2021 40 Under 40: David M. Clyde

Nov. 23, 2021
David M. Clyde, Associate General Counsel, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
  • Alma Mater: Brigham Young University (BA, MPA, JD)
  • Fun fact about yourself: Every New Year’s Eve my family and I go on an annual “ice cream crawl” where we, in one afternoon, get ice cream at six of the highest-rated ice cream shops in the Las Vegas Valley and then vote on our favorite ice cream for the year.
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): The RTC’s Downtown Summerlin Station – it is the closest transit station to my home, and it is a great example of transportation planning by connecting multiple transit routes with popular destinations, including a baseball stadium, hockey practice facility, five-star resort and an outdoor shopping area. It also cracks me up when my kids see the stop with the buses and all four will scream, “Dad Bus! Dad Bus! Dad Bus!”
  • Favorite transit route: S1 on the Munich S-Bahn from the Munich Airport. The S1 route was the first route that I ever used when I lived in Germany and Austria. My exposure to the Munich and Vienna public transit systems taught me just how important transit can be in building a sense of community.

David Clyde’s numerous significant achievements at the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), coupled with his affable character, set him apart from other young transit industry executives. He is the youngest associate general counsel to represent the RTC, as well as an integral member of the Government Affairs and Media/Marketing (GAMM) team.

He started as an intern at the RTC in 2013 before earning Master of Public Administration and Juris Doctor degrees from Brigham Young University (BYU). He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from BYU in 2010 and remains an active alumnus, frequently sharing his experience with students in the BYU Master of Public Administration program speaking engagements.

As an intern at the RTC, he quickly caught leadership’s attention for his knowledge, aptitude and strategic thinking. Clyde’s ambition, tenacity and great attitude paved the way for growing into his current position. He has shown a unique ability to provide insight, so people better understand the agency’s roles and importance in shaping the future of the Las Vegas Valley, including the multiple facets and challenges facing public transit and transportation in general. He is passionate about the RTC’s role for personal reasons too. He leads transportation policy that will not only improve the quality of life for more than two million residents and more than 40 million annual visitors, but for the future of his young family of four children.

During his tenure, Clyde has had key roles on numerous high-priority projects, legislative efforts and legal issues. One of his first successful and multifaceted initiatives was working directly with RTC stakeholders and elected officials to pass legislation authorizing ballot initiatives to extend Fuel Revenue Indexing (FRI) to fund critically needed road improvements across Southern Nevada. The broad-based initiative, which touted the need for continued funding and the success of the FRI program in its first three years, prompted voters in 2016 to extend FRI for 10 years.

As associate general counsel, Clyde restructured and updated the RTC’s processes for managing litigation, records requests and contract reviews. Clyde has provided legal advice and assistance on high-level contracts, including the RTC’s fixed-route, paratransit and security service contracts. He reviews and approves more than 200 contracts annually. He also provided legal direction on key RTC pilot projects, such as the on-demand paratransit program, construction cone management and traffic safety optimization.

Most recently, he handled legal matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including policies to safeguard passengers, contractors and employees, while still advising the RTC on everyday regulatory and statutory issues.

In government affairs, Clyde took the lead to structure the RTC’s legislative plan for the past four legislative sessions and worked to update RTC’s enabling statute to integrate new technologies and protect RTC customer data. Clyde managed the regulatory and statutory issues related to enabling the RTC to launch pilot programs so residents and visitors could have transportation alternatives and make transit more flexible. For example, he worked on the passage of Nevada Senate Bill 448, which allowed the RTC to enter public/private partnerships and provide increased flexibility and more tools to design, construct, maintain and operate different transportation infrastructure. It led the way for the RTC’s groundbreaking Workforce Mobility Program that makes transportation more cost-effective and jobs more accessible through a partnership with Lyft for a first mile-last mile program to help employees of a retail fulfillment center located in an area not currently served by transit. Clyde also led the legislative efforts that gave the RTC the authority to provide microtransit service.

Clyde leads the RTC’s federal efforts to identify and pursue the RTC’s priorities by coordinating with federal agencies on issues such as surface transportation authorization, infrastructure funding, and other transportation related legislation. Clyde also helps coordinate the RTC’s applications for transportation grants with the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.

The RTC oversees transportation on a regional level for Southern Nevada and Clyde has spearheaded various programs that involve multiple jurisdictions and agencies.

In addition to these achievements, his colleagues would argue that Clyde’s best attributes are his commitment, focus and modesty, which enable him to successfully lead by example. He never fails to help on projects or provide counsel on ideas and believes a team approach that values all voices and participants is the best course for success.

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

I have been extremely fortunate in the mentors and advocates that I have had. They have given me many opportunities to grow and develop in my education and career. The most important moment for me was in 2013 when the RTC gave me the chance to do both policy and legal work for the agency. The opportunity to focus on both areas completely altered my career path and led me to the job that I have today.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The RTC is a unique organization that houses the function of many different organizations under one roof, including operating as the public transit agency and the metropolitan planning organization. At the RTC, I get the opportunity to work on many transportation-related policy issues that affect my community, including climate change, economic development and equity. I love working on such policy issues that can create so much good for my community.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Although working on policy issues and problems is one of my favorite parts of the job, it is also one of the most challenging. There is a constant list of complex problems that need to be solved for in transportation, including how to fund it, how to make it more equitable and how to better understand what the community wants.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

During Nevada’s 2017 Legislative Session, I helped pass legislation that modernized the RTC’s enabling statute to better address innovation and technology, authorized the use of public-private partnerships and approved the creation of a state infrastructure bank. This was a proud moment for me not only due to the number of bills passed, but the important tools it gave the RTC to continue to plan and develop transformative, transportation solutions.

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?

Always take the opportunity to learn new skills whether in your education or occupation. I have been surprised how often skills that I have learned just by volunteering for projects in college and early in my career have created new opportunities for me later on.