Board of Directors
In keeping with the mission of the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance, our board members demonstrate and confirm the vision for an interconnected statewide system of multiuse trails, preserve the integrity of the organization and provide financial sustainability. Board members serve a three-year term. If you are interested in serving on the MTGA Board please contact our Executive Director Andrea LaFontaine at .
Julie Clark, Chair
Julie is the Executive Director for TART Trails Inc., where she is responsible for administration, trail planning and development, maintenance, and their fundraising efforts, she most recently led Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s Greenway Planning & Development Division in Charlotte, North Carolina where she was responsible for the design and development of over 35 miles of urban trail. She has served on MTGA’s board since 2011.
Elizabeth Riggs, Vice Chair
Elizabeth is a senior consultant at Public Sector Consultants who focuses on cultivating sustainable economies and strengthening communities. She also flexes her expertise in natural resource management and policy for the firm’s energy and environment practice. Elizabeth applies her unique set of skills to advance placemaking initiatives and community development planning. She also conducts research, analyzes data, and writes reports and strategy documents across many of the firm’s focus areas. Before joining PSC, Elizabeth served as both the deputy director and program manager for the Huron River Watershed Council. While there, she forged strategic partnerships, secured funding for work on emerging issues, such as dam removal and nutrient pollution, and led the process that secured federal designation of the Huron River Water Trail as the country’s 18th National Water Trail.
Neal has been a landscape architect for 25 years and is the Principal and Senior Landscape Architect for Smith Group JJR. He’s improved ecosystem health on projects like Detroit’s Belle Isle Canal, the creation of a recreation area following a dam removal, and the Dequindre Cut Greenway, which converted an abandoned urban rail corridor into a popular pedestrian/bike trail. He has served on the executive board as secretary and has been a board member since 2011.
El is known for his leadership, learning management systems, and strategic planning skills in the automotive, healthcare and technology industries. An active bicyclist, he has participated in numerous organized rides, including 11 Michiganders. He is a true entrepreneur, owning, managing and operating many successful businesses including Metrice, a software development company offering eLearning and training software development, scalable Learning Management Systems, and software based management solutions.
Ron is an Attorney with Glassen, Rhead, McLean, Campbell & Schumacher, P.L.C. in Lansing. His interest in trails in grounded in his interest in the environment we create for ourselves. Born and raised in the Detroit area, Ron got a close-up view of the historic, economic, and legal factors that lead to congestion and sprawl. While he often drives for work from one court to another (driving to work is another story) he has no desire to have a long commute or move to a bedroom community. He lives with his family in Lansing.Ron spends much of his free time with his family enjoying Michigan beaches, cooking and biking. He is active in the Mid-Michigan chapter of the Michigan Mountain Bike Association and serves as the Trail Coordinator for Anderson Park Mountain Bike Trail in Delta Township. He is particularly interested in how policy affects trails and access. He has volunteered for the Capital City River Run for ten years and with the Michigan office of Rails to Trails before it became the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.
Harry was appointed as the Executive Director of Land Information Access Association (LIAA) in October 2015, following 11 years on LIAA’s community planning team. Working with the Board of Directors, Harry helps to set the strategic direction and policies for the organization and leads the organization in corporate planning, project management, program design and development, and day-to-day operations. Prior to joining LIAA in 2004, he earned a B.A. in political science from Western Michigan University and a Masters in urban and regional planning from Michigan State University. Harry is credentialed by the American Institute of Certified Planners and serves on the Downtown Development Authority for the City of Traverse City.
Lonnie is a farmer and a developer and has served on the MTGA board since 2006. He was the initiator of the Southern Links Trail and formed a multi-jurisdictional Southern Links Trailway Council to own and operate the 10.2-mile abandoned Penn Central Railroad corridor for public use with the help of the Michigan Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources. The rural bike path runs through farm country. Its scenic route is enjoyed by thousands annually. It is part of U.S. Bike Route 20, which extends from Marine City, Michigan to the Oregon coastline, and it is a link in the 774-mile Iron Belle Trail.
Julie Metty Bennett
As chief executive officer at Public Sector Consultants (PSC), Julie has a wide array of responsibilities. She spends a significant portion of her time leading the firm with her partners and developing a diverse staff to help realize the company’s vision, and also leads the firm’s energy and environment practice, where her leadership and collegial management style have produced tangible solutions for some of the state’s most vexing problems. Leading groundbreaking research on electric reliability and capacity, creating and managing multimillion-dollar nonprofits, and facilitating the governor’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission—Julie’s influence on issues that affect people’s lives and their natural resources is profound. Beyond her own practice area, Julie is responsible for PSC’s new lines of business in marketing and communications, program management, and implementation. Prior to joining the firm, she worked in advocacy and research for the National Wildlife Federation and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
Rob grew up on the family farm in Mason, Michigan. He has been a huge cycling enthusiast since he learned how to ride. Not one to rest, he worked in Gulf of Mexico as a steelworker building offshore drilling platforms, as a helicopter logger for years in the swamps of Louisiana logging Cypress trees and then graduated from Grand Valley State University with a dual major in film & video and advertising & public relations. After stints in several advertising agencies, he founded Rockford Advertising in 1993 and is the publisher of the Michigan Trails Magazine. He shares “Michigan Trails Magazine is the most interesting and enjoyable project I’ve worked on in my career as a communications professional. It brings together my love of cycling and the trails, and affords me the opportunity to actively promote the trails movement while marketing the use of Michigan trails as a destination tourist attraction. I look forward to continuing to work with Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance to help support the development of nonmotorized multi-use trails throughout the state of Michigan.”
