Announcing TransForm’s New Leader

This is a joint announcement from the Co-Chairs of TransForm’s Board of Directors, Alice Chen and Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz.

(Oct. 21, 2020) We are so excited to announce that after a thorough and competitive search, TransForm will welcome Darnell Grisby as our new Executive Director beginning October 26. Darnell spent the last nine years as Director of Policy Development and Research at the American Public Transportation Association, where he has become a national thought leader pushing for more equitable and innovative transportation policy.

This is a huge moment for TransForm. We were looking for a leader who could help us meet the urgent transit and housing challenges we face with a strong anti-racist policy agenda. Darnell is ready to lead that effort with his deep knowledge of progressive transportation policy and a bold vision for TransForm’s role in making change. Staff and board alike are looking forward to having Darnell’s leadership and experience for the next steps in our journey.

The urgency has never been stronger for the bold solutions we’re known for — 2020 has made the need for systemic change painfully clear. Our core issues are on the line, yet with vision and determination, we have an opening to transform our communities for the better.

In fact, Darnell said it well in a CityLab piece he wrote in July titled, “To Fight Racism, Transit has a Key Role.”

“We have an opportunity to address the discriminatory systems endemic to our built environment, infrastructure investment decisions, organizations and industries. Our best shot to make progress on these challenges is right now.”

Darnell’s career and his lived experience have prepared him well for this opportunity. He grew up in Southern California, where limited transportation options, under-investment, and over-policing of Black and brown communities shaped his perspectives and centered his life-path. He went on to UCLA and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He served as a legislative director in California’s legislature, and a lobbyist in Sacramento, before working at a think tank devoted to smart growth, and then spending nine years at APTA, where he became a leading transportation industry expert.

At TransForm, Darnell will be able to apply his varied experience and collaborative leadership skills to advancing an intersectional, anti-racist vision and strategy for creating more just, healthy, connected communities.

“TransForm is well-positioned to chart a path towards anti-racist transportation, housing, and land use policies. Together, we can remake our built environment, protect our health, and confront the climate crisis before us. I can’t wait to get to work.”

– Darnell Grisby

We hope you will join us for All Aboard at Home on Wednesday, October 21 at 4pm, where Darnell will share a message with attendees and you’ll get a chance to meet him. After he formally starts on October 26, he’ll be reaching out to many supporters and partners of TransForm to introduce himself, listen and learn about our work in the past, and strategize for the future. He’ll be moving from Washington D.C. to the Bay Area shortly after starting the job.

Lastly, we’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to the many TransForm staff members who have stepped up in amazing ways over the course of a leadership transition that has been longer than we expected. That includes Jo Ann Prompongsatorn Farrant and Ann Cheng, who served as Interim Co-Executive Directors in 2019, and Jeff Hobson, who has been Interim Executive Director in 2020, as well as quite a few others who have taken on new responsibilities and leadership roles during this time. Thank you for keeping TransForm strong through it all. And thank you to Stuart Cohen for building this incredible organization that is now ready for a leader like Darnell!

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