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Transportation Justice Fellows look back on their micromobility equity work

Jun 26, 2024

Members of this year’s Transportation Justice Fellowship share their experiences with the program, which was designed to support and amplify professionals of color working in the mobility field.

This announcement was originally shared on the Better Bike Share Partnership website, and an abbreviated version is below. Read the full post here.

2023 – 2024 Transportation Justice Fellows at the 2024 Designing Cities Conference in Miami-Dade. 

Back row from left: Ricky Reed, expansion specialist at POGOH; Carol Antunez, senior manager of government relations at Lime; Prentis Grayson, senior manager of outreach and advocacy at Trailblazers; Bryan Nguyen, shared micromobility coordinator at Portland Bureau of Transportation. 

Front row from left: Sarah Huang, program manager at the Shared-Use Mobility Center; Sherelle Streeter, senior mobility strategist at Detroit’s Office of Mobility Innovation; Samikchhya Bhusal, policy manager at Forth; Vanessa Gallego, program manager of bike program at Families United Gaining Accessibility (FUGA)

The Better Bike Share Partnership (BBSP) celebrated the conclusion of its 2023-2024 Transportation Justice Fellowship program earlier this month with a ceremony recognizing this year’s cohort of eight transportation professionals. Congratulations to our 2023-2024 Transportation Justice Fellows for completing the program!

The Fellowship, a first-of-its-kind program launched in 2021, builds community and skills among people of color working to embed mobility justice in transportation. Led by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and open to early- to mid-career professionals based in the U.S., the Fellowship supports and sustains the people doing the heavy work to operationalize equity across the transportation field.

The 2023-2024 Fellowship launched last fall, focused on shared micromobility as a critical tool for building transportation justice. The eight fellows work in all sectors of shared micromobility, including government agencies, nonprofits, advocacy organizations, and private operators. Over the course of the past eight months, fellows met regularly with NACTO, BBSP, and facilitators from Transforming Change to build community and explore ways to operationalize equity in the field of transportation. Fellows attended targeted skills-building sessions, collaborated on small projects, and received one-on-one coaching from experts working at the intersections of transportation and social justice.

The Fellows also played a key part in planning portions of this year’s Designing Cities Conference in Miami-Dade, FloridaThey facilitated discussions at BBSP’s annual Shared Micromobility Roundtable, organized a BIPOC Breakfast meet and greet, and shared their achievements with conference participants during the Meet the Cities event.

Transportation industry professionals at the BIPOC Breakfast.

At a June 6 ceremony acknowledging the end of this year’s program, BBSP, Transforming Change, Fellowship alumni, and the fellows’ coaches had the opportunity to share reflections on the fellows’ achievements and growth.

“At first, I was nervous about what people would think of me and if I was going to fit in with this group, being that I didn’t have as much experience as a lot of the other fellows,” shared one fellow. “But after that first meeting, the group helped me get comfortable and I just learned more from everybody in the group. I learned that everybody in the group was like family, we all just bonded together in those meetings. And all the things I learned about shared micromobility over the past sessions, has helped me better apply myself at my job to make my city better.”

Reflections from the Fellows

What has been your favorite moment from the fellowship overall? 

I enjoyed learning from skill session speakers who are advancing transportation justice across various sectors including city DOTs, nonprofits, and private consulting. Their stories gave me inspiration for how I can push for transportation justice regardless of the sector or employer I may be a part of at a given time.”

 Samikchhya Bhusal, policy manager at Forth

“Participating in the Transportation Justice Fellowship has been a transformative experience for me. It has allowed me to forge connections with fellow BIPOC transportation professionals in both the micromobility and active transportation sectors. This fellowship provided a unique platform for collective growth that would have otherwise been inaccessible. Moreover, it shattered the isolation of feeling like the lone BIPOC individual in professional settings, revealing a supportive community where we can unite to effect tangible change.”

– Prentis Grayson, senior manager of outreach and advocacy at Trailblazers

What have you learned about transportation justice/advocacy through this fellowship?

“That it’s a part of our everyday life and we see it everyday we live through it. If there’s a lack of equity in the transportation system in only BIPOC neighborhoods or poor neighborhoods then there isn’t equity happening and something should be done about it.”

Ricky Reed, expansion specialist at POGOH

“That we must align our resources with our commitments. Time and money are often the biggest resources an individual, organization, and an entity has. I’ll be thinking about this alignment a lot more personally and in my own work. We face multiple crises — poor air quality, housing and transportation unaffordability, police brutality, climate injustice, and this list goes on. Amidst these crises, we must practice hope and joy and practice this with a community of trusted peers.

I also learned that engaging the community even before the formal community engagement has taken place is key. I’ve learned that there is a difference between community collaboration and community cheerleading; we want to be aiming for authentic collaboration and not just signatures of support on an initiative.

Another big learning was that we must imagine boldly for the just futures we want to be a part of.”

– Samikchhya Bhusal, policy manager at Forth

What was your favorite moment from the the #NACTO2024 Designing Cities Conference?

“One of the highlights from the NACTO 2024 Designing Cities Conference was the opportunity to engage with transportation professionals from across the country, particularly my peers in the Transportation Justice Fellowship. It was enriching to delve into conversations about the impactful work each person is contributing to in their respective roles. The BIPOC Breakfast meet and greet was such a meaningful and favorite moment for me. Connecting and listening to Veronica O. Davis speak and inspire a room full of BIPOC transportation professionals was truly empowering.

– Prentis Grayson, senior manager of outreach and advocacy at Trailblazers

What were your major takeaways from the BBSP roundtable?

“The BBSP Roundtable really emphasized to me the importance of incorporating equity throughout the design and development of bike share programs. As a BBSP Transportation Justice Fellow, I had the privilege of leading a discussion focused on the challenges of insurance requirements, and it was very insightful and helpful to get input from others in the field.”

– Sarah Huang, program manager at the Shared-Use Mobility Center

Why do you think a fellowship like this is important?

“There’s not many spaces for BIPOC transportation professionals to discuss the unique challenges we face. The Fellowship allows us to explore our intersectional identities in a space where our different perspectives and experiences are valued and welcomed with empathy, curiosity and encouragement. Fellowships like this are very important for early-to-mid-career BIPOC professionals to prevent burnout and encourage self-advocacy because for many of us, our cultures and families may have inadvertently taught us to undervalue ourselves and overextend ourselves in the workplace.”

 Sarah Huang, program manager at the Shared-Use Mobility Center

The Better Bike Share Partnership is funded by The JPB Foundation as a collaboration between the City of Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems.