Meet Katanya Raby, the New Chair of CTA’s Citizens Advisory Board

Photos: Lee Edwards

At their first quarterly meeting of the year, the ten newly selected Chicago Transit Authority’s Citizens Advisory Board members named Katanya Raby as their chairperson by unanimous decision.

Raby said she was “shocked” to be selected as chair because three other board members were considered for the position. 

“I think that the board is comprised of some really amazing people from across the city,” said Raby. “So, I’m just really grateful to them that they thought that I would be a good fit for this role.” 

Robert Johnson was named vice chair, also by unanimous decision.

Raby, who has a background as an urban planner and is the vice president of planning and development at the Far South Community Development Corporation, has a unique perspective on the city’s transit system. 

Before becoming chair, she worked within former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on equitable transit development projects and equitable housing policy.

She told The Chicago Defender that she thought her experience in transit, specifically developing walkable, equitable and inclusive communities, could be beneficial. 

“I believe that CTA, being the second largest transit system in the country, has a huge charge in making sure that it’s providing access to all of our residents,” said Raby, who has worked in the planning sector for nearly a decade. “We’re experiencing the daily life of moving around the city using the CTA.” 

“And so it’s very important that we are being eyes and ears for those who need to make the decisions here at CTA so that we’re making the right decisions that will help move our city forward.”

Raby, the granddaughter of civil rights leader Al Raby, mentioned that being able to continue some of his work by advocating for equity in transit and housing is “really special.” 

“I am just really excited to be part of the change and continue his legacy,” Raby said.  

The CTA announced the names of the Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) members on its website on June 16. CAB members serve a two-year term where they advise the CTA board on how best to serve the needs and desires of bus and rail riders. 

According to the CTA, more than 100 people applied, and the selections were made “to ensure diverse representation from across the CTA service area, and includes representatives of community organizations, commercial and business groups, seniors and others,” according to a press release on its website. The application deadline was April 28. 

The complete list of CAM members includes:

  • Katanya Raby
  • Danielle Stanley
  • Peter Henderson
  • Ryan McCray
  • Caroline Pavlecic
  • Sonia Del Real
  • Kirby Scott
  • Robert Johnson
  • Robert Castaneda
  • Tracy Powell

The CAM also includes three non-voting student members:

  • Emmanuel Garcia.
  • Ryan Parnell
  • Aiden Keefe 

Raby, a Chicago native, said before the COVID-19 pandemic, her primary mode of travel throughout the city was CTA buses and rail lines for five or six years when she lived in the Bronzeville community. 

However, today, as a Chatham resident, she said she’s had to drive more frequently than she used to but hopes that the bus service in her area becomes more frequent and accessible.

“I am a huge supporter of making the shift from car-oriented communities to make it walkable and transit-friendly and transit-rich,” said Raby. “Right now, we have a lot of pockets of transit options on the South Side. And so part of my desire as part of this board is to ensure that our communities are getting more access.”

The board meets quarterly at the Chicago Transit Authority headquarters at 567 W. Lake St.

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