Meet the 2017-2021 Policy Advisory Council Members | What Is MTC? | About MTC
Meet the 2017-2021 Policy Advisory Council Members
Jim E. Blacksten
Representing the Disabled Community of San Francisco
"I am a leader within the disabled community here in San Francisco and beyond. I provide advice, guidance and direction, as well as some technical assistance on a wide range of issues to individuals, groups, corporations, and other entities. I am well positioned within the City and County of San Francisco throughout the disabled community in order to serve. I have a very strong passion and desire to make a difference, and I’m ready and willing to serve persons with disabilities in a number of capacities."
Jim Blacksten is an active member of the California Council of the Blind (San Francisco chapter, as secretary and program chair), Golden State Guide Dog Handlers, Inc., and the National Federation of the Blind (San Francisco chapter). He was appointed by Mayor Ed lee to serve on the San Francisco Mayor’s Disability Council, and is one of the co-chairs of the council. He also has served as the MTC Policy Advisory Council Equity and Access Subcommittee chair. He is a braille reader, and is a strong advocate of its use by blind children and adults. Mr. Blacksten also is a proficient user of computers and adaptive technology and has spent 30 years in public communication, program coordination and implementation. He is a two-time graduate of Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB), with Madera as his second guide dog, and is a member of the GDB Speakers Bureau. Mr. Blacksten is also involved with and connected to the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and he serves as a lector at St. Patrick’s Church in San Francisco.
Richard L. Burnett
Representing the Disabled Community of Solano County
"I am interested in issues related to transportation, urban planning, emergency preparedness, cyber security, business intelligence and the environment."
Richard L. Burnett currently works for IDEMIA in San Francisco, an identity and security Federal contractor to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). He has been a member of MTC’s Policy Advisory Council since its inception. He sits on Solano Transportation Authority’s (STA) Paratransit Coordinating Council (PCC), the Solano County Transit (SolTrans) Public Advisory Committee (as Chairperson from 2012 to 2014), was previously a member of the City of Vallejo Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee, and served as a member of the City of Vallejo Housing and Redevelopment Commission.
Representing the Low-Income Community of Alameda County
“I have been active in serving on MTC staff project selection panels for Lifeline and other funding application programs. I feel I bring a combination of land use and transportation knowledge to the Council, and I weave transportation needs into the developments created through my work.”
Carlos Castellanos has worked in the Bay Area for over 20 years in the fields of planning and housing. The director of housing development for MidPen Housing Corporation ̶ one of the nation’s leading nonprofit developers, owners and managers of high-quality, affordable housing ̶ Mr. Castellanos has a Master’s degree in city planning and transportation engineering. He is experienced in working with local jurisdictions, labor unions and businesses to promote and achieve local and disadvantaged population hiring goals. He was a member of MTC’s Minority Citizens Advisory Committee, where he chaired the Regional Transportation Plan 2035 Equity Analysis subcommittee and served on the subsequent Equity Analysis subcommittee that supported inclusion of a snapshot analysis of data gathered on regular intervals between regional transportation plans.
Representing the Senior Community of Sonoma County
“I have experience with all modes of transportation, have served on the Board of Friends of SMART, and have been an avid bicyclist all of my life….”
Rick Coates is the executive director of EcoRing, a North Bay nonprofit that promotes Eco Tourism and green travel, and Forest Unlimited, which deals with the economics and sustainability of forestry and the public review of logging plans in the North Bay Area. In addition to his environmental work, Mr. Coates has worked to improve public transportation in the Roseland neighborhood of Santa Rosa. He is a Friends of SMART Board member, a former Sonoma County public school teacher and professor, and is interested in a balanced transportation policy.
Representing the Disabled Community of Alameda County
“I truly believe that it is the responsibility of transportation oversight agencies…to consider the needs of every member of their jurisdiction in a fully inclusive manner, and it is only via this approach that we as planners…can facilitate the creation of meaningful, productive, connected communities.”
