Danielle J. Harris
Fresh Inspiration, Energy at TransForm: Warren Logan
Updated: Aug 5, 2022
New ideas and inspiration are flooding into TransForm, both on our board of directors and in fresh recruitment for staff roles. I had a conversation with Warren Logan recently, one of our new board members bringing a wealth of experience and energy to our work for transportation, housing, and climate policy that advances equity and results.
Danielle (DJH): Many of your fans know you from your snarky yet elegant transportation policy critiques on Twitter. But for those who missed that, can you share some quick cliff notes about “who is Warren Logan?”
Warren (WL): Danielle, you’ve met my dad. And if you’d met my grandfather, you know we’re all like this. We’re super gregarious and civic minded, and committed to our communities. I’m just trying to keep up with the example they’ve set. Fundamentally, I just want to know people’s stories – learn how we’re all connected, and see how I can help.
I’d say, professionally, I’m a nerd that’s trying to understand every piece of the puzzle. I’ve held a number of different transportation jobs (including parking, travel demand management, street design, shared mobility, policy, regional planning, government affairs, public affairs consultant, county, mayor’s office, etc.) To some, this looks like chaos, but I’m really trying to figure out every piece of the machine to understand where the most power is to make equitable and lasting change.
When someone sees a line on a street, I know how it got there, how to design it, how it’s funded, how to advocate for it, and its effects on the community. I want to know how it all works and fits together and peoples’ experiences of transportation changes.
DJH: One of your professional experiences we know you best is from your time at the Oakland Mayor’s Office, where you endeavored the innovative Slow Streets with OakDOT during COVID and the associated blowback. Tell us what you learned from the experience?
WL: I learned just how powerful a city can be when we actually work collaboratively across city departments, with community groups, and — most importantly — with urgency. There’s a well-worn path of me talking about what we’ve learned from Slow Streets with respect to transportation. Some streets really only need a sign to effect traffic calming; others need more bespoke treatments. I don’t want to gloss over that, but there’s a more important story that people seem to be missing.
We have been able to do things like this the whole time, and we actively choose not to. We can talk about the pushback of the program all we want, but the real story is that we have all this power to change people’s lives and have zero urgency to do so. No one seems to be in a hurry to stop traffic violence.
DJH: You recently made quite a bossy move to partner at Lighthouse Public Affairs which is quite the jump from your strong government resume. Can you shed some light on the pivot?
WL: I treat my career like a puzzle – I’m trying to fit all the pieces together to understand how cities work, how they thrive, and what levers exist to really help our community members. I’m really proud of the work I accomplished during my three years in the mayor’s office. I learned way more about Oakland’s challenges, but more importantly where our strengths are too. We’re creative, resilient, and powerful.
As for Lighthouse Public Affairs, I had been looking for a position that would give me the same high-energy environment I loved about the mayor’s office while also tapping into a new field of work that I felt I needed to learn more about: public affairs. The work is fascinating because, once again, I get to learn about community members’ stories, help elevate them to civic leaders, and drive change throughout the Bay. The difference, this time, is I’m operating from a private client perspective which has provided plenty of new insights into the same subjects I loved already: sustainable mobility, economic development, housing entitlement, and community engagement.
DJH: And for someone who’s taken charge at such a youthful time in your life and bound to achieve great things, tell us why you joined the TransForm board?
WL: I admire TransForm’s mission of equitable transportation and climate action, having worked with folks here for years and looked to them for support connecting to community voices. I also respect the board and the work each member does professionally.
I’ve been especially impressed with TransForm’s ability to adapt to the changing landscape of transportation policy. At one point, I think advocates consistently found themselves “banging on the door” of government and are now finding new ways to be a part of the conversation, from the ground up. I think TransForm’s sweet spot is playing that “outside-inside” game, balancing the different community challenges and engaging with civic leaders at a deep level to get some real change for POC communities. In fact, I can’t honestly think of anyone operating in that space other than TransForm.
DJH: It’s obvious you bring a lot to the Board Room for TransForm, so where do you see TransForm going? What do you imagine is the outcome of your impact?
WL: I am keen to support TransForm’s external affairs with the support of my network. Like I said before, the face of government is constantly changing and continuing to make connections deep in the various city departments is so critical to our work. I believe I can draw on the last decade’s worth of professional experience to help TransForm staff members connect with the right government agencies to advocate for the changes we’re looking for.
TransForm’s also in an exciting window of transition, currently recruiting for several roles, including in leadership, which I’m excited to support. I really respect the passion and dedication TransForm’s former executive directors have brought to the role, and I would be honored to support the next ED.
DJH: What are some challenges and opportunities you see ahead for TransForm?
WL: Climate change is real, and it’s not knocking on the door — it’s in the house. We have to act now. I’m really looking forward to supporting TransForm’s effort to help communities really respond to the types of environmental challenges we’re going to be seeing over the next few decades – and even as early as the next few years.
I mentioned before that we learned a lot during COVID and various Slow Streets programs. I think TransForm is in a perfect position to help government agencies see just how important urgent action is, and more importantly, help communities bring their voices to the table to rally for the changes we so urgently need.
Lastly, racism hasn’t just evaporated – it’s just taken new forms. We still need to be talking about the intersection of race and class with climate change, housing and transportation. We’re certainly seeing improvements, but there’s so much more work to be done here. It’s not enough to say a plan or a project is equitable. You actually have to reach into the community’s hearts and understand how we can help them heal. TransForm is the perfect organization for that type of work.