Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 16th, 2020 at 8:04 am
The northeast Portland-based nonprofit Community Cycling Center (CCC) has chosen Momoko Saunders as their new executive director. Saunders comes to the CCC after a three-year stint with Portland’s Biketown bike share system — first as operations director and most recently as general manager for Motivate (the company that runs Biketown). You might also know Saunders as a co-founder of Bike Farm, the all-volunteer nonprofit bike shop she has helped run since 2007.
In a blog post Thursday afternoon, the CCC wrote, “[Momoko’s] experience running bicycle organizations coupled with her passion for transportation equity make her a perfect fit to lead our organization into the future.”
Saunders has been active in our community for many years. She has a tech background, has served as co-chair of the Portland Bureau of Transportation Budget Advisory Committee, and was on the board of directors of (now dissolved) Portland Society, a professional networking and support group for women. In a 2017 BikePortland interview Saunders shared more about her role at Bike Farm and her love of bike touring.
Saunders takes over the CCC at an interesting time. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the organization to re-tool their programs and retail bike shop on Northeast Alberta Street. Instead of volunteer repair nights, school-based education programs, and camps for kids, the CCC has pivoted to food delivery by bike and virtual get togethers. The organization’s annual Holiday Bike Drive, set to happen this Friday, has also been adapted for the Covid era. Instead of a gala event in the atrium of Legacy Emanuel Hospital, the CCC will refurbish hundreds of donated bikes and deliver them door-to-door to young people and families citywide.
Saunders should do well in a role that requires constant adaptation. In addition to her varied professional and nonprofit background, Saunders has completed several solo bike tours in far-flung destinations. Saunders’ ride through Japan was featured in Adventure Cyclist magazine in 2009 — an adventure she credits with helping process her relationship with her mother, who passed away when she was 20 years old.
The CCC is a good place for someone who understands the inherent power of bicycles to change lives. It’s also a somewhat fitting organization for a leader with experience in bike share systems. America’s first bike share system — the Yellow Bike Program — was launched in 1994 by one of Saunders’ predecessors, CCC founder Brian Lacy.
Saunders takes over for Interim Executive Director Jonnie Ling who was serving in that post after former Executive Director Kasandra Griffin left the organization back in February.
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