As a doctoral student in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, Abigail Cochran’s research investigates disability-responsive planning, and critically examines accessibility in cities to discern how definition, perception, and measurement of “access” determines qualities of the built environment that hinder or enable people with disabilities in particular ways. Her research includes a deep investigation of how people with disabilities navigate cities, how those with diverse functional abilities think about and actually travel, and how the design and service offerings of cities facilitate inclusion of people with disabilities, given their unique and typically transit-centered needs. She is also an active volunteer with San Francisco’s Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, serving in one capacity as a fitness partner.
Anne Olivia Eldred
Anne Olivia Eldred is a community organizer with the California Nurses Association/ National Nurses United and is a delegate to the Alameda County Central Labor Council, where she is a member of the Climate & Environmental Justice Caucus. She also holds the Labor Union/Public Health seat on the Community Advisory Committee of East Bay Community Energy, a local electricity supplier in Alameda County.
Representing the Minority Community of Marin County
"I am committed to environmental justice to include food equity, living, and sustainable life in a healthy lifestyle. I have been involved in preparing for sea level rise and storm water intrusion. My work with Marin Grassroots focuses on the removal of institutionalized racism in our community.”
Veda Florez is a communications consultant for the Marin County Elections Department, who works with underserved communities to inform and instruct them on how to register to vote and vote. She is heavily involved in the Marin community, regularly participating in the Marin Economic Summit, the Environmental Forum, and other events, and working with Shore-up Marin, Sustainable Novato, Impact Novato, the Marin Center for Independent Living, and the Marin Conservation League. Ms. Florez has volunteered for the Red Cross, does communications outreach for the League of Women Voters, is on the Novato Multicultural Commission, and is a member of Marin Latino leaders, among other organizations.
“Having been part of the development process as both a public-sector and private-sector representative, I understand the intersection of housing and transportation in the Bay Area and the need for collaboration in local and regional planning.”
Bob Glover is the Executive Officer of the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area, a non-profit membership association that advocates at the local, regional and state level in support of an adequate supply of quality homes for people of all income levels. Prior to becoming BIA|Bay Area's Executive Officer in 2010, Mr. Glover served as the association's executive director for governmental affairs for seven years. He is also an elected member of the Pleasant Hill Recreation and Park District and sits on the board of directors for HomeAid Northern California.
“My goal is to represent needs from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Long-standing residents, emigrants, newcomers and visitors alike can all benefit from innovation and improved connectivity in the Bay Area's transit and transportation systems."
Christina Gotuaco is a director at the California Housing Partnership, an affordable housing finance and policy nonprofit. She also regularly volunteers in workforce development training. Her ongoing ties to economics, universal design, and urban planning bring her to the Policy Advisory Council. Previously, Ms. Gotuaco managed capacity-building projects for a multifamily nonprofit developer, and in her prior role at AC Transit spent five years collaborating with local transit agencies for MTC’s Hub Signage Program. Through a personal and professional network that spans most of the nine-county Bay Area, she has a deep connection to the region’s transit and transportation issues - and its future outlook.
Representing the Senior Community of San Mateo County
“Seniors and disabled citizens want to be independent. It is my goal to help them remain independent as long as possible...Senior and disabled independence solves many financial problems as well for the community.”
Richard Hedges has been involved with senior and disabled issues nearly his entire life, since assisting his grandmother, who was sight-impaired. He became disabled himself after an on-the-job accident that ended his career in the building trades. He completed his education, including a master’s degree, and accepted a position with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. A long-time supporter of Transit-Oriented Development, Mr. Hedges chaired San Mateo Together, a group that included the Building Trades Council, Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club and the San Mateo Central Labor Council, and focused on the construction of senior and disabled housing near the San Mateo Caltrain Station. He is a former field representative in the office of U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, performing outreach to community groups and labor in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, and is a former member of MTC’s Elderly and Disabled Advisory Committee and the MTC Advisory Council.
Representing the Disabled Community of Contra Costa County
“I want to be a part of making a positive change in the transportation arena. It is my firsthand experience combined with my professional expertise in the psychology of disability that makes me a unique candidate for this position.”
Dr. Michelle Hernandez serves as an ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation and is a former member and vice chair of the City of Oakland’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities. Her background is in mental health counseling, and she has experience working with the homeless, severely disabled, psychiatric and deaf populations. As an individual with a severe disability, she relies on public transportation and paratransit for most of her transportation needs. She is in a unique position to educate others regarding accessibility, specific accommodations, and various resources within specific underrepresented communities, especially the disabled population.
“I feel very passionately about providing people with the opportunity to choose greener transportation modes, whether it is creating more walkable and bike-able communities, improving access and efficiency of public transit, or creating land use patterns that allow people to live close to work, transit and/or services.”
Wendi Kallins is the co-founder of Safe Routes to Schools in Marin County, the national pilot program, and she currently serves as the Programs Coordinator in charge of organizing and facilitating task forces and providing support services for the program. As part of the national Safe Routes to Schools movement, Ms. Kallins trained and consulted with over 45 communities across the country and presented at national and international conferences. She is President of Sustainable Marin and is on the steering committee of Coalition for a Livable Marin (CALM), an organization that promotes green transportation alternatives and affordable housing near transit/services.
Representing the Low-Income Community of Santa Clara County
“I have been working extensively with low-income communities for almost 20 years...I helped establish a local neighborhood organization and a multi-neighborhood organization in low-income underserved areas.”
Randi Kinman, a former planning commissioner for the City of San Jose, worked as a volunteer in the City of San Jose’s Strong Neighborhoods Initiative program. She represents and works with communities of color and low income individuals, developing residents’ leadership skills while providing training and education. Ms. Kinman is currently chair of both the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Association and the Burbank/Del Monte Neighborhood Advisory Committee, as well as a trustee for the West Valley-Mission Community College District. She has served as chair of the Policy Advisory Council and chaired the Regional Transportation Plan 2035 Equity Analysis subcommittee that supported inclusion of a snapshot analysis of data gathered on regular intervals between regional transportation plans.
“Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in our area; increasing mode share of sustainable transportation is the most important thing we can do in the area to fight climate change.”
As the Executive Director of Friends of Caltrain, Adina Levin leads an organization dedicated to increasing the share of sustainable transportation on the Peninsula Corridor from San Francisco through San Jose. The organization supports a modernized Caltrain, well-connected to a regional transit network, supported by sustainable transportation policies that include transit-oriented development and transportation demand management. Ms. Levin currently serves on the Menlo Park Transportation Commission, the Congestion Management Environmental Quality (CMEQ) Advisory Committee to the San Mateo City/County Association of Governments, as well as several other local committees.
Representing the Senior Community of Santa Clara County
“I want the Bay Area to invest in transportation endeavors that will maintain and grow our economy and to provide public transportation for all levels of income…I want to contribute to a mindset that considers the use of public transportation as the first alternative instead of the last.”
Michael Lopez is a retired Santa Clara County planning manager, where he reviewed, evaluated and approved projects that were subject to provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). With 39 years as a planner in Santa Clara County, his educational background in economics and urban planning, and his prior years serving on MTC’s Minority Citizens Advisory Committee, he brings both local and regional transportation experience to the table. Mr. Lopez served on the Santa Clara County Grand Jury in a “watchdog” capacity to hear allegations of mistreatment by public officials and complaints of governmental misconduct or inefficiencies.
Representing the Senior Community of Marin County
"I have an abiding interest in regional government issues."
