The RTC Board of Directors comprises at least five but not more than 21 members, who are responsible for the legal and fiduciary operations of the organization. The full board meets three times per year, and committees meet as needed to prepare recommendations for full board approval.
Our board members are leaders and visionaries in their various fields who help guide RTC as we work toward creating a nationwide network of trails—and more bikeable, walkable communities in the United States.
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Joseph Barrow Jr. | Jon Cofsky | Mark Filippell | Vanessa Garrison | Rose Gowen | Noel Kegel | Charles N. Marshall | Doug Monieson | Frank Mulvey | Tom Petri | Rebecca Riley | James Sallis | Guy O. Williams | Ryan Chao
Board of Directors
M. Katherine Kraft
M. Katherine Kraft is a nationally recognized expert on the impact of the built environment on health outcomes. As the national coalition director of the Every Body Walk! Collaborative at America Walks, Kate is working with national partners to build a robust and effective national walking movement. She serves on the RTC board with a goal of seeing a nationwide, complete and interconnected trail system that is safe, beautiful and stress free.
Kate previously worked as a planning and program consultant for various foundations, national organizations and research groups, developing and evaluating local community change efforts and designing prevention initiatives related to physical activity and health. She also spent 10 years as a senior program and evaluation staff member for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, overseeing initiatives designed to promote healthy behavior. Kate frequently speaks and writes about the impact of the built environment on health, and why place matters.
John P. Rathbone
John P. Rathbone is a retired executive of the Virginia-based Norfolk Southern Corporation, an $11 billion rail transportation company serving the eastern United States. A certified public accountant, John began his career as an auditor and quickly ascended the ranks of the company to serve as both executive vice president and chief financial officer. He has also served on the boards of the United Way of Hampton Roads and the College of William & Mary Foundation, and is a former rector of Eastern Virginia Medical School.
John is an avid cyclist and has gone on many lengthy rides, including the Erie Canalway Trail, Natchez Trace and Great Allegheny Passage.
Gail Lipstein spent her career in physical therapy and pediatric rehabilitation services at a Philadelphia children's hospital before retiring to raise a family. Active in community service, she became interested in local trail development and advocacy while serving on the board of a local community foundation, and currently serves on the board of the Friends of the Chester Valley Trail in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Along with her husband Sandy, Gail has supported the mission and work of RTC since 1992.
As a bicycling and outdoor enthusiast and supporter of healthy lifestyles, Gail believes in the creation of trails and other safe and convenient places for families to engage in recreational activities. Gail has always been impressed with RTC as the early and strong leader in the trail-building movement.
Tim Noel is a vice president of the T. Rowe Price Group, Inc., and T. Rowe Price International, Ltd., in Baltimore, Maryland, and has almost 30 years of experience in the asset management profession. Tim also serves as a strategic project manager in the office of the president at T. Rowe Price Associates and is a member of the T. Rowe Price Funds SICAV Board of Directors. Tim joined RTC’s Board of Directors in 2015.
Tim and his wife, Joni, are long-time supporters of RTC; they believe the conservancy’s efforts promote healthy lifestyles and sound environmental practices while strengthening communities. Tim and Joni are users of trails as much as time allows!
Joseph Barrow Jr.
Jon Cofsky is a founding member of [whitepenny], a brand and digital strategy firm in Haddonfield, New Jersey. As creative director, Jon helps determine the vision and direction of each client, driving the creation of the communication strategy and assets.
Active in the local business community, Jon serves as a founding member of the South Jersey Tech Collective, as well as a member of the Phillyman Chairman's Club and TAB (The Alternative Board). At [whitepenny], he helped co-create the Seasons of Giving campaign—a pro-bono initiative in which the company supports one nonprofit per season with their branding needs—and he also maintains volunteer or board involvement with various nonprofits, including Hopeworks ‘N Camden, Camden FireWorks Gallery, Markeim Arts Center and the Benebikira Sisters Foundation.
Jon blogs about branding and digital strategy on [whitepenny]’s blog and tweets professionally @whitepenny. He lives in Haddonfield with his wife Abbey and their three boys, Will, Sam and Jake, and is a proud alumnus of Boston College.
Mark A. Filippell
Mark Filippell hails from Cleveland, Ohio. During Mark’s 35 years in investment banking he has closed over 130 M&A transactions. His focus is manufacturing and capital goods; two of his engagements have been recognized as “International Deal of the Year” by The M&A Advisor. Prior to co-founding Western Reserve Partners in 2004, which was acquired by Citizens Capital Markets in 2017, Mark was Manager of the M&A Department at KeyBanc Capital Markets. Mark has held leadership positions at the Ohio Broadcast Educational Media Commission, the Great Lakes Science Center, the Lake Erie Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Cleveland Center for Economic Education.
Mark is an avid cyclist and triathlete, having completed 10 triathlons including one IRONMAN race. He speaks both Spanish and Italian and is an Eagle Scout. Mark is married to Buffy Filippell and has one son, Davis.
Vanessa Garrison is the co-founder of GirlTrek, the largest public health nonprofit for African-American women and girls in the United States. With more than 100,000 neighborhood walkers, GirlTrek encourages women to use walking as a practical first step to inspire healthy living, families and communities.
Prior to co-founding GirlTrek, Garrison worked within the criminal justice space, helping formerly incarcerated women access critical services. She began her career with Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, where she managed digital media projects for some the world’s most recognizable news and entertainment brands, including, CNN, TNT and Sports Illustrated.
With GirlTrek, Vanessa is among the top 1 percent of social innovators in the world to receive fellowships from Echoing Green and The Aspen Institute. She was named a “Health Hero” by Essence Magazine, and her Ted Talk, “When Black Women Walk,” has more than 1 million views.
A native of Seattle, Washington, Vanessa earned her B.A. in World Arts and Culture from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Rose M.Z. Gowen, M.D.
As a commissioner for the Brownsville City Commission since 2009 and a physician of more than 20 years. Dr. Rose Gowen has focused her career on issues related to smart growth, quality of life and the combating of obesity and chronic disease.
Through a collaboration with the University of Texas (UT) School of Public Health-Brownsville, Dr. Gowen was instrumental in developing the city’s first farmers’ market, which has been recognized as a model of excellence by the Texas Department of Health and the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission. She also led an initiative to expand Brownsville’s rail-trail into a citywide network—and create a citywide hike and bike plan—helped pass the city’s first commercial sidewalk and Complete Streets resolutions, and spearheaded efforts to provide family-oriented active living programming.
Recent awards for Brownsville include its recognition in 2014 as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health winner and its 2016 Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly City designation by the League of American Bicyclists.
Charles N. Marshall
Charles N. Marshall of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, has spent most of his life in the railroad industry. He retired as vice chairman of Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. in 2006, and is a former senior officer of Conrail.
Charlie served as chair of RTC’s Board of Directors from 2010–2013 and currently chairs the board governance committee. He also sits on the Board for the Philadelphia Zoo and on the Advisory Board of the Rail Transportation Engineering program that he helped create for Penn State Altoona.
Noel is president of Wheel & Sprocket, a nationally recognized bicycle retailer serving communities in Wisconsin and Illinois. Creating more safe bike and pedestrian infrastructure has been at the core of the company's DNA for over 30 years. In high school, his first job at Wheel & Sprocket was to provide mobile mechanical assistance to dozens of organized rides each summer; it was through those experiences across the backroads of the Midwest that Noel learned the real joy that riding brings to us all. Noel firmly believes that bikes make the world a better place, so in turn, part of his responsibility is to work to make the world a better place for bikes.
Noel is an avid bike traveler rolling over roads and ruts, over mountains and through valleys in more than 30 countries, but one of his favorite routes remains the Elroy-Sparta State Trail in western Wisconsin—one of the first rail-trail projects in the country.
Doug Monieson is an active member of the financial trading community in Chicago, Illinois, and the current Chairman of the Board of Hyde Park Angels, a successful Midwest angel investment group. In addition to possessing more than 25 years of financial trade experience, Doug has extensive board experience in governance, nominating and strategy at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. He joined RTC’s Board of Directors in 2015.
Doug is an avid cyclist, commuting four miles between his home and office year-round. He is involved in several Chicago biking organizations, including Bike Buddies, and participates in the annual Venus de Miles Charity ride in support of Greenhouse Scholars.
