A Note from Our Board Chair


In 2023, we marked Transportation Choices Coalition’s 30th year fighting for safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation. Celebrating our Pearl Anniversary at TCC’s annual Tuxes and Trains gala, I reflected on everything this organization has made possible in our state and region over the past three decades: the opportunity we’ve created, the investments we’ve unlocked, the partnerships we’ve built. Our first thirty years have set a high bar, but they inspire us to leap even further in the coming years.

Underpinning our journey forward is our new Strategic Plan, one that focuses on equity. In a world where access to transportation remains a key determinant of opportunity, our commitment to ensuring fairness and inclusivity in transportation investment and policy has never been more critical. We’ll be doubling down on partnerships and coalition-building, and deepening our statewide impact to advocate for investments and policies that expand transit access, combat climate change, and meet the needs of a changing world.

Our strategic plan is ambitious, but I can’t overstate the confidence I have—and have heard echoing across our community—in Kirk Hovenkotter and the TCC staff to answer its call. The Board had the pleasure to select Kirk as TCC’s next Executive Director in November, and since then we’ve been inspired, if not surprised, by the vision and drive he brings to TCC and our mission. With Kirk at the helm of this incredible group of staff, Board, and community partners, I’m beyond excited for a new era of TCC leadership as the state’s foremost advocate for transit and transit riders.

But first, let’s take a look back at 2023. I’m proud to introduce TCC’s annual report, which shows how our incredible team has championed safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation across Washington, advanced mobility justice, done in-depth policy research on critical transit issues, and engaged the next generation of transit riders. Along the way, they’ve hosted many fun, educational, and inspiring events, and brought together partners, stakeholders, and community members to strengthen our collective transportation advocacy.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you for being part of that work. Together, we will continue to champion a future for Washington state in which transportation doesn’t just take people to the places they need to go, but to the economic, cultural, and social opportunity they deserve.



Richard de Sam Lazaro

Richard de Sam Lazaro, TCC Board Chair

Work and Wins

In 2023, we campaigned to protect and expand transit access, leaned into our mobility justice work, completed a major project to get youth perspectives on transit, and kicked off new policy research on the transit workforce shortage and transit safety. To stay focused in a year of leadership transition, we selected six top policy priorities for 2023, which guided our policy work through the end of the year.

Photo of a bus driver behind the wheel with a woman on her phone in the background.

Campaigns to Fund Safe, Sustainable, and Equitable Transportation

Campaigns are a critical piece of Transportation Choices Coalition’s work. For over 30 years, we have won new funding and protected existing funding for transit agencies and transportation investments across the state to the tune of billions of dollars. This year, we defended against cuts to transit and laid the groundwork for two critical campaigns that will come before voters in 2024.

Defending Transit Funding at Local Agencies

In 2023, we continued to play defense in the Tri-Cities, Southwest WA, and Chelan and Douglas Counties. The elected Boards of Directors for Ben Franklin Transit (BFT), Link Transit, and others debated not taking funding from the state, not allowing youth to ride free on their system, or further defunding their agencies. This would have cost jobs and hurt the reliability of the transit service that people depend on. TCC worked with local partners to continue monitoring the Boards of these agencies and ensure Board members understood the consequences for constituents. The BFT Board delayed their vote to cut transit funding and service until the Spring of 2024. In Southwest WA, the Board of one agency adopted their Youth Ride Free policy, albeit with some caveats. Finally, the Link Transit Board elected to accept funding from the state to help enhance their agency. In 2024, we will continue to keep our eye on these and other issues that arise.

Defending the Climate Commitment Act

The Climate Commitment Act (CCA) is both an important climate policy and a critical funding source for multimodal transportation. The CCA is slated to provide $3B for transit and $1.3B for active transportation through Move Ahead Washington, the transportation package passed in 2022. In 2023, a ballot initiative to repeal the CCA started gathering signatures, and it was certified in early 2024. If voters pass the initiative in November 2024, Washington will lose billions for planned critical safe, sustainable, and equitable infrastructure. Transit losses will be felt even more acutely, as funding for both new service and zero-fare youth transit programs will disappear. In 2023, TCC worked to prepare for this, convincing legislators to protect the CCA and use the budget to double down on CCA investments. In 2024, TCC will work in collaboration with community partners, legislators, and others to make sure voters reject Initiative 2117.

Supporting the Seattle Transportation Levy

Approved by voters in November 2015, the 9-year, $930 million Levy to Move Seattle has provided funding to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for a growing city. The levy accounts for roughly 30% of the City’s transportation budget and replaced the 9-year, $365 million Bridging the Gap levy approved by voters in 2006. It is time for the newest levy renewal in 2024, when voters will be able to weigh in on the critical investments to capital infrastructure in Seattle. TCC led the effort to pass a levy in 2015, and will do so again in 2024. In 2023, we established policy priorities and developed relationships with stakeholders and agency staff in order to start bringing people together. In 2024, TCC will continue to lead this work, passing a levy at the Seattle City Council that prioritizes our values, and ensuring that voters support it on the ballot in November. Learn more here.

Image of a teen girl looking out a bus window with overlaid text: Youth Perspectives on Transit: Increasing Access and Utilization

Doubling Down on Our Mobility Justice Work

Everyone deserves to be safe using our transportation system. This year, we continued to socialize a broader understanding of what transportation safety means to marginalized groups, and how we can keep people safe while continuing to reduce harms from enforcement and policing in transportation.

After launching the Free to Walk Washington campaign in late 2022, our jaywalking reform work truly blossomed in 2023. With our partners, we worked to respond to feedback by adopting transparent coalition processes and clarifying our values and commitments. Externally, we continued to work with a broad coalition of organizations across the state to help people understand the ways that bias against people of color and unhoused community members can negatively impact their experience of the transportation system, and how we could create a bold bill in the legislature to address these harms. Impacts like these are pervasive in driving as well, which led us to support a partner bill that would have ended police enforcement of nonmoving traffic violations.

Another important milestone for our mobility justice work came with the development and release of our updated strategic plan, which incorporated for the first time “Mobility Justice” as a value and “Meaningfully advance racial equity and mobility justice in leadership, policy, and strategic engagement” as a goal. Having a key guiding document acknowledge the importance of mobility justice ensures that all the work that flows from the strategic plan will be strongly rooted in racial equity, both in terms of process and policy.

Image of a teen girl looking out a bus window with overlaid text: Youth Perspectives on Transit: Increasing Access and Utilization

Getting Youth Perspectives on Transit

In early 2023, Transportation Choices Coalition hosted a series of focus groups where over 100 Washingtonians 18 and younger provided their thoughts and perspectives on public transit. Participants shared insights on what works well for them in their local transit systems, what could make riding or choosing transit easier, and their hopes for the future of transportation in general. This project culminated in the publication of TCC’s Youth Perspectives on Transit report.

Youth focus group participants expressed a desire for more education on transportation policy and ways to get involved in decision-making. As a result, TCC will host a series of youth advocacy workshops in partnership with Healthy King County Coalition’s Youth for Equitable Streets in Summer 2024. 

“It’s important for transit agencies and policymakers to listen to youth voices in order to make public transportation experiences better for everyone. Many observant youth ride public transit and they know the problems and the solutions. By tapping into their knowledge and experience, decision-makers will be able to understand where to put their focus.”

— Ezra R., youth focus group participant from Yakima

Photo of a bus driver behind the wheel with a woman on her phone in the background.

Addressing the Transit Worker Shortage and Transit Safety

Transportation Choices Coalition knows that transit is essential to our transportation system, and improving transit ridership is one of our top priorities. In 2023, we sought to understand two crucial issues facing our transportation system that have implications statewide: addressing the challenges of an unprecedented transit workforce shortage, and enhancing public safety for all in transit.

Transit Workforce Shortage

The consequences of the transit workforce shortage are already felt by communities experiencing reduced service schedules, longer wait times, increased strain on the remaining workforce, and reduced transit ridership. While the shortage is felt in every role in the industry, TCC’s primary focus has been on operators. We’re actively engaging with our diverse partners to identify and share best practices, support innovative recruitment strategies and effective workforce development programs, and help remove agency barriers to attracting and retaining top talent. Learn more.

Transit Safety

Transit is an inherently safe mode of travel, but improving public safety (and perceptions of safety) is paramount for us. Our emphasis on mobility justice guides us to take a nuanced and holistic approach to addressing this issue, since safety looks and feels different for everyone. In particular, we’re focusing on solutions that minimize enforcement where possible, implementing upstream interventions where needed, and supporting investments in a fast, frequent transit system with great amenities to enhance the rider experience. Learn more.

Last year, we did a comprehensive review of academic research and industry best practices and identified many promising ideas to address these issues. In 2024, we’ll continue engaging with partners around the state, including transit agencies, workers, non-profit organizations, and other experts, to identify opportunities for workforce development and public safety programs and policies. This knowledge will serve as the foundation for our work to educate the public, assist transit agencies, and collaborate with policymakers to develop and fund solutions that move the needle for safe and reliable transit in the state to keep our communities moving.

