Former PBOT staffer setting up ‘Committee on Transportation Equity’ for Biden Administration

Portrait of a person with black curly hair and glasses standing in front of a white background
Irene Marion. (Photo: US DOT)

A new advisory committee to the U.S. Department of Transportation will have fingerprints of a former Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) staffer all over it.

Irene Marion worked on equity and inclusion programs at PBOT for about five years before taking a job with the Biden Administration in January 2021. Now, as director of the USDOT’s office of civil rights, Marion has been tapped to re-establish the Advisory Committee on Transportation Equity.

The committee was first convened in 2016 by former President Barack Obama and was dissolved under President Donald Trump.

The charge of the committee is to, “provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation on comprehensive, interdisciplinary issues related to transportation equity from a variety of stakeholders involved in transportation planning, design, research, policy, and advocacy in pursuit of the Department’s equity goals.”

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Specifically, the committee will focus on programs, policies and projects that expand access to transportation for historically underserved people and will help ensure the DOT hears more clearly from constituents impacted by transportation decisions. Other goals include: expanding USDOT contracting opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses; strengthening partnerships with underserved communities “who have been historically underrepresented in the Department’s outreach and engagement”; create a forum for equity concerns raised by local and regional governments and organizations; and more.

It’s not a surprising career arc for Marion. Not only did she do similar work at the City of Portland, but during her time at PBOT the agency said equity is its “north star” and in August 2020 announced a goal to be an antiracist organization.

The new USDOT committee will consist of 25 members “with cross-cutting experience at the intersections of civil rights, housing, health care, disability access, and environmental justice.” If this sounds like an exciting opportunity for you, applications are being accepted now through June 15th. To apply, submit a statement of interest and a statement of qualifications (such as a resume) to equity@dot.gov.

Learn more at Transportation.gov.

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