Meet Ben Fong
Ben has built communities as a transportation professional, American diplomat, and Berkeley Planning Commissioner.
Ben Fong is a transportation professional with years of experience partnering with cities to provide sustainable and affordable last-mile transportation options across the US. Ben is a daily AC Transit rider with a deep connection to the East Bay. Ben’s great-grandparents moved to Oakland in the early 1900’s and his grandmother attended Oakland High School.
Ben is a East Bay community advocate and is the founder of “A Fork in the Road,” a community initiative supporting local restaurants transition to cafe seating to help struggling small and minority-owned businesses during the Covid crisis. As a Berkeley Planning Commissioner and Commissioner on the Berkeley Joint Subcommittee for the Implementation of State Housing Laws, he helped redesign the Adeline Corridor, implement transit demand management (TDM) measures incentivizing public transit, and serve Berkeley’s underserved communities. As a student at Cal, Ben served as Graduate Assembly Legislative Affairs Director and UC Student Association Board Member representing students from Cal and across the UC system. His advocacy at the state and federal level successfully ensured funding for student financial aid, food insecurity programs, and housing assistance.
After completing his Master in Public Affairs from Princeton’s School of Policy and International Affairs, Ben was inspired to serve his country. Ben was commissioned as a Foreign Service Officer by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As an official in the Obama Administration, Ben represented the United States as a person of color where he promoted American democracy, diversity, and human rights. Ben worked on immigration and trade issues on the U.S.-Mexico border in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in Mumbai, India, and in Washington DC. Ben graduated with a B.A. from Stanford University in Political Science, a Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University, and a MBA from UC Berkeley. Ben speaks Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin and English.
After many years abroad, Ben returned back to the United States with the desire to contribute back to his community. He has continued his public service as a transportation advocate, city commissioner, and community organizer.
In the Media
Check out Ben's article for the Sierra Club Blog!
...not only does outdoor dining help our local restaurants, but it’s also an opportunity for us to rethink and experiment with our urban environment. As a long-time Planning Commissioner in Berkeley, I have long considered the best ways we can optimize the streets and buildings of Berkeley to make them centered around fostering connection in our community.Turn the Tables: Rethinking Our Urban Environment Post-Covid
Ben is running for the AC Transit Ward 1 Director seat. Ward 1 encompasses most of Berkeley, Richmond, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Albany, Kensington. See the map for the official boundaries.
We need to stop the proposed 30% cuts to bus service and reinvest in AC Transit. Buses help families get where they need to go - from doctor's appointments to jobs to the grocery store. We need to ensure that our most vulnerable populations, including our elderly, low-income, and disabled communities, have the access they need. From the marinas to the hills, we need to ensure our transit-reliant riders have the transportation options they depend on.
AC Transit needs new leadership so that our buses are clean, safe, and arrive on-time. We need to streamline transfers with BART, improve coordination with city governments, and improve rider experience on buses and at bus stops. As a transportation professional, I've helped cities implement sustainable last-mile transportation solutions in dozens of cities. We also need to keep our buses safe during the pandemic. As a health officer with the Department of State, I have experience combating the 2014 Ebola Crisis in West Africa as a member of the U.S. Ebola Task Force and I will bring that hands-on expertise to keep our buses safe.
Wildfires are the new normal in the East Bay and are a byproduct of CO2 emissions. However this cannot be normal for us. AC Transit buses, and especially electric buses, need to be a linchpin of the East Bay’s climate change plan. We need to invest in the bus routes that are highly trafficked to reduce CO2 emissions. We need to accelerate our timeline to meet carbon-neutral goals to 2030, including with investments in electric buses, dedicated bus lanes, and green transit infrastructure. I've been a longtime advocate for environmental causes including through my work as an environmental officer with the U.S. Department of State where I helped increase access to sustainable energy equipment across the Asia-Pacific region. I will bring my global understanding of climate change to bear to help reduce our GSGs and protect our community.