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Response to the Open Letter from the Board of Directors of the League of American Bicyclists

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the League of American Bicyclists, I thank each person who signed the Open Letter to the Board (linked, and reprinted below).  As a Board that is proud of its diverse makeup, we appreciate the thoughtful feedback and look forward to continuing the conversation about the recommendations in the letter and the Equity Initiative.

At 130 years, the League of American Bicyclists is the oldest and most widely respected bike advocacy organization in the United States, if not the world.  All of us are proud to be associated with an organization whose vision is “a nation where everyone recognizes and enjoys the many benefits and opportunities of bicycling.” The Board believes the word “everyone,” includes all people of all ages and abilities; and in all communities large and small, urban and rural—EVERYONE!

As the League looks to the future, it understands the more people and groups from different backgrounds that are involved, the more quickly and completely we will achieve our common goal of an expanding, vibrant, and unstoppable Bicycle Friendly America that is more just and equitable for everyone.

Over the last year, the Board has had to make difficult decisions to ensure the long-term sustainability of the League.  As much as we would have liked, the reality was that resources did not permit a protracted and wide reaching search.  Without hesitation, the Board decided that keeping all members of the staff employed was more important than cutting positions to free up resources for a search.  

Recognizing that immediate leadership was needed, the Board made discreet inquiries across the country and agreed that Alex Doty would make an excellent Executive Director.  The Board is grateful for the commitment of Alex to the League and its vision, as well as his understanding of the current financial challenges which dictated that he step into the position on short notice.  Respecting the inclusionary goals in our Strategic Plan was critical in our evaluation process; we feel that Alex has a demonstrated track record of diversity in his previous role and has pledged his commitment to growing the League’s Equity work through all aspects of the organization. 

The Board embraces the recommendations in the letter and looks forward to forming working groups that will help to achieve them as quickly as possible.  I invite each of you to contact me and Alex to let us know how you can help to raise funds so the League can invest in the Women’s Bike Program and other initiatives, build the membership in diverse and underserved communities, recommend candidates when staff and Board positions are open, and ensure the Summit has a wide and diverse range of speakers and presenters.  We believe the League should partner with the many clubs and organizations to develop mechanisms that nurture future leaders and we need your help.

We ask every signatory to the letter, every member of the League, and each person who cares about the organization to join Alex and the Board in the exciting work ahead.  There is much work to do but we can accomplish our goals together.

I also invite you to read the article I wrote about the Equity Initiative of the League, which is in the September issue of American Bicyclist.  I wrote: “Throughout its long and illustrious history, the League has learned that the way we work together is more important than the goal of any one person or group.  The Equity Initiative showed that our common goal of a Bicycle Friendly America, grounded in the rich diversity of this country, requires us to develop confidence in ourselves and with each other.”


Karen Jenkins
Chair, Board of Directors

Gail Copus Spann, Vice Chair
Eric Swanson, Treasurer
Harry Brull, Secretary
Ken Podziba, Member At-Large
Tania Lo, Chair, Board Equity Committee
Sam Adams
Diane Albert
Steve Durrant
Jay Ferm
Rob Gusky
Ralph Monti
Nicole Preston 


Open Letter to the League of American Bicyclists Board of Directors

Originally published on October 28, 2015, at Click to see original and list of signatories.

To the Board of Directors of the League of American Bicyclists,

Many in the bicycling movement were energized to see the League of American Bicyclists commit to creating a bicycle-friendly America for everyone. Understanding the critical importance of greater equity, diversity and inclusion to the success of the bicycling movement, the League established as one of the four primary goals in its 2015–2018 Strategic Plan to “build a board, staff and network of partners and allies that represent and are connected to America’s diverse communities.”

We want to congratulate the board on its recent appointment of Alex Doty as the next Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists. Mr. Doty has a proven track record of success in both growing nonprofit organizations and creating lasting change that has benefited a diverse range of people who bike. We are confident that Mr. Doty has the competence to restore the League to a level of organizational health that will benefit advocates and bike riders across the country.

We in no way aim to minimize the challenges faced by the League’s Board of Directors nor to criticize the selection of Mr. Doty, who we believe to be a fine candidate for the position. But we must express our concern as diverse leaders — women, advocates of color and equity allies — within our collective active transportation movements that the organization “appointed” a successor to this critical leadership position rather than conducting a formal nationwide search. We believe that the League’s decision to bypass a national search is a recurring example of an organizational practice that systematically undermines equity, diversity and inclusion within our growing bike/walk movement.

As leaders and members, we look to the League of American Bicyclists to communicate our movement’s interests to our federal lawmakers and, as such, it’s critically important for the organization to include our nation’s and movement’s diverse perspectives in its advocacy work. We believe that any organization that values equity, diversity, and inclusion should begin with intentional hiring practices that seek to ensure a diverse pool of candidates. While we understand that an extensive search process takes time and resources, we are confident that an open and transparent search would have yielded many qualified candidates and helped the organization regain the credibility and trust that is essential during a period of transition.

However, we are heartened by Mr. Doty’s stated commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and we ask that…

The organization pledge to engage in an intentional, and inclusive search to fill current (and future) staff vacancies.

The League pledge to continue to invest in its Women Bike program and/or Equity Initiative (inclusive of gender equity) — ideally through dedicated staff but by whatever means are feasible given current financial challenges — in a way that supports women and advocates of color rising in the ranks of transportation advocacy and policy work.

The League pledge to make a public and intentional effort toward gender equity and increased diversity among speakers and presenters at the National Bike Summit. This approach has already proven fruitful for the Online News Association’s annual conference. (Please contact the undersigned for contacts for ideas in this regard.)

We, the undersigned, believe deeply in the League’s stated mission to create a bicycle-friendly America for everyone. As such, we look forward to engaging in further dialogue on how the League can be a leader in breaking down the structural barriers that stand in the way of the diverse board, staff and network of partners and advocates the organization seeks to achieve — for the benefit of all.

Originally published on October 28, 2015, at Click to see original and list of signatories.

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