Barb Chamberlain has been named as the new Executive Director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. She will take the helm of the statewide advocacy group as longtime director Barb Culp retires.
I first saw Chamberlain in a 2010 talk she gave about why she chooses to ride a bike. She called the talk “Bikes Will Save the World,” but the talk mostly focuses on the reasons bikes make sense on a personal level. See that video below.
The Bicycle Alliance of Washington has hired Barb Chamberlain of Spokane as their new Executive Director.
Chamberlain currently serves as the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Washington State University-Spokane campus, where she has built the communications staff from one person to a team of six. She is also a founding board member of the Empire Health Foundation, led a successful Spokane public school levy campaign, and served on the North Idaho College board of trustees.
With a passion for bicycling and active transportation, Chamberlain worked with the Bicycle Alliance and a host of other groups when she volunteered to spearhead Spokane’s Bike to Work Week beginning in 2008. She was a member of the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board and chaired the group in 2010-2011, and currently serves on the Transportation Advisory Committee for Spokane Regional Transportation Council. She launched the blog, Bike Style Spokane, as a way to encourage more women to try biking.
Chamberlain has been a policy maker as well as a policy advocate. In 1990 she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Idaho state legislature, where she served as a state representative and senator for the Coeur d’Alene area.
An Inland Northwest native, Chamberlain welcomes the opportunity to apply her talents with a statewide organization. Her list of priorities includes increasing the Bicycle Alliance’s overall visibility and position statewide.
“The Bicycle Alliance does great work that doesn’t get as much recognition as it deserves. With my experience in communications, marketing and branding I hope to position it for a clear understanding of its statewide role and importance,” stated Chamberlain.
“It’s essential that we do that in partnership both with bike groups and with others working in this general arena, so another priority for me personally is to understand and assess all existing partnerships and look for opportunities to strengthen and to add to the overall network so it’s truly statewide,” she continued.
On the policy front, Chamberlain wants to grow awareness both within the community of people who ride bikes and with leaders who work on transportation policy and community and economic development of just how important bicycling is and why it deserves serious policy attention and consistent funding. She believes bike infrastructure and a fully multimodal transportation network in general will make critical contributions to improved health, to congestion mitigation, to air and water quality, and so many more problems we face.
“We have critical work to do given last week’s congressional action on transportation and the Bicycle Alliance will work with partners at all levels to ensure our future transportation system reflects how America wants to travel, which is increasingly multimodal in scope,” said Chamberlain.
“It’s transportation for everyone, even for people who will never ride a bike because it helps them if others make that shift to cut down on traffic, parking, emissions, and wear and tear on the streets,” she elaborated. “With Washington named the #1 Bike-Friendly State for the fifth year in a row by the League of American Bicyclists, and with the attention biking is getting on many fronts, we need to grow as an organization to rise to the expectations and the opportunities we have before us. We can genuinely lead the nation and that’s where we need to be.”
Ted Inkley, president of the Bicycle Alliance board of directors, is looking forward to working with Chamberlain to grow the organization and to achieve their mission of bringing cycling into the transportation mainstream.
“Barb has a great combination of skills, a long history of activism and political involvement, and a passion for cycling advocacy. I’m confident that her background as a professional communicator will serve us well in helping a broad segment of policymakers and the public to understand that getting more people on bikes will benefit everyone,” remarked Inkley. “The goals we’ve set for ourselves as an organization are challenging, but with Barb’s leadership I know we’ll create and seize every opportunity we can to achieve them.”
Chamberlain will take the reins as Executive Director in August. Outgoing director Barbara Culp announced her retirement earlier this year and will assist with the transition.
Barb’s 2010 talk: