Sam Rockwell is excited for Move Minnesota to be a leader in just and sustainable transportation. As our new Executive Director, he brings to the team a multitude of experience in environmental and climate-focused work with previous endeavors in urban planning, community organizing, and New York City politics. On any given day in the office, you can find Sam sprinting between meetings, on the phone with supporters, and collaborating with team members. With an open desk policy, Sam makes himself accessible to connect with staff, partners, and community members. If you were able to join us at our 2020 Winter Social event, then you may have seen Sam’s excitement for this work in real life.
We sat down with Move Minnesota’s new executive director, Sam Rockwell, to learn more about his background and passion for our work. Watch our short interview to learn more about his first experience with transit, what bike he likes to ride, and discover Sam’s vision for Move Minnesota and the future of transportation. The full transcript of the Q and A is provided below.
Sam: Hey, my name is Sam Rockwell. I’m the new executive director of Move Minnesota. Welcome to a Q and A with me.
Question: What excites you about Move Minnesota?
Sam: Move Minnesota is really exciting because it has the potential to be the leader in the transit movement in the state of Minnesota and in the region. We are desperate for a transit system that allows people to rely on that transit for everything they need to do about their daily lives. By doing that we can address inequality, and we can address our climate emissions, and we can create a dignified, efficient, speedy, and wonderful experience for people in their daily lives.
Question: Where were you before Move Minnesota?
Sam: My background is in environmental and urban sustainability, so I’ve always worked in those arenas. Immediately before Move Minnesota, I was at the University of Minnesota Foundation in the real estate advisory group where we got to work on the land use planning and development planning for the regenerative neighborhood to serve the university and the region. I worked at the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield locally as well, and actually was a funder of Move Minnesota’s predecessor, so I was excited to be familiar with the organization coming in. And I worked in politics in New York, I worked for some academic institutions, again, in environmental and climate-focused work.
Question: What was your first transit experience?
Sam: My first experience with transit was in Minneapolis. I grew up in the broader Uptown area, and I used to take classes in downtown Minneapolis. My mom would drop me off at class after school, and my dad worked Downtown, and he would come and pick me up and we’d ride the bus home. If we got the bus that went right by our house, we’d take the bus and do a short walk, or we’d take the bus down Hennepin Avenue and walk about ten blocks home. I remember the old paper tickets that you had to punch and I had my own when I was ten or nine or something like that.
Question: What is your favorite bike to ride?
Sam: I think my favorite bike to ride is our big box bike. I have three kids: one five-year-old, two four-year-olds. So, now our five-year-old actually rides his own bike, but we had, for a long time, all three kids in the box in front. It’s a big tricycle, and it is both fun to ride and it is an attention grabber for everyone we ride past—particularly with the three kids who are not quiet and not still. So, the box is always rocking back and forth as we cruise down Lyndale or Lake Street or wherever it is we’re going to get groceries.
Question: Why is this work important?
Sam: I see transportation as the core of everything in society. It’s how we can access our friends, how we get our groceries, it’s what jobs we are able to take, it determines how much time we get to spend with our families, it determines how much money we have to spend on exciting things or daily needs—and so being able to work in that transportation sphere is a way of impacting all of society for the better. So, I’m really excited about this work here, and just can’t underscore [enough] how important it is that we all think about these systems and how they work for everybody.
Connect with Move Minnesota’s Executive Director, Sam Rockwell, at firstname.lastname@example.org and 651-789-1405.