the full range of Information Technology functions throughout Caltrans. Prior to working at Caltrans, Mr. Akiyama started his State career in 1995 and has held various positions including Application Development Manager, Enterprise Architect, IT Project Manager, Strategic Planning Manager and Chief Information Officer of the Financial Information System for California (FI$Cal) Project.

Mr. Akiyama holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a master of Business Administration from California State University, Sacramento

Pauline Valenzuela

Statewide Innovation Coordinator
Innovation Leadership Council Executive Liaison

Pauline Valenzuela was hired as the first Caltrans Statewide Innovation Coordinator in June of 2020, a Senior Transportation Planner position in the Division of Research, Innovation and System Information (DRISI). Her first task was to plan the first-ever Caltrans Innovation EXPO for November 2020.  As the Statewide Innovation Coordinator, her role is to advance the culture of innovation at Caltrans by empowering employees, providing outreach, tools and resources, and by sharing innovative projects and activities across Caltrans.

Prior to joining DRISI, Pauline was with the Caltrans Division of Local Assistance for 5 years, however most of her career has been in private consulting. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from CSU Sacramento.