Photo: Lisa Williams
With the help of new Operations Director Rajah Brown, Explore Bike Share is bringing the nation’s largest bike sharing installation of its kind to Memphis.
Bike sharing provides a network of bicycles to rent from stations around the city, and Explore Bike Share is striving to bring that concept to Memphis, making bikes accessible to as many Memphians as possible. Their organization believes that biking will improve our city in many ways, from sharing culture to improving health and their new team member Rajah Brown agrees. The Memphis-native brings more than 15 years of community-based recreation management experience to the team.
Brown joins the Explore Bike Share team under Executive Director Trey Moore and alongside Sara Studdard, Community Engagement & Marketing Director.
Brown is a graduate of management building program Urban Arrow, and he also worked as Program Director of the Mayor’s Safe Summer Initiative – where he successfully created holistic programming for thousands of annual participants. Additionally, Brown spent a decade with Memphis Athletic Ministries where he developed and implemented programs at all of the organization’s major facilities.
Choose901 had the opportunity to discuss more of his qualifications, and what he is most looking forward to at Explore Bike Share
Choose901: As a native Memphian, can you share about the city’s progress as you’ve seen it and what you think Explore Bike Share means for the city’s trajectory?
Rajah Brown: With tons of new development, major corporations bringing thousands of jobs and rising housing markets in our region, I am super excited to see Memphis on the rise and I am grateful for my next opportunity to be involved in the process through Explore Bike Share. In my opinion, Explore Bike Share is an essential component of a concerted effort to transform Memphis into a progressive, vibrant city that fully supports its current residents and appeals to non-residents.
C901: You’ve stated that you’re excited to engage residents through workforce development and community safety and advocacy efforts. How do those pieces connect in your role at Explore Bike Share?
RB: One of my personal missions in life is to help build community across socioeconomic lines by empowering the under-resourced, motivating the middle-class and educating the affluent. As Operations Director, I will definitely wear a lot of hats, but I am most passionate about creating and implementing programs that will promote healthy relationships, mentalities and lifestyles.
C901: What’s something in Memphis that’s an authentic and true representation of the city at its best? What is it in the city that moves you?
RB: Without question, the Memphis Grizzlies and its “Grit n’ Grind” mantra. The team highlights our city’s hard work (or blue-collar) mentality and brings residents from every social sector together to stand as a united front. This activity is often replicated in other areas, and I believe that is when our city is at its best.
In my opinion, Explore Bike Share is an essential component of a concerted effort to transform Memphis into a progressive, vibrant city that fully supports its current residents and appeals to non-residents.
C901: From your time with Urban Arrow learning about urban leadership, what’s something that’s misunderstood about the work, or something you learned that unlocked a different level of understanding for how to be of service? In other words, the biggest takeaway?
RB: The Urban Arrow program challenges you to move beyond surface-level thinking in organizational leadership. Rather than spreading your organization thin by being satisfactory in multiple areas, instead centralize your focus and become an expert in one, maybe two areas—then partner with other agencies to fill any voids.
C901: What is the biggest takeaway from your time at Memphis Athletic Ministries and how will it help you execute at Explore Bike Share?
RB: During my 10 years of service at Memphis Athletic Ministries, I was able to build relationships in virtually every Memphis neighborhood, inside and outside the loop. Through first-hand experience, I obtained an education in geography and culture; but more importantly, I gained a unique perspective of the heartbeat of the city—the wants and needs of its residents. Explore Bike Share will soon have the ability to connect all Memphians in some capacity, and I will utilize those experiences to advance our city on multiple fronts, from sharing culture to improving health.