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The WALC Institute team members are passionate about helping communities become more walkable and livable. Here’s more about us:
Dan Burden, Co-Founder and Director of Innovation and Inspiration
Based in Port Townsend, Washington
Dan has spent more than 35 years helping the world get “back on its feet” and his efforts have not only earned him the first-ever lifetime-achievement awards issued by the New Partners for Smart Growth and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, but in 2001, Dan was named by TIME magazine as “one of the six most important civic innovators in the world.” Also that year, the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences honored Dan by making him their Distinguished Lecturer. In 2009, a user’s poll by Planetizen named Dan as one of the Top 100 Urban Thinkers of all time. Early in his career, starting in 1980, Dan served for 16 years as the country’s first statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the Florida Department of Transportation and that program became a model for other statewide programs in the United States. In 1996, Dan sought to expand his reach and ability to really change the world, so he and his wife Lys co-founded a non-profit organization called Walkable Communities. Since then, Dan has personally helped 3,500 communities throughout the world become more livable and walkable. In 2009, Dan co-founded the WALC Institute to create a focus on education, capacity-building and training to support communities in becoming more engaged and healthier through active living. Dan also serves on the board of advisors for Walkscore (www.walkscore.com).
Kelly Morphy, Executive Director
Based in Winter Garden, Florida
Kelly brings to the WALC Institute and the communities it serves more than 15 years of experience in community involvement and public service. She works directly with communities to help them become healthier, better connected, more accessible and more sustainable through effective and meaningful civic engagement. She also advances the mission of the Institute and the livability movement by developing strategic plans and effectively managing community projects, outreach programs, and business-development initiatives. Kelly’s experience prior to joining the Institute included managing communications for an urban-design firm in Florida, serving as a public-information officer for an air-pollution-control district in California, and operating two small businesses. She started her career as a journalist on her home island of Guam, and also competed internationally as a member of the Guam Women’s National Soccer Team, before relocating to the mainland. She and her husband Tim have three children and live in Winter Garden, Florida, where Kelly also serves in a volunteer capacity as president of the not-for-profit corporation Safe Streets West Orange.
Robert Ping, Technical Assistance Program Manager
Based in Portland, Oregon
A self-described ‘bikeaholic’ and a passionate transportation advocate, Robert has become well known throughout the country for his work in Safe Routes to School program and policy change, and helps communities and advocates to improve the built environment and increase safety, social equity, and physical activity through bicycling and walking. Robert has focused nearly his entire career on getting people more active, especially children and youth, and especially on bicycles. Robert has more than two decades experience managing non-profit organizations and programs, with experience in Safe Routes to School, Complete Streets, Smart Growth and Social Equity, policy change at the state, regional, and local levels, program development and technical assistance, public speaking, and community organizing. From 2003-2013 Robert focused on Safe Routes to School, becoming one of the nation’s leading experts in this growing movement to get kids active and improve the built environment.
Samantha Thomas, Project Manager
Based in Port Townsend, Washington
A native Minnesotan, Samantha grew up in St Paul atop the limestone bluffs of the Mississippi River. Not far from her home lies Minneapolis; the other half of the Twin Cities. It was this confluence of cities, the combination of geography and rich social history, that shaped Samantha’s inquiry of place. In 2009, she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Urban Studies and Graphic Design. During her studies, Samantha spent a year abroad in South Africa studying, building community in the Walmer Township, and traveling. Since then, she has served as an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow with the Minnesota Alliance for Youth and AmeriCorps VISTA for the City of St Paul Office of the Mayor. Samantha also participated in the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s Neighborhood Leadership Program. After relocating to Port Townsend, WA, Samantha joined the WALC Institute team as a project coordinator. She brings a design-thinking approach to the Institute and is passionate about the power of collaboration to create more livable communities. She also chairs Port Townsend’s Local 2020 Transportation Lab, helping to promote active transportation. When she’s not working, Samantha is exploring the world of fine cooking, mastering Sirsasana, and lacing up her hiking boots to wander towards a new adventure.
Sally Lovell, Finance Manager
Based in Port Townsend, Washington
Sally is an avid walker, whose passion for wandering in the great outdoors equals her passion for bookkeeping. Over the last ten years, Sally has been the treasurer of several nonprofit organizations in Washington state including the Food Co-op of Port Townsend and the Green Building Guild. Since arriving in Washington twenty years ago, her interest in sustainability issues have led her to volunteer for organizations involved in green building, organic food systems, and renewable energy and smart transportation. She came to the WALC Institute with more than 25 years of experience in bookkeeping and financial management. Not only a keeper of financial records, Sally also brings experience in managing small organizations, human-resource requirements, and providing administrative support to organization leadership. Sally loves her flexible schedule, which makes it easy for her to stay active through bicycling and walking. Sally also enjoys occasionally hiking the mountain trails near her home on the Olympic Peninsula.
Mark Fenton, Associate
Based in Boston, Massachusetts
A public health advocate by nature and a mechanical engineer by training, Mark has become well known for his work promoting walking and physical activity through better built environments. He helps communities become more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly, and assists employers, work sites, and schools in developing healthier settings and more active populations. Mark is also an adjunct professor at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Mark will assist the Institute as a consultant, helping the organization fulfill its mission through community assistance, education, and outreach. (And yes, it’s true, Mark is a former member of the U.S. national race walking team, which makes him uniquely qualified to keep up with Institute co-founder Dan Burden!)
The WALC Institute team is always interested to hear ideas on how we can help communities in their efforts to become more walkable and livable. To share your thoughts or let us know how we can help your community, please contact us.