If you’re a Bicycle Coalition member, there’s someone you’ve undoubtedly corresponded with in the last few years, and that’s Ashley Vogel. Our (now former) Marketing and Development Manager spent the last few years sending out newsletters, serving as our main point of contact for members, leading rides, setting up partnerships, and representing us at community events. But more importantly, she led the behind-the-scenes tech and strategy work to ensure the success of our membership program and to see that our communications went out smoothly.
Ashley recently left our organization to become CRM Systems Analyst at National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity dedicated to providing philanthropic expertise to donors, foundations and financial institutions. While she won’t be a Bicycle Coalition staff member, Ashley certainly isn’t leaving the bike community.
We spoke with Ashley before she left, to hear what she thought about her time here, and how she plans to stay connected to our work.
You were at the Bicycle Coalition for over three-and-a-half years. What’s changed the most about the organization in that time? And how do you think those changes have affected our work?
I think the organization has gotten better at listening and collaboration. The Bicycle Coalition started out as a grassroots effort, and it has a great track record of securing important wins for the region’s cyclists. But I think as any organization becomes successful and earns a seat at the table, there is a certain groundswell quality that can get lost.
It’s a win to be able to secure meetings in City Hall and have your opinion respected, but whose voice gets lost in the shift to closed-door meetings? I’ve seen an acknowledgment of the importance of community inclusion by Bicycle Coalition leadership and an intentional effort to bring that member and community voice back into our advocacy. It’s a shift from us being the advocates to our 3,000+ member base being the advocates with us as a resource and central organizer.
I’m excited by the increasingly collaborative nature of our work. For example, a win that didn’t get much airtime but that was meaningful to me was Fairhill being awarded a neighborhood slow zone. After a listening session HACE, the Bicycle Coalition, AARP and the Vision Zero Alliance held on North 5th Street, residents wanted next steps to enact the ideas they came up with at the session, so they applied for the Slow Zone and won it. Partnerships across issue areas can lead to important wins, and I’m grateful that collaboration with community partners has grown to be such a central part of the Bicycle Coalition’s approach.
What are you most proud of in your time here?
I’ve gotten a lot done in my time at the Bicycle Coalition, so it’s hard to pick just one thing!
One highlight has been upgrading our tools to improve the experience of our members and supporters. It might not be something you think about when you’re on the other side of it, but our database and marketing platforms are fairly complex. They were overdue for some upgrades when I came into my role, and growing my skills to make the necessary improvements was a satisfying challenge to my systems-oriented brain.
I also am extremely proud of the work I have done to build a more inclusive bike community. I can’t say too much yet, but there’s a new initiative the Bicycle Coalition is launching this month for which I set up the groundwork, and that is certainly a highlight of my time at the Bicycle Coalition.
Finally, I’m proud of the ways I’ve grown personally, in community, in my time here. When I started at the Bicycle Coalition, my biggest bike adventure had been up the Schuylkill River Trail to Manayunk, and I had certainly never fixed a flat. I couldn’t tell a road bike from a mountain bike.
Since then, I have met so many local bike friends and mentors. I have explored roads and trails all over the region. I have led rides and bikepacking trips. I have raced up a mountain in Woodstock. I have gotten up early to race around in circles in an office park, pushing myself thanks to the support of my teammates. I have started learning some mountain bike and cyclocross skills.
My independence, confidence, and sense of adventure have increased dramatically. I am so grateful for each of the friends I have made while biking and the incredible sense of community they foster.
What do you look forward to in your next endeavor?
I’m excited to grow in my ability to use tech for social impact. But one of the most exciting parts about my transition is freeing up some of my energy to join the bike community from the volunteer & member side again. It’s rewarding, but it’s also exhausting giving both your personal and professional life to the bike community.
I’m looking forward to freeing up some of my weekends when I was previously working bike-related events to attend all the local rides, races, and community events as a participant! I’m excited to have more time to mentor the Racing Development program when it’s back up and running in person. And I’ll still definitely be riding on Bikeout, too, so be sure to say hello to me there.
Any members or donors that are accustomed to reaching out to Ashley can now reach out to Megan, who will be happy to assist.