Keith Laughlin became president of RTC in February of 2001, and since that time, has guided the organization’s efforts to become a national leader in the trails and greenways movement. Keith is responsible for overseeing all aspects of RTC’s trail development, policy advocacy and public education work, and regularly speaks before Congress and in the national media to establish strong support for trail networks and active-transportation infrastructure.
Keith came to RTC with more than 20 years of governmental experience in Washington, D.C. After 14 years as a senior staff person in the U.S. House of Representatives, he joined the executive branch, serving for eight years as Associate Director for Sustainable Development of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Laughlin's move into the nonprofit sector reflects his strongly held belief that a nationwide network of interconnecting trails can provide countless community benefits, including alternative commuting options and low- and no-cost recreational opportunities for people of all ages and abilities across the country.
A resident of Washington, D.C., Laughlin is married and has two children.
In alphabetical order by department and by region
Content Strategy Manager and Editor-in-Chief, Rails to Trails
Amy’s love for the outdoors stems from her childhood in western Pennsylvania, where it was not uncommon to see her and her brothers building tree-branch forts and hiking in the 24 acres of woods that made up her parents’ backyard.
She initially set her sights on the performing arts for a career, but realized in her early 20s that she and the industry were better off as friends. Eventually, she found her way to a small technology nonprofit in Pittsburgh, where she helped create and promote an online green map for southwest Pennsylvania. She has also served as a communications strategist for various outdoor and education-based nonprofits, as well as a regular contributor to Parks & Recreation magazine. In 2014, she joined RTC as content strategy manager and editor of Rails to Trails.
Amy enjoys traveling, taking a dance class here or there—and eating great food and then running it off. She is a card-carrying member of the Philadelphia Union supporters’ club, Sons of Ben.
Marketing and Social Media Coordinator
Suzanne Matyas grew up playing and running barefoot through the trails, parks and playgrounds of Northern Virginia.
Although she eventually started wearing shoes, her love of being outdoors never lessened and was happily directed toward studying Urban and Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia. During college, she fell in love with working in communications for nonprofits—and despite some time spent at engineering firms—it's remained her passion.
In 2016, Suzanne joined RTC as the social media and marketing coordinator. When she's not tweeting and watching what's trending in trails, she's spending time with her dog, Lily, and enjoying life in Washington, D.C.
Finance and Administration Department
Chief Operating Officer
Growing up in a family that spent most weekends and vacations outside—camping, hiking, biking, canoeing, and visiting local, state and national parks—Cindy Dickerson says she got hooked on the outdoors and travel at an early age.
Cindy currently serves as RTC’s chief operating officer and considers it a privilege to work for an organization that preserves green space and creates outdoor recreational opportunities for communities across the country. Prior to landing what she calls her “dream job” at RTC in 2002, she specialized for many years in nonprofit management in the education, travel and hospitality sectors.
Outside of work, you’ll find Cindy taking an evening walk or run on the nearby W & OD Trail, hiking the Billy Goat Trail with her Girl Scout troop or checking off more international destinations on her bucket list; she most recently road the Camel rail-trail with her daughter along the coast of Cornwall, England.
Cindy lives in Arlington, Va., with her son and daughter.
Derek Strout grew up in Bar Harbor, Maine, where his appreciation for the natural world and conservation developed early, in Acadia National Park. Years of searching for salamanders and biking carriage trails led him to the University of Vermont, where he earned a degree in Geography, specializing in remote sensing, GIS and cartography.
After living in Portland and working as a senior cartographer at DeLorme, Derek moved to Washington, D.C., and joined RTC in June 2016. He currently manages the organization's GIS infrastructure and maintains an ever-growing database of multi-use trails around the country.
Derek and his fiancé live in D.C.'s Lanier Heights neighborhood and enjoy exploring and supporting Rock Creek Park.
Human Resources Manager
"Riding a bike, or hiking on a trail, is when I am the happiest camper in the world," says Elton Clark, who keeps RTC running smoothly as its human resources manager.
Before joining RTC, Elton worked in human resources for the Smithsonian Institution and The Close Up Foundation in Alexandria, Va. And though he was born in North Carolina and lived in Germany for a period, Elton has spent much of his life little more than a bike ride from the nation's capital. He leapt at the chance to work for RTC, attracted by the opportunity to contribute to bike advocacy efforts.