Marc Madden is a former Assistant to the Director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, former Department Director of the Portland Metropolitan Service District, and a former Director of Government Relations in the metals recycling industry. In addition he worked for an opinion polling company, serving as Vice President of corporate priorities, public policy and forecasting for several Fortune 50 companies. He directed a needs assessment survey with the Gallup organization on aging populations for the U.S. Administration on Aging. Mr. Madden is a former member of the Corte Madera Park and Recreation Commission and the Task Force on the General Plan, and he is a current member of the Corte Madera Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
Representing the Minority Community of Sonoma County
“Both of my parents were born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s, and I am a first generation American born citizen. I want to highlight the contributions made by Latinos to the U.S. economy.”
As a photojournalist for 23 years in California’s Central Valley, Adrian Mendoza, regularly photographed modes, infrastructure, air quality impacts and evolving transportation alternatives for commuters from the Central Valley to the Bay Area. Since moving to the Bay Area, he has photographed many projects including Highway I-80, the Bay Bridge, many San Francisco skyscrapers, Mission Bay, Caltrain, SFO, container ships and ferries in the Bay, and the future Transbay Terminal construction. While Mr. Mendoza is grateful to be able to continue his love for photography working in the public relations department at Santa Rosa Junior College, he is also passionate about the arts and spends time advocating for social justice.
Representing the Minority Community of Contra Costa County
“For 18 years with the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, I worked extensively on every aspect of environmental justice issues…I would like to contribute my extensive analytical experience to the Policy Advisory Council.”
As a Senior Regulatory Analyst for the California Public Utilities Commission, Rahmon Momoh has represented the Commission on several energy and communications projects, as well as a variety of environmental proceedings and forums. He represented ratepayer concerns during Phase II of the implementation of Assembly Bill 32, and spent several years working in the Office of Ratepayer Advocates. For approximately two years, he was policy and energy advisor to former CPUC Commissioner Timothy Simon. He is currently the president of the CPUC’s African American Coalition, and President of the Oduduwa Heritage Organization.
“I enjoy helping to shape good public policy, and transportation and housing are two critical issues facing the Bay Area that I would like to help improve.”
Cynthia L. Murray is the CEO of North Bay Leadership Council, representing employers in Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties. Her expertise is in transportation, housing, sustainability, and economic competitiveness. As a former Marin County Supervisor and Novato Councilmember, she has years of experience in land use and transportation planning, and has served on local transportation boards including the Transportation Authority of Marin, Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District, and SMART. She led the campaign to include and pass the SMART train on the 2008 ballot and continues to fight to address local problems with Highway 37 and secure funding to widen Highway 101 through the Narrows.
Representing the Minority Community of San Francisco County
"My goal is to support MTC in implementing equity to empower marginalized communities."
Daisy Ozim is the founder of Resilient Wellness, an organization designed to address the perpetuation of intergenerational trauma and health inequities within vulnerable communities. Having experienced trauma and homelessness as a youth, she has been involved in community organizing and health and wellness advocacy since her late teens. As the former director of Community Engagement for TAYSF, she has worked throughout the city and state on issues ranging from homelessness to police violence.
“I interface with the entire cycling community and primarily commute on two wheels (motorcycle and bicycle). I...see how poor planning in projects...negatively impacts cyclists. I have a background in highway bridge construction...that background helps me get into and understand the plans, and also the unique challenges of implementing complete streets....”
Benjamin Schweng is the proprietor of Cyclepath, a bicycle shop in downtown Hayward that serves a diverse community of riders. He has experience helping people to overcome the many challenges that exist to cycling in the Bay Area. He’s a local cycling advocate and has volunteered with Safe Routes to Schools, Bike to Work Day and law enforcement-sponsored safety outreach. He is the current vice chair of the Hayward Downtown Business Improvement Area Advisory Board and a member of the Alameda CTC Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Council.
“As a longtime civil rights advocate, I am committed to representing the interests of underrepresented communities on the Policy Advisory Council.”
Walter Wilson is the CEO of the Silicon Valley Minority Business Consortium, an organization formed to help corporations, academic institutions and government agencies benefit from the diversity and talent available in underrepresented communities, including minority communities, women, veterans and small businesses. Mr. Wilson is also a member of the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet of Silicon Valley.