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Kim Kawada named SANDAG Chief Deputy Executive Director

Kim Kawada, who has served in a variety of leadership roles at SANDAG for nearly 19 years, has been promoted to Chief Deputy Executive Director. She succeeds Renée Wasmund who is retiring from her post after a decade-long career at SANDAG.

Kawada, who was most recently the agency’s TransNet and Legislative Affairs Program Director, assumed her new role effective Dec. 1. She was selected from a pool of highly competitive candidates from around the country after SANDAG conducted a search to fill the position.

As the Chief Deputy Executive Director for SANDAG, Kawada is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day activities of an agency with a $1.15 billion budget and about 330 employees.

“Kim has hit the ground running because of her proven skills as a seasoned executive, her institutional knowledge, and her exceptional work ethic,” SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos said. “The transition has been seamless.”   

Over the past two decades, Kawada has played an instrumental role in many of the agency’s important programs and projects. She led the TransNet program (funded by the region’s half-cent sales tax for transportation) and the legislative affairs program. These are two of the agency’s highest profile responsibilities. Her leadership on legislative efforts enabled SANDAG to operate new toll and managed lanes and to use innovative project delivery methods for critical infrastructure improvements.

Kawada also has served as a key advisor for the past ten budgets during both up and down economic cycles. And she has extensive experience working with elected leaders throughout the region, as she was responsible for managing the docket for SANDAG Board of Director and Policy Advisory Committee meetings.

Kawada started her career as a planner in the City of Laguna Niguel. She joined SANDAG in 1995 as an associate regional planner and advanced steadily through the ranks. Jobs she’s held at SANDAG include associate regional planner for transportation demand management, senior transportation planner, manager of comprehensive planning and coordination, manager of transportation planning, executive program manager, and policy and legislative affairs program manager.

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