Dear Friends and Colleagues,
A few months ago, I shared the news that I would retire as founding Executive Director and CEO of the Shared-Use Mobility Center (SUMC) at the end of 2020. I’m excited to say that the board and I have selected SUMC’s next leader who will soon be announced publicly. But for now, I’d like to share a few reflections about the organization, its contributions to the transportation field, and my plans for the future.
But first, I want to thank you for your support in making SUMC the strong and impactful organization it is today.
While 2020 has been a tremendously challenging year and a major crisis for our transit agencies and all of us, we have still continued to see progress in the development of a more holistic transportation system. Reduced commuting overall has focused attention on those who most need better mobility, and also meant more acceptance for ideas like shared streets, active transportation, and community-based solutions to transportation challenges. I am hopeful that all of us working together with the new administration in Washington, DC, will advance mobility for all with a renewed focus on transit, new initiatives for addressing the climate crisis, and a commitment to embedding racial justice into transportation decision-making.
SUMC’s next CEO will build on the solid foundation the organization has established: a talented staff of 20, a budget of $3 million-plus, a strong board of directors, and planned work ahead with close to 100 innovative transit and shared mobility projects across the country that will continue to fuel and support progress. From this strong base, new leadership can move the organization to achieve greater scope and reach.
While I am ready to step down from day-to-day leadership and achieve more work-life balance, I’m not planning to sit still. In fact, I don’t think I could if I tried! Having been devoted to social change since I was a teenager, I’m eager to participate from a new vantage point in addressing the challenges we face as a growing industry.
For that reason, I’m honored that the Board of Directors has created a new, flexible role for me as Founder-in-Residence. In that role, I will focus on the future of the field, exploring and communicating “next-level” mobility policy and market development potential. And of course, I will be available to the Shared-Use Mobility Center for strategic and practical advice and select projects.
From its beginning, SUMC set out to create a multimodal transportation system that works for all by linking together transit and shared mobility. We helped define and develop this emerging field, working closely with many public, civic, and private partners throughout the country. The resulting action plans and model of cross-agency collaboration were pioneering, and have inspired agencies and regions across the country. I am proud of what SUMC has been able to accomplish and know that this is only the beginning.
We created an information clearinghouse for the emerging field, setting goals for reducing solo driving and increasing the use of transit and shared mobility.
Within our first two years, we did groundbreaking research on shared mobility and transit, and have continued with foundational studies on ridehailing, micromobility, microtransit, best practices in Europe, data sharing, and mobility as a service.
We engaged early on with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the City of Los Angeles to create an all-electric carsharing program in disadvantaged communities. Our ongoing work with CARB is helping to fund and provide technical assistance to community-led mobility programs throughout California.
Working closely with the Federal Transit Administration’s Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation, we supported and helped grow the mobility-on-demand concept and the budding pilots, and now work with innovative programs throughout the country.
We have popularized the concept of Mobility Hubs and how they can be used to build community and create access to new modes of transportation.
Through our Summits and workshops, we have nurtured and encouraged startups, facilitated new partnerships, and guided the creation of exciting new transportation options.
We continue to expand the tools for making transit and shared mobility work better in rural, suburban, and metro areas.
All of us who have taken part in this work are aware of the obstacles and challenges to creating holistic, equitable solutions that can secure safe, clean mobility and healthy vital places to live and work for everyone. My work across many disciplines over 35 years has helped me see how we need interconnected solutions. We cannot operate in silos, and we need to use our creativity, passion, and ensure that our work is grounded in the aspirations and needs of communities and users.
As Founder-in-Residence, I will continue to learn, share, and collaborate with many of you. Please contact me with ideas or promising initiatives you’d like to discuss. And, as you’ve done in the past, continue to engage with the Shared-Use Mobility Center as it moves forward with new leadership and our terrific staff. Stay in touch.