Happy New Year! The past year has been one of many changes for Adventure Cycling. Despite the pandemic, I’m happy to report that the organization is in excellent health and that the Board of Directors and leadership team are looking forward to a productive year.
I’m writing today to introduce myself and to bring you some updates. This year, the Board will communicate more directly with members. In addition to the annual review we publish, we will also send periodic updates about activities and priorities through a new quarterly newsletter from Executive Director Jennifer O’Dell, coming soon.
First, an update on the Board of Director elections. The January board meeting is when we hold Board elections for new and returning Board members, and for Board officers. It is also when we say goodbye to Board members who are stepping off. This election cycle we said farewell to Steve Seto and George Mendes; welcomed Scott Edwards and Erick Cedeño; and re-elected Joyce Casey to her third term.
I’m M.E. (short for Maria Elena) Price and am thrilled to be the newly elected President of the Adventure Cycling Board of Directors. Many of you know me through my previous work on the Board, where I’ve served for four years. I’ve been involved with bike travel since I could ride a bike. I was fortunate to grow up in a family business whose sole purpose was to get people out traveling by bicycle. Although most of my touring has been overseas, I hope to do more here in North America with the help of Adventure Cycling! Along with my sister, I own the Colorado-based Experience Plus Bicycle Tours and Italy-based BikesPlus. (Find more of my bio here along with all the other Board Member bios.)
I want to thank the outgoing President, Joyce Casey, who was President for three years and Vice President before that. Her term as President ended at our January 2022 meeting. Under her steady leadership, the Board was effective in navigating COVID and two leadership transitions, along with all the bumps along the way. Adventure Cycling is in a strong position to move forward with some very exciting new initiatives. On behalf of the entire Board, thank you for your service, Joyce.
Now, some updates from the Board, which held its first meeting of the year on Friday, Jan. 22.
Board governance review: As we grow as an organization and as a Board, we realize there is a need to review and update our policies, bylaws, and director election procedures. Members of the Board are in the process of hiring a governance consultant. We want to operate in line with best practices for organizations similar to ours, and we look forward to getting an outside perspective.
Adventure Cycling’s members are deeply passionate about bicycle travel and want to be engaged. We are actively working with staff to find ways to offer additional opportunities for members to be engaged, and leverage our collective energies to amplify the organization’s impact.
We are already implementing several methods to communicate more frequently and transparently with our members. The regular email from the Executive Director mentioned above will be a key channel of communication, and will include information about Board and leadership activities. Minutes from recent Board meetings will be posted on the website.
Since late 2019, Adventure Cycling has incorporated JEDI work into our professional development options for staff. The Board is participating in its own training sessions and we are thrilled to see new programs like Bike Overnights and Long Weekend tours that strive to make bike travel more accessible to everyone. The staff and Board of Directors of Adventure Cycling Association believe in the power of bicycle travel to open minds and change the way the world explores. For this to occur, bicycle travel has to be available for everyone. Adventure Cycling has an important role in not perpetuating and actively breaking down the barriers that have made that difficult for marginalized communities.
We have received some questions about a leadership transition that happened late last year. In late 2021, Scott Pankratz transitioned off his role as Executive Director. Scott successfully shepherded our organization through over a year of pandemic and brought in a number of key staff people. We are grateful for his service.
We were fortunate that Jennifer O’Dell joined Adventure Cycling in 2021 as Chief Marketing Officer after a months-long, nationwide search. We are impressed with the quality of her work, her ability to build relationships, and her managerial talents. As we looked to fill in the Executive Director role, we were grateful to have someone of her caliber on staff and ready to step up. Jennifer serves in the full capacity of an Executive Director and has an appointment in this role until the end of 2022. Jennifer has a strong background leading teams and has quickly earned the Board and staff’s trust. This stability is important as Adventure Cycling has a lot of good work in the pipeline for 2022. Jennifer will be able to share her priorities for the organization in her first email update in February.
In late 2022, the Board will discuss whether to open a nationwide search for an Executive Director. Leading up to that, we are creating a clear review plan for Jennifer and any future executive directors. We would hope and anticipate that, if we decide to do a search, Jennifer would be a leading candidate.
While long, I hope this News post was helpful. I will keep you updated on Board activities through Jennifer’s quarterly message moving forward and am always available to answer questions.