Kemora Clark can be found most nights driving down the freeway to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Wind in her hair, smile on her face, and a steely focus on the road. She is one of the less than 235,000 women truck drivers in the United States – 6.6% of the total driver population. It’s a job she loves – but it’s not where she started her career.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Kemora started her civilian professional life in a very different field – Finance. Kemora spent 15 years as a successful bank branch manager. It was the financial crisis of 2008 that had her reevaluating her priorities and her career. At the time, her partner was driving a truck and told her about the financial security and freedom the profession could provide. For Kemora – who is always looking for her next adventure – it sounded like a great next step.
“After earning my license, I started as a long-haul driver, driving 53’ trailers across the country,” she said. “I loved the freedom. It’s a different pace of life and experiencing the cultural differences across the U.S., the different weather – it was a great experience.”
But driving cross-country can take its toll. “I’m really a hometown girl, so sleeping in my own bed every night started to sound good.” Coming home to Southern California and becoming a port driver was the solution. She joined Performance Team in 2017, which was later acquired by Maersk in 2020 and the rest is history.
Family is a huge part of Kemora’s life, and she’s grateful for the second family she’s found in the trucker community. Her favorite part of the job is the camaraderie.
While as a woman she has run into a few male truck drivers whom have not been welcoming, every single time other male drivers have come to her defense. “They know you’re just one of the guys, trying to make a living for your family,” Kemora states.
“Truck drivers are like a family, and there is always someone looking out for you and ready to lend a hand if you need it.”
I think it’s important for girls to see positive role models doing things that seem impossible.
She also serves as a role model to young women. “I think it’s important for girls to see positive role models doing things that seem impossible. Most women assume we can’t do this job, but it’s all about your mindset. It’s a difficult job and some days are harder than others – but what job isn’t? The risk is worth the reward if you like the feeling of a job well done.”
Driving a truck is a dangerous profession, with many risks. But for Kemora, the rewards of a job well done and being a part of something bigger makes it all worthwhile. “Working in logistics, you know you’re part of something big. Something that traveled across the ocean from China made its way onto my truck and into your living room. I had a part in that and there’s no greater feeling.”