2020 Speaker Bios
Asha Weinstein Agrawal
Asha Weinstein Agrawal works at San José State University, where she is Director of MTI’s National Transportation Finance Center, the MTI Education Director, and a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning. Her research agenda is guided by a commitment to the principles of sustainability and equity: what policy and planning tools can communities adopt to encourage environmentally-friendly travel and improve accessibility for people struggling with poverty or other disadvantages?
Dr. Agrawal has researched transportation funding policy for more than 20 years with a focus on holistic evaluation of the pros/cons of different tax and fee options for raising transportation revenues, as well as public opinion about different tax and fee options. Dr. Agrawal has been the lead researcher on numerous state and national public opinion surveys on the topic, and she has also analyzed hundreds of public opinion polls on transportation finance and other transportation topics.
Dr. Agrawal is actively involved with service to the professional planning and policy community. She has been invited to present her research on transportation finance to policymakers at hearings held by the California Transportation Commission and California Senate Transportation Committee, among others. In addition, she is regularly invited to serve on committees and expert panels such as NCHRP Synthesis Project on Forecasting Transportation Revenue Sources: Survey of State Practices (2015) and MTC’s Regional Means-Based Transit Fare Pricing Study Technical Advisory Committee (2015 – 2017).
Dr. Agrawal’s research on contemporary policy issues is regularly cited in the popular media. Stories quoting her or citing her work have appeared in such outlets as The Washington Post (on gas taxes and mileage fees), CBS Evening News (on mileage fees), ABC News/KGO-TV (on mileage fees), the San Diego Union-Tribune (on transit fare policy), WBUR (on the history of traffic congestion), and the San Francisco Chronicle (on transportation taxes).
As Acting Director of the Center for Regional Change at UC Davis, Bernadette Austin works to build bridges across disciplines and support research that is community-engaged, policy-oriented, and equity-focused. She is co-lead of the Sacramento Area Chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network. She is an active member of the Urban Land Institute, California Planning Roundtable, American Planning Association. She holds a Master of Science in Community Development from UC Davis.
Brian D. Taylor
Professor Taylor explores how society pays for transportation systems and how these systems in turn serve the needs of people who – because of low income, disability, location, or age – have lower levels of mobility. Topically, his research examines travel behavior, transportation economics & finance, and politics & planning. A principal focus of his research is the politics of transportation economics & finance, including (1) alternative ways to evaluate the access and economic effects of traffic congestion on people, firms, and regional economies, (2) the history of freeway planning and finance, (3) emerging trends in pricing road use, (4) the equity of alternative forms of transportation pricing and finance, (5) linking of subsidies to public transit performance, and (6) measuring equity in public transit pricing and finance.
Cesunica Ivey is an assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside. Ivey has a background in mathematics, civil engineering, and environmental engineering, and she received her Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in 2016. She was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics at the University of Nevada Reno and a visiting scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. Her research interests include source apportionment of fine particulate matter, regional air quality modeling for health applications, global atmospheric modeling, and environmental justice.
As the Executive Director of ClimatePlan, Chanell oversees network partners and staff efforts’ on state and regional policy to help California communities become more healthy, equitable, and sustainable. Chanell has over 10 years of experience working on policy issues related to climate change, land use, and transportation. Chanell sits on the boards of the Planning and Conservation League and California Walks. Previously, as the organization’s Associate Director, Chanell led ClimatePlan’s policy campaigns. Prior to that, as Senior California Policy Manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Chanell worked with state agencies and the state legislature to support safe walking and bicycling for children and families, especially in lower-income communities throughout California. Chanell began her career as an intern in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, analyzing the federal transportation bill, MAP-21, connecting it to states’ performance and funding needs. Chanell received her Master’s degree in Public Administration from San Francisco State University and studied history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Charles Brown, MPA, CPD, is a self-proclaimed street-level researcher, working at the intersection of transportation, health, and equity. He serves as a senior researcher with the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center and adjunct professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, both at Rutgers University. Brown has 17 years of public and private sector experience in urban and regional planning, public policy, and research. He also has extensive experience in community outreach and engagement having worked with municipal, county, and state government agencies, for-profits, and nonprofit organizations. He has served as an instructor on environmental justice courses for the National Transit Institute, Federal Transit Administration, and Federal Highway Administration.
Darnell is a national thought leader in transportation policy and the mobility justice movement. He is a social entrepreneur and seasoned political professional, who’s work includes campaign strategy, anti-racist initiatives, direct lobbying, and grassroots organizing. Darnell has been quoted or featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and Bloomberg. He is a former senior advisor in the California Legislature, lobbyist, Director of Policy Development for the American Public Transportation Association, and currently CEO of TransForm. He has degrees from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and UCLA.
