Summit Spotlight: Tamika Butler

Our upcoming Summit’s theme of “Equity in Motion” will take center stage with Tamika Butler’s keynote address (Tuesday, Oct 27th at 8 am). Chosen as Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition in December in part because of her skills and experience working on social justice and equity issues, Butler will share her insights and some strategies in her talk, “Bicycle Advocacy as Anti-Oppression Work.” We sat down with her to get a little preview of her talk:

“Everyone wants to talk about equity and I think that’s awesome,” she told CalBike, “but there’s a lot of trepidation because people are worried they’re going to say the wrong thing, or they don’t know what the right thing is.” Her talk will break down some definitions: what do we mean by diversity? What’s the difference between diversity and inclusion? What do we mean by equity?

These can be tough issues to address. Will people be uncomfortable?

“If some people aren’t a little uncomfortable, I’d be doing it wrong,” she said. “And if people don’t laugh, I’ll also be doing it wrong.” She says she has some funny stories to share of her own blunders in trying to be inclusive. None of us is perfect, but a message inherent in the summit’s theme is that we should try, and it’s best if we can laugh at our missteps.

“I’ve learned a lot,” says Butler, reflecting on her experience at LACBC. “I think as a movement we really are ready to tackle it, but we don’t really understand what that means and we’re trying to figure it out.

“Since it’s my first summit,” she says, “I’m looking forward to being in the room with folks from all over the state. And the two adjectives I hear the most about it are fun and inspiring. I’m looking forward to that!”

Butler comes to the summit with an impressive background in social change. She served as the Director of Social Change Strategies at Liberty Hill Foundation, where she oversaw the foundation’s boys and men of color program and the foundation’s LGBTQ grant strategy; other previous positions included the California Director of Young Invincibles, and an employment law litigator at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. She received her J.D. in 2009 from Stanford Law School, and in 2006 received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She is the co-chair of the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Board of Directors.