In this dynamic nonprofit, he gets to step from behind his HR desk and roll up his sleeves for a variety of other tasks. In the past few years, Elton rode and documented many miles of trails as part of RTC's trail-mapping initiative, and he assisted the trail development team with the grand opening of the Met Branch Trail.
Elton has a few strings to his bow, including a degree in Commercial Art and Design, and he enjoys painting and drawing. His other love besides biking?
"Travel," he says. "I have seen some fantastic places."
Senior Director of TrailLink.com & Technology Marketing
Frederick is originally from Den Haag, Holland and works at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) to implement digital marketing strategy and manage RTC's fast-expanding technology platform. In addition, Frederick plays an instrumental role in managing RTC's GIS initiatives and online marketing partnerships including RTC's successful Google Biking Directions and Garmin partnerships.
Frederick also manages RTC's popular trail-finder site, TrailLink.com, TrailLink's iOS and Android applications, and implements data sharing partnerships, online marketing techniques, search traffic and email list building strategies in order to promote trail use and active transportation to the general public.
On any given day, you may see Frederick riding his old school Dutch Batavus bicycle around Washington, D.C., as he commutes to the office by bike every day—rain or shine.
Senior Staff Accountant
Irma Joseph joined the RTC team in 2005 as an administrative assistant and is now part of the finance team, helping to keep the books in top shape. Previously, she worked for the nonprofit, Identity, Inc., whose mission is to provide opportunities for Latino youth to believe in themselves and reach their highest potential.
A lover of all things artistic, Irma spent a few years in college studying Liberal Arts. She has lived in Maryland (which she calls home!) but originally hails from the Panama Canal Zone— and just so happens to speak Spanish fluently!
A proud mother of three wonderful young men, Irma enjoys reading, walking and the quiet sounds of an empty nest.
TrailLink.com Content Manager and Contributing Writer, Rails to Trails
Laura Stark is what you would call an RTC all-rounder. Much of her time at RTC is spent keeping the growing TrailLink.com database up-to-date and fresh with the newest trail openings, extensions and projects on the horizon, and helping new users.
The other role she fills here is rail-trail reporter, writing stories for Rails to Trails Magazine and Railstotrails.org, highlighting the wonderful rail-trails, and the people working hard in support of them, across America.
It's a little different from her last gig as a communications specialist for the American Society of Hematology, a professional association of blood specialists. But the native Minnesotan had a chance to switch careers after a lovely interruption of motherhood and finds trail writing and research a welcome change of pace.
"Even when it's cloudy and gloomy outside, I have the opportunity to get away mentally by writing about trails along the California coast, in the rugged foothills of Denver and in sunny Florida," says the wonderfully effervescent Laura. "How cool is that?"
Laura enjoys biking around her Alexandria neighborhood and is looking forward to sharing her love of two-wheeled transportation with her new daughter. (A side note: Laura's seemingly endless energy for baking delicious cakes and pies has endeared her enormously to all her co-workers. The chocolate cheesecake is something else. Seriously.)
Roxana Kiely has been working with RTC since 1997. She maintains that she is proud to see all the achievements and growth in the organization, as well as the great work done by her fellow dedicated staffers.
Working at RTC has given her a passion for the trails, and one day she hopes to ride on trails across the country.
The things she enjoys most? “Cooking nutritious meals for my family and going to the beach!” says Roxana.
Andrea Ferster is an attorney in private practice in Washington, D.C. Her law practice focuses on litigation to enforce environmental and historic preservation laws, transportation advocacy, tax exempt organizations, enforcement of local zoning and land use ordinances, and trail and greenway planning.
In addition to serving as general counsel for RTC, her clients include the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Sierra Club and numerous D.C.-based neighborhood and community organizations. She is a leading national expert on federal historic preservation law and on the legal framework governing “rail-trail” conversions, and she has written and lectured extensively on these topics.
Andrea received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 1979 and her J.D. from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1984.
Andrew N. Dupuy
Manager of Policy Outreach
Andrew N. Dupuy is RTC’s manager of policy outreach. Drew is responsible for state-based policy, including advocating for funding for active transportation and trails from state legislatures.
Drew’s professional background includes policy analysis for members of the Texas Legislature and managing press and communications for political campaigns and nonprofit advocacy organizations around the country.
