(Photos: Elly Blue)
Roopal Patel, who was hired as the first ever Finance Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance back in April 2009, has decided to leave the organization. Patel becomes the fourth BTA director-level staffer to have either resigned or be fired in the past year.
Rob Sadowsky, the BTA’s new Executive Director, confirmed Patel’s resignation and said she’ll stay on through August to help with the hiring process. No reasons were cited for the resignation. Sadowsky says Patel was simply “ready to move on.”
“I don’t believe members should be concerned. We’re putting together a great team that’s going to move the BTA forward.”
— Rob Sadowsky, Executive Director
Patel moved to Portland — specifically to work for the BTA — from Montreal, Quebec where she worked as an auditor for accounting firm Deloitte & Touche. While at the BTA, Patel is widely credited for her role in improving their financial management practices. In October 2009, she aided the BTA in a clean up of over $92,000 in lost funds due to accounting errors.
Patel has been at the BTA during what is easily the most tumultuous period in the organization’s 16-year history. Two of the organization’s top staffers — former executive director Scott Bricker and former government affairs director Karl Rohde — were fired and numerous other employees have resigned. In February, longtime advocacy leader Michelle Poyourow resigned and just a few weeks ago, former volunteer organizer and human resources manager Michael O’Leary (who most recently led their charge on the Burnside-Couch issue) also decided to move on.
Patel’s two other director-level colleagues, former operations and communications director Angela Koch and former development director Eileen Trudeau, have also resigned.
L to R: Eileen Trudeau, Angela Koch, Roopal Patel.
Reached today in his new office at BTA headquarters in downtown Portland, executive director Rob Sadowsky said his members have no reason to worry. “I don’t believe members should be concerned. We’re putting together a great team that’s going to move the BTA forward.”
Sadowsky said he would have loved to have Patel be a member of that team and he noted that her tenure “was brief but it was incredibly productive.” “The new person will be benefit from that and she leaves the work in good hands.”
Asked whether Patel and all the other staff changes will make his job more difficult, Sadowsky replied, “I have to go with what I’ve got. In both cases [Patel and Trudeau] I would have loved for them to stay, but the best thing I can do right now is hold together a great team.”
Sadowsky’s presence will be key for the BTA. He comes from leading an advocacy organization in Chicago with three times their size and he’s known for his financial management and organizational acumen. At the recent National Bike Summit, Sadowsky won an award from the national non-profit Alliance for Biking and Walking for “Best Practices.”
With Sadowsky’s experience and Patel sticking around to help with the transition, he says, “We shouldn’t be missing a beat.”
[Disclosure: Patel’s partner is Jonathan “J.R.” Reed, who is the sole paid member of the BikePortland staff.]