Meet the Purple Line NOW Executive Committee

 

President Ralph Bennett

I moved to Montgomery County in 1946 (I was 6) and have lived here with gaps since. As a YIMBY and architect, I have been involved with affordable housing since 1980 including building and as Chair and Commissioner of the Housing Opportunities Commission.

The nexus of housing and transportation in affordable living is as obvious as the need to new means of mobility in the County. Purple Line NOW with the visions of its founders attracted me in the early 00's; I joined the Board in 2008 or so, and was honored to succeed Harry Sanders as President in 2011. Harry's shoes are way too big for me to fill, but with an outstanding Board of really smart and committed people, including Barbara and Greg, we have tried to make our feet bigger.

 

Vice President Greg Sanders

I grew up along with the Purple Line, creating Lego models of the Georgetown Branch, helping to clean up the right of way, distributing literature for supportive candidates, and scripting websites. I joined the board as Secretary in 2010 after my father passed away, like too many early supporters, before he could see the project through to completion.

I donate my time because I have witnessed the tremendous difference that past volunteers have made. My father, an Illinois native, was fond of Daniel Burnham's exhortation: Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir our blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. The Purple Line has vindicated this idea as it has inspired a diverse coalition that have time and again persevered despite a range of roadblocks raised by well-connected foes. But even a fantastic idea does not reach groundbreaking by itself, it has only been through the efforts of countless volunteers that have made the case to their neighbors, reached out to elected officials, and made clear the depths of support for the project.

I donate my money because Purple Line Now does have expenses, but first and foremost we have a part time executive director that keeps the train moving forward when volunteers are pulled into their day job or other commitments. I'm grateful for the hundreds of little steps Christine takes each month that enable us to act as an organized coalition, rather than a bunch of enthusiasts that are less than the sum of our parts.

I also give both time and money because my station will be Long Branch. I've just moved back to Silver Spring and my neighborhood will be enriched by better connections to neighboring communities, schools, and employers.

 

Treasurer Tina Slater

While I always figured transit was a good idea, I didn’t have my eyes opened until we moved to downtown Silver Spring in 2005.  The first thing we did was ditch one of our two cars --- walking, biking, the bus and Metro were now viable options. Then we heard about the Purple Line and  found out that one potential route was Wayne Avenue, just steps from our new home. Wanting to find out more, we went to an MTA-sponsored information meeting at a local school. The cafeteria was packed, but two nice gentlemen slid down the bench to give us room.  And that was serendipitous --- these two gentlemen were none other than Harry Sanders and Webb Smedley – champions of the Purple Line. During the meeting, we figured out quickly that we were all “on the same page” about the project and that’s where my transit advocacy took root. 

I joined Purple Line NOW and Action Committee for Transit. I attended meetings, talked to neighbors, posted on listserves and testified in favor of the project. The ease of access from Silver Spring to Bethesda (under 9 minutes) is incredible; another bonus is swift access for UMD employees and students.  Good transit affords people of all incomes a good way of moving around; it provides rides for people who don’t drive, who don’t want to drive, and people who are unable to drive (youth, seniors, and people with disabilities). Transit means cleaner air, reduced congestion, and it’s what the next generation wants.  And I want to help them build it.

 

Secretary Nancy Soreng

I joined the Board of Purple Line Now in 2008 when Harry Sanders suggested my experience with non-profit administration and advocacy would be helpful to the cause. I'm  from Portland, Oregon and I go back every year to visit family there. I have seen the transformation that a robust light-rail network has brought to that city. Therefore, I was excited about the opportunity to help bring light rail to Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. Not only is Portland a mecca for transit fans, it also has one of the best and most used bike networks in the country. As an avid biker, I am looking forward to the bike-way improvements and connections that will come with the construction of the Purple Line. I can't wait until I can hop on the Purple Line at the Bethesda Station which will be just an 8 minute bike ride from my house. 

 

At-Large Miti Figueredo

I moved to Silver Spring with my family in 2001, after having lived in Chicago where we rode the El almost every day. I took one look at the Metro map and instantly saw what was missing: an east-west transit connection through the Maryland suburbs. When I heard from my neighbors that local transit activists and residents were pushing for a light rail connection, I wanted to help make it happen.

I can't believe it's been 16 years and my children are now 18 and 22. It really shouldn't take so long to build a necessary transit project that has such wide support - the reasons we need it are entirely straightforward and those who argue otherwise are ignoring the decades of detailed study, public comment, and activism behind the Purple Line.

I am so grateful to the community activists who have supported this project for much longer than I have. Without their efforts, the Purple Line would have never made it this far. I am proud to serve on the board of Purple Line Now, and with the continued commitment of our supporters, we will see this project built.

 

At-Large Barbara Sanders

I have been involved since its inception in the mid 80's as the Georgetown Branch project for a trolley and trail Bethesda to Silver Spring. My husband, Harry, was one of the two people that pushed the Montgomery County Council to use the trackage/row for metro line connection by trolley and trail when feds abandoned using train to deliver coal to Georgetown power plant.

Too many vocal and wealthier naysayers in communities along the line are thwarting the strong support this project has had for over 30 years. Supporters assume projects just will happen without much being needed to keep them moving forward, but the negative voices need to be countered and refuted when inaccurate messaging is raised. We had worked previously to counter College Park resistance to the Metro Green Line in the 70's, and saw that project approved, but moved to a walkable Silver Spring community a year after the Red Line arrived, not wanting to wait over a decade for the Green Line to be built.

I have visited and rode on light rail, streetcar and metro-style all over the US, Canada, Europe and Japan. It's great seeing how alternatives to individuals in private cars bring communities together and connect people in ways that would never happen -- be it on the rails, at the stations or along the paths. That was a long-term goal of this project that I continue to strive to achieve, and I hope to ride the Purple Line from the 16th St./Woodside station a half-block from my house.

 

Executive Director Christine Scott

I have been the part-time Executive Director of Purple Line NOW since October 2009 when I was hired by the wonderful Harry Sanders, Nancy Soreng, and Wayne Phyilliaer who were looking to take some of the administrative load off volunteer leadership as the project got closer to ground-breaking. My experience as an ED for other nonprofit organizations lent itself to the administrative aspect of the job, but learning the language of transit took a bit longer! Fortunately, I had the folks above to lead the way with their knowledge and guidance as we all pushed forward.

 Nearly eight years later, this group hasn't lost a beat. I'm fortunate to watch how they mesh tenacity with a reasoned approach and I can tell you, as someone who has worked with many nonprofit boards along the way, we have some of the most dedicated folks you'll come across - all determined to finally see the Purple Line realized for all of us who live, work, and play in our community.


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