Neuronal development, function and repair critically depend on axonal transport of vesicles and protein complexes, which is mediated in part by the molecular motor kinesin-1. Adaptor proteins recruit kinesin-1 to vesicles via direct association with kinesin heavy chain (KHC), the force-generating component, or via the accessory light chain (KLC). Binding of adaptors to the motor is believed to engage the motor for microtubule-based transport. We report that the adaptor protein Sunday Driver (syd, also known as JIP3 or JSAP1) interacts directly with KHC, in addition to and independently of its known interaction with KLC. Using an in vitro motility assay, we show that syd activates KHC for transport and enhances its motility, increasing both KHC velocity and run length. syd binding to KHC is functional in neurons, as syd mutants that bind KHC but not KLC are transported to axons and dendrites similarly to wild-type syd. This transport does not rely on syd oligomerization with itself or other JIP family members. These results establish syd as a positive regulator of kinesin activity and motility.