2015 Awardee

Stuart Cohen

as Executive Director, TransForm

Stuart Cohen co-founded TransForm to promote walkable communities with excellent transportation choices that connect people of all incomes to opportunity, keep California affordable, and help solve the climate crisis. TransForm’s campaigns have reshaped the Bay Area’s transportation and growth agenda and brought in over $8 billion for public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Stuart also co-founded the Great Communities Collaborative to engage communities in planning, as well as ClimatePlan, a statewide network promoting smart land use and transportation as critical components of California’s climate strategy. He was awarded an Ashoka Fellowship and James Irvine Foundation Leadership award for TranForm’s innovative work.

“I started TransForm out of my house back in 1997. I’m thrilled at the impact we’ve had in the Bay Area, and how we are now working to bring that to scale throughout California,” says Stuart. “Transportation is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, and income inequality continues to grow. This makes our work to find solutions that address both crises, like providing affordable homes near transit, even more urgent.” This urgency, Stuart says, has at times made it difficult for him to let go of responsibility within his growing organization. “As our team has started to plan for the sabbatical, I’m already seeing staff rise to meet new challenges. I am convinced this will make us into a stronger organization, and at a personal level sharing more responsibility is great – it’s liberating.”

During his sabbatical, Stuart plans to spend time backpacking with his family, and biking his beloved Bay Area. “Just two years ago I got my first road bike, and have since been on long rides through all nine Bay Area counties. These rides have dramatically increased my appreciation for the region that I’m working to protect every day.”

Update: Read a blog post from Stuart about his powerful sabbatical experience.