People

BEST is a broad coalition of community leaders and organizations. We include the Eugene and Springfield Area Chambers of Commerce and other business leaders, the University of Oregon and Lane Community College, students, environmental and multi-modal transportation advocates, social service organizations, and neighborhood leaders. On our boards are a former transportation advisor to Oregon’s governor, four former members of the LTD Board of Directors, and a former chair of the Oregon House Transportation Committee. We believe that better transportation is good for the economy, the well being of people, and the environment—for our quality of life!

Staff

Our talented and committed staff power the efforts of BEST:

Rob Zako, Executive Director: Rob Zako has been working for the last two decades on transportation, land use, and climate change issues. He is currently the executive director of Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation (BEST), which promotes transportation options, safe streets, and walkable neighborhoods. Previously as a research associate with the University of Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Institute, he explored using the triple bottom line to make transportation and other decisions; examined the efforts of four states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation; and studied how effectively transportation investments are advancing livability and other goals. As a planner for the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, he assisted metropolitan areas reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. As an independent consultant, he led the effort to establish the Lane Area Commission on Transportation (LaneACT). For five years he was the transportation advocate for 1000 Friends of Oregon. While a graduate student working on a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, Rob met his future wife Kayleen while leading an American Youth Hostels bicycle tour down the Big Sur coast of California.

Claire Roth, Safe Streets Coordinator: Claire began her position as Safe Streets Coordinator in September 2018, coordinating BEST’s advocacy efforts to enhance walking and biking safety in our community and also builds partnerships with other local organizations in order to work together toward safer transportation. While in college at Humboldt State University, Claire commuted by bike and learned about the importance of safe street design and proper infrastructure. She believes in equity and safety for all modes, whether you’re walking, biking, rolling, or driving.

Board of Directors

Our formal Board of Directors oversees our work:

Laura Potter, President: Laura is a residential real estate broker working with buyers, sellers and investors. Before moving into residential real estate as a  broker she, worked as the Director of Business Advocacy for the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce and as the Director of Government Affairs for the Home Builders Association of Lane County. It was during her time at the Chamber that Laura and a group of local advocates founded BEST. She specializes in land use, transportation and economic development policy issues. Laura grew up in the Eugene/Springfield area and graduated from the University of Oregon. Laura lives in Eugene  with her partner Chris and their daughters Margot and Marilla. She is passionate about real estate, architecture and design. She also enjoys art, literature, jazz music and the ballet.

Bob Passaro, Vice-President: Bob is co-owner of a web development and design agency based in downtown Eugene. He had been a newspaper reporter and copy editor for 20 years before leaving that troubled industry in 2012. One upside to leaving journalism was that it opened the door to advocacy work. Bob served four years on the the Eugene Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC, now known as the Active Transportation Committee), including a year as chair.

Jon Belcher, Treasurer: Jon Belcher has been involved in community organizations almost since he moved to Eugene in 1978.  He has been a board member and leader of three neighborhood associations, including currently serving as co-chair of River Road Community Organization. He has served on other boards and committees including the Eugene Planning Commission, Human Rights Commission, and Police Commission.

Alexis Biddle, Secretary: Alexis is the Urban Lands Advocate for 1000 Friends of Oregon. He holds dual degrees in law and well as in community and regional planning from the University of Oregon. While a student working as a taxi driver, he began to see urban design at the nexus of equity and sustainability and has shaped his career to address these issues.

Michael DeLuise, Director: Now retired, Mike served as chair of the Downtown Neighborhood Association and was a member of the Eugene Active Transportation Committee (ATC). Before moving to Eugene to be closer to his daughters, Mike worked as a university administrator and was president of a chamber of commerce president in New York.

Mike Eyster, Director: Mike has served on and chaired multiple local and regional boards such as Lane Transit District, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Springfield Renaissance Development Corporation, Lane Community College and the Springfield Utility District. Mike retired from UO as a senior associate vice president in 2016 after 25 years of service.

Marianne Nolte, Director: Marianne is a former BEST employee, and now works in Lane County’s land management department. She holds a masters degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon, and focused her studies on issues of land use, transportation, and storm water (you know, for variety.) Marianne is a dedicated bike commuter, and loves riding Eugene-Springfield’s fantastic bike infrastructure in her ridiculous helmet-plus-rain visor. 

Terry Parker, Director: Now retired, in addition with BEST Terry volunteers with the League of Women Voters of Lane County and 350 Eugene. Previously, she was LTD’s Accessible Services Manager and worked for LCOG’s Senior & Disability Services. She holds a degree in sociology & gerontology at the University of Oregon. A native Oregonian, she sailed during summer months on 1987 Irwin38 in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. He interests include climate change activism,  empowering voters, and defending democracy.

Brett Rowlett, Director: Brett has over two decades of experience advocating for higher education issues and is currently Director of Public Affairs for Lane Community College. Brett is active in numerous nonprofit boards, including United Way, the Oregon Student Foundation, and the National Leadership Team for The Democracy Commitment. Before joining LCC, he served as the legislative director for a statewide higher education advocacy organization and policy analyst for the State of Oregon. A native of Wisconsin, Brett studied political science at the University of Minnesota and University of Oregon. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, kayaking, music and reading.

Board of Advisors

We also have an informal Board of Advisors to help guide our efforts:

  1. John Allcott
  2. Shawn Boles
  3. Eric Burdette
  4. Wendee Crofoot
  5. Julie Daniel
  6. Rick Duncan
  7. Karmen Fore
  8. David Funk
  9. Gerry Gaydos
  10. George Grier
  11. Eric Gunderson
  12. Clare Haley
  13. Pat Hocken
  14. Richard Hughes
  15. Kaarin Knudson
  16. Sarah Mazze
  17. Terry McDonald
  18. Sophie McGinley
  19. Matt McRae
  20. Brittany Quick-Warner
  21. Shane Rhodes
  22. Matt Roberts
  23. Seth Sadofsky
  24. Marc Schlossberg
  25. Carmel Snyder
  26. Jean Tate
  27. Kari Turner
  28. Jenny Ulum
  29. Aliza Whalen
  30. Sue Wolling

Volunteers

Several talented and committed volunteers are contributing to the success of BEST:

  1. Laughton Elliott-DeAngelis
  2. Steve Piercy
  3. Kevin Schaper
  4. Webb Sussman

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