A Southern California native by way of Austin, Texas, Drew graduated from Brown University and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin (“Hook ‘em, Horns!”) and currently is taking graduate courses in Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech.
Healthy Communities Manager
Ashley Ashworth serves as RTC’s representative in the health sector and is passionate about creating a transportation system that makes healthy choices easy choices.
Prior to joining RTC, Ashley worked on health and transportation issues in the U.S. Senate. She is originally from Kailua, Hawaii, and is an alumnus of Andrews University and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She learned how to ride a bike when she was 23 and states that “if she can do it, anyone can!”
Outside of work, she loves spending time in the outdoors, hiking and camping. She and her husband climbed Machu Picchu for their honeymoon and are looking for their next big trip.
Senior Vice President of Policy and Trail Development
Kevin Mills shapes and oversees RTC's policy agenda, including federal and state legislation and rulemaking, grassroots movement building, program initiatives and research. With an expert knowledge of the political relationships and maneuvering that influences the outcomes of Capitol Hill, Kevin is a national leader in the effort to ensure trails, biking and walking remain key elements of America's transportation policy.
RTC is constantly pursuing new initiatives to increase investment in active transportation—biking and walking for everyday travel—and to make trail systems accessible to nearly all Americans by 2020. These initiatives are built at both the grassroots and the grasstops, and it is here that the coalition-building strengths of Kevin and the policy and program team are able to influence the direction of transportation agencies.
Prior to joining RTC in spring 2006, Kevin spent more than 15 years at Environmental Defense Fund, directing programs to reduce the climate and health impact of automobiles, reduce the use and waste of toxic chemicals, and promote sustainable transportation and communities.
He founded or played a key role in launching many innovative collaborative ventures, including the Clean Car Campaign, the Partnership for Mercury Free Vehicles, the Partnership for Regulatory Innovation and Sustainable Manufacturing, the Great Printers Project, the Great Lakes Pollution Prevention Alliance and the Clean Production Network.
Leeann Sinpatanasakul was born and raised in northern New Jersey—a home for shopping malls and sprawling suburbs more than bicycles and hiking trails. Despite this, Leeann has been an avid environmentalist and outdoor lover since her youth. She studied environmental science in college and recently received her Master of Public Administration from Columbia University, specializing in Environmental Science and Policy.
Before joining RTC, she completed a stint with AmeriCorps as a New Jersey Watershed Ambassador, getting her feet wet (sometimes literally) assessing river health and conducting environmental outreach at schools and in local communities.
A recent Washington, D.C., transplant, Leeann is excited to work on bicycle and pedestrian trail advocacy at RTC by supporting the policy team’s grassroots work and coordinating between state and federal affairs.
“I want to make a difference and see change,” she says. “Working at RTC gives me the opportunity to do that.”
Senior Strategist for Policy Advocacy
Marianne Fowler has been with the RTC since 1988, and her pivotal roles in the ISTEA, TEA-21 and SAFETEA-LU reauthorizations have established her reputation as a veritable legend of the rail-trail movement and one of the true game-changers in the history of American bike/ped policy.
In addition to her role at RTC, Marianne co-chairs the Coalition for Recreational Trails and is 2nd Vice Chair of American Trails.
Marianne co-authored Trails and Trailways for the 21st Century and collaborated with faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health in researching and writing Factors Associated with Federal Transportation Funding for Local Pedestrian and Bicycle Programming and Facilities.
In 2014, Marianne was recognized as RTC’s Rail-Trail Champion of the year.
Director of Government Relations
Patrick Wojahn is a long-time cyclist and advocate for the environment. He started cycling on the wooded trails of northeastern Wisconsin and then continued as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He discovered RTC while exploring these trails.
Patrick serves as a city councilmember in College Park, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C. In that capacity, he serves as College Park’s representative to the Transportation Planning Board, the regional metropolitan planning organization for the National Capital Region. Before coming to RTC, Patrick provided legal services for people with disabilities in the D.C. metro area and advocated in Congress for accessible transportation services for people with disabilities.
Patrick is an Eagle Scout who loves nature and enjoys long walks with his husband Dave. He occasionally makes the long commute in from College Park to the RTC offices, even when he has to wear a suit!