Deborah Salon is an Associate Professor of transportation planning in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University, and Associate Director of the TOMNET University Transportation Center. She earned her PhD at UC Davis in applied economics in 2006, conducted post-doctoral work at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and was a researcher at the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis before moving to ASU.
Dr. Destiny Thomas is a change agent and an anthropologist planner. She is the founder and CEO of Thrivance Group, a for-profit, socially responsible planning firm, and was recently featured on Good Morning America for her leadership in the urban planning sector. At Thrivance Group, Dr. Thomas works to bring transformative justice into public policy, urban planning and community development. With over 15 years of experience shaping key policy initiatives, Dr. Thomas believes race, place, and joy define individual and community outcomes. Dr. Thomas has a BA in Political Science from Fisk University, an MPA from Tennessee State University, and a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the CA Institute of Integral Studies.
Evelyn Blumenberg is a Professor of Urban Planning and Director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies in UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her research examines transportation and economic outcomes for low-wage workers and the role of planning and policy in addressing transportation disparities. She holds a BA in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MA and Ph.D. in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Giovanni Circella is the Honda Distinguished Scholar for New Mobility Studies and the Director of the 3 Revolutions Future Mobility Program at UC Davis. Dr. Circella’s research focuses on travel behaviors, vehicle ownership, on-demand mobility, vehicle automation, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on transportation. He is the Chair of the TRB Committee on ICT and Transportation (AEP35) and a member of the Executive Board of the International Association for Travel Behaviour Research (IATBR).
Hana Creger, Environmental Equity Program Manager, works on the development and implementation of policies leading to clean transportation and mobility investments that will benefit low-income communities of color. She was the lead author of the Mobility Equity Framework, a tool that can be used to maximize equity outcomes and community engagement in transportation planning and decision-making. She serves on a number of advisory committees for cities, agencies, universities, and nonprofits.
Hilary Norton is the founding Executive Director of Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic (FAST), who’s main initiatives include the creation of a Transportation Management Organization (TMO) for Downtown LA, developing mobility hubs, improving arterials, Metro infrastructure construction, and Metro Expresslanes implementation through LA County. Norton served as 2018 chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed), and is on the Board of Directors of the Central City Association. She co-chairs the Transportation Committees for BizFed, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and the Los Angeles Business Council. Norton also served as the Business Representative on LA County Metro’s Policy Advisory Committee and was a member of the Advisory Boards for Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation and Metro’s Next Gen Bus Study. She is a member of SCAG’s GLUE Council and its TDM Working Group. In 2019, CA Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Norton as a commissioner to the California Transportation Commission.
Irene Marion is the Equity and Inclusion Manager at the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation. PBOT is responsible for maintaining $13 billion worth of public assets, including Portland’s streets, sidewalks, traffic signals and some bridges. Irene’s role is to guide and implement PBOT’s racial equity strategies to ensure that the voices and needs of Portland’s historically underserved communities are prioritized. PBOT’s Equity + Inclusion is currently focused on developing a transportation justice policy framework, establishing an anti-racist training plans for PBOT’s workforce, facilitating community partnerships and supporting COVID-19 response efforts.
With a background in transportation equity, finance, and demand management, Jacob Wasserman manages research into public transit and other mobility issues at UCLA Institute for Transportation Studies. Prior to joining ITS, he worked for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation on capital planning and the transition to a vehicle miles traveled review threshold. In other roles, Wasserman served as a San Francisco Fellow for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, where he developed a public-facing capital improvement program and internal budget process improvements, and he managed goNewHavengo, an initiative for alternative transportation for the City of New Haven, Connecticut, Department of Transportation, Traffic, and Parking. He also served as a Transportation Justice Fellow for BART Director Lateefah Simon, coordinating passage of the system’s Safe Transit sanctuary policy. Wasserman has a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, with concentrations in transportation policy and planning and community economic development and housing. He has a bachelor’s in history and political science from Yale.
Jamario is a Senior Community Planner at TransForm, which is a non-profit in Northern California shaping transportation related decisions by advocating for community needs. Jamario leads TransForm’s East Oakland mobility justice partnerships. Prior to joining TransForm, Jamario worked for a member of the California State Assembly, a public transit agency, and a member of the United States Senate. In part, his time in the public sector has shaped his lens concerning political and legislative landscapes.
Juan Matute is the deputy director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies and an expert on transportation and land use and how technological innovations like driverless cars, electric vehicles and GPS mobile apps like Waze and Google Maps affect urban mobility and transportation accessibility, especially in Los Angeles. Matute also examines sustainable transportation and land use, transit systems, and local government climate planning, specifically how local governments measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions.
Katherine Chen, MD
Katherine Chen, MD, is a practicing primary care physician and a postdoctoral fellow in the National Clinician Scholars Program. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Health Policy & Management at UCLA. Her research explores equity issues at the intersection of urban planning and population health, with a focus on reducing health disparities and improving access to opportunities for well-being through policies that shape housing, transportation, and neighborhood environments.
