Meet Our New Executive Director – Momoko Saunders!
It is our pleasure to introduce Momoko Saunders as Executive Director of Community Cycling Center. Momoko has worked in Portland’s bicycle industry for 13 years. She comes to us most recently as the General Manager for Biketown (Portland’s bike share program) and as a co-founder of the beloved Bike Farm. Her experience running bicycle organizations coupled with her passion for transportation equity make her a perfect fit to lead our organization into the future.
In order for you all to have a chance to get to know her, we asked her to answer a couple of questions about herself. You can read the full interview below!
Why did you choose to join the Community Cycling Center as its next Executive Director
It’s an honor to be in this role. I have long admired the leadership which has come from the CCC. This role feels like a perfect application of 13 years of experience. I want to help Portland be a great place to ride. I think biking is one of the most transformative and empowering activities. I have been so changed and bettered by cycling; it is vital that everyone has access to it.
What can staff, supporters, and the communities we serve expect from you during your time with us?
A desire to listen. I want to hear about how we can help. What do you need? It’s okay if it’s not bikes up front. But I bet it could be a helpful tool. What is your vision? What type of community do you want to live in? What is the greatest need? How can we support you?
How does your background in the tech industry inform the way you think about leading a non-profit organization like Community Cycling Center?
There’s a lot here. I think first of the ability to be nimble — to pivot when what you are doing is not resulting in the outcomes you desire. I also think about developing your own talent. Tech struggles with not having enough programmers. So the industry has figured out how to find them from many different fields. I really believe in seeing value in everyone’s contributions, thinking about how they can bring their talents to the table. I also am too well acquainted with where tech has fallen short. It is disturbingly lacking in diversity. I have experienced not having a place. The bike industry has parallels here that should not exist.
There’s also some ruminations about how to make operations more efficient. How to be data informed. How to project manage and tools that can help with this.
Rumor has it that you’ve done some BIG bike tours. Name your top 3!
In order of most enjoyable:
2017 Bike tour in Japan from Nagasaki to where my family lives in Akita
2008 Bike tour through Europe – It was my first tour and changed my life
2017 and 2020 – Gravel/Road ride from PDX -> Trillium Lake -> Timothy Lake -> back to Portland through Estacada
In order of Longest:
2012 Anchorage, AL to Monterey CA, 4000 miles
2013 Chicago to New Orleans 1200 miles
2009 Tokyo Japan to Beppu – 1100 miles
Not that the long ones weren’t enjoyable, they were just real long.
What brought you to bikes? And what keeps you interested?
There have been so many times when I was brought to Bikes.
First, as a child and adolescent: I would bike all over my neighborhood and as I got older to the neighboring cities. It was my first taste of freedom and independence. I remember vividly the 7 mile ride from Dana Point to San Clemente. My friend and I would bike just to explore the different beaches along the California coast.
Second, when I ran into a college friend at a cafe on Alberta. She wanted to start a bike collective like the one we had in Santa Cruz (the Bike Church). We founded Bike Farm and 13 years later I still volunteer and can’t believe how much it changed my life. I met my best friends there, my husband, and my community.
Thirdly, my first bike tour. It was through Europe in 2008. I rode on a 10 speed Schwinn Spirit with my homemade panniers. I experienced my first travel alone, an appreciation for where my body could take me, and so many adventures. The smell of the vineyards in Italy, the outskirts of Paris, and the gardens of the Netherlands.
I keep coming back because it is therapeutic. I ride because it allows my mind to wander and I am constantly inspired by the thoughts that bubble up. I profoundly believe in the transformative nature of the bike and I want everyone to have access to it.
Momoko has already taken to her post as Executive Director. Please feel free to join us in welcoming her in the comments below!