Ruth grew up in the Boston area. She received her nursing education at Massachusetts General Hospital and earned a Masters in Health Services Administration from St. Joseph’s College of Maine. She spent seven years in the remote Pacific Islands of Micronesia before settling in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. There she raised a family while working in long-term care nursing administration. She is an inveterate traveler. Walking has always served as a grounding influence in both her work and recreation. Since retirement, she and her husband Dan have been section hiking the North Country Trail.
Jaron practices real estate law as a partner in the Grand Rapids firm of Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge. He is the partner in charge of the firm’s office in Holland, MI. He’s licensed to practice law in both Michigan and Ohio. As a real estate attorney, he has been involved with land acquisitions, leases, licenses, easements, and land use agreements, and has helped the NCTA with a number of real estate issues on a pro bono basis over the last several years. Additionally, Jaron has had quite a bit of experience on nonprofit boards and committees and formed several non-profit corporations. He has been heavily involved in his community’s various organizations during his tenure in Holland. On the personal side of things, he’s been a hiker for almost 20 years and has enjoyed hiking many parts of the NCT.
Prior to retiring, Lynda taught at Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, and worked at the Rochester Institute of Technology as a professor and academic administrator. She holds a PhD from SUNY-Buffalo. Lynda became a section maintainer for the Finger Lakes Trails Conference (FLTC), and then one of their Regional Trail Coordinators. She headed up the FLTC’s NCT Certification Committee and the Maps and Guides Committee, and also became a NPS Gold Star trail evaluator. Lynda was trained in the Universal Trail Assessment Process, became a certified sawyer, organized a trail building training team for the FLTC, and conducted training workshops. Currently she chairs the NCTA Field Grant Committee, works on the NCTA Board’s Trail Building and Maintenance Committee, and serves as Director of Trail Quality for the FLTC.
Larry moved to Michigan from Wisconsin to attend Western Michigan University, where he earned his BS (Chemistry and Paper Science) and MBA degrees, and met his wife Sue. He worked in operations management and sales in the paper industry, and currently works for a small airlaid nonwovens (type of paper) research and development facility in Kalamazoo. He has been a member of the NCTA since 2001, and began serving as President of the Chief Noonday Chapter in August 2011. He has edited the CND newsletter for many years and is also a trail adopter.
Prior to retiring in 2006, Tom had a 40-year career in higher education that included service as a faculty member, IT director, senior administrator, and association executive. He holds a PhD in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Iowa. Tom grew up in Northern Minnesota, and currently lives in Fargo, ND. Tom currently serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, and does other volunteer work including trail building and maintenance for the North Country Trail. Tom and his wife Mary spend as much time as possible at a rustic cabin in Northern Minnesota, built by her family during the 1940’s. From that base, they help maintain a nearby section of the NCT in the Chippewa National Forest.
Josh Berlo – At-Large
Josh is a native of Rhode Island and discovered the many benefits of hiking while attending summer camps in New Hampshire as a youth. Now an avid and accomplished hiker, he is excited and interested in growing the NCT both in the quality of the trail itself as well as the awareness and recognition of it. Josh has been a long time board member of the Jordan Valley 45° Chapter of the NCT and got involved after hiking the Jordan River Pathway one spring. Some of his fondest memories are from the peaks, woods, and boardwalks with family, friends, and the Alaskan husky named Skip that he and his wife Meg have adopted following a dog sledding career (including the 2006 Iditarod). Josh has had the pleasure of hiking all over the country including all 48 peaks above 4,000 feet in the state of New Hampshire, as well as almost 400 miles (some many times over) of the NCT. Professionally, Josh is a seasoned collegiate athletic administrator now serving as the Director of Athletics at the University of Minnesota Duluth, following experience and degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Notre Dame.
Mike is Senior Director for IT Service Delivery and Concurrent Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame. He earned both BS and PhD degrees in computer science from Notre Dame and also holds an MBA from Auburn University. He’s been an avid hiker for over 30 years, starting when he was growing up in New York, and Mike tries to get on the trail as much as possible. Mike and his wife Renee live in Granger, IN with their three boys and one of the family’s favorite pastimes is taking backpacking vacations together. There isn’t much elevation change in Northern Indiana, so he escapes the flat cornfields to the relative heights of the North Country Trail in nearby Michigan for both day hikes and extended backpacking trips. Mike also serves on the Board of the South Bend Parks Foundation, and is a speaker and author specializing in information security.