KeAndra Cylear Dodds
KeAndra Cylear Dodds is the Executive Officer, Equity and Race at LA Metro. Prior to Metro, she oversaw the County’s affordable housing preservation and homeownership programs as Manager of Preservation at the LA County Development Authority. Her career began as a state affordable housing attorney at Western Center on Law and Poverty. KeAndra received her law degree from the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law and her bachelor’s from the University of Pennsylvania.
A nationally recognized advocate for civil rights and racial justice, Lateefah brings over 20 years of executive experience advancing opportunities for communities of color and low-income communities in the Bay Area. Raised in the Fillmore District of San Francisco, Lateefah began organizing at age 15 for the Center for Young Women’s Development. At 19-years-old she was appointed Executive Director of CYWD, where she served 11 years and brought the organization to national acclaim. At 26, her work earned her the distinction of the youngest woman ever to receive a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. She went on to lead the creation of San Francisco’s first reentry services division under the leadership of then-District Attorney Kamala D. Harris. Lateefah later served as Executive Director of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Program Director at the Rosenberg Foundation.
Lys Mendez is a communications professional and urban planner with expertise in public policy, ethnic media and community outreach. Most recently, she worked at Bird, an electric scooter company, where she led government relations in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Mexico City. She has worked as a strategic communications consultant for clients such as The California Endowment, the Parks Now Coalition, Community Coalition and CicLAvia, the popular roving open-streets event in Los Angeles County. She was a communications consultant for Mayor Garcetti’s Vision Zero initiative and 100 Hours, a project to re imagine traffic solutions in Los Angeles County. She has also supported projects in the immigration space and worked as an urban planning consultant for the City of Los Angeles to launch the Plan for a Healthy LA, which provided public health guidelines for the city’s future growth and development. Prior to consulting, Lys worked for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, for the County of Riverside and as a newspaper reporter for the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Madeleine Parker is a Ph.D. Candidate in City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the intersection of travel behavior, public transit, land use, and housing. She received a Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University and previously worked in New York City government.
Nailah (nah-EE-lah) is ClimatePlan’s Policy Manager. She comes to the position with years of community organizing experience that spans regional, state, and national environmental justice campaigns. She advocates for equity, inclusion, and authenticity in all spaces. Nailah spends her free time making sure her young Black son is a safe, liberated, happy human.
Naomi Doerner is a nationally recognized transportation equity strategist with expertise in creating diverse and inclusive strategic planning processes and facilitating institutional change based on equity, diversity, and inclusion goals. Naomi is a collaborative transportation equity strategist, skilled at bringing diverse communities, organizations, and institutions together on core issues. She has extensive experience working with public sector staff, government agency leaders, and elected officials, as well as the technical experts on aspects of policymaking and planning that enable her to be effective at moving staff, leaders, and stakeholders towards a shared vision. She recently served as Seattle’s—and the nation’s—first-ever Transportation Equity Manager. She is also the co-founder and national co-organizer for The Untokening, a national collective of leaders of color working to advance mobility justice.
Nedra Deadwyler worked as a social worker in community-based organizations and mostly with adolescents in academic settings or after school programs to provide enrichment in educational studies, support academic goals, and facilitate access and ongoing support. In the past four years she began hosting public history tours using active transportation to create opportunities to connect, reconnect and engage the city and the stories of history and culture as presented in the landscape.
Dr. Offer Grembek is a researcher and lecturer at the University of California Berkeley. He serves as the Co‐Director at the university’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC), a research center affiliated with the UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies. Dr. Grembek is an Associate Director of the Collaborative Sciences Center for Road Safety, a National University Transportation Center. He was a member of the CalSTA Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force commissioned by AB 2383, and is currently a member of the Transportation Research Board Committee on Transportation Safety Management Systems (ACS10). His research expertise includes injury risk in multimodal environments, pedestrian and bicycle safety, exposure estimates, systemic approach to road safety management, and the Safe System Approach.
Olatunji Oboi Reed
Oboi is President & CEO of The Equiticity Racial Equity Movement, operationalizing racial equity in cities across the United States, through programs, advocacy, and research. Oboi co-founded Slow Roll Chicago, building an equitable, diverse, and inclusive bicycle culture in Chicago, by organizing community bicycle rides and advocating for bicycle equity. In 2015, Oboi was awarded The White House Transportation Champion of Change award by The White House and the United States Department of Transportation.