Frank Mulvey, Ph.D.
Dr. Frank Mulvey is president of ITER Associates, a transportation consulting firm in Bethesda, Maryland, and has been an RTC board member since June 2014. Frank is extremely interested in alternative, clean and healthy forms of travel.
Frank recently retired from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) after serving two terms. Before his appointment, he served as staff director for Railroad Issues for the Ranking Member of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Prior to working on the Hill, Frank spent many years taking on transportation-related leadership roles, including for the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. General Accounting Office and the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board.
He is a former member of the Economics Department faculties at Northeastern University, Wheaton College and Bowling Green State University, and continues to lecture as an adjunct faculty member at the R.H. Smith School of the University of Maryland.
Tom Petri is a former U.S. Congressman who represented Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District for 18 terms until his retirement in January 2015 (at the end of the 113th Congress). During his time in office, he served as a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Committee on Education and the Workforce, as well as chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee and chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee (113th).
Known for his innovative and creative solutions to government problems, Rep. Petri pursued legislative initiatives in several areas, including student loan reform, the federal highway program, cost sharing for federal water projects, tax and welfare reform, and health-care reform. He also sponsored bipartisan legislation, the Making Work and Marriage Pay Act, which would establish a commission to examine and report to Congress on the disincentives for low-income couples to work and marry. Tom is married to Anne Neal Petri and has one daughter, Alexandra.
Rebecca Riley worked for nearly 20 years as program director and vice president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago. During her tenure, she oversaw grant-making initiatives focused on community development, urban policy and regional planning, as well as advancing the arts and cultural institutions. Since retiring from MacArthur in 2000, Riley has consulted with national corporations and foundations. She also has been an active trustee on many nonprofit boards in addition to RTC's, including the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.
From 2010 to 2014, Riley joined her husband, U.S. ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in Jakarta, Indonesia, and traveled and worked throughout Southeast Asia. Between schooling at Ohio University and Indiana University, she spent four years as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. Riley currently volunteers for projects in Myanmar, Chicago and Rhode Island and shares stewardship of an early 18th-century house in Tiverton, Rhode Island.
James F. Sallis, Ph.D.
Dr. James F. Sallis is a distinguished professor emeritus in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, as well as a professorial fellow at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. A pioneer in developing the interdisciplinary study of the built environment and physical activity, his current research focus includes the informing of policy and environmental changes to increase physical activity and reduce obesity and chronic diseases worldwide. He is also a co-founder of IPEN (International Physical activity and Environmental Network), which is coordinating international studies in more than 20 countries.
Sallis is one of the world’s most cited authors in the social sciences, having authored more than 600 publications. He is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine—serving on their Roundtable on Obesity Solutions—and is past president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. In 2011, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.
Guy O. Williams
Guy O. Williams is principal and founder of the Ypsilanti, Michigan-based G.O. Williams & Associates, LLC, strategic advisors for sustainable community and environmentally related programs. A member of RTC’s Board of Directors for more than 12 years, Guy has a special interest in developing urban trail networks, which he believes provide everyone—including the less-advantaged—easy access to health, freedom of movement and an awareness of our relationship with the earth. Guy’s professional background includes serving as program manager for Fair Food Foundation, senior director for community development and relations at the National Wildlife Federation, and president and chief executive officer of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice.
He is well known nationally for his work as an advocate for environmental justice and a developer of community programming that values effective collaborations among business, government and community interests.
President, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Non-Voting Board Member
Ryan Chao became president of RTC in January 2019, overseeing the organization’s national leadership in trail development, policy advocacy and movement building. He brings to his role a long history in community and economic development and a passion for connecting people to opportunity and the outdoors.
Ryan came to RTC after serving as vice president of civic sites and community change at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where he led significant neighborhood-transformation initiatives across the country, linking economic, educational and housing programs to strengthen families and communities. He also served as executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area-based Satellite Housing, where he led the development of affordable housing communities throughout Northern California and created innovative partnership models combining housing with comprehensive supportive services.
Ryan earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Business Administration from the New York University Stern School of Business.
When he’s not leading the team at RTC, Ryan enjoys skiing and cycling on the trails with his wife and daughters.