Betsy Plum, Executive Director, Betsy has spent her career in the social justice field. Before joining Riders Alliance, she served as the Vice President of Policy for the New York Immigration Coalition. While at the NYIC, Betsy led multiple winning policy campaigns, oversaw robust rapid response efforts and organizational growth, and helped set the vision for what a more inclusive New York must look like. She joined Riders Alliance in 2020 bringing her commitment to build a stronger, more thriving New York and a belief that we arrive at this place by investing in our public systems and holding those in power accountable. In addition to her role at Riders Alliance, Betsy serves on the Board of Directors of Central American Legal Assistance and is a Sterling Fellow, a network of systems leaders working to increase economic mobility across New York City, with racial equity as a central guiding value. She is a graduate of Bard College and the London School of Economics.
Samaya Abdus-Salaam, Community Engagement and Development Manager, 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.
Stephanie Burgos-Veras, Organizing Manager, 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.
Danna Dennis, Community Organizer, has been building communities and fighting for positive social change for years. As a college student at SUNY Herkimer, she represented her freshman class in student government and coordinated public relations for the Black Student Union. Danna is a longtime volunteer in the Seventh Day Adventist Church where she has served as a youth leader and planned mission trips and conferences, convening more than eleven hundred people. Before joining the staff of the Riders Alliance, Danna worked in the health care field and was a volunteer leader at the Riders Alliance fighting for better C train services and affordable MetroCards for low-income New Yorkers on the Fair Fares campaign.
Sonia Isard, Deputy Director, oversees fundraising and operations for the Riders Alliance. She brings a deep 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 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.
Jorge Muñiz, Digital Organizer, is a Harlem-born, Staten Island-raised, proud Mexican American living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He is an experienced project manager, digital strategist, and campaign organizer. Prior to the Riders Alliance he served in NYC’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, founding a digital communications program, and implementing special projects large and small. In the past, he has worked for Lutheran Medical Center, the New York City Council, Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and more.
Danny Pearlstein, Policy and Communications Director, started advocating for better transit in high school and developed his passion for politics and organizing while working in neighborhood groups and city government. He came to the Riders Alliance from the New York City Council where he was chief of staff to Committee on Land Use Chair David Greenfield and counsel to Courts & Legal Services Chair Rory Lancman. Previously, he represented injured workers and low-income tenants in court. He has degrees in environmental studies and urban planning from Cornell and law from Cardozo.
Jolyse Race, Senior Organizer, has been a community and labor organizer for over seven years. She began organizing while earning her BA in Anthropology at Michigan State University. During undergrad she worked to organize an undergraduate student union and ran campaigns to decrease tuition and improve policies responding to sexual assault on campus. She spent years fundraising for organizations and projects that directly support those with marginalized identities in her community. Jolyse also spent two years organizing for Michigan State University’s Graduate Employees Union where she played a crucial role in raising membership and finishing a successful contract campaign. She is excited to continue her commitment to social justice by fighting for better public transportation in New York City.
Kristin Wright, Human Resources and Operations Manager, brings to the Riders Alliance her passion for advocacy and political action, developed through over fifteen years of civic community engagement. She studied Political Science at the University of British Columbia, and during that time, served as the university’s Student Union Diversity Director. Central to her role at the Riders Alliance is her belief that progressive change begins with a dedication to equity and social justice.
Board of Directors
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.
Amanda Farias is an Assistant Director at The Consortium for Worker Education, where she leads a workforce development and job training program in the transportation sector, getting Bronxites into the middle-class through lifelong careers in unionized jobs. Amanda is a lifelong Bronxite and public transit user; she cares deeply about accessibility throughout NYC and how that impacts under-served communities of color, low-income New Yorkers, and particularly how economic insecurity and safety intersect for women using our transit system. You can find her avoiding delays by debating using the 6 or 2 train in the morning, and dodging bad weather by waiting for the Q40/42. Amanda has a B.A. and M.A. from St. John’s University in Public Administration.
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.
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.
Richard L. Oram has an urban transport career spanning 40 years, as a Federal and local employee, consultant and business owner. He earned a US Department of Transportation Outstanding Public Service Award in 1980. In 1990 he formed Commuter Check Services Corp., a national marketing and financial service to facilitate mass use of tax-free transit benefits. He has degrees in economics and business administration from Lehigh University, a master’s degree in urban planning from London School of Economics, and published doctoral work on the economic history of public transport in the US and UK. In 2003 he co-founded Sun Farm Network, an innovative New Jersey solar energy company. He now chairs the Fund for the Environment and Urban Life.
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.