George Kohout – President & Event Emcee, a Northampton resident for over forty years, is well versed in the educational, political and recreational aspects of the Pioneer Valley. His work as a vocational counselor, electrician and community college administrator has provided him with a variety of experiences in Greenfield, Holyoke, Northampton and Springfield. He currently serves on the Northampton Planning Board. He cycles on a daily basis as an alternative to the car for chores, exercise and short trips.
Elena Huisman – Vice President, is a native Austinite and lived in Boston for 10 years prior to moving to Florence with her husband. She was an avid bike commuter before working remotely and continues to use her bike as her primary mode of transportation. Elena sees the bicycle as a means to improve public health, spur economic development, reach our climate goals, and connect community through healthy lifestyles. Elena works in environmental philanthropy and holds a MS in environmental policy and planning from the University of Michigan and a BA in environmental studies and international affairs from Northeastern University.
Freeman Stein – Secretary, lives in Florence with his wife Wendy and has a bird’s-eye view of the rail trail from their kitchen window. After owning a restaurant in Brookline, he worked in the Springfield Public Schools. Before his retirement in 2013, he was a founding member of the Springfield Renaissance School, where he was responsible for supporting professional and curriculum development. He has experience supporting arts initiatives and is working to engage schools and to bring the arts to the rail trail. He serves on the Northampton Arts Council.
Karen Beyel – Treasurer, has lived in Florence with her husband Joe since 1980. She has raised two children here while also serving as head pharmacist at Valley Medical Group. She is an active user of the rail trail, an avid gardener, and plays a mean game of mahjong. She joined the Board in May 2019, and looks forward to helping promote more community bicycling events and enhancing the trail use for everyone in our community.
Craig Della Penna – Director, Author, Historian & Trail Advocate, worked for a short-line railroad, marketing rail freight and managing two large transloading facilities. Beginning in the mid-1990s, he wrote a series of books about old railroad lines and their conversion to bike and hike trails. He then became an organizer/lobbyist for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, becoming involved in places in the northeast where the idea of a trail was not automatically favored. In 2004, he became a Northampton Realtor with a special niche: house sales near rail trails, greenways and conservation lands… the first in the U.S. He has given over 1,200 lectures in twenty-one states.
Jonathan Daube – Director, born and educated in the U.K., came to the U.S. in 1963. He has been an English teacher, a school superintendent, a graduate school director and, from 1978 until he retired thirty years later, a community college president. He spent 1968 to 1970 at the University of Malawi. He and his wife Linda have been married for fifty-five years and have three children and three grandchildren. He loves to travel, is a voracious reader, and believes strongly in FNT’s mission and its role in the community.
Amy Sugihara – Director, moved to the area with her family in 2021 and, after stints around the country, is happy to make this area home. She has worked in outdoor therapeutic settings, as a school counselor, and now you may see her handcrafted organic body care products at local farmers’ markets and gift stores. As an outdoor enthusiast and a recent wheelchair user, she is finding ways to access the outdoors using various mobility devices. She brings her enthusiasm for access to trails for all people, along with her love of native plants and art, to her work with FNT.
Meg Bandarra – Director, received her BFA from Hartford Art School and worked as a graphic designer, then as a creative director with a global entertainment agency. Since leaving the corporate-creative world behind, Meg has pursued pastel painting full-time, and is now teaching workshops and classes in addition to exhibiting her work in regional and national shows. Meg has a special interest in providing greater access to the outdoors for those with mobility considerations and will bring this perspective to the work of the Friends of Northampton Trails.
Mark Cabral – Director, has been a member of the Northampton community since 2017 and is an administrator for the Hampshire Regional YMCA. He was a double major at Westfield State University in Environmental Science and Regional Planning. He has a profound love for all things science, developing Bonsai trees, and restoring bicycles. A jack of all trades, he has taught English for a year in Vietnam, and has been a lifelong and year-round bicycle commuter. Mark looks forward to growing further alongside the Northampton community and helping to develop the great work of FNT.
David Hoose – Director, was born and raised in the Hudson River Valley of New York State. He is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego and Syracuse University College of Law and has lived in Western Massachusetts since 1979. He is a long-time criminal defense and civil rights lawyer who enjoys the outdoors, especially cutting and splitting wood, cycling and cross-country skiing. He is a regular patron of the Northampton trails.
Special Thanks to Our Founding Directors
Nick Horton – President
Julia Riseman – Vice President
Judy Cardell – Secretary
Susan Voss – Treasurer
Past Board Members
Sean Kinlin – Vice President | January 2011 – November 2023
Kelsey Wentling – Director | January 2020 – November 2023
Julia Oktay – Communications Director | October 2019 – December 2022
Tom Bodo – Director | 2019 – October 2022
Eric Boudreau – Secretary | 2007 – October 2022
Tim Deshaies – Treasurer | January 2019 – November 2019
Angie Gregory – Director | January 2019 – April 2019
Deb Henson – Director | January 2019 – April 2019
Andrew Smith – Director | January 2019 – May 2019
Kris Badertscher – Field Organizer | August 2017 – June 2019
Mary Jo Stanley – Treasurer | December 2013 – December 2017
John Gaustad – Secretary | January 2004 – December 2017