Staff & Board

Staff

John Raskin, Executive Director, is an organizer and political leader with extensive experience in New York City and State politics. Before co-founding the Riders Alliance, he served as chief of staff to New York State Senator Daniel Squadron. Prior to that, he worked for five years as a community organizer and director of organizing for Housing Conservation Coordinators, an affordable housing advocacy organization on the West Side of Manhattan. He has a B.A. from Harvard University.

Nick Sifuentes, Deputy Director, comes to the Riders Alliance after working in the National Issue Advocacy Practice at BerlinRosen Public Affairs, where he spearheaded communications strategies to promote environmental protection, LGBT rights, arts and culture, and good jobs. Nick also served as the Sierra Club’s Press Secretary for the Northeastern United States, as a communicator at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), and as a journalist with the Center for American Progress. He is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Rebecca Bailin, Campaign Manager, has close to ten years of experience working for social justice. She has worked as the Student Network Coordinator for the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and as a reproductive rights advocate for Planned Parenthood of Nassau County. She holds an M.A. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research and a B.A. from the University of British Columbia.

Sonia Isard, Development Director, brings her commitment to community engagement to the fight for better public transit. Before joining the Riders Alliance, she worked as the Associate Editor and Digital Media Editor for Lilith Magazine. She holds an M.A. from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. from the University of Michigan, where she focused on environmental economics. Sonia got her start in organizing with the Philadelphia Student Union, where she worked on educational equality and youth empowerment.

Masha Burina, Senior Community Organizer, has a background in organizing, community outreach, policy research and legislative relations on campaigns including paid­ sick leave, housing for the homeless, “sweat­free” procurement policies, and fast food workers Fight for $15. Masha holds a B.A from the University of Washington, an LL.M. from the University of Turin, and a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Stephanie Veras, Community Organizer, traces her passion for social change and advocacy to her freshman year in college at The City College of New York, where she was a Colin Powell fellow. She has experience conducting outreach and research for Trestle Communications’ “You’ve Earned It” campaign to increase Medicaid enrollment among DACA recipients. In addition, she worked closely with District 10 leaders and staff to build capacity in Washington Heights and Inwood to engage community members in the citywide participatory budgeting process. Stephanie holds a B.A. in Media Communications Arts with a concentration in Public Relations and Advertising from The City College of New York.

Joseph Loonam, Organizing Fellow, is a native New Yorker who has spent his life around organizers in some form or another. He was a volunteer with Community Voices Heard and VOCAL NY throughout high school, before leaving the city to attend Hampshire College in Amherst MA. There he earned a BA studying the history of social movements in the United States. When he was not in school he worked at the Metropolitan Council on Housing organizing tenant associations and helping coordinate the Real Rent Reform coalition. He is very excited to work at the Riders Alliance as a Center for Neighborhood Leadership apprentice, in partnership with Public Allies and Americorp.

Samaya Abdus-Salaam, Membership Organizer, was introduced to community engagement and social activism during high school when she participated in a youth environmentalist group with the International Education and Resource Network USA. Samaya led anti-police brutality protests and rallies during college at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she received a B.A. in English. She has fundraised for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and worked as a summer intern for the New York Foundation. Samaya was introduced to community organizing as an intern for the Riders Alliance and is excited to be back in this new capacity.

Kristin Wright, Operations and Canvass Manager, has spent many years organizing groups in support of political education. While studying Political Science at the University of British Columbia, Kristin served as the Student Union Diversity Coordinator to ensure all demographics at the university received equal representation. Her role at the Rider’s Alliance is based in the understanding that progressive change can only occur with community support and participation.

 

Advisory Board

Tolani Arike Adeboye is the Senior Director of the Office of Data Management at the New York City Department of Education, where she leads state and Federal reporting initiatives, academic data infrastructure and governance efforts, and strategic data management. Tolani is a lifelong public transit user and is particularly concerned about access for under-served communities and low-income riders. She joined the Riders Alliance as a member-activist in 2012 and is a proud resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Errol Cockfield is a Senior Vice President at MSNBC where he is responsible for setting the communications and media strategy for the network and partnering with editorial and business leads. Cockfield is a veteran communications strategist and crisis management expert who has helped numerous high profile organizations and individuals protect their reputations and advance brand goals. At MSNBC, he also serves as lead spokesperson. A journalist by training, Cockfield draws from extensive experience in the areas of media, politics and communications consulting, having led the New York crisis management team for Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations agency. He also served as press secretary to NY Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson. Cockfield is also a media trainer, executive coach and has run crisis simulations for C-Suite teams. Prior to his time in government and public relations, Cockfield was an editor and reporter for the Los Angeles Times, the Hartford Courant and Newsday.

Mark Foggin is a civic sector management consultant firm helping nonprofit, public sector and other mission-driven organizations that focus on economic and community development. He previously co-founded the consulting firm Public Works Partners and, before that, spent more than a dozen years in the Bloomberg and Giuliani administrations. Mark has lived in four of the five boroughs and is an enthusiastic multimodal commuter.

Michael Freedman-Schnapp is an urban planning and public policy expert working for Forsyth Street Advisors, an advisory and asset management firm focused on affordable housing, real estate, and municipal/impact investment. He was previously the Director of the City Council’s Policy & Innovation Division and Director of Policy for Council Member Brad Lander, where he was critical to the planning and implementation of the largest participatory budgeting process in North America. He teaches urban planning and policy courses at the Pratt Institute and the NYU Wagner School.

Kei Hayashi is an economic development and real estate professional who has spent time working in both the public and private sectors. She is the founding partner of BJH Advisors, a real estate advisory firm that specializes in tax policy and public-private partnerships, including examining creative funding mechanisms for transit infrastructure and industrial infrastructure. Kei has done a lot of thinking about how to support public goods such as the industrial assets, public open space, transit, and affordable housing. Kei has a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a M.P.A. from Princeton University.

Benjamin Kabak is the author of Second Avenue Sagas, a widely read blog that focuses on issues involving mass transit in New York City. He is a graduate of NYU Law School and an attorney at Bortstein Legal Group in Manhattan.

Genevieve Michel is Vice President, Real Estate at Kasirer, a leading New York City-based government affairs firm, where she advises real estate clients on community relations and how to successfully navigate the City’s approval processes. Prior to joining Kasirer, Genevieve served as Chief of Staff to Council Member Dan Garodnick. While at the Council, she worked closely with Riders Alliance to successfully pass legislation requiring employers offer transit benefits. Genevieve is a graduate of New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she earned a BA in Politics & Public Policy.

Theodore Moore is the Lead Organizer at JustLeadershipUSA. He brings over 15 years of nonprofit and political advocacy experience, having previously worked for NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in the Policy & Innovation Division as a Senior Policy Analyst as the National Lead Organizer with the Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC-United) as well as with ALIGN: the Alliance for a Greater New York and the Working Families Party. He is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, born and raised in the East Flatbush section of the borough.

Jeremy Soffin is a Senior Vice President at BerlinRosen, a public affairs and communications firm in New York. He previously worked as director of media relations at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), where he served as chief spokesman for the agency that runs New York’s buses, subways, suburban commuter rails and various bridges and tunnels.