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CommuteCon 2020

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Keynote: Transportation Equity

Tamika Butler, Esq.
Director of Planning for California and the Director of Equity and Inclusion
Toole Design

Session Description

Tamika Butler is a lead executive with Toole Design, a Maryland-based transportation planning firm that operates across North America. Toole Design specializes in creating streets and transportation systems that incorporate active forms of commuting and deliver equitable access to transit infrastructure. Building on her background in law, community service, and equitability activism, Tamika holds dual roles as Toole Design’s director of planning and director of equity and inclusion.

In her talk on transportation equity, Tamika illustrated points of contact between the emerging science of smart commuting and underlying issues of equity and racial equality. She noted that science is playing an increasingly prominent and important role in transportation demand management, but also problematized prevailing scientific models as being disproportionately grounded in sociopolitical systems that an emerging generation of thinkers have problematized.

One of the key topics Tamika focused on relates to TDM policy development: who is conducting it? What perspectives are those people coming from? What are their life experiences like? Are they thinking about issues of racial equality and social justice? Through her work with Toole Design, Tamika strives to ensure the inclusive, equal representation of all community members in the transportation networks her company designs.

In asking these questions, Tamika notes that current approaches to policy-making continue to overlook key equity and inclusion factors such as:

  • Rising costs of housing
  • The racialized displacement of legacy populations through gentrification
  • Changing demographics of cities and neighborhoods
  • The differing needs of members of various races and ethnic groups

Tamika also discussed biases in TDM research, and provided details on how professionals can interpret data to detect and overcome them. She recommends asking questions like:

  • What biases does the data reflect?
  • Who is interpreting the data? What biases do they have?
  • What is actually happening “on the ground” at the location in question?
  • Which population groups are represented in the data?

Her full talk is required viewing for any TDM professional seeking deep, meaningful insights into questions of social justice, equitability, inclusion, and system accessibility. Be sure to check it out!

About the speaker:

Tamika L. Butler, Esq. is Toole Design’s Director of Planning for California and the Director of Equity and Inclusion. In addition to her responsibilities on planning projects, Tamika leads Toole Design’s internal efforts to become a more diverse, inclusive workplace that employs people of all backgrounds. This includes collaborating with Human Resources on recruiting and hiring practices, leading trainings for staff, and serving as a resource for colleagues across the country.

Tamika has a diverse background in law, community organizing and nonprofit leadership. As the Principal of Tamika L. Butler Consulting she focused on shining a light on inequality, inequity, and social justice. She provided consulting, training, and public speaking for a wide range of organizations in the public and private sectors. Recently she was the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a non-profit organization that addresses social and racial equity, and wellness, by building parks and gardens in park-poor communities across Greater Los Angeles. Before that, she was the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Prior to leading LACBC, Tamika was the Director of Social Change Strategies at Liberty Hill Foundation, and worked at Young Invincibles as the California Director.

She transitioned to policy work after litigating for three years as an employment lawyer at Legal Aid at Work in San Francisco, CA (formerly Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center). Tamika previously served on the board of the Alliance for Biking and Walking. She also served as the co-chair of the National Center for Lesbian Rights Board of Directors and served on the board of an affordable housing land trust, T.R.U.S.T. South LA . She currently serves on the boards of the New Leaders Council – Los Angeles and Lambda Literary Foundation and is an advisory board member for Legal Aid at Work’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports program. Tamika received her J.D. from Stanford Law School, and received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She currently lives in Leimert Park with her wife, Kelly, and son, Atei.