Like a number of my colleagues, I have the privilege of writing my first post as I prepare to travel on work-related business. I am pretty excited about my trip this week. I’m on my way to sunny Southern California for a staff retreat primarily for our new regional policy managers who work full-time on our Regional Network Project—more about them in a paragraph or two.
I started out as one of the first network organizers with the Safe Routes Partnership in 2007. In the summer of 2010, I officially joined the staff of the Safe Routes Partnership as one of two state network managers. In this role, I had the opportunity to work with organizers in eight of our network states and with our fledgling regional network projects in Southern California, the DC region and Atlanta.
It was an amazing opportunity to work with state network organizers across the country, guiding and encouraging them as various policy opportunities arose. Some universal traits I have noticed about advocates in the Safe Routes to School world: they are passionate, tireless, optimistic, creative—and fun to work with!
My role as state network manager came to a close at the end of 2011, and I am now focused entirely on working with the regional network project staff. Kaiser Permanente provided the Safe Routes Partnership funding in 2010 to begin working in the Southern California, Washington, DC and Atlanta regions, and they renewed funding in 2012, adding San Francisco Bay Area to the roster of regions. With our ongoing funding, we hired full-time regional policy managers in each of these areas, and they all began in January. I am very eager to introduce them to you, but they each will have the opportunity to introduce themselves through our blog in the next month, so I will restrain myself.
Our work in the regions focuses on policy changes at the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPOs) and local levels. We also work to change or increase funding allocations to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure—and of course, Safe Routes to School—at every opportunity. Decisions at the local level have such a significant impact on how our communities are built and increasingly, how public funding is utilized. That is why the work of our regional policy managers is so critical! If you live in one of these metropolitan regions, contact me or our policy managers, and we will be happy to plug you into our efforts.
As the mom of a 10-year-old daughter, it is great to be able to work for something I believe in so passionately. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia—just ¼ of a mile from the Colonial Capitol for those of you familiar with the area. My daughter learned to ride her bicycle dodging horse-drawn carriages, ox carts and tourists that are ubiquitous in Williamsburg. Now those wonderful car-free streets serve as our route to her school. If you’re ever touring the area, be sure to look me up and say “hi.” Meanwhile, I look forward to using our blog to keep you informed of all the great things we are doing in major metropolitan areas across the country.