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.

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.

Antonio Alarcón, Community Organizer, comes from Make the Road New York, the largest grassroots community organization in New York, where he worked the past 8 years. He is an enthusiastic leader who has been organizing his community for almost a decade, working towards the passage of the NY Dream Act and Immigration Reform at the federal level. Antonio graduated from Queens College with a film degree. His goal to create films about the struggle of people of color. Currently, he stars in “Indivisible” a film depicting family separation due to the current immigration system. The film has won a Peabody Award. He has been published in the New York Times, El Diario, Remezcla and several other newspapers and outlets.

Rebecca Bailin, Political Director, 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.

Stephanie Burgos-Veras, Senior 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.

Daniel Coates, Director of Campaigns and Organizing, has over a decade of experience in community organizing and campaign management. He worked for Make the Road New York for 8 years where, as a Lead Organizer, he played a crucial role in the organization’s immigration campaigns, including the creation of the IDNYC and the effort to end NYC’s unjust collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Most recently he worked as Director of Multi-State Initiatives, helping to start new Make the Road organizations around the country. He also served as Chief of Staff to NYC Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. Daniel holds a Masters from NYU Wagner and a BA from the University of Virginia. He was born in Kenya and grew up in Virginia and Mozambique.

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, Director of Development, 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 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.

Michael Maskin, Community Organizer, comes from the labor organizing world, where he worked with SEIU 32BJ to help subcontracted airport workers in New York City organize and win their first ever union contract. He has also been involved with Fight for $15 and other campaigns to work towards making the city an accessible place to live for everyone. Michael started at the Riders Alliance as a canvasser, and enjoys talking with riders and hearing their stories on the subway. As the South Brooklyn Community Organizer, Michael is working to ensure that the outer boroughs of the city are represented in plans to fix the buses and subways. Michael holds a B.A. in American Studies from Tufts University, with a minor in Political Science.

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.

Alina Shen, Community Organizer, is a lifelong New Yorker, passionate about the worker-led labor movement and youth organizing. Her belief in member-led community organizing comes from CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities and the Laundry Workers Center. She has a background in education, as a facilitator for the Sadie Nash Leadership Project and the Museum of Chinese in America; and in public service, as a Community Liaison under the New York State Assembly. Alina currently serves as an adviser for Chinatown Literacy Project. She received her B.A. from the City University of New York.

Kristin Wright, Operations and Canvass Manager, brings to the Riders Alliance her passion for advocacy and political action, developed through over twelve years of civic community engagement. While attending Carmel High School, she founded the school’s first student run political association. 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.

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.

Christina Greer is an Associate Professor of Political Science and American Studies at Fordham University (Lincoln Center Campus). Prof. Greer’s book Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream (Oxford University Press, 2013) investigates the increasingly ethnically diverse black populations in NYC and in the US from Africa and the Caribbean. She is a frequent political commentator on several media outlets, primarily MSNBC and NY1 (for the lovers of policy and politics). She is the co-host of the New York centered podcast FAQ-NYC and also writes a weekly column for The Amsterdam News, one of the oldest black newspapers in the U.S. She is interested in issues of accessibility for all New York City residents. Greer received her B. A. from Tufts University and her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University.

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.

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.