Cascade/WA Bikes have a new Executive Director: Richard Smith

Richard Smith will be the new Executive Director of Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes, the organizations announced Friday

Smith comes from Microsoft, and the press release says he was “the executive sponsor of his division’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts” and has worked as a board member for the Seattle Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Smith takes over an organization that has been without an Executive Director since the end of December, when Elizabeth Kiker left. And they will go a little longer without an ED, too. Smith starts September 5.

(Full disclosure: My incredible spouse Kelli works for Cascade and WA Bikes as their Statewide Engagement Director)

Smith joins Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Gordon Padelford as a white man taking over a local safe streets organization leadership position previously held by a woman. Commute Seattle’s Jonathan Hopkins also recently took over for Jessica Szelag. So while I congratulate these men on their new roles, I also hope they recognize this quick shift toward white male leadership and go far above and beyond to be inclusive and empowering to everyone through their work.

Here’s the full press release from Cascade and WA Bikes:

After an extensive nationwide search, Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes announced Richard Smith as the new executive director of the organizations. Richard will begin his role on September 5.

“The board is excited to welcome Richard Smith as Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes’ next executive director,” said Charles Ruthford, Cascade board president. “Richard has the passion and proven experience in change management and leading organizations through transformation — perfect as we continue to evolve and grow as a statewide organization.”

Richard joins Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes with strong history at Microsoft as a highly effective, results-oriented executive with proven expertise in leadership, management and operations.

He brings vast experience leading and inspiring organizations, driving the vision, strategy, planning, governance and internal and external engagement. Richard is an excellent communicator with diverse and extensive professional experience focused on building high impact, multi-functional teams through coaching and mentoring. Richard also brings experience building sustainable fundraising models with strong budgeting and financial management.

“I am honored and privileged to lead the staff of the Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes to achieve our mission of improving lives through bicycling,” said Richard Smith. “Bicycling is a crucial part of our Pacific Northwest outdoors identity, and enabling more people to enjoy this wonderful activity is a great reason to go to work every day.”

Richard brings experience in the nonprofit sector. He is currently a board member with the Seattle Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and has raised over $250,000 for the local Beat the Bridge to Beat Type 1 Diabetes event. Richard was also the executive sponsor of his division’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts at Microsoft and is looking forward to applying the learning and investments Microsoft provided him in this area for building equity, diversity and inclusion at Cascade and the broader bicycling community.

“Cascade has grown to be a tremendously successful organization for its members and community,” said Richard. “I am looking forward to continuing that success and working with the staff, board, our passionate volunteers, and the broader community to make bicycling accessible and safe for everyone.”

Originally from England, Richard has lived in Seattle for the past 25 years. Richard came to Seattle from New Zealand, where he had lived for 18 months, and landed at SeaTac with his wife-to-be, Jeanne, along with a backpack and a bicycle in a box. Richard always had a bike ready to go, but more recently, with the help of the Cascade Training Series, became confident enough to take on the one-day Seattle to Portland (STP) challenge, Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party (RSVP), Chilly Hilly and other local rides such as 7 Hills of Kirkland and RAMROD. “Bicycling has become my passion and importantly a great tonic for mind and body,” said Richard.

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8 Responses to Cascade/WA Bikes have a new Executive Director: Richard Smith

  1. Jort Sandwich says:

    It is my great hope that Mr. Smith will prioritize the abolishment of the unnecessary King County helmet law for his legislative goals.

    The helmet law is an unnecessary barrier to cycling and it should be abolished.

  2. William says:

    “Smith joins Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Gordon Padelford as a white man taking over a local safe streets organization leadership position previously held by a woman. Commute Seattle’s Jonathan Hopkins also recently took over for Jessica Szelag. So while I congratulate these men on their new roles, I also hope they recognize this quick shift toward white male leadership and go far above and beyond to be inclusive and empowering to everyone through their work”

    Did anybody express a similar hope that the previous female leadership was inclusive of the white males who I suspect make the majority of the CBC membership?

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      White men are pretty good at making sure their needs are met without anyone else’s help.

      • William says:

        @Tom, This may be true of the white male elites who dominate the cycling community but it is hardly true of white males in general. White males graduate from 2- and 4-year colleges at about 2/3 the rate of white females and gap is growing. It seems to me that if you really want to promote cycling as a norm in society rather than the preserve of a few, then you should try to avoid glib generalizations about 30% of the population (nearly 40% if you include hispanic white males) and adopt enlightened stances that are neutral of gender, race, wealth and whatever else might divide us.

  3. Daniel Weise says:

    William,

    If we lived in a race/gender/etc. neutral society then taking neutral stances would make sense. But we obviously don’t, and the question is the best way to get there. Acting race/gender/etc. neutral is not the way to get there because it helps propagates current biases, injustices and imbalances. We must take active measures to build a more just and prosperous society for everyone. Society is set up so that white men are pretty good at making sure their needs are met. Denying that is glibness, not enlightenment.

    Daniel Weise
    Board Member, 2011-2016, Cascade Bicycle Club
    Board Chair, Washington Bikes

    • William says:

      @Daniel, I do not think the blue collar Caucasian males who voted in droves from Trump and whose earning potential in inflation adjusted dollars is tens of percentage points less than their fathers’ are having their needs met. I do not think the white hispanic males who work for next to nothing picking fruit in fields of Eastern Washington are having their needs met either. It is a gross generalization for you and Tom to say that Society is set up to look after white men and it is the kind of ill-considered progressive mantra that just might see Trump become a two-term president.

      You’re on the board of Washington Bikes and until recently the Cascade Bicycle Club. I am sure you ride more CBC events than me but in case you have not noticed they are still dominated by middle class Caucasians with funds to burn on expensive bikes to the point that riders from traditionally underrepresented minorities or low income communities almost certainly feel out of place. So what exactly have attitudes like yours accomplished in making our local biking community more diverse and why would you support a statement that would seems to suggest that recruiting underrepresented blue collar white males to biking community is any less important than recruiting underrepresented female and minorities?

  4. Demian says:

    It’s doubly concerning that Cascade would not only hire a white male, but also one from the diversity challenged tech sector. While it might seem encouraging that Richard was “executive sponsor of his division’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts at Microsoft”, that didn’t seem to move the needle very much, as Microsoft has continued to lag in hiring women and other under-represented groups (refer to https://www.theverge.com/2016/11/18/13681738/microsoft-diversity-goals-executive-bonuses-women-in-tech and http://www.seattletimes.com/business/technology/diversity-in-tech-lots-of-attention-little-progress-2/). As Tom says, Richard (and Cascade) needs to “go far above and beyond to be inclusive and empowering to everyone through their work”

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