Senior Director of Development
Ben Carter is RTC’s senior director of development. Ben is responsible for the organization’s membership program and is involved in other fundraising and communications initiatives. He began with RTC in 2004 in the national office in Washington, D.C., and moved to Portsmouth, N.H., in 2009, where he now works remotely.
Ben is originally from Steamboat Springs, Colo., and is a graduate of the University of Vermont.
He loves spending time outdoors and is a soccer coach at a local high school. He is married and has two children.
Development Coordinator (Part Time)
Growing up in Kensington, Md., Debbie remembers when the now well-known bike path was first built along Rock Creek. She fondly recalls the excitement of her community and her many hours spent exploring the park. She feels lucky to be able to raise her two children in the same neighborhood and see them enjoy the path and all it has to offer.
Debbie recently joined RTC as part-time development coordinator. She has spent the last 10 years raising her family and working as a substitute teacher, volunteer and Girl Scout leader. Other professional experiences include working as a human resources manager and second grade teacher. She is happy to have the opportunity to contribute to the promotion of trail building, advocacy and trail use.
Out of the office, Debbie and her family enjoy taking long walks in Rock Creek Park and along the C&O Canal with their two beagles.
Customer Service Coordinator
Donald Minor came to RTC in 2015 after serving in multiple development and customer service positions at the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental think tank based in Washington, D.C. When searching for new job opportunities, Donald’s wife (then- fiancé) Jessica mentioned that she missed being able to walk her dog on the trail near their old apartment. The impact the trail had on their lives and the local community resonated. A few days later, he saw the RTC job opening and decided to apply!
All of Donald’s professional experiences come from nonprofits—a choice he’s intentionally made over the years in order to “do some good in the world.”
He and Jessica live in Downtown Silver Spring with their dogs, Mushu and Maddy.
Major Gifts Officer
A defining moment for RTC's Katie McKinney: being assigned to ride the bus for a journalism class project while studying at the University of South Carolina (USC). It was a mode of transportation, she says, that was "so foreign to me, I might as well have been told to jump in a clown car and head for the circus." A native of Columbia, S.C., a town dependent on driving, the experience was an eye-opening one.
Since moving to Washington, D.C., back in 2008, she has grown a great appreciation not only for public transportation, but for the impact that a trail and bike system can have on a community and the health of its inhabitants. Since graduating from USC, Katie is proud to say that now, "even little old Columbia has jumped on the rail-trail bandwagon." In July 2012, the city opened its Vista Greenway, a converted railbed that connects several parts of downtown for walkers and bicyclists.
An avid Gamecock fan and runner, Katie got her feet wet and D.C.-ready as a press secretary on Capitol Hill. She comes to RTC from a consulting firm where she fundraised for a variety of organizations ranging from a land conservation trust to a sailing hall of fame.
"It’s exciting that I can help communities like Columbia have the opportunity to ditch those car keys and hit the trail!"
Vice President of Development and Communications
As a city dweller her whole life, Mary O’Connor has always valued living in communities that are not dependent on cars. Living in Kensington, Md., she is lucky to have a trail at the end of her block. Not everyone is fortunate enough to take a trail to the train and arrive at the office without getting in a car!
Mary brings almost two decades of conservation fundraising and marketing experience to RTC. She loves the opportunity to apply her skills to promoting trail building, advocacy and trail use.
In her spare time, Mary and her husband troll estate sales in search of midcentury modern furniture and decorative arts.
Membership Operations Manager
From his days a child growing up on a horse farm in Northern Virginia, Milo Bateman remembers his mother telling him that if he ever wanted to go somewhere, he could always bike there—so that’s what he did. Now, as an adult, Milo has been able to claim “carless” status for three years and bikes every season of the year.
As RTC’s membership operations manager, Milo is in charge of member relations and creating the organization’s “awesome gear,” among other things. He has been with RTC since he was 22. “I guess you could say I grew up a little with RTC,” Milo says.
Milo has made it a yearly goal to complete at least one century ride and enjoys longboarding when the weather permits. But his true passion is with trees and air quality; as a skilled bonsai enthusiast, Milo keeps and maintains more than 100 different plants, including tillandsia (air plants).
He also loves to travel. “If I could be in a specific place at any given moment, it would be the Caribbean,” states Milo.
Online Campaigns Manager
Ryan Cree manages electronic communication with RTC’s vast collection of 160,000 members and supporters. Ryan is an invaluable member of the communications team, helping to engage trail fans across the U.S. and ensuring that RTC staff get the right messages out to the right audiences.
He came to RTC in 2012 after working with several conservation-focused nonprofits.
Trail Development/Program Department
Ana Valenzuela serves as RTC’s GIS Analyst, providing technical and analytical assistance for all things GIS. She is passionate about using GIS to create innovative solutions for complex problems, especially those concerning sustainability and equity. She has worked with a variety of nonprofits/NGOs, including the World Wildlife Fund and the World Bank, with a primary focus on environmental policy and GIS analysis.
Ana was born and raised in Alabama, where she learned to appreciate good food and the outdoors. Originally hoping for a career as a classical musician, she shifted to a more lucrative History focus. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Middle Tennessee State University and a Master of Public Policy from George Washington University.
In her spare time, Ana enjoys snowboarding, playing the French Horn and walking the many D.C. trails with Charlie, her dog.
Trail Development Resources Manager
Eli Griffen joined RTC as a student intern for the policy team in January 2012. Upon graduation from college, he became a short-term assistant doing many of the same tasks he did before—but this time with a paycheck! An unexpected temporary opening at the front desk at RTC headquarters gave Eli the opportunity to try his hand at customer and member services until—low and behold—he was able to settle in comfortably as trail development and TrailLink coordinator.
His primary responsibilities include managing the Early Warning System, which alerts local communities to upcoming railroad abandonments, and providing technical assistance to those interested in developing new rail-trails. For TrailLink.com, Eli audits and enhances RTC’s vast database of trails. Although his introduction to RTC was a bit unusual, Eli maintains that it was for the best: “The bouncing around actually gave me great insight into how the organization functions and made me realize just how committed and passionate every single employee here is,” he affirms.
Eli commutes to his job daily by bike from Northwest D.C. to RTC’s downtown office.
Vice President of Trail Development
Elizabeth “Liz” Thorstensen serves as vice president of trail development at RTC where she shapes and oversees the organization’s trail development projects and programs. Liz has a broad background of experience in urban planning, with a focus on the intersection of sustainable communities and economic development—including writing three major publications to educate the economic development profession on this important topic.
Liz is passionate about the transition to a more sustainable economy and the role that trails and active transportation play in that transition.
Prior to joining RTC, Liz served as vice president of knowledge management and economic development practice at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), where she led IEDC’s knowledge management team. In 2010 she co-led IEDC’s partnership with the White House and the U.S. Economic Development Administration to deliver immediate economic recovery technical assistance to 21 Gulf Coast communities impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Liz earned her bachelor’s degree in Geography and GIS from the University of Maryland and holds master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Local Economic Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the London School of Economics, respectively.
Trail Development Manager
Jim Brown has known the value of trails—connecting people to nature and bringing tangible benefits to local communities—since his first job on the Gwynns Falls Trail in Baltimore. Now, as RTC’s trail development manager, he continues to put his passions to professional use by providing technical assistance to communities pursuing new trails, managing various capacity building programs within RTC’s Metropolitan Grants Program and working with individuals to solve issues related to their favorite trails in regions across the country.
Jim has experience in urban environmental education and international nonprofit issues; previous professional credits include working for the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks and serving as a natural resource management Peace Corps volunteer in rural Tanzania. He holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in landscape architecture, and his academic research and proposed projects have been presented at international greenway planning conferences.
He is happiest on a bike or holding a cup of coffee, but not at the same time.
Trail Development Director
Kelly Pack still remembers her first-ever rail-trail experience; as a young child, she and her family completed the long bicycle ride along the Cranberry Rail-Trail in her home state of West Virginia. It was an experience that would inspire her as an adult, as Kelly is now director of trail development for RTC, helping bring to fruition the trail aspirations of community groups across the country.
After earning a Master of Science in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Resources from West Virginia University, Kelly became very active as a community organizer and project coordinator, working with local watershed organizations, trail and greenway planning initiatives, pedestrian and bicycle advocacy groups, and a regional brownfield redevelopment program. Lately, Kelly has been the driving force behind some of RTC's most innovative and successful work, including fostering a local community of ownership around the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Washington, D.C., promoting urban rail-trails as critical public health amenities and helping the people of New Orleans stay connected to plans to redevelop the Lafitte Corridor.
