Image - Rod Diridon Sr
Past Event

Conversations with Distinguished Citizens: Rod Diridon, Sr.

Join us for this special program in The Commonwealth Club's series recognizing recipients of The Club's 2020 Distinguished Citizens Award. This program honors Rod Diridon, Sr., a staunch transportation and environmental advocate for most of his life.

As The San Jose Mercury News observed, "Along the way to having a passenger station named in his honor that has become the catalyst for the next iteration of San Jose’s downtown, he chaired the first campaign in California for a sales tax for transit, helped create the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and organized the joint powers boards for rail construction projects. He has chaired dozens of charitable nonprofit organizations dealing with issues in transportation, the environment, parks, local history and journalism."

From 1993 to 2014, Mr. Diridon served as executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute, a transportation policy research center created in 1991 by Congress. He is known as the father of modern transit service in Silicon Valley and has chaired more than 100 international, national, state and local programs, most related to transit and the environment. He frequently provides legislative testimony on sustainability.

Mr. Diridon was appointed in 2001 and 2005 by Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger, respectively, to the California High Speed Rail Authority Board, of which he is chair emeritus. He’s past chair of the American Public Transportation Association, was elected chair of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association’s Board, and served for 6 years as North American vice chair of the International Transit Association in Brussels.

His political career began in 1971 as the youngest person ever elected to the Saratoga City Council. He retired in 1995 because of term limits after completing five terms on and six times chairing both the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and Transit Board. He’s the only person to chair the San Francisco Bay Area's (119 cities, 27 transit agencies, and 9 counties) three regional governments: The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Air Quality Management District, and the Association of Bay Area Governments. He chaired nine successful rail system development project boards. In 1995 the region’s main train station was renamed the “San Jose Diridon Station” upon his retirement. Mr. Diridon is now focused on combating climate change by convening the Rotary Climate Action Council.

Conversing with Mr. Diridon will be Nuria Fernandez, a 35-year veteran of the transportation industry. In addition to her role with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, she serves as chair of the American Public Transportation Association.

Come for a salute to one of the country's most highly regarded transportation leaders and an engaging conversation about the future of transit, especially in a time of pandemics, fires, hurricanes and floods. Bring your questions as well.


This is a free, online-only program; pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event

We welcome donations made during registration to help support the production of our online programming

November 9, 2020

United States

Image - Rod Diridon, Sr.

Rod Diridon, Sr.

Emeritus Executive Director, Mineta Transportation Institute; Chair Emeritus, California High Speed Rail Authority

Image - Nuria Fernandez

In Conversation with Nuria Fernandez

General Manager and CEO, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority