David Bragdon
Executive Director

David has been at the helm of TransitCenter since 2013, leading its reinvention as a civic philanthropy. He assembled the crew and sets direction for the foundation’s mission to improve urban transportation.

He’s a reformer by nature, who’s led change and organizational improvement in both the public and private sectors. He spent the early part of his career as a maritime and aviation freight dog, and was then elected to two terms as President of the Metro Council, the regional government for the Portland, Oregon area. He drove a taxi cab for a year, jump-seated a 747 freighter into the then-USSR, rode a Dutch container ship up the Strait of Malacca, and twice (once for two minutes in Minnesota and once for five minutes in Iowa) has been allowed to run the engineer’s throttle on a freight train, so he knows how to move big things.

Tabitha Decker
Deputy Executive Director

Tabitha’s work for more equitable and sustainable urban transit is underpinned by more than a decade of research in cities around the world, on topics ranging from gender and transport to the political stakes of new urban rail systems. As a Thomas J. Watson fellow, she carried out a year-long comparative study of the experiences of women taxi drivers. She subsequently spent a year in Dubai conducting research on the political significance of the creation of the city’s Metro.

Tabitha works with David to guide organization-wide strategy and leads TransitCenter’s New York City efforts, including the Turnaround campaign, a coalition effort to fix bus service throughout the five boroughs.

She holds a BA in international relations from Wellesley College and a PhD in sociology from Yale University.

Stephanie Lotshaw
Program Director, Transit Leadership

Stephanie oversees projects relating to transit agency leadership and governance. This includes the transit agency board member workshops, subject-specific staff workshops, and city-specific technical assistance projects. Most recently, she co-authored TransitCenter’s publication, A Bid For Better Transit, which provides best practice guidance for agencies interested in contracting for service operations.

Stephanie holds a B.A. in Latin American development policy from Colorado College and a masters of social science in international development economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, UK.

Jennifer Elam
Director of Operations and Grants Administration

At TransitCenter Jennifer oversees all internal operations, finance, and human resources functions, as well as serving as grants manager. Although she doesn’t get to decide which direction the ship is pointed in, she does keep it from sinking.

When she’s not at work, she enjoys riding her bike, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her awesome dog, Duke (her partner Lance is OK too).

Jennifer has a B.A. from Seattle University and a Masters in Public Administration with a focus in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Steven Higashide
Director of Research

Steven manages national research focused on what transit riders want, and how cities can build transit-supportive streets and neighborhoods.

He’s the author of several influential TransitCenter reports, including All Transportation is Local and Who’s on Board 2016.

He holds a B.A. from New York University and a Masters in Urban Planning from NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Ben Fried
Communications Director

Ben Fried oversees TransitCenter’s press strategy and communications. Previously he covered the movement for better transit and more people-friendly city transportation systems as editor-in-chief of Streetsblog.

Hayley Richardson
Senior Communications Associate

Hayley works to translate wonky transportation concepts into delightful and digestible media. She directs TransitCenter’s video series, designs reports, writes for the Connection, and spends way too much time crafting the perfect Instagram story.

She is an alumna of the George Washington University and Pratt Institute.

Colin Wright
Senior Advocacy Associate

Colin manages our Access Denied campaign for broader subway station accessibility for all New Yorkers. He also provides advocacy strategy to our civic partners here in New York and to transit advocates nationwide.

Colin is a native Kansan and an alumnus of the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Jessica Cruz
Senior Advocacy Associate

Jessica’s previous work has included advocating for equitable transportation and housing access for marginalized populations in New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles. Most recently she worked as a Lead Planner for the Office of the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. in the Planning and Development Team focusing on transportation, housing, and economic development projects. She also worked as a Senior Site Coordinator for Transform, where she helped champion for Safe Routes to Schools in communities throughout Alameda County. Jessica graduated with a MS in Urban Planning from Columbia University and a BA in Urban Studies from the University of California Berkeley.

Chris Van Eyken
Senior Program Associate

Chris’s work focuses on encouraging transit agencies to adopt best practices and needed reforms. Chris has advocated for better transit as an agency staff member and as an external advocate. He has provided technical support to agencies in the US and abroad.

Chris holds a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University and a Master of Urban Planning from Hunter College.

Ashley Pryce
Advocacy Associate

Ashley helps to develop strategies for advocates working to improve transit in their communities.Prior to joining the team she worked to create more equitable transit in the metro Boston area.

Ashley holds a Master’s degree in City & Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.A. in Urban Studies from Hunter College.

Mary Buchanan
Research Associate

Mary provides research and analytical support to TransitCenter programs. This entails working with industry experts to identify trends in transit as well as helping transit agencies and advocates to understand transit performance and ridership.

Mary holds a B.A. in Economics and French from Rice University and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University.

Kapish Singla
Events Associate

Kapish programs events at TransitCenter. He works to identify pressing transit-related discussions to develop into informative panels and film screenings. Kapish also devises strategies to reach different constituencies for these conversations.

Kapish holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and an M.A. from New York University.

Eric S. Lee
President, Bennett Midland, LLC

Mr. Lee is President of Bennett Midland, LLC, a management consulting company based in New York City. For fifteen years, he has developed innovative solutions to address problems in urban planning, community and economic development, and criminal justice. Mr. Lee served as senior policy advisor for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and was a founding director of the Center for Court Innovation.

Darryl Young
Director, Sustainable Cities, Summit Foundation

Darryl Young is the Director of the Summit Foundation’s Sustainable Cities Program. Previously, he led the public relations practice at Riester, a national advertising, public relations and social marketing firm. Darryl has served as the Director of the California Department of Conservation and has been a Member of the California Board of Forestry, the Acting Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and served for ten years in the California State Legislature. He currently serves on the boards of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, the Story of Stuff Project, and the National Main Street Center.

Jennifer Dill
Professor and Director, Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning and TREC, Portland State University (PSU)

Dr. Dill is an internationally-recognized scholar focusing on interactions between transportation, the built environment, and health, particularly, bicycling, walking, and transit. She directs the Transportation Research and Education Center at PSU, and serves on journal editorial boards and committees of the Transportation Research Board. Prior to entering academia, Dr. Dill worked for a decade as a planner in California.

Christof Spieler
Vice President, Huitt-Zollars

Christof Spieler, PE, LEED AP, is a Vice President and Director of Planning at Huitt-Zollars company, a former member of the board of directors of Houston METRO, and a Lecturer at the Rice University Schools of Architecture and Engineering. At Morris, he has led land use and transportation planning projects in a variety of settings. At METRO, he initiated the Transit System Reimagining process, a blank sheet re-design of the entire bus system.

He has spoken and written extensively on transit and urban design and has assisted with the development of APTA and NACTO transit guidelines.He holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from Rice University and is a licensed professional engineer. He lives in Downtown Houston and relies on transit for most of his daily trips.

Clare Newman
Chief of Staff, Brooklyn Navy Yard

Clare Newman serves as Chief of Staff at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is currently undergoing its largest expansion since WWII. Ms. Newman came to the Yard from Bloomberg Philanthropies where she was a senior leader on the Government Innovation team. In that role she led the Mayors Challenge, an international competition for cities to generate innovative solutions to common problems.

Prior to joining Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ms. Newman was a Vice President in NYCEDC’s Real Estate division. At NYCEDC, Ms. Newman executed key projects including the restoration of the Loews Kings Theatre, the City’s bike share program, and the Applied Sciences tech-campus initiative. Ms. Newman received a Masters of Urban Planning from GSAPP at Columbia University and a B.A. with honors in Political Economy from Williams College.

Fred Neal Jr.
Senior Planner with Villavaso and Associates

Fred Neal Jr., AICP is a Senior Planner with Villavaso and Associates and a member of the Board of the Commissioners of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA), where he serves as chair of the board Operations and Administration Committee.  Additionally, he is the board liaison to the RTA Riders Advisory Committee. 

Fred is a founding member of RIDE New Orleans, a non-profit organization and civic coalition that advocates for world class and equitable public transportation for the New Orleans region.  As a RIDE board member Fred plays a critical role in RIDE’s key activities — building the rider voice, driving the conversation around transit and winning tangible changes and transit improvements. 

Fred lives in the historic Central City neighborhood of New Orleans and is engaged in many community activities.  He happily uses the bus, streetcar and bike share for many of his daily trips.

Ratna Amin
Consultant, Deutsche Bahn (DB) Engineering

Ratna Amin is a Principal Consultant with Deutsche Bahn (DB) Engineering and Consulting USA where she leads the Governance and Customer Journey portfolio, creating effective solutions for public transportation agencies in the US. She has worked in transportation, planning and public policy, and community development across the Bay Area.

Tamika Butler
Director of Planning for California and the Director of Equity and Inclusion at Toole Design

Tamika L. Butler, Esq. is Toole Design’s Director of Planning for California and the Director of Equity and Inclusion. Tamika has a diverse background in law, community organizing and nonprofit leadership.  As the Principal of Tamika L. Butler Consulting she focused on shining a light on inequality, inequity, and social justice. She provided consulting, training, and public speaking for a wide range of organizations in the public and private sectors. Recently she was 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 received her J.D. from Stanford Law School, and received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She currently lives in Leimert Park, Los Angeles with her wife Kelly, son Atei, and their adorable Schnoodle Stewart Little.

Rosemary Scanlon
Emeritus Chair

Ms. Scanlon is TransitCenter’s first Emeritus Chair of the Board. She is a well-known economist specializing in regional economic analysis, public finance, economic development, and real estate economics. Her distinguished career in public service has included past positions as the Chief Economist for the Port Authority of NY and NJ and the Deputy State Comptroller for the City of New York.

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