And she still enjoys riding her bike in the city and the country; Kelly recently completed the 330-plus mile journey from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Washington, D.C., on the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal towpath.
Before joining the RTC team in 2016 as a trail planner, Kevin Belanger spent many years in the active-transportation world—first for the Student Conservation Association, building trails in Arkansas (which instilled in Kevin a major appreciation for the impact trails can have on personal and community growth), and then as the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for a suburb in Maryland.
His educational background includes earning master’s degrees in both Environmental Studies and Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon, where he wrote his thesis on walking and biking habits in suburban multifamily housing.
In addition to running—too much—his personal hobbies include being in musicals and playing pub trivia!
Florida Field Office
Ken Bryan is a native Floridian who enjoys the warm outdoor lifestyle the state’s trails, beaches, lakes and springs offer. He built his first trails in the woods near his home, but times have changed.
Where he once was sworn to secrecy regarding the location of the trails that he and his neighborhood friends built, he is now committed to advancing public trails for all to use.
Midwest Regional Office
Brian K. Housh
Brian K. Housh is an avid cyclist and a council member in the Village of Yellow Springs, where his active-transportation lifestyle is supported by living along the Little Miami Scenic Trail—which is part of the nation’s largest paved trail network.
Brian has been actively engaged in regional economic development initiatives that emphasize strategies to enhance quality of life, create jobs and increase commerce via arts, culture and environmental sustainability. Prior to joining RTC, he spent 12 years in Thailand managing his corporate communications training consultancy and leading the charitable efforts of the American Chamber of Commerce.
A graduate of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a JD/MBA (Environmental Law/Finance and Entrepreneurship), he brings a community development perspective to RTC’s policy team.
Director of Trail Development
Eric Oberg gained his appreciation and love for the outdoors being born and raised in Alaska. His trail interest was piqued when he and his then girlfriend, now wife, trained long-distance sled dogs near Denali National Park for three years. Eric turned the love of trails into an exciting and rewarding career. He led trail-building crews in Denali for six years. This work included everything from survey work across trail-less wilderness to full-scale mechanized construction in the front country of the park.
With a young family in tow, he looked to broaden his career, and the opportunity to join RTC presented itself in 2007. In the years since, he has worked extensively throughout the Midwest and entire country with trail groups, decision makers and business leaders on trail projects of all shapes and sizes. He has particularly enjoyed working in some of the Midwest’s finest urban areas, a stark difference from the native village on Kodiak Island where he spent his childhood.
Eric enjoys time with his wife and two young children, as well as gardening and bluegrass music.
Northeast Regional Office
Project Manager, Trail Development
Anya Saretzky joined RTC in 2015 as a project manager for the Greater Philadelphia area, focusing on the Circuit regional trail network. Before coming to RTC, she worked with a variety of nonprofits whose missions reflect her passion for promoting sustainable communities, including the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Isles Inc., Power Up Gambia and NJPIRG’s Energy Service Corps. She also serves on the board of Urbanstead, an organization that trains underserved youth to become urban agriculture professionals.
She holds a Masters in Environmental Studies and a Certificate in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of New Jersey.
Her favorite trail is Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River Trail.
Trail Development Manager
Liz Sewell is the trail development manager for the RTC’s Northeast Regional Offices. Managing trail projects through all stages of development, Liz enjoys working directly with communities surrounding trails through surveys, healthcare partnerships, participation in community events and technical trail assistance.
Raised in Michigan, Liz has enjoyed running and cycling along rail-trails from a young age. After graduating from the University of Michigan, she worked in the marketing department of a consulting firm in Chicago and programmed volunteer events for employees in her spare time. Thrilled with the difference she was making through her volunteer work, Liz joined the Peace Corps and never looked back! Her work with health clinics (and teaching aerobics!) in Thailand taught Liz about the relationship between the built environment and public health.
Enthused after two years of field work in Thailand, Liz attended the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University with a Master of Urban and Regional Planning, where she researched the health impact of transportation proposals at the Voorhees Transportation Center. Catch her on the Ben Franklin Bridge during her commute to RTC’s office in Camden, New Jersey.
