A new chapter for TransForm, and for me

Stuart Cohen, Jo Ann Prompongsatorn Farrant, and Ann ChengWhen I first started TransForm, I never imagined I would lead such an incredible organization for 22 years. Looking back at our history and highlights, the scope of all we’ve been able to accomplish together — staff, board, allies, partners, funders, supporters — was also unimaginable to me then. What a ride!

And now, it’s time to step into the next phase of my life. On March 22, I will transition out of my Executive Director role at TransForm with gratitude, pride, and excitement for the future — both mine and the organization’s.

Why now? With my youngest daughter going to college in NYC in a few months, I want to be able to spend more time with family, especially my parents on the East Coast (who, apparently, are not getting any younger). I’m also looking forward to taking more bike rides around the Bay Area, Sierra backpacking trips, and going on other adventures as I did during my wonderful sabbatical in 2015.

Ever since that sabbatical the Management Team and entire staff have been building leadership in expectation of this inevitable transition.

And so, guided by our value of shared leadership, TransForm’s Board of Directors has selected two long-time TransForm leaders as interim co-directors: Ann Cheng and Jo Ann Prompongsatorn Farrant. They are a dynamic duo with complementary skills and the enthusiastic support of staff and board alike.

Ann Cheng has been a vital part of the TransForm team for 12 years, founding the innovative GreenTRIP program. She’s now leading our More Homes, Less Driving initiative to take many of those innovations to scale. Jo Ann Prompongsatorn Farrant has been a member of our executive team for three years, led our operations and administrative teams for five years, and recently earned her Master’s in Human Development with a concentration in Inclusive Leadership for Social Justice.

And our interim co-directors will not be leading alone. The Management Team will continue to share important responsibilities for fundraising, budgets, and organizational development. The “M-Team” currently includes Clarrissa Cabansagan, Carrie Harvilla, Edie Irons, Stanley Lam, and Aatisha Singh, in addition to Jo Ann and Ann. Josh Stark and Chris Lepe continue to provide critical policy expertise and leadership as well. We’re actively creating more ways for all staff members to participate in decision-making and grow into greater leadership, and we are hiring four new positions.

Meanwhile, the board will be conducting a comprehensive search for permanent executive leadership after I leave. Any inquiries or suggestions for that search should go to boardchair@transformca.org. You’ll hear more about that in the months to come.

So, I know what you are thinking now... When can we party?

We have already started planning a special party for the whole TransForm community on Thursday, April 11, 2019. It’ll be at the Green Room in San Francisco’s Civic Center, where we held our 20th anniversary celebration in 2017.

Your financial support during this transition year will be crucial to TransForm, and especially meaningful to me. Please become a sponsor of the April 11 event, and stay tuned for more details. It will take resources to conduct the search and navigate the transition as smoothly as possible — your gifts will help ensure TransForm’s continued success.

As an organization, TransForm has a very clear sense of where we’re headed, and how to get there. Our 2020 Priorities zero in on three initiatives that are each making great headway. We are creating more homes with less driving, pushing new mobility technology to disrupt inequity, and advocating for transportation that works better for people and the planet.

Our Social Justice Action Plan is a living document to guide all our teams and programs, including the Board, in how to reach these goals in alignment with our values. For the last several years, we’ve been evolving a model of shared leadership, which accelerated during my sabbatical. Our board is deeply engaged and supportive, with excellent leadership by Board Chair Fanta Kamakaté and others.

And where am I headed? Well, I’m not moving, and I’m not retiring! I intend to become a consultant to allow for greater flexibility while continuing to engage on the issues I’m so passionate about. I will also be available to help TransForm with policy campaigns, as needed, after I step down as ED.

In addition to my gratitude to the fabulous staff currently at TransForm, I need to include a big thank you to our former Deputy Director, Jeff Hobson. He came on as TransForm’s second staffer, and for 17 years co-built the organization and led many of our biggest wins. His friendship is part of the reason these 22 years were so wonderful, and TransForm wouldn’t be what it is without his leadership.

I also want to acknowledge the approximately 173 TransForm staff and board alumni (!!) who, collectively, are most responsible for the exceptional accomplishments and culture of the organization.

And I want to say thank you to the allies that have been such great partners and friends, as well as the wonderful foundation staff and generous individuals who have made this work possible.

TransForm is a vibrant community. It is a force to be reckoned with, a powerful voice for positive change. I’m confident that TransForm’s best days are ahead, and I am excited about its next chapter, as well as my own.

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About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.