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  • Writer's pictureJenn Guitart

New Faces at TransForm: Nirit Lotan

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

We were thrilled to welcome Nirit Lotan to TransForm’s Board of Directors this spring. Already, her intelligence and broad perspective have deepened our strategic conversations, and her dry wit has enlivened our meetings. Nirit has always been fascinated by the impact of land use decisions on people’s lives and on our shared environment. That fascination led her to a legal career dedicated to creating a more sustainable and just future for everyone. A transplant from Tel Aviv, Nirit now lives in the Sunnyvale with her partner and three kids.

Tell us about your job.

Currently, I’m an environmental attorney with Earthjustice, mostly focusing on curbing oil and gas development and the harmful impacts it has on our climate and frontline communities. I work in the interface of land use, planning and environmental justice. The law and the processes around how we plan and use our resources are so often exploited by those who have the means and the connections to influence decision makers, and I find it important to push back on that and amplify the voices of the communities who bear the brunt of environmental deterioration and bad planning decisions.

How did you decide to get involved with TransForm?

I first heard about TransForm when we moved to the South Bay from Tel Aviv. The move from a mostly car-free life to a very car-dependent one was quite a shock for me. I started looking around to see what work was being done on transit and mobility around the Bay Area and TransForm’s work really stood out. My work as an environmental attorney in Israel revolved around many of the same issues TransForm works on, like sustainable planning and supporting transit, so I volunteered on TransForm’s Bus Rapid Transit campaign and kept following the work. Fast forward a few years, now as an environmental attorney working in California, I met with Michelle Beasley, whom I knew from volunteering at TransForm. She suggested I join the board and I was happy to have the opportunity to contribute to this great organization again. The other board members truly are inspiring. Everyone is professional in their field and is so committed to TransForm’s mission—it’s contagious.

How are TransForm's work and mission personal for you?

As an environmental attorney and advocate, promoting sustainable planning and equity in housing and mobility is an ideological and professional mission, but at the same time, it’s also very personal. I personally know the many advantages of living in more urban neighborhoods served by good transit, and I want my kids to have the independence and the social connections that come with less car dependency and more alternatives to driving.

As a family, we try to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum, making mindful choices on food, transportation, and consumption in general. But honestly, personal choices (and electric cars) can only take you so far, and this is why I think TransForm’s work is so important, and why I try to be involved in local land use and planning decision-making, where you can influence high-impact outcomes.

What do you do for fun?

I find every minute spent with nature time well spent. It can be a hike in the Sierras or watching a hummingbird zoom by. And when I can find time, a good book is always a treat.

What’s your favorite way to get from Point A to Point B locally?

I love walking, which unfortunately doesn’t take me to many places locally, and I’m working on getting to more places on my bike. That means working both on my confidence as a rider and on improving bike routes around the city.

What keeps you going with your work?

The energy I see around climate action and affordable housing in the Bay Area gives me hope. I think Gen Z members are bringing both new energies and a different set of priorities to the public arena, and I hope they’ll help us move in the right direction.


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