Co-founder John Raskin leaving his post
One of New York’s leading transit advocacy groups is looking for a new leader.
John Raskin, co-founder and executive director of the Riders Alliance, recently announced that he is leaving his post at the end of the year. Raskin, who lives in downtown Brooklyn, has served at the helm since he helped launch the group seven years ago.
Under Raskin’s leadership, the Riders Alliance successfully fought to get congestion pricing to raise revenue for the city’s troubled transit system and the Fair Fares program, in which poverty -stricken New Yorkers are given the chance to purchase Metrocards at half-price.
“I will miss working every day with this extraordinary team, and I will miss our dedicated members who have contributed time and sweat and dollars and everything else to build up the Riders Alliance and win significant victories for public transportation,” Raskin said. “It has been a great ride, but it’s time now for new leadership to strengthen the Riders Alliance for the important fights ahead. I have always believed that founders should move on, so the organization can thrive beyond any one person’s leadership, and it’s the right time for me personally to seek new challenges and opportunities.”
Founded in 2012, the Riders Alliance has more than 1,000 members and a staff of 10 employees. The group operates with an annual budget of $1.5 million. Prior to founding the Riders Alliance, the politically savvy Raskin served as chief of staff to Daniel Squadron when Squadron was a Democratic state senator representing Brooklyn Heights.
Michael Freedman-Schnapp, chairperson of the Riders Alliance Board of Directors, praised Raskin’s leadership and said the organization has a lot of work important left to do.
“The Riders Alliance has made enormous contributions to turning the tide on investment in public transit, but we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible when riders band together to demand progress,” Freedman-Schnapp said.
The Riders Alliance became well known for its innovative and attention-grabbing tactics aimed at convincing Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and lawmakers to work to improve transit service.
The organization introduced the hashtag #CuomosMTA to bring attention to deteriorating subway service and had members ride the trains with a cardboard cutout of Cuomo to demonstrate how the governor holds sway over the MTA.
The Riders Alliance also rolled out a “red carpet” bus lane at City Hall for a Bus Turnaround Campaign and hosted “Call the Mayor” days in subway stations to push for passage of Fair Fares.
The Riders Alliance is conducting a search for Raskin’s successor and has posted the job listing for executive director at www.ridersny.org/jobs.
Raskin vowed to stay involved in the organization. “I will continue as a dedicated member, because I believe deeply in the need to fix our transit system and the capacity of this powerful grassroots movement to make it happen,” he said.