35 year-old Salem resident T. Kenji Sugahara is the new leader of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA), a non-profit of over 3,000 annual members that promotes racing throughout the state. The announcement came at an OBRA board meeting earlier this month.
Sugahara takes over for Candi Murray, who has led OBRA for the past 22 years. Murray, whose husband Mike has also been closely involved with OBRA for decades, told me this morning that she felt it was time to move on; “I felt like I reached the point where I just kind of hit a wall with where I was taking the organization. I needed some young, enthusiastic person to come along and say, ‘I can do that better.’ I’m getting close to 60 and it just seemed like a good time to think about it.”
She’d been thinking about it for the past two years, and had announced her retirement in October of 2006, but she wasn’t able to officially step down until she found a replacement.
Sugahara had been assistant director for less than a year and now he and Murray will switch positions. “I’ll be here to back-up Kenji while we make the transition.”
(Photo: Team HUP United)
During her tenure, Murray has seen OBRA grow from 700 members in 1986 to over 3,200 annual members (over 5,000 including one-day license holders). Today, Oregon has the highest number of racers per capita in the United States and is second only to California in the number of cycling events.
Formerly the Chair of the Oregon Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Sugahara is a licensed lawyer and has a wide range of experience that includes information technology and project management. He also maintains the “Racing with K-Man” blog which keeps up with the latest news and gossip on the Northwest racing scene.
Sugahara says he’ll continue OBRA’s growth (last year they set records for participation) by working to to increase women’s interest in the sport and supporting races throughout Oregon (OBRA maintains race equipment for promoters in Eugene, Bend, Medford, and Portland) and work with other bike groups to to encourage cycling.
Murray says she is elated that they have found someone as qualified as Sugahara; “Kenji is so perfect for this. I’m very excited to see what he’s going to do and where the organization will go from here.”
In looking back on her decades of experience, Murray said leaving OBRA completely isn’t an option; “It’s been a really good run. I took it over as a job, and I created a family, and you can’t get rid of family members.”