Meet our ohana: Kathleen Rooney

May 25, 2021

Kathleen Rooney brings 15 years of national experience in transportation and planning—in which she combined both skills to advance community visions and goals in many diverse communities across the nation—to her work as Ulupono Initiative’s director of transportation policy and programs.

Kathleen’s role at Ulupono Initiative is leading the team’s efforts in spreading awareness of transportation-related policy and programs in the advancement of cleaner, multimodal transportation and reducing Hawaii’s dependency on cars and fossil fuel use in Hawaii. She spearheads projects in such areas as rightsizing parking policies and helping expand immediate transportation choices and community access to those choices. Projects and initiatives like these help push Hawaii toward more sustainable and cleaner modes of transportation.

For example, to shed new light on the costs and tradeoffs of Hawaii’s current transportation system, Kathleen recently led two ground-breaking reports, The Costs of the Vehicle Economy in Hawaii and The Costs of Parking in Hawaii, the results of rigorous analyses. In addition, she has championed partnerships with the City and County of Honolulu and various community-based organizations on innovative quick-build and parklet projects to promote neighborhood walkability.

“I’m a strong proponent for transportation systems and environments to be about people and their access to opportunity, not merely cars,” she said. “Hawaii imports about a third more gallons of fossil fuel for ground transportation than for electricity production. Promoting more people-oriented transportation systems and living serves local, state and community goals without forcing a car-dominated way of life that inevitably leads to ever-increasing traffic; inequity in terms of access to jobs, schools, and other everyday necessities; and larger environmental impacts.”

Prior to joining Ulupono Initiative, Kathleen served as project manager of Renaissance Planning in Orlando, Florida, and as a senior manager at ICF International in Washington, D.C. She also directed a Complete Streets and transit best practices project for the Florida Department of Transportation, as well as transportation demand management programs for the New York State Department of Transportation.

Before making her way to Oahu, Kathleen grew up in New Mexico and earned her Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Maryland and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Click here to learn more about Kathleen and the Ulupono Initiative team.