Dick Allen, a veterinarian from Ithaca, Michigan was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in 1968 to succeed his father, Lester Allen. Two years later, he won election to the Michigan Senate and served two terms. While in office, Dick challenged his colleagues and constituents with a ‘ride all the way to the bridge’ to prove that bikes and cars could share Michigan roads safely back in 1971. Dubbed The DALMAC, it is known as Michigan’s great end-of-summer bike ride was honored as the recipient of the 2015 Governor’s Fitness Awards, Governor’s Council Extraordinary Event. He was director of the Michigan Travel Bureau from 1973-74 and the executive director of the Michigan State Fair from 1990-93.
Jim is a long time rails to trails advocate, with deep roots in Marshall and has spent his life working in Conservation and Development, most notably as the Natural Resource Coordinator with the US Department of Agriculture. He has been affiliated and/or involved with the Calhoun County Trails Alliance, Calhoun Cross County Trailway, Southwest Michigan Alliance for Regional Trails, St. Joseph River Watershed. Today, he is on the advisory board for the Brooks Nature Area where he also volunteers his time and energy keeping the greenspace maintained.
Carolyn was MTGA’s chairperson from 2002-2008. She has worked on a number of trail boards and advisory committees across the state of Michigan including the Michigan Snowmobile and Trails Advisory Council. She was instrumental in establishing the $3 million endowment from The Meijer Foundation to provide sustainable funding for future maintenance and management of the 125-mile Mid-West Michigan Rail-Trail Network, the fifth longest rail-trail in the United States.Kane led the effort to acquire 37.5 miles of inactive rail corridor from Greenville to Lowell (through the Flat River State Game Area) and the Lowell to Ionia corridor (through the Ionia State Recreation Area). She conducted monthly meetings with various stakeholders along the route, which included 17 local units of government and three counties. She coordinated fundraising efforts and secured the necessary $2.3 million for acquisition, and then filed all necessary documents required to federally “railbank” the corridor, negotiating all the details with the Mid-Michigan Railroad. The corridor was then gifted to the DNR in 2010.
Sam is a landscape architect specializing in project management, site design, community and regional planning, graphic design and grant writing. He has shared expertise for the development of many Michigan trail projects including: Battle Creek Linear Park; Grand River Arts Walk in Jackson; and the Rouge River Gateway Greenway, Conner Creek Greenway, Southwest Detroit – Dearborn Greenway and Down River Linked Greenways in Wayne Count and has served on the board of directors for the Friends of the Rouge and most recently, the Friends of the Detroit River. He has and continues to share his knowledge of greenway/trail funding sources, technical requirements, and design considerations to contribute toward the progress and quality of Michigan trail development. His contributions have made Michigan a better place to live by providing trail resources to citizens for better health and recreation while improving the economy of communities state-wide through his work.
Barbara Nelson-Jameson has dedicated her life to community-led natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation projects. She is currently the Michigan Program Director for the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program for the National Park Service. Instrumental in efforts such as The Automobile National Heritage Area, Southeast Michigan Greenways Initiative, The Greater Detroit American Heritage River and Water Trail, GreenLinks, The Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative, Iron Ore Heritage Trail, Oakland County BlueWays, Cass River Water Trail, The Clinton-Ionia-Shiawassee Trailway, and The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, she has contributed her time and knowledge across a wide spectrum of trails and greenways across Michigan.In addition, she has worked at Isle Royale National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and has served on the board of several non-profit organizations including The Leelanau Conservancy, Land Information Access Association and Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. She is currently the Michigan Program Director for the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program for the National Park Service.
Bill Rustem is the former Director of Strategy for the Office of Strategic Policy under Gov. Rick Snyder. Prior to this position, he was the president and chief executive officer at Public Sector Consultants (PSC) and directed studies on the status of Michigan cities, waste water treatment needs, recycling, and land use. Before joining the firm, Mr. Rustem was Gov. William G. Milliken’s chief staff advisor on environmental matters and director of the Governor’s Policy Council. Following his service with the State of Michigan, Mr. Rustem became the first executive director of the Center for the Great Lakes in Chicago. He coordinated the petition drive and campaign in 1976 for the Michigan “bottle bill,” and the 1984 statewide campaign for the constitutional amendment creating a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.Bill’s expertise in public policy relating to land use, urban development, local government and water policy is unparalleled. He has chaired or been the principal staff for statewide task forces on the Department of Natural Resources reorganization, the MSU Museum, and wetland protection, as well as for the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council. He has also served as program director for the People and Land Project, a grant-making program at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and on the board of directors for Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.