What started out as idea has turned into a movement for change. The movement we’re talking about is changing the way we think about bicyclists and pedestrians – in a place ranked as most deadly for anyone who dares to cross the street or ride a bike.
Thinking turned to action back in 2010 when the nonprofit, Bike/Walk Central Florida (BWCF), formed to advocate for safer, more accessible streets for anyone wanting to bike, run and walk. As a startup advocacy organization, we took a different approach. We agreed to tackle only one problem and then focus our full attention and resources to solve it more thoroughly than anyone else. This focus set in motion what would later become the largest, grassroots pedestrian safety coalition in the country aimed at getting drivers to think – behave differently – and stop for people crossing the street in a marked crosswalk. You may have heard of it – Best Foot Forward.
BWCF’s steroid-like growth, which comes with building an organization, has moved from startup phase to maturity and expansion stage in its business life cycle. That is why in Fall of 2019, the BWCF’s Board decided it was time to bring on board a full-time Executive Director. BWCF is pleased to announce that Emily Hanna was recently named the BWCF’s new Executive Director. Hanna joins BWCF from the City of Casselberry where she served most recently as the city’s development services manager.
“All of us serving on the Bike/Walk Central Florida Board are thrilled to have Emily lead us in this next stage of growth,” Billy Hattaway, Bike/Walk Central Florida Board President, said. “Emily’s experience in transportation planning, her devotion to the outdoors and her experience as a change agent are the perfect additions we need to evolve as a regional organization.”
Hanna succeeds Amanda Day, who held the previously part-time executive director post. Under Day’s leadership, Bike/Walk Central Florida has:
- Transformed the non-profit’s signature program, Best Foot Forward (BFF), into the nation’s largest, grassroots pedestrian safety coalition focused on changing drivers’ behaviors toward people walking.
- Created the Bike 5 Cities program and its annual bike ride to promote safe bicycling routes and enhanced multi-use trails throughout Central Florida.
- Built partnerships statewide and a strong board of directors to advocate for safer roadways for the most vulnerable.
- Advocate for transportation corridor planning and design that uses Complete Streets principles for the benefit of all transportation users.
- Supported the expansion of regional trails, including the push to complete the Coast-to-Coast Connector Trail.
- Become the go-to resource for bicycling and pedestrian safety in Central Florida.
Day remains in her role overseeing Best Foot Forward’s pedestrian safety program, where she plans to focus on the coalition’s ambitious goals of changing the culture of conflict between walkers and drivers throughout our region.
Hanna was selected as executive director March 23, 2020. This is not Hanna’s first ride around the block, so to speak. She’s been involved with Bike/Walk Central Florida since 2016, helping to coordinate the Bike Five Cities initiative, of which Casselberry is a part.
Hanna’s background in planning and public service is extensive. In addition to working as the City of Casselberry’s development services manager, Hanna also served as Casselberry’s chief planner. She brings experience from Orange County Government where she served as a project coordinator, sustainability coordinator and neighborhood planner. Hanna also serves on six advisory boards, including the Orlando metro section of the American Planning Association (APA) Florida.
“My goal is to build upon the tremendous momentum of the past six years,” Hanna said. “I look forward to working with the board, staff, our passionate volunteers and the broader community to advocate for infrastructure and policies to make our streets safer and more inviting for people walking, biking and driving.”
Hanna uses her “spare time” to take advanced coursework in her related field and to ride in Hunter Jumper horse competitions. She has been competing in Hunter Jumper competitions since she was six years old. Hanna says the preparation and attention to detail involved in competition will go far in the logistics and the vital partnerships that go along with managing Bike/Walk Central Florida.
“I’m ready for the opportunities that will come our way,” Hanna said.
As you can tell, Emily Hanna is making the “jump” to something new and exciting. It’s at a full sprint and full speed ahead, as Bike/Walk Central Florida shifts into yet a higher gear as it goes the distance.
Welcome aboard, Emily! To contact Emily Hanna: [email protected]