John Robert Smith
John Robert Smith is the former Mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, and a long-time leader on behalf of passenger rail. He is co-chairman of Transportation for America, a former Chairman of Amtrak’s board, and a former member of the transportation committees of the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as former co-chairman of the National Forum on the Future of Passenger Rail. He is a veteran of the station-centered community development movement, and led the drive to renovate the City of Meridian’s Union Station, a $7 million historic restoration project that created a new multimodal transportation center, dramatically increased use of the station, raised property values and city tax receipts, and lowered crime in the station's neighborhood. He served on Reconnecting America’s board for five years, and was a founding partner and board member of Reconnecting America’s predecessor organization, the Great American Station Foundation.
As Chief of Staff at Reconnecting America, Allison helps guide the strategic direction of the organization, overseeing RA’s programs and partnerships across the United States. In her role, Allison leads national and regional efforts on a range of issues including fostering multi-sector collaborative partnerships across the fields of transportation, housing, and community and economic development to support more fair and health outcomes for all people. Prior to joining RA, Allison served for over six years as a Program Officer for the Livable Communities Program at the East Bay Community Foundation where she spearheaded a number of innovative transit-oriented and community development initiatives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was one of the founders of a collaboration of non-profits and community foundations – called the Great Communities Collaborative - geared towards influencing regional planning and investment in transit-oriented development across the 9-county Bay Area. Allison currently serves on the advisory committee for the Bay Area Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) Fund and she is a member of the Rail~Volution National Steering Committee (NSC) and is the NSC’s liason to the Board of Directors.
Allison holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego, where she played on the NCAA Division III National Championship tennis team, and a Masters in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Ghana, and has lived, worked and traveled extensively throughout the world.
Catherine Cox Blair
Catherine Cox Blair, AICP LEED AP, is Program Director with Reconnecting America and works with local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, transit agencies, housing authorities, developers, community advocates and other partners across the country to provide a range of tools to strengthen their role in creating successful transit-oriented development (TOD). Catherine oversees the education program that helps illustrate the role of different actors in TOD, provides in-depth best practices and cutting-edge research, and highlights effective tools that can be deployed to support equitable TOD. She worked as the City of Denver’s TOD Program Manager for eight years, where she managed efforts to build the city’s capacity to leverage public investments in transit for creating sustainable communities. Catherine’s background includes experience in urban planning, public policy development, environmental consulting, and sustainable philanthropy. She has a Masters degree in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Urban Affairs and Planning from Virginia Tech.
G. Sasha Forbes
Sasha Forbes is a policy associate in Reconnecting America’s Washington, DC office. She works on federal, state, and local level transit-oriented development policies and research projects, particularly as they relate to affordable housing, mixed-income housing, and sustainable communities. Projects include maintenance of the Mixed-Income Transit-Oriented Development Action Guide, advocacy of the Sustainable Communities Partnership, and recently a report on how small towns and rural places are using transit to enhance their economies. Sasha coordinates with national affordable housing groups in Washington, DC, to build and maintain partnerships and identify opportunities to further the preservation of affordable housing near transit. She is passionate about sustainable development and community outreach and advocacy in underserved communities. Sasha has a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Florida.
Justin Godard is a policy intern at Reconnecting America’s Washington, DC office and assists the policy staff in providing research and policy approaches for constructing sustainable, transit rich communities. He specifically aids in the development of guidebooks discussing the topics of coordinating land use, transportation, and affordable housing. He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from Virginia Tech in May 2012 and is currently enrolled in the university’s Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program.
Crystal wears many hats including office administration, membership coordination, and office technology liason. She also provides support for human resources and operations. Previously, she worked as an event coordinator for a Bay Area nonprofit and as legislative assistant for former Minnesota Representative Myron Orfield. She has a bachelor's degree in geography.
John L. Hughes
John Hughes became communications manager in July 2010, having worked with Reconnecting America since 2008 as webmaster and content manager for the organization's Internet efforts. As the communications manager, Hughes assists the Communications Director and the New Media Director. Hughes worked for more than 27 years for The Sacramento Bee, holding editing positions in the newsroom, Capitol bureau and the opinion pages. Hughes has a strong interest in transportation, housing and community revitalization and how all of these issues can be integrated through transit-oriented development. For more than a decade Hughes has also operated a web design, construction and maintenance firm catering to Sacramento small businesses and nonprofits.
Sarah A. Kline
As policy director for Reconnecting America, Sarah Kline is responsible for the organization’s work on Capitol Hill fostering healthy and prosperous communities that serve people of all incomes. A lawyer by profession, Kline has worked as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Before joining Reconnecting America she was director of policy and government relations for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. She was a 2010 recipient of Mass Transit Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Award for her outstanding achievements. Kline graduated magna cum laude with a degree in history from Harvard University and received her law degree from Stanford Law School.
Mike Madrid is the Program and Research Intern at Reconnecting America's Denver office, and supports several ongoing research projects related to jobs, transit and workforce development in the Denver region as part of the Mile High Connects Jobs Access Initiative. Mike is also working with Mile High Connects and DGCOG on developing an interactive version of the Denver Regional Equity Atlas. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Design in Housing and Community Development from Arizona State University, and is currently working toward a Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado in Denver.
Irving Pham is the Project Intern at Reconnecting America’s Oakland office. He provides research, analysis, and graphical/mapping support to the Reconnecting America staff. He previously spent time working at Transit 511 in the Bay Area, and METRO and UCLA Transportation in Los Angeles. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a modest student debt, both from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Bill Sadler is a Program Associate in Reconnecting America’s Denver office. Bill works with the technical assistance staff on place-based projects around the country, with an emphasis on the Denver region’s transit expansion and equitable TOD opportunities. Bill recently completed a TOD implementation strategy for the West Corridor light rail line in Denver and has been working with several nonprofits and foundations to launch an equity collaborative called Mile High Connects. As part of this effort, Bill served as project manager and primary author of the Denver Regional Equity Atlas, a spatial analysis of how transit provides access to opportunity for residents of the Denver region with respect to housing, jobs, education and health. Bill previously worked with the City and County of Denver's Community Planning and Development department on station area planning, zoning code reform, and the Living Streets Initiative, a complete streets policy with a strong land use component. Bill has also assisted EnviroHealth Consulting with four health impact assessments in communities near Denver transit stations. Bill holds a master's degree in urban planning (M.U.R.P.) from the University of Colorado Denver, as well as a law degree (J.D.), cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School, and a B.A., summa cum laude, in economics and communication from Boston College. In his spare time, Bill is an avid endurance athlete, having completed 23 marathons in 13 U.S. cities, including seven Boston Marathons in a row. He prides himself on beating Lance Armstrong in the 2008 Boston Marathon by two minutes.
Rebecca M. (Becky) Sullivan
Becky Sullivan joined Reconnecting America in February 2010 as Communications Director. She is responsible for developing and managing a comprehensive communications program to include branding, media relations, website oversight and all internal and external communications. Becky has more than 20 years of experience in communications and government relations, including positions at the U.S Department of Transportation, the White House and the International Council of Shopping Centers. Originally from Ohio, Becky has a BS in Political Science from Kent State University.
Abigail Thorne-Lyman is Director of the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, working with partner organizations to develop innovative applied research tools and improve the connections between public transit and development. Thorne-Lyman manages efforts to provide technical resources and best practices to transit agencies, cities, and local communities working to implement transit-oriented development plans at scales from the neighborhood to the region. Current place-based initiatives include efforts in Boston; the Twin Cities in Minnesota; Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon; and Denver on topics including mixed-income housing and equitable development, urban design, economic feasibility analysis and policy reform strategies. Prior to becoming CTOD director, Thorne-Lyman was Project Director in Reconnecting America’s Oakland office, where she managed a range of technical assistance and research projects. She was previously a Principal at Strategic Economics, a partner in the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, where she managed economic and real estate analyses for a range of different clients including transit agencies and local governments. She has worked with CTOD since 2004, during which time she has completed numerous plans supporting TOD at the station area, corridor, and regional scales. Abby received her Master in City Planning from U.C. Berkeley with a concentration in regional and local economic development. She has a Bachelor of Arts in the Growth and Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College.
Elizabeth works out of Reconnecting America’s Oakland office, and has been deeply engaged in transit and TOD-focused technical assistance projects at the regional and the corridor scale in the Bay Area, Denver, Los Angeles and the Twin Cities, among other regions. She was a team leader on the 2012 report Are We There Yet? Creating Complete Communities for 21st Century America and lead the analysis on The Los Angeles TOD Typology: Creating Successful Transit-Oriented Districts in Los Angeles and the TOD Implementation Strategy for Denver’s West Corridor. She co-authored three of the TOD 200 series booklets including, TOD 203: Transit Corridors and TOD, TOD 205: Families and TOD, and the upcoming TOD 206: Intercity Rail and TOD. Elizabeth specializes in spatial and data analysis and has led CTOD efforts on typologies as a tool to implement TOD and using equitable approaches to creating communities around transit, including strategies for housing preservation and production. Most recently, Elizabeth has been working with teams in the Bay Area and Denver regions exploring the connection between jobs, workforce development and transit. Prior to joining Reconnecting America, Ms. Wampler conducted research and analysis on ways to assess neighborhood change and develop policy to address and mitigate negative impacts of change. Ms. Wampler has a background in community development in Chicago and worked for many years on the southwest side of the City of Chicago working with local nonprofits and CDCs there. She attended the University of Chicago and the University of California at Berkeley.
Jeff is the New Media Director and Chief Cartographer at Reconnecting America. He does mapping analysis for a variety of projects and conducts research on transit mode funding, technology, and the relationship of transit to development while also coordinating new media outreach and communications. Previous to his work at Reconnecting America, Jeff co-founded Connect Austin, an umbrella organization for nonprofits in Austin that promoted streetcars. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin.