2020 40 Under 40: Ivan A. Rodriguez-Seda, Esq. LLM

Aug. 18, 2020
Ivan A. Rodriguez-Seda, Esq. LLM, Director, Government & Industry Affairs, and Policy Advisor to the CEO, Jacksonville Transportation Authority
  • One word to describe yourself: Perseverance
  • Alma Mater: Interamerican University of Puerto Rico
  • Favorite hobby: Reading, cooking
  • Fun fact: I’m a Kentucky Colonel, an honor bestowed as part of completing the Council of State Government’s Henry Toll Fellowship program in 2012.
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent: Atocha Train Station in Madrid, Spain, because the infrastructure and history in and around that building is something that one never forgets.
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent: JTA’s BRT First Coast Flyer Red Line. Of course my favorite route is the one that goes to the beach.

Ivan A. Rodriguez-Seda is the director of government and industry affairs and policy advisor to the CEO at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA).

He was born and raised in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, where he demonstrated at an early age a passion for politics and community engagement. This passion led him to become a lawyer, entering the Pontifical Catholic University School of Law at 20-years old and becoming bar certified in Puerto Rico by the age of 25. Later, he attended Stetson College of Law and obtained a Masters in Law. Instead of going to work at a big law firm, he went back to his hometown to practice law. He worked in a small law office, later as a law clerk; was a legal and policy consultant for the department of health; then worked in Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives before arriving at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA).

Rodriguez-Seda was recruited from Puerto Rico by JTA CEO Nathaniel P. Ford., Sr., to join the agency after having made his way through the ranks of the legal and legislative advisory staff of the commonwealth’s House of Representatives to become the director of the speaker's advisory staff.

As director of government and industry affairs, and policy advisor to the CEO, his responsibilities include leading JTA’s government affairs efforts in Washington, D.C.; advocating at the state level; grants research and writing; policy analysis and interpretation; and building strategic partnerships between the public and private sector, including trade associations and industry organizations.

In this role, his advocacy and strategic communications have helped secure funding for JTA, including, a $12.5 million U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD grant for the Bay Street Innovation Corridor (FY2019) and $13 million from Florida Department of Transportation as match (FY2021) -- allowing JTA to become the first public transportation agency to deploy an autonomous transit network and convert the current Skyway to implement autonomous vehicles. Other funding includes $26.3 million in repurposing of federal and match funding to reinvest these in the Jacksonville community, improving services and facilities. This last accomplishment was achieved not once, but twice, by crafting and delivering a message that not only requested unspent funds to be repurposed, but demonstrated how JTA achieved the savings and how these funds would be used to maximize the already existing federal investment.

In addition, his work from a policy, advocacy and community outreach standpoint is essential on various JTA signature projects, including the successful rollout and implementation of JTA’s Route Optimization Initiative, which revamped a 30-year old transit system; obtaining approval of a 20-year extension of a local option five-cent gas tax that allowed JTA to launch the JTAMobilityWorks program, which resulted in several major infrastructure projects across Jacksonville; and the development and implementation of the Ultimate Urban Circulator program.

As policy advisor to the CEO, Rodriguez-Seda is engaged with APTA, the Transportation Research Board; and at the state level with the Florida Public Transportation Association and Floridians for Better Transportation and TEAMFL, among others. His engagement in these trade associations has allowed him to work hand in hand with top national officials and stakeholders, shaping policy and advocacy strategy.

During his tenure at JTA, he has worked with APTA’s Legislative Steering Committee, APTA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and the Transportation Research Board’s Diversity Task Force, where he developed new diversity policies and plans which both organizations adopted. He serves on and participates in several national and state-level industry organization committees, such as ITS American and the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee.

“What has really led me to be the man I am today is the people who have supported me, and even those who haven’t. Through all of them, I’ve gained the knowledge, confidence and the tools to be where I am today and looking [forward] to the future with eagerness and excitement.”

“An excess of communication is never a crime. Over communicate your projects, your services, your company’s vision and mission to your stakeholders. Over communicate so much that they feel part of that project; hence they will feel partly responsible for its success.”

“I love being part of an essential service that has grown through the years. It is one of the few industries that has had a consistent role in our history. Public transportation helps us recover from economic depression, and is always present to move people in times of peace and war. This industry has also been a beacon of change during the civil rights movement, and most recently, the most reliable method of transportation during the pandemic.”

Jacksonville Transportation Authority
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