Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Dan Moser's Column: Local women lead the way

Dan's column highlights 10 women in leadership roles in Lee County working to promote active living and walkable/bikeable communities.  

Florida Weekly, Outdoors section Oct. 7, 2015

“Everybody, it’s a woman’s world, Don’t nobody freak out It’s a woman’s world, ‘cause it always was It’s a woman’s world, and you’re sure gonna love it It’s a woman’s world, a woman’s world”
It’s quite clear to me that what Todd Rundgren sings in his 1995 “Woman’s World” song is true, and for many reasons. That’s undoubtedly the case here in Southwest Florida when it comes to those in leadership roles focused on efforts to promote active living and ensure that all the necessary elements are in place for such a lifestyle to be possible. Following is my attempt to provide some insight in a very abbreviated fashion into a few of the women I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my years of advocacy. These are women who are taking the movement to ever-higher levels. Each of these women expend as much energy being physically active as they do working for change and improvement.
¦ Darla Letourneau is the brains and workhorse of BikeWalkLee. Her ability to analyze problems and policies, create reports that make clear the key elements of the issues, keep her cool, and provide solutions are what makes BWL an effective advocacy coalition that’s nationally recognized.
¦ Ann Pierce is an extremely smart and energetic woman whose primary focus is on improving the built environment and related policies in the city of Fort Myers — an effort I know from my own experiences to be challenging. Her approach is multifaceted and well thought out. Ann always does her homework and comes armed with facts, but it’s her persistence that is the key to her success.
¦ Margaret Banyan has brought her experiences from living in a place where being able to enjoy an active lifestyle without fear for one’s own safety and well being is commonplace. Coming from Oregon and now working in academia she has made it her mission to convince the powers that be — from university leadership to elected officials and other decision-makers in government — that focusing on walkability, bikability and robust transit is necessary to have a livable community that attracts and retains the best and brightest.
¦ Tessa LeSage created an award winning comprehensive Sustainability Plan for Lee County when she served in county government. While there she was also a key insider who helped begin implementing Lee County’s Complete Streets policy. She’s now the social innovation and sustainability director for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, a role that gives her the freedom to benefit our community even more than when she served in government.
¦ Kate Gooderham wears many hats, including being a founding member of BikeWalkLee. She’s also president of a consulting firm specializing in government affairs and public relations; a certified triathlon race director and president of the nonprofit that puts on the annual Captiva Triathlon; and president of Streets Alive of Lee County, the organization dedicated to temporarily closing the streets to traffic and opening them up for people to play. Besides all that, Kate is active in a number of other community and civic efforts.
¦ Angie Ferguson’s is well known to community members who want to learn how to become fit and to stay healthy and uninjured. She’s also a personal trainer who’s helped many women reach their athletic potential and is a co-organizer of the Captiva Triathlon.
¦ Tina Sujana, manager of Go Girl Cycling, organizes rides to promote bicycling for causes, from international human rights to local needs. Women who take part learn group riding techniques that build confidence and help them embrace an active lifestyle. I think she’s found her calling.
¦ Candy Pemberton is the Fort Myers Track Club president who’s led our area’s premier running club for a number of years now and who has also co-owned a running gear business while at the same time serving as one of Lee Memorial’s most experienced critical care neonatal nurses. Somehow Candy excels at each, even with all she has on her plate.
¦ Loretta Purish is a recently retired high school running coach who helped scores of students appreciate the benefits of running, benefits that will most likely last a lifetime. Her long career teaching, coaching and character building was fittingly recognized by North Fort Myers High School when it named the track at the football stadium in her honor.
¦ Foremost in my life, there’s Maria de Leon, my wife of 25 years. Maria’s passion for running, hiking and active living is what brought us together. She served for many years on the board of FMTC, has helped organize numerous running events and has competed in a myriad of races and triathlons of every distance, including six marathons, one being the 100th Boston Marathon. It is only because Maria has been willing to put up with me spending so many hours on underpaid/unpaid advocacy work over the years (and picking up much of the financial burden when one spouse chooses this path) that I’ve been able to do what I do. Maria is the love of my life for whom I am eternally grateful. And she’s a prime example of one who lives an active lifestyle thanks to all these women who are helping make it possible.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.
Dan Moser is a long- time bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him and 334- 6417.

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