Jack Cohen – At-Large
In 2003, Jack became the Executive Director of Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau (BCTCB). Since 2003, Jack’s dedication and vision have been instrumental in the growth of the Bureau. Perhaps one of Jack’s most notable contributions to Butler County is the conceptualization of the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. Since its conception in 2009 and the first event in 2011, the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival has become one of the most anticipated events of the year and attracts Jeep enthusiasts from all over the continent.
In addition to his role as President of BCTCB, Jack dedicates his time to several other associations that over the years, have assisted him in the positive promotion and growth of Butler County. Jack is Chair of the Pennsylvania Destination Marketing Organization for the Pennsylvania Tourism and Lodging Association, and has served as the Vice President of the Community Development Corporation of Butler County since 2012. He is also a Board Member of the Moraine Preservation Fund and the Cranberry Township Sister Cities Association with Haiyang, China.
Jack resides in Cranberry Township, PA with his wife of 38 years, and enjoys spending time with his ever-growing family of three children and five grandchildren.
Jerry Fennell is a lawyer who practiced mostly in Kansas and Nebraska, frequently on Federal disputes over consumer protection, plus criminal law. He is a volunteer with the Red Cross who has organized emergency shelters for hundreds of people, and has been a successful fundraiser for millions of dollars. He is retiring and winding down his office in Omaha. Jerry is an avid bicyclist on back roads, as well as a hiker in such locales as Guatemala, Spain, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Married to Catherine Ann for 47 years and the parents of two sons, Bill and Steve, Dennis is now partially retired from his business as a manufacturer of industrial process equipment. He has been a member of the NCTA, originally as a landowner, for eight years, and is currently President of the Wampum Chapter. He is actively involved in several ministries of the St. Monica Catholic Church of Beaver Falls, PA and the Knights of Columbus.
Cheryl serves as a Vice President and Management Consultant at CH2M, and works from their Cincinnati, OH office. In her career, she helps clients set strategic direction and execute against their plans. For 2 ½ years, she served as the program manager of a global coalition, Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals. In this role, she was responsible to lead the execution of their strategic roadmap and to turn the coalition into a non-governmental organization (NGO). She led the selection of an Executive Director, established the organization governance and facilitated decision-making with a globally diverse, multi-stakeholder constituency. During her non-work time, Cheryl relaxes by hiking miles and miles. While living in Michigan for 27 years, Cheryl began hiking the North Country Trail (NCT), and gained appreciation for the need to save and share the diverse landscapes that the NCT runs through. Cheryl joins the Board of Directors to combine her passion for hiking with her experience helping clients deliver against their strategic plans.
Tim has been trying to retire from 30+ years of healthcare administration since 2008, but keeps finding too many interesting work projects that just need a little more time. Currently, Tim is the President/CEO of a small medical research organization in Minneapolis, MN: Excelen – Center for Bone & Joint Research and Education. Tim has a Doctorate in Management specializing in Organizational Leadership, and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He has been in senior leadership positions in healthcare for 30+ years, served on and participated in leadership of a number of community organizations, and is still an active Rotarian in the City of Lakes Rotary in Minneapolis. Tim, his wife Sue, and golden retriever Max live just about a mile off the North Country Trail on Upper St. Croix Lake in Solon Springs, WI and use the Trail many times each year.
Derrick Passe – Minnesota
Derrick works as the District Engineer for Lake County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Two Harbors, MN. Using his Civil Engineering and Water Resource Science degrees, he helps private landowners monitor, protect, and enhance their natural resources. Derrick first began working on wilderness hiking trails in 1996. The first trip he led was on the Pow Wow Trail, a Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) trail that had not been maintained for 10 years. He volunteered to lead this trip, and has since led hundreds of volunteers into the BWCAW every year to maintain, map, and protect wilderness hiking trails. In May 2017, Derrick took a leave of absence from his job to spend the entire month leading crews on the Kekekabic Trail to reopen it after extensive storm damage. He was an active member, president, and member of the Board of Directors of the Kekekabic Trail Club. He has also been a member of the Superior Hiking Trail Association and American Hiking Society. Even though he is certified to maintain trails using a chainsaw, Derrick prefers to maintain trails in wilderness areas using only hand tools. When Derrick isn’t volunteering in Minnesota’s BWCAW or Wisconsin’s Rainbow Lakes Wilderness, you may find him sampling water quality or educating about invasive species in his job as the Rainy Basin Coordinator for the Lake County SWCD.
