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Active Transportation Alliance has selected Amy Rynell as its next Executive Director

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The Board of Directors of Active Transportation Alliance (Active Trans)—a coalition of people working to make walking, biking, and transit safe and easy options for getting around Chicagoland—has chosen Amy Rynell as the organization’s next Executive Director.  

Amy Rynell is an experienced nonprofit leader with a demonstrated commitment to effecting social change. Most recently, she served as the Senior Director of Research & Policy at Heartland Alliance, working to advance human rights and champion human dignity by providing services and promoting solutions to achieve a more just global society. Rynell has held a variety of roles at Heartland over her 20-plus year tenure with the organization, including Interim Executive Director.

She is passionate about leading diverse, talented groups of people towards shared social change goals. As the next Executive Director at Active Trans, Rynell looks forward to the opportunity to blend her advocacy background with her strategic systems-level approach to address our most pressing social justice issues.

“My career has been focused on tackling the root causes of social problems toward a more just, equitable society. The core beliefs of Active Trans resonate deeply with that experience, my values, and how I live my life. Having safe, viable transportation options is so vital for livability, access to opportunity, community connectedness, and beyond. Mobility matters. I began my career writing about why social workers should care about transportation planning; it is an honor to pivot back to support bold change in this arena.”

-Amy Rynell

Rynell holds a Master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame. She has served as an Obama Foundation Scholar, Mentor, and Strategist, and served on the State of Illinois Hunger Commission and the Human Services Commission. She is an avid user of public transit, an active cyclist, and loves to hike.

After Active Trans’ Board of Directors hired KEES as its executive search partner in Fall 2019, a comprehensive national search was launched, attracting many qualified candidates, both from Chicago and nationwide. The board’s search committee recommended Amy Rynell from an exemplary group of finalists to the full board, where unanimous approval was given to Rynell.

“Active Trans’ advocacy for walking, bicycling, and public transit lies at the intersection of the most critical issues of our day, including climate change, equity, and health. The speed of change and disruptive factors impacting the transportation sector pose both challenges and opportunities. Amy is a leader who will help our organization build a movement for the positive changes that will create more equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities.”

– Peggy Reins, President of the Active Trans Board of Directors

Active Transportation Alliance is one of the largest, most effective advocacy organizations promoting walking, bicycling, and public transportation in the U.S. Founded in 1985, it carries out an ambitious advocacy mission with the goal of creating healthy, sustainable, and equitable communities. The organization is rooted in the core beliefs that basic mobility is a civil and human right. For more information, please visit

“Active Trans took great strides forward in advancing its mission by the approach and depth of the search. The search committee made an excellent choice in Amy. Amy is poised to lead Active Trans and the communities it serves forward with a steadfast commitment to promoting sustainable transportation in a fair and equitable manner.”

-Heather Eddy, KEES President and CEO

KEES is a retained executive search and consulting firm that builds transformative teams and leaders. Founded in 2013 as an expansion of Alford Executive Search, KEES partners specifically with nonprofit organizations to provide an array of executive search, leadership development, interim staffing and human resources support. For more information on our many services, please click here.