Holiday Sale at Western Bikeworks

Deputy director of The Street Trust takes job at ODOT

Posted by on November 17th, 2017 at 11:56 am

LeeAnne Fergason.
(Photo: Tanja Olson)

LeeAnne Fergason is the new Safe Routes to School program manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

ODOT announced the hire in a statement today, saying Fergason will join the agency in mid-December.

Reached today via email, Fergason told us she’s excited for her new role but, “Deeply saddened to say goodbye to The Street Trust.” “The Street Trust’s staff (old and new), partners (so many amazing partners), and supporters (our members and friends),” she continued, “have helped me so much, and I’m eternally grateful for all the smart, passionate, and kind people that have taken the time to teach me.”

Fergason is the longest tenured employee at The Street Trust. According to her official bio she began work there as a bike safety education instructor in 2007. Fergason became The Street Trust’s main advocate for Safe Routes to School (a program they implement with a combination of state, federal, and regional funding) and spearheaded their “For Every Kid” campaign. She moved into the deputy director role back in July when The Street Trust’s former deputy director Stephanie Noll left the organization.

There’s a lot of Safe Routes work to do at ODOT these days. The former manager of the program, Julie Yip, recently retired, and the statewide transportation package includes $125 million over the next 10 years for a new Safe Routes to School grant program. As ODOