New Appointments to Toole Design Board Bring Commitment to Diversity
The owners of Toole Design have appointed three new board members to help them chart a course through the next three years. Kinya Stewart, Sagar Onta, and Stefanie Brodie replace outgoing members Andy Clarke and Ian Lockwood and Nick Jackson.
“We are excited to add three new voices to the Board,” said Jennifer Toole. “Kinya, Sagar, and Stefanie have valuable perspectives that are going to help us to make smart decisions about the future of the company. We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive staff so we can continue to deliver projects that reflect our values of ethics, equity, and empathy; these appointments are going to help us thrive in an increasingly challenging and uncertain world.”
Toole Design’s 8-person board of directors provides insight and guidance on critical decisions affecting the future direction of the business. In addition to owners Jennifer Toole, RJ Eldridge, and Bill Schultheiss, board members currently include Alia Anderson (Director of Planning, North America) and Jessica Fields (Denver Office Director).
Kinya Stewart is Toole Design’s Assistant Controller based in Silver Spring, MD where she manages our finance team. She hopes to “use my nearly two decades of financial and operations experience to help expand on the strong foundation of accounting principles that have already been established.” In addition, Kinya says she is “looking forward to advocating diversity as a company strength that we should continue to embrace; increasing financial literacy throughout the company by demystifying accounting ideologies, streamlining operations, and helping to improve and explain profitability; and identifying smart ways for the board and executive team to manage and assess growth”.
Sagar Onta, P.E., was “happy to accept the invitation to join board” and says he “takes the responsibility seriously and I am committed to doing my best to guide the company in the next phase of growth in these uncertain times.” A Denver-based engineer, Sagar wants to “focus on building lasting relationships with clients while we continue to push the transportation industry to understand its own unconscious biases and to do the right thing. I also pledge to bring a diverse perspective and voice in the decision-making processes of the company. We have a strong foundation in the industry when it comes to our values and I hope to support and challenge the company to translate that reputation into sustained success in years ahead.” Sagar is also stepping up to the role of Interim Director of Equity and Inclusion following the departure of Tamika Butler.
Senior Researcher Stefanie Brodie, PhD, adds another critical perspective to the Board. She is a member of Toole Design’s Research and Data Analysis team, a rapidly growing area of expertise, and will be the first representative of Toole Design’s Associates (an internal leadership training program) to serve on the board. Based in Silver Spring, MD, Stefanie is “eager to join the Board and bring my perspective as an Associate, newer staff member, researcher, and Black woman to the table. I’m excited to help Toole Design continue to lead the industry in active transportation. We have years of experience to offer and I hope to help us leverage this to face challenges in increasing equitable transportation outcomes and improving public health.”
“This is a big and important step for Toole Design in a number of ways,” continued Jennifer Toole. “These appointments are a part of our commitment to building a more diverse company, and reflect our determination to demonstrate empathy, ethics, and equity internally as well as in our project work. The board needs to gather a wide variety of inputs from many perspectives if we are going to make smart, well-informed decisions in these difficult times. I am really looking forward to sitting down – literally or virtually – with this group to chart our course for the years ahead.”
Jennifer also had praise for the outgoing board members. “I want to thank Ian Lockwood and Andy Clarke for their contributions during their two-year terms; they’ve offered critical input into the crystallization of our approach to design and engineering work, and to establishing the core values of the company. I particularly want to acknowledge Nick Jackson for his contribution over many years – he remains an owner yet felt it was important to relinquish his place on the board to bring in new and different voices.”
Hot off the Press! New Video illustrating Rebalanced Streets
Toole Design has created a short video to help understand how and why streets can be rebalanced to create more space for people. Led by Senior Visualization Specialist Spencer Boomhower, Rebalancing Acts explains why safe and healthy streets are needed for essential workers, and how they can help local businesses re-open while maintaining physical distancing.
“I wanted to show how we can use this kind of visualization to help people imagine a new future with safe and equitable streets,” says Boomhower. “The clip also reminds us of the many competing priorities on our streets, and how we can accommodate them all with a little creativity and courage.”
Spencer, who is based in Toole Design’s Portland, OR office, creates animated videos to help clients illustrate all sorts of new street designs and reimagined spaces. To find out more about his work, contact him at email@example.com.
Post Pandemic Re-opening and Recovery
Toole Design staff are immensely grateful to our clients for their flexibility and understanding as we have navigated the last four months together. We fully appreciate how fortunate we are to be able to work from home, and to be able to continue working, period. We are mindful of the importance of our work to essential workers, to those without a job, to people with limited or no access to open space and safe streets – to everyone who benefits from healthy streets and active transportation.
There is still a long way to go before the coronavirus is behind us. As the country emerges from stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, we are taking a deliberate and thoughtful approach to re-opening Toole Design offices across the country. We are committed to the health and safety of our employees first and foremost, and we are grateful for technology that allows us to make working from home feasible for as long as is necessary. We also have pretty cool Toole Design face masks, made by a Los Angeles-based company, for all our staff.
We are committed to a seamless return to office-based work, and to public outreach and engagement activities, within the constraints of local public health agency directives. We will not require that any staff member participate in public-facing project work where they do not feel comfortable; our project managers and company leadership will work with clients to complete this work safely.
“We are living in a world that has forever been changed by the coronavirus,” according to Jennifer Toole. “Our office environments will be radically different; that’s a logistical challenge. The greater challenge is to re-tool our profession to deliver more inclusive and equitable projects with meaningful engagement and outreach…and do better than we were doing before the pandemic. We look forward to tackling that with you all, with the same creativity and empathy we’ve seen during the past four months.”
Alia Anderson, AICP Director of Planning, North America provides an overview of Quick Build projects as the kick-off to a two-part webinar hosted by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. The May 19 & 20 webinars feature rapid implementation projects in Houston, San Jose, and Minneapolis.
Stefanie Brodie, Phd, Senior Researcher, presents an equity analysis designed for data‐driven decision-making during a May 20 webinar hosted by APBP. She explains the process of evaluating key performance measures through an equity framework, using examples from Dallas, TX and Lowell, MA.