Meet Our New Trails Coalition Manager, Stephanie Piperno!
Five years ago, I moved to Washington, D.C. after graduating from Davidson College. I attended Davidson College to play soccer and majored in Environmental Studies. My passion for the environment began at a young age. Growing up in rural Harwinton, CT, my two sisters and I spent a lot of time playing outside, gardening with Mom, and taking care of our pets.
Prior to moving to DC, I would not have described myself as a cyclist. When I was accepted to American University for graduate school, my future roommate and I were deciding what neighborhood to live in based on walking distance to the campus and metro/bus access. Bike commuting was not even a possibility in my mind. Despite it being the fastest and most eco-friendly option, I had never ridden in a city before, and the thought terrified me. Most days, I found the 1.7 mile walk to campus enjoyable. I would pass the time by listening to hours of Podcasts (usually Hidden Brain and Radiolab) or using the time to call friends. After late classes, however, I always hoped that there was a faster, easier, and safe way to get home.
Two years later, when I accepted a job with REI’s Outdoor School, I was quickly surrounded by experienced cyclists. Most of my co-workers either commuted by bike or rode recreationally on the weekends. I was intimidated, but I knew I wanted to give cycling a try. I began, as many do, with Capital Bike Share. I distinctly remember picking up a bike in Adams Morgan and riding down Columbia Road toward Dupont. There is nothing better than feeling fresh air and wind in your face while riding on a sunny day (downhill, of course). All of a sudden, my daydreaming came to a grinding halt. The lovely bike lane that I was just enjoying completely disappeared, and, without warning, I found myself sandwiched between the parked cars on my right and the fast cars on my left. It took several more trials of Capital Bike Share before I felt confident enough to purchase my own bike, and I have never looked back.
My story is not unique in that many people are nervous to cycle in cities that lack well-designed bike infrastructure, connectivity, and access. I am extremely excited to join WABA as the new Trails Coalition Manager to work toward building a world-class network of multi-use trails in the Washington, DC metropolitan region. I know first hand the benefits trails have on our physical and mental health as well as on the environment, and I look forward to continuing the coalition’s great work in improving trail access around this region.
Prior to coming to WABA, I worked as a Market Coordinator for REI. I had the opportunity to manage the Mid-Atlantic’s local philanthropy program as well as education programming in our three Virginia stores. My latest position, with Marriott, gave me experience working for the private sector. I know this experience will be beneficial as we look to grow and expand the coalition’s reach and impact.
In my freetime, you will most likely find me on the soccer field or out for a run. While working for REI, I found a love for camping and backpacking; one of my favorite loops is Three Ridges Trail in Virginia. Lastly, my friends and family know that I can never stop talking about composting. One of my social distancing activities has been trying to figure out how to successfully compost with worms!