Paul is a wealth management advisor and the founder of Milestone Wealth Management, an independent firm, in Grand Rapids, MI. He is also the founder and president of the Medical Mile Resource Group, an economic development group in Grand Rapids. Residing in the Association’s hometown of Lowell, MI, Paul’s interest in the NCTA has been stoked through the years by his contacts with some of the NCTA staff. He attended Davenport University and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner. He brings to the Board his expertise in wealth management strategies, comprehensive financial planning, and other skills related to asset allocation and risk management strategies. Paul loves that the NCTA is a multi-state organization and connected with so many chapters and affiliates.
Jan Ulferts Stewart – North Dakota
Jan is active in civic and charitable organizations in the Fargo and Moorhead communities of North Dakota and Minnesota. She has been a member of the NCTA since 2001 and after moderate success in hauling lumber for puncheons, lifting a Pulaski, getting the blue blaze on the tree rather than herself, and clearing brush, she is looking forward to serving on the NCTA Board. A past director of the local community foundation and former chair of the planning commission, she has confidence in the leadership team of staff members and board to carry on the vision of the NCTA. Jan and her husband have two daughters and three amazing grandchildren.
Jeff VanWinkle – Michigan
A long time member of the NCTA, Jeff brings to the Association a wealth of experience in management of nonprofit organizations. Jeff is a business attorney for Clark Hill, and shuttles between his firm’s offices and Grand Rapids, MI and Chicago. A graduate of University of Michigan Law School, he provides general counsel services, public and securities counseling, private company law guidance and transactional legal services to clients throughout the Midwest. He has been a board member of seven international, national, and local nonprofit organizations. He and his family have hiked the NCT in both Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, as well as segments in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Jeff says he is “most interested in helping to continue the effort to strengthen the sustainability of the NCTA as the steward if the trail.”
Mark VanHornweder – At-Large
Mark Van Hornweder is president of the NCTA’s Brule-St. Croix Chapter, where he’s served on the BSC Roving Trail Crew since 2004. Mark is active with the Superior Hiking Trail Association and volunteers with the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Mobile Skills Crew. He also serves as president of the Friends of Amnicon and Pattison State Parks, and is engaged with land conservation in the Lake Superior watershed. His interests include increasing trail use by younger generations.
Mark grew up in northwestern rural Wisconsin, and graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He is a CPA. Mark, his wife Rachel, and their son Jasper reside in South Range – within an hour’s drive of 200 miles of completed NCT.
Steve Walker is a fourth generation commercial printer and purchased Niles Printing in Niles, OH in 1988. He’s been a member of the Buckeye Trail Association since 2012 and was active in the formation and development of the Muskingum Lakes Chapter. He is also currently vice president of the Buckeye Trail Association.
Steve has also been a member of the NCTA’s Policy and Advocacy Committee since June of 2015 and traveled to Washington DC in July of 2015 to advocate on behalf of LWCF Reauthorization and the North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act with members of Congress. He is currently spearheading efforts to develop a legislative trails caucus in the state of Ohio to advocate on behalf of trails.
Steve and his wife Karen operate a food pantry that helps 120 households per month and in 2015 provided 36,000 meals for disadvantaged families in Stark and Tuscarawas counties. Steve is also a sitting member of the Stark County Area Broadband Task Team. They have four children and eight grandchildren and reside in Navarre, OH.
Quinn Wright– New York
Quinn Wright has been involved with the Finger Lakes Trail Conference since 2009, as the Director of Crews and Construction, Treasurer, and in 2015 assumed the role of Executive Director. He has represented the NCT/FLT at Hike the Hill in Washington DC and is an active member of the Advocacy Committee. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Quinn also founded a company that sold abrasive finishing supplies and equipment, and grew into a statewide endeavor. He also taught technology for the City of Buffalo for 13 years.
Quinn lives in Buffalo, NY with his wife Jewell. He relaxes by walking in the woods and fields almost daily for about four to five miles with his faithful dog, Shoki. He also greatly enjoys reading, tasting good beers and fine dining, and attending the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.