If Pennsylvania had its own Environmental Hall of Fame, Tom Sexton would surely be in it. His résumé of conservation and alternative-transportation initiatives reads like an awards introduction, and RTC is very pleased to have Tom heading up our Northeast Regional Office in Camp Hill, Pa.
Having studied the environment, planning and geography in college, Tom's early career included working as a recreation planner for the National Park Service, and as a naturalist in New York City. His passion for preservation soon led him toward the political arena, in which he served as a congressional staffer for the 1st District of Maryland. He then established the Pennsylvania office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and served as executive director.
Tom joined RTC in 1991, the same year he founded the Environmental Fund for Pennsylvania. In the early 90s, he was the lead advocate for Transportation Enhancements (TE) to be allocated to local projects, and he led the effort to protect unused rail bridges and tunnels, which resulted in an 18-month demolition moratorium by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Since then, Tom has been instrumental in leading RTC's policy, promotion and trail-assistance efforts across 10 states in the Northeast.
Tom is the author of several regional guidebooks, and he served as co-chair of the 1997 Pennsylvania Governor's Conference on Greenways and Trails. He was also co-chair of the 1999 International Trails and Greenways Conference in Pittsburgh.
Tom founded and now directs RTC's annual Rail-Trail Sojourn series, a trail-building program that, since 2002, has led thousands of bicyclists on rides throughout the eastern U.S.
Western Regional Office
“I’ve always been interested in politics and the environment,” Laura Cohen recalls. “In fact, I ran for office in high school and became our school’s first Commissioner of the Environment.” She followed these passions through her studies, completing a political science degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
After several years as an entertainment attorney for MGM/UA (which, like public policy, is a highly collaborative environment with lots of passion and egos), she shifted her focus to public interest work, becoming deputy chief of staff to a California State Senator. Laura joined RTC as California policy director, drawing on her legislative experience, and established RTC as a prominent player in statewide transportation and recreation policy.
Since being promoted to Western Regional Director, with responsibility for RTC’s program work in six western states, Laura has been instrumental in increasing funding for bicycling, walking and trails by more than $200 million over the past decade. She played a key role in shaping the legislation that created California’s new Active Transportation Program and in preserving the state’s Recreational Trails Program. Laura is also a frequent speaker on active transportation policy and funding issues and has co-authored numerous RTC reports, including the 2009 California Rails-with-Trails Survey.
In her spare time, Laura and her family enjoy hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area, whitewater rafting and adventure traveling. Past excursions include safaris in Africa and leading volunteer teams for Habitat for Humanity International in Romania, New Zealand and Botswana, to name a few.
Trail Development Manager
Growing up, the vacations of choice in Barry Bergman’s family always seemed to revolve around travel, camping and hiking, so it’s hardly a surprise he ended up working at RTC. But Barry has a special place in his heart for rail-trails.
“While in graduate school in western Massachusetts, biking was a great way to get to class, except for the harrowing roadway crossing over the Connecticut River,” he says. “Once the abandoned railroad bridge was rehabbed for the Norwottuck Rail Trail, it was something I appreciated every day.”
Prior to joining RTC, Barry spent 17 years as a public sector transportation planner, focusing on helping to create more balanced, less auto-centric transportation systems. His work included leading the Baltimore region’s first-ever bicycle, pedestrian and greenways plan as well as some more on-the-ground experience in Alameda, Calif., where he updated the city’s bike plan and partnered closely with the local transit provider.
As manager of trail development in RTC’s Western Regional Office, he has tried to visit as many trails across the region as possible, and on weekends, Barry can often be found taking in the natural wonders of the San Francisco Bay Area hiking trails.
He adds, “What can I say? I guess my name means ‘mountain man’ for a reason.”
Yamelith Aguilar joined RTC in 2015 as program coordinator for the Western Region Office, after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area from Orange County, California. Living in Orange County (largely dependent on cars) allowed her to recognize the important role that active transportation can have on communities. She aims to be a part of increasing alternative modes of transportation and building a network of trails throughout the western U.S.
Yamelith is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health from San Francisco State University and holds bachelor’s degrees in Health Science and Political Science from California State University, Fullerton.
In her free time, Yamelith loves to run and is taking full advantage of the expansive (although incomplete) trail networks in California.