A version of this message went out via email to all members who are subscribed to our updates on March 8.
Letter from the Executive Director
First, I’d like to discuss how we’re impacting our mission, which is, “To engage, empower, and connect people to travel by bicycle.”
I’m very excited to report that we started the year with record Tour registrations! We have 1,274 registered participants, which is double where we typically are this time of year. We wrapped up 2021 with 980 tour participants. We are getting prepped for the 2022 season with leader training, new leadership development, and the start of the season with tours in Florida and Hawaii.
Our Bike Overnights program is a strategy we use to entice more people into multi-day cycling trips, and it has been a success in helping people from marginalized communities travel by bike. Late last year we completed an assessment of the initiative, and learned that giving stipends is our most effective strategy. In 2021, Bike Overnights rights in Chicago, Mexico City, Seattle, Portland, Austin, New Haven and Madison engaged 100 entry-level riders with $3,000 in stipends. This was a great validation, and we’ll increase these stipends in 2022 to reach even more people.
We also continue to advocate for improved policy and more routes. This March, at the National Bike Summit, we’ll partner with Rails-to-Trails, East Coast Greenway, WABA and local groups in DC to host a mobile workshop focused on partnerships as a strategy for infrastructure advocacy. We’re also making progress on the BOLT Act—which would establish long-distance trails on federal land—by coordinating with other national partners to improve the bill language.
In December, we said goodbye to long-time staffer Eva Dunn Froebig. Eva spearheaded our 40th anniversary event, and grew Bike Travel Weekend and Bike Your Park Day into the large-scale events they are today. We also wished adieu to Development Director Jackie Slovak, who organized the Philanthropy Committee to develop a long-term strategic plan for development and fundraising, and to tours specialist Shannon Fischer-Kendro. We will miss them all!
We also celebrate the addition of a new role at Adventure Cycling: the Chief People and Culture Officer. Nicki Bailey (she/her) has blazed a lot of new trails in a short period of time. About half of Nicki’s time is dedicated to advancing our diversity, equity and inclusion work (both internally and within our programming). The other half is spent helping us with people management and leader development. We’ve grown a lot in the past 47 years, and Nicki is helping us create the systems and tools we need to ensure we recruit and retain the best talent to further our mission. She’s already accomplished a lot, including transitioning us to a new payroll system; drafting a template library for staff reviews; finalizing our DEI plan and established a JEDI working group; securing grant funding for staff training; and is currently evaluating all job descriptions across the entire organization, including updates of policy and procedures for our tour leaders. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have her on the team!
We are also joined by new staff Kelly Fehn, Membership Coordinator. Phil Shutler has been contracted to work on the Route Conditions Mapping Tool. Ambar Johnson (she/her) has been contracted as Production Assistant to work on season 2 of the podcast. Marketing staff hired Gott Advertising to run Facebook and Google Grant Ads for the organization.
Our programs continue to show a lot of momentum. This is a building year for us, and we are working hard to set a solid foundation so we can more effectively accelerate our work. I’m energized by all we’ve accomplished in late 2021 and early 2022. Thanks to all our members — you are what makes this organization great!
—Jennifer O'Dell, Executive Director
Meet Jenn Hamelman, our current USBRS Program Manager! Jenn first started at Adventure Cycling in 1994 as part of a college work study program, and is currently in her third act of employment here. She’s been a cartographer, senior cartographer and assistant director. When Jenn first started, Adventure Cycling was just beginning the transformation from pen and ink, 3-color maps to 4-color maps drawn on the computer. The route network was at about 20,000 miles and Jenn helped it grow to almost 50,000 miles. She worked on the transition from pen and ink to computer to data distribution to a mobile app. She estimates that by the time she left the org in 2019 to return to Oregon, she had probably worked on every map section in our catalog at least once.
When not biking, Jenn loves to get messy and creative with color, paper, glue and/or fiber, knitting, listening to podcasts or reading a good story.
Favorite bike adventure: “I resisted the call to take on a longer distance trip for a long time. In 2016, the bug finally bit and at the 40th Anniversary, in front of Wally [Werner] I declared I was going to ride cross country. June of 2017 I set off from Cape Elizabeth, ME on a solo, self-contained trip mostly on the Northern Tier Route and made it as far as the headwaters of the Mississippi River where I ended the trip due to the excessive wildfire season in the West that summer.
“Two of my learnings from my trip: 1. reassurance that most people, most of the time, are generally kind and want to be helpful and 2. even a vegan can find enough food in a rural convenience store for a meal!”