As Metro’s CEO, Washington manages a balanced budget in excess of $7 billion, is responsible for overseeing between $18-$20 billion in capital projects and provides oversight of an agency with 11,000 employees that transports 1.2 million boarding passengers daily on a fleet of 2,200 clean-air buses and six rail lines. Metro is the lead transportation planning, programming and financing agency for LA County. As such, it is a major construction agency that oversees bus, rail, highway and other mobility-related infrastructure projects – together representing the largest modern public works program in North America. Washington is also engaged and partnering in all facets of transportation and infrastructure in LA County including aviation, goods movement, freight/railroads, water, public works, housing and transit-oriented communities (TOCs).
Río Oxas is of Náhuat-Pipil, Mayan and spaniard lineage born & raised in Tongva lands. They Co-Founded RAHOK, a family-owned social enterprise providing services in education, land stewardship, and asset management. Río is a national speaker, educator, realtor, and race and equity consultant. Río works alongside Black Indigenous People of Color communities to advocate for our most vulnerable members and planet. RAHOK illuminates the interdepence of Race. Ancestors. Health. Outdoors. and Knowledge to cultivate loving neighborhood-ecosystem
Sang Hyouk Oum
SangHyouk is an Applications Program Manager at the University of California Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC). SangHyouk has been working on creating and managing various web tools for transportation safety includes: Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS), California Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) Tracking Tool, California Tribal Data Viewer, Street Story, etc. His area of expertise are: transportation safety data, GIS analysis, and web programming.
Saúl Sarabia has worked for more than 25 years to strengthen the self-determination and power building efforts of people who are stigmatized by the law and by society. In 2012, he established Solidarity Consulting to partner with people who are fighting for racial justice and social change. From 2005-2012, he served as the director of the UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program and helped create the largest expungement clinic in Los Angeles–producing a new team of lawyers and residents using litigation and policy advocacy to challenge discrimination against people with criminal records. Saúl is currently an advisor to Legal Services for Prisoner with Children’s Los Angeles chapter of All of Us or None, which organizes formerly incarcerated people to change laws and policies that discriminate against them. He also serves on the boards of Action Civics LA, which teaches middle school and high school students the fundamentals of community organizing; the University Muslim Medical Association Community Clinic, which provides health care inspired by Islam; and the Clear Passage Educational Center, which creates alternative educational opportunities for students not served by the traditional education system.
Stephen Wong is a doctoral candidate studying Transportation Engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the intersection of evacuations, decision-making, resilience, public policy, and shared mobility. He is a graduate student researcher at the UC Institute of Transportation Studies’ (UC ITS) California Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative (CA RIMI). Stephen serves as a member of the Committee on Disaster Response, Emergency Evacuations, and Business Continuity (AMR20) at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and the Emergency Management and Evacuation Working Group at the International Association for Fire Safety Science (IAFSS). He was a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow, an Eno Center for Transportation Fellow, and a Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellow.
Susan Shaheen was among the first to research and write about the changing dynamics in shared mobility and likely scenarios automated vehicles might gain prominence. She is a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center of the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS), Berkeley and Director of the UC ITS’ Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative. She has a Ph.D. from UC Davis and a M.S. from the University of Rochester.
Tamika L. Butler, Esq. is Toole Design’s Director of Planning for California and the Director of Equity and Inclusion. In addition to her responsibilities on planning projects, Tamika leads Toole Design’s external efforts to integrate equity into all project work and internal efforts for Toole to become a more diverse, inclusive workplace that employs people of all backgrounds. This includes collaborating with Human Resources on recruiting and hiring practices, leading trainings for staff, and serving as a resource for colleagues across the country. Before Toole, Tamika served as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a non-profit organization that addresses social and racial equity, and wellness, by building parks and gardens in park-poor communities across greater Los Angeles. Tamika has a diverse background in law, community organizing and nonprofit leadership. As the Principal of Tamika L. Butler Consulting she focuses on shining a light on inequality, inequity, and social justice.
Therese W. McMillan has served since March 2019 as MTC’s Executive Director and as the top executive for the Association of Bay Area Governments. Ms. McMillan, who received her Bachelor of Science degree from U.C. Davis in 1981, a master’s degree in Civil Engineering Science from U.C. Berkeley in 1983, and a master’s in City and Regional Planning from U.C. Berkeley in 1984, previously worked for 25 years at MTC, including more than eight years as MTC’s deputy executive director for Policy before her 2009 appointment by then-President Barack Obama to serve as deputy administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, which was followed by service from 2014 to 2016 as Acting FTA administrator before serving from April 2016 to February 2019 as Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chief planning officer.
Veronica O. Davis
Veronica O. Davis, PE is a self-described transportation nerd. She believes all people should have access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation. She has 19 years of experience in civil engineering and planning. She is currently the Partner and Principal Planning Manager at Nspiregreen LLC. She is one of the co-founders of Black Women Bike (BWB). She is on Board for America Walks. She earned her dual Masters Degrees (Engineering Management and Regional Planning) from Cornell University. She has a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from the University of Maryland. She lives in the District of Columbia with her husband, daughter, and dog.