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Blog: Champions of Change in Transportation are Building Ladders of Opportunity


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Earlier this week, the White House recognized its 2014 Champions of Change in transportation. We present these awards annually, but this year's nominees are doing more than just changing transportation. They're changing lives.

Because this year we're focusing on "ladders of opportunity."

We all know people who are swimming against the stream to get ahead. And those people need change.

People like the high-school student I met last month, Jada, who has to wake up at 5 in the morning to catch the public bus, which is the only way she can get to school.

Across the country, we have single moms who have to transfer trains four times to get to work, and we have 45 percent of the nation who lack access to transit altogether. We have soldiers returning from combat --many of them with disabilities-- who can't find a job, let alone get to one; and we have kids in the city who live 10 minutes from opportunities downtown, but still feel like they're a world away.

These are the people who need change in transportation. And on Tuesday, I met 11 Champions of Change who have worked hard to bring it to them:

Josh Baker
Evelyn Blumenberg
Dan Burden
Anthony Chiarello
Greer Gillis
Marilyn Golden
Flavio Leo
Susan Park Rani
Big John Smith
Wanda Vazquez
Daphne Izer

Our Champions have made sure that our streets are safe and walkable and that our towns have transit. They've forced us to look at the world from our neighbors' point of view, and to reconsider how we design cities.

They've fought so that, even if someone can't walk at all, they can still go anywhere. And somewhere there's a young girl inspired to become an engineer because one of our Champions blazed a path for her.

In the Obama Administration, we call that building ladders of opportunity. For our Champions, it's just what they do.

And for that, I thank them.

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