Connecting Places: Implementing Access to Transit

Thursday, October 28, 2021, 11:15 am - 12:30 pm

Connecting places goes beyond just active transportation - it must also include transit and land use. By encouraging modal interactions through station area planning, first last mile solutions, and rail with trail networks, a transformative transportation system will ensure equitable access for all. In this session, panelists will share examples of policies and projects that make this vision a reality.

Shannon Simonds, Caltrans

Shannon Simonds is a Senior Transportation Planner at Caltrans in the Division of Rail and Mass Transportation. In this role, Shannon works as the Regional Coordinator for the Bay Area and Central Coast, leading strategic and technical service planning activities for the division and facilitating collaboration between internal and external rail and transit partners.

Henry McKay, Transportation Planner, Caltrans

Henry McKay is a transportation planner focusing on rail and transit planning. With a background in transportation planning and data analysis, Henry’s current rail planning work lies at the intersection of long-range policy planning and technical analysis, including first/last mile planning and accessibility analysis. Henry attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he earned a B.S. in City and Regional Planning and a minor in Statistics.

Paul Martin, Active Transportation Manager, Mark Thomas

Paul Martin has more than 21 years of work experience focused on improving public travel and safety. As a licensed Civil and Traffic Engineer, he leads transportation planning and active transportation projects for delivery to public sector clients. Paul’s expertise includes community engagement, active transportation, traffic engineering, and strategic funding programs. As the first Orange County Active Transportation Coordinator, Paul secured over $6 million in grant funding for infrastructure and non-infrastructure needs, including preparation of the first countywide bicycle and pedestrian transportation plan. Currently Paul is leading community improvement projects statewide including the Town of Paradise, Humboldt County, City of Santa Ana, and Orange County Transportation Authority.

Joanne Parker, SMART Programming and Grants Manager

Joanne Parker built a transit career in the Bay Area and, after 15 years working for transit agencies large (BART) and small (Santa Rosa CityBus), she returned to her family’s home in Sonoma County to work towards the restoration of rail service in the North Bay.? Joanne has been managing grants, planning and legislation for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART) since 2010.? SMART’s successes are the result of a strong team collaborating to upgrade the publicly owned railroad into a modern rail system, complete with passenger and freight services and a complimentary non-motorized pathway.? SMART started passenger rail service in 2017 and has been operating for the four years since, through fires, floods, power outages and a pandemic.

Dr. Destiny Thomas

Dr. Destiny Thomas is a change agent and founder and CEO of Thrivance Group, a multi-regional, socially responsible, for-profit firm that works to make public spaces and public services more safe, more healthy and more accessible, especially for Black, Indigneous, and transgender people, and people with disabilities.

An anthropologist planner from Oakland, CA, Dr. Thomas has a combined 15 years of experience in nonprofit management and project management within government agencies, including the California Department of Transportation and the City of Los Angeles. In addition, Dr. Thomas has led advancements in statewide racial equity initiatives for over a decade. Her focus has been urban planning, policy writing, and organizational development in communities most impacted by racial inequities.

Dr. Thomas’s areas of interest include: reparative?planning, implementing the Dignity-Infused Community Engagement methodology, anti-displacement planning, healing environmental and infrastructural trauma, and bolstering agency and voice in marginalized communities within municipal planning processes. To this end, she launched Thrivance in 2020. As a culturally-rooted, trauma-informed enterprise building capacity for these very values through their role in municipal?urban?planning projects.

For her work in urban planning, Dr. Thomas was recently featured on Good Morning America. She and the Thrivance Group also hosted the Unurbanist Assembly, a 23-hour, digital event where more than 8,000 people participated in a virtual teach-in centering anti-racist frameworks in urban planning, public health, and social services sectors.

Dr. Thomas earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Fisk University in 2006; a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in Public Health and Non-Profit Management from Tennessee State University in 2008; and a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2016. She is a creative who seeks to embody servant leadership, and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

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