Meet our Team:

  • Megan Owens, Executive Director
  • Deb Freer, Assistant Director
  • Joel Batterman, Community Engagement Manager
  • Claire Nowak-Boyd, Communications and Operations Manager
  • Thomas Yazbeck, Community Engagement Specialist
  • Petra Mihalko, Design Specialist
  • Aaron J. Puno, Journalism and Storytelling Intern
  • Stanley Rhodes, Public Policy Intern

Interested in volunteering? Sign up here.

Interested in interning? Find out more here.

Megan Owens, Executive Director

Megan on Channel 7's Flashpoint program

Megan on Channel 7’s Flashpoint program

Ms. Owens coordinates and oversees all of TRU’s advocacy, education, fundraising, and engagement, all dedicated to improving transit. She is TRU’s lead spokesperson and a frequent source for local and national media. She led TRU’s work advocating the creation of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and continues to watchdog their work.

She has served on the Executive Committee of the RTA’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee and the Oakland County Public Transit Authority, which oversaw SMART bus service in Oakland County. Dedicated to ongoing learning, she completed fellowships with Detroit Regional Chamber’s Leadership Detroit, the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Executive Leadership Fellowship and the Center for Progressive Leadership.

Previously, Ms. Owens spent six years with PIRGIM (the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan) leading the passage of state identity theft laws and advocating a reduction air pollution from coal-burning power plants. She has also worked on several political campaigns and taught environmental education in the Michigan State Parks.

A nearly lifelong Michigan resident, she graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment where she co-lead the nation’s largest voter registration drive and promoted community service. She currently lives in Detroit with her husband and daughters and enjoys traveling, baking, video games, and Detroit’s wonderful festivals.

Claire Nowak-Boyd, Communications and Operations Manager

A woman with long hair smiles into the camera. Stenciled on plywood next to her are the words

Claire poses with a passage from the Gary, Indiana, Citywide Poem.

Ms. Nowak-Boyd coordinates TRU’s administration, events, and member communications. She launched the Transit on Tap event series.

She graduated summa cum laude from Wayne State University with a BA in Urban Studies and a minor in Economics. She is best known for serving as past Executive Director of Preservation Detroit, and is passionate about improving transit as a way to spare historic buildings from being demolished for parking and freeway widenings. Ms. Nowak-Boyd worked as a Planner in lieu of a Zoning Administrator in the Planning and Development Department of the City of Flint. She has also knocked on doors doing foreclosure prevention outreach in Delray and 48217. An avid civic participant, Ms. Nowak-Boyd has attended and spoken at numerous public hearings about transportation related topics. She lives in Hamtramck.

Thomas Yazbeck, Community Engagement Specialist

Thomas Yazbeck sits on a bench in a bus stop, reflected by the glass. He is wearing a yellow hat and a gray coat. The sky is brightly blue and he looks into the distance.  

Mr. Yazbeck is helping TRU build support for public transportation in Metro Detroit from the ground up, by engaging with community groups and individuals across the region. He is currently working on TRU’s Transit Talks/Speakers’ Bureau program, a series of lectures & discussions designed to spread awareness about public transit and its importance to Detroit area residents.
Mr. Yazbeck currently resides near Rochester, Michigan, a bedroom community north of Detroit, and established Rochester Riders to build support for public transit there. A graduate of Michigan State University, Mr. Yazbeck grew to appreciate the power of public transit while attending college and returned from East Lansing to get involved with TRU and Motor City Freedom Riders. Mr. Yazbeck has been an avid volunteer with several civic organizations, and currently serves on Motor City Freedom Riders’ Board of Directors and the RTA Citizens’ Advisory Council.