In the Media

Transportation Choices Coalition Interim Executive Director Kelsey Mesher was interviewed for the 2023 Washington Transportation Annual.

Transportation Choices Coalition successfully elevated our work in local and national media. In total, we were mentioned in the news 28 times. Much of the coverage centered around our mobility justice work, in particular our effort to reform Washington’s jaywalking laws. We also talked with the media about the role of transit in moving toward a car-free future, key Sound Transit decisions, and the Seattle streetcar. Don’t miss this fantastic retrospective on our successful campaign to pass Move Ahead Washington.

Events & Engagement

In 2023, Transportation Choices Coalition hosted a variety of events. We continued our traditional events, like Transit Talks, while also hosting deeper engagement activities, like our youth focus groups (see previous section).

In total, we hosted nine events and 16 youth focus groups. Our events included three Transit Talks, two legislative advocacy events, two social Ride Transit Month events, one pre-legislative session mixer, and our annual Tuxes & Trains Gala. We were thrilled to be joined by and connect with hundreds of you at these events!

TCC Staff pose with our friends from Downtown On the Go at the opening of the Tacoma Link Extension.
Ride Transit Month

Last year’s Ride Transit Month was jam-packed with fun activities, including Transit Trivia, statewide proclamations, and a special Transit Talk. We even debuted a new Ride Transit Month activity, Transit Bingo!

TCC hosted Transit Trivia in Seattle, sponsored by Lime. Other Transit Trivia nights were hosted in Tacoma by Pierce Transit, Pierce Trips, and Downtown On the Go, and in Bellingham by Whatcom Transportation Authority. We hosted Ride Transit Night at the Ballpark with nearly 300 tickets sold, and we attended Trans Pride and shared Ride Transit Month swag.

The Ride Transit Month Transit Talk discussed how community members can get involved with transit decisions. It featured the three community members of Intercity Transit’s Board of Directors, as well as representatives from Puget Sound Regional Council and the Seattle Department of Transportation who support their agencies’ community advisory groups.

But that’s not all! Governor Inslee officially proclaimed June to be Ride Transit Month in Washington, and over 350 people signed the pledge to ride transit at least five times in June.

Transit fans at a Mariners game hold up signs that spell out "RIDE TRANSIT!"
Map of people who pledged to ride transit in June 2023.
Raven Cruz throws a t-shirt into a crowd of transit fans at the Mariners game.
McKenna Lux tables with Yes Segura at Trans Pride during Ride Transit Month.
Speaking Engagements

Our staff spent time sharing our work in the community this year! 

Events & Engagement Manager, McKenna Lux, presented on our youth focus group project at the Active Transportation Summit in Portland. McKenna also presented about this work at the Washington State Transit Association Conference in Vancouver, WA. At that same conference, Deputy Director, Kelsey Mesher, moderated a panel discussion on Youth Ride Free with transit agencies. 

Kelsey also recorded a video with the Healthy King County Coalition highlighting the links between health equity and mobility justice.

Policy Director, Hester Serebrin, spoke on a Transit Justice panel at Puget Sound Sage’s Community Leadership Institute.

Kelsey Mesher moderates a panel discussion on Youth Ride Free with transit agencies.
Tuxes & Trains: Waves of Change

Our 2023 gala fundraiser, Tuxes & Trains: Waves of Change, was a stunning success thanks to our incredible community of supporters. More than 300 people joined us at the gorgeous Seattle Aquarium for an evening of celebration and community. We’ve heard people call Tuxes & Trains “the party of the year” and this year’s gala did not disappoint! The evening featured a live DJ, a jellyfish photo booth, touch tanks, our Hall of Fame awards, comments by Senator Rebecca Saldaña, and a spirited “Raise the Paddle” fundraiser. Special thanks to Ellany Kayce for opening up our program with a beautiful land acknowledgment. What a treat to have so many transportation leaders from across the state come together to toast waves of change in Washington transportation!

In total, we raised $274,651, blowing past our goal of $240,000 — AMAZING! We are enormously grateful for the generous support of our Transportation Choices community. As part of Tuxes & Trains, we were honored to recognize the 2023 Transportation Choices Hall of Fame inductees — People for People, Downtown On the Go, Senator Rebecca Saldaña, and the Sound Transit Fare Ambassadors.

Ellany Kayce performs a land acknowledgment with a drum at Tuxes & Trains.
Guests holding pro-transit signs pose for a photo under the jellyfish arch at the Seattle Aquarium at Tuxes & Trains.
DJ Toya performs at Tuxes & Trains
Transit Talks

We hosted three Transit Talks in 2023, focused on jaywalking enforcement, street design, and transit rider representation.

The first webinar, “Repealing WA’s Jaywalking Laws,” was held as part of our legislative session Week of Action. The panel included Angie Schmitt (author of Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America), Ethan Campbell (author of now-published “Ticket to Walk” report), and Anwar Peace (advocate from Spokane), and the panel was moderated by Christie Hedman (Washington Defender Association).

After the legislative session, we hosted another webinar called “Road Safety for Whom?,” which focused on the various ways that street safety is managed. Panelists Jac Archer (Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane), Enoka Herat (ACLU-WA), Vicky Clarke (Washington Bikes), and Rep. Emily Alvarado (34th Legislative District) discussed how enforcement and street design impact pedestrians in different ways and how this can affect whose safety is prioritized.

Finally, our special Ride Transit Month Transit Talk, “How Riders Can Shape Transportation,” showcased various ways transit riders can be involved in shaping and supporting transportation decisions. Our panel included all three community representatives of Intercity Transit’s Board of Directors, Dr. Charles Patton (Puget Sound Regional Council), and Annya Pintak (Seattle Department of Transportation). The discussion was moderated by Guillermo Rogel Jr. (Front and Centered).

Child wearing a backpack watches the link light rail pull into a station

About Us


TCC Staff pose beneath a sign that reads "FREE YOUTH TRANSIT PASS" and an Orca made of ORCA cards.

Transportation Choices Coalition is a policy and advocacy nonprofit bringing people together to fight for safe, sustainable, and equitable transportation across Washington. Since 1993, we have been leading the way to build a transportation system that connects people to jobs, education, housing, health care, communities, and each other. Together with our partners, we have won more than $65 billion in transit, bike, and pedestrian investments at the state and local levels. We helped pass the historic Move Ahead Washington transportation package, as well as Youth Ride Free, which makes it so that anyone 18 and under can ride transit fare-free. We are making Washington State a national leader on transportation.

Our Staff

Kirk Hovenkotter, Executive Director
Kelsey Mesher, Deputy Director
Raven Cruz, Operations Manager
Susan Gleason, Development Manager
Natalie Lubsen, Communications Manager
McKenna Lux, Engagement & Events Manager
Nivya Murthi, Policy Analyst
Hester Serebrin, Policy Director
Matthew Sutherland, Advocacy Director

Our Board

Richard de Sam Lazaro, President
Dan Kully, Vice President
Sam Zimbabwe, Treasurer
Kristina Walker, Secretary
Katie Garrow, Board Member
Jacob Gonzalez, Board Member
Patience Malaba, Board Member
Emily Mannetti, Board Member
Angie Peters, Board Member
Les Reardanz, Board Member
Kylie Rolf, Board Member
Charla Skaggs, Board Member
Jeremy Une, Board Member
Caleb Weaver, Board Member


New Faces

Transportation Choices Coalition knows that our power comes from our incredible people. In 2023, we welcomed new staff members, committed new board members, and celebrated a change in leadership.

New Staff

Nivya Murthi came on board as our Policy Analyst in April 2023. At TCC, she supports research and policies that employ an equitable framework to improve access to transit. She has done extensive research on transit safety and the transit workforce shortage, helping to deepen our understanding of these critical issues. With a strong commitment to building diverse and inclusive communities and a depth of public policy experience in multinational contexts, she prioritizes making public goals more accessible and actionable.

Natalie Lubsen joined us as a communications consultant in May, before coming on board as our Communications Manager in October. She got a taste of transportation advocacy consulting with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and honed her communications skills at YES! Media. She’s become a key member of our team, helping to craft graphics, newsletters, and messaging, distill complex ideas, and liaise with media. As a non-driver, she deeply appreciates both public transit and walkable neighborhoods.

New Board Members

Les Reardanz is currently the General Manager of the Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) in Bellingham, Washington. WTA provides transportation services designed to connect people to opportunities, and is also working to use transportation to enable community efforts to tackle complex problems like workforce housing, climate change, and better mobility for underrepresented communities. Prior to joining WTA in 2021, Les worked for the Port of Everett, Washington, for ten years as both its Chief Executive Officer and the Deputy Chief Executive Officer.

Angie Peters

Angie Peters is the General Manager at Valley Transit in Walla Walla, Washington. Valley Transit provides transportation services to help people access medical care, employment, education, social services, recreation, and other social determinants of health locations. Angie is deeply committed to enhancing accessibility in public transit and is passionate about sustainable mobility. Her vision revolves around promoting equitable transportation, taking proactive steps to bridge accessibility gaps, and advocating for policies prioritizing accessible infrastructure.

Changing Leadership: Farewell Alex, Hello Kirk!

Alex Hudson and staff raise their hands at a farewell party.
Kirk Hovenkotter stands in front of the giant fish aquarium at Tuxes & Trains.

In 2023, we bid farewell to TCC’s Executive Director since 2018, Alex Hudson. Alex’s leadership and dedication were instrumental in building our team and delivering historic wins for Washingtonians. At Tuxes & Trains: Waves of Change, the board announced that Kirk Hovenkotter would be our next Executive Director. Many in our community already know Kirk and have worked with him in his previous leadership roles at Commute Seattle, Move Redmond, and TransitCenter. Kirk has championed TCC’s mission throughout his career and there is nobody better suited to take the organization into its next chapter.

A Note from Our New Executive Director

Hi Washington!

I’m Kirk Hovenkotter, the new Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. I am thrilled to lead the organization that gave me my start in transportation advocacy and to work with such an incredible staff, board, and community of supporters. Together, we will achieve our mission to secure safe, sustainable, and equitable transportation across Washington.

Only 20% of Washington residents live within a half mile of frequent transit. At Move Redmond and Commute Seattle, I worked first-hand with commuters who endured long trips to work every day and heard how that took them away from their friends and family and put opportunities out of reach. It highlighted to me how investments in transit and safe walking and biking access could tangibly improve people’s lives.

Last year our board and staff adopted our 2023-2026 strategic plan. It is a powerful commitment to making a more just and sustainable transportation system. My job is to implement it alongside staff and partners to achieve our five stated goals: advance intersectional policies, increase funding, build public support, deepen statewide coalitions, and advance racial equity.

Yet we can’t do it alone. I believe the most important word in our organization’s name is Coalition. Our state has thrived because a consensus of riders, elected leaders, businesses, transit agencies, and labor keeps showing up for transit. This coalition has been at the heart of transit’s success in our state and made us the envy of the nation.

With this coalition, we have a key moment to advance mobility justice in Washington in 2024. Together with our small but mighty staff, our board, and our partners, I know we will seize this moment.

See you on the bus!


Richard de Sam Lazaro

Kirk Hovenkotter, TCC Executive Director

TCC is Ready to Go, Go, Go

In 2023, the staff at Transportation Choices Coalition made their way smoothly and steadily through a big year of transition — due in no small part to the careful preparation and planning of our team leadership, and our core values around personal and organizational sustainability. Now, with all positions filled, a new Executive Director at the helm, and a full slate of critical campaigns underway, we’re energized to work with our coalition partners to bring about the transformative changes in transportation our climate and our communities call for. More light rail stations opening up, more bus service to more communities, more safety and equity for all people as they move around their towns and cities — this is what we’re committed to fighting for every day. As one of our staff members likes to say as the action revs up, “LFGGG”— let’s freaking go, go, go! We are gearing up for what’s likely to be the most critical year yet for safe, sustainable, and equitable transportation. We simply can’t do this work without you — please consider a generous gift today so that all Washingtonians are able to get to where they want to go.

Susan Gleason
Development Manager
Transportation Choices Coalition

Partner Testimonials


2024’s transformative light rail openings in East King County and Snohomish County would not be happening without the hard work, dedication, and partnership from the Transportation Choices Coalition team. With TCC’s help, we continue to build out a transportation system that will connect people to opportunity now and for decades to come!

Claudia Balducci

King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Board member

“At Real Change, we appreciate TCC’s community-driven approach to mobility justice. In particular, the Free to Walk Washington campaign has shed important light on the impacts of jaywalking enforcement for Black and unhoused people. We’ve been grateful to partner with TCC on that work.”


Tye Reed

Interim Executive Director, Real Change News

“TCC is an invaluable champion of equity in transportation. I was proud to co-sponsor a Free Youth Fare ordinance to allow all King County youth 18 and under to ride transit for free. We can thank TCC for helping to make that possible across Washington. TCC’s leadership on transportation funding and policy is helping to build a better future for our communities.”

Girmay Zahilay

King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Board member

Bar chart showing TCC's financials over time. In 2023, Expenses exceed Income, but Unrestricted Net Assets have grown from 2022.

2023 Income: $1,130,508

  • Grants: $581,911
  • Individuals: $147,240
  • Corporate: $225,738
  • Members/Agencies: $151,000
  • Other: $24,619

2023 Expenses: $1,269,861

  • Programs: $840,332
  • Operations: $429,426

News & Updates

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