Janelle Wong – Executive Director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
Janelle Wong (she/her) received two Bachelors of Arts degrees from University of California, Irvine in English Literature and Political Science. Janelle then went on to earn a Juris Doctor from the University of Pacific, McGeorge School of Law with an emphasis in tax and business transactions. She then spent the next 15 years of her career in tax, accounting and finance with large public accounting firms and then in-house with a publicly traded international firm. After 15 years, Janelle switched gears to find more meaningful and thoughtful work and joined the operations department of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition in 2014.
Janelle has been on staff at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for eight years, managing the organization’s operations and finances, and most recently served as the organization’s Interim Deputy Director. In April 2022, Janelle was named Executive Director. During her tenure with the Coalition, Janelle has demonstrated extensive skill and knowledge in growing the organization’s budget and team capacity, managing contracts, and increasing revenue to expand the organization’s programmatic work.
Janelle has always loved bicycling and is passionate about the Coalition’s mission. Janelle began commuting to work by bike in 2007 after the birth of her first child. Not only was it a way to get exercise each day as a working parent, cycling allowed her to reduce the use of her car around the city and beyond. Janelle continues to promote the accessibility of bicycling in San Francisco, as a woman of color, biking parent and long-time resident of San Francisco she hopes to continue to represent and advocate for safer streets. Her work with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition prioritizes the needs of all City residents, from families to underserved communities.
With Janelle’s leadership, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Board and Staff look forward to embracing a spirit of change and harnessing the energy of the moment to continue the work of realizing the promise of a truly bicycle-friendly San Francisco.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
Climate Change and global warming are issues that concern me and I want to leave the earth in better shape for my children and generations that come behind. Carbon emissions from vehicle use is one of the major contributing factors to our planet’s global warming and we have the ability and responsibility to reduce our carbon emissions. One effective way to do this is to use our private vehicles less and use forms of active transportation, like riding your bicycle or public transportation to get around our cities. It is something personal that each individual can do. As an advocate, we can help shape city policies and street design to make shifting the way people get around cities be more sustainable to make our cities more livable.
What do you think are some challenges and opportunities facing women in the environmental movement today?
Women have long been emerging leaders in the environmental movement, but women of color are under-represented even within women leaders in this movement. It should be noted that communities of color, especially black and brown communities are disportionately negatively impacted by terrible environmental policies made by government leaders at the city, state and federal level. We need more voices at the table to challenge even how we make decisions on environmental policies that have a positive impact on our community.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector of the environmental movement?
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is a membership supported non-profit and how you help this movement is to become a member or make a donation to your local bicycle advocacy organization. As an advocacy organization, we are advocating for safe streets to be designed with the vulnerable users in mind. Even people who drive cars should want safer streets for all users of roads in our cities. Then I would suggest if you are able to try riding a bicycle to do errands or go to work one day a week. Small steps have significant impact in the active transportation space and as you get more comfortable you can always expand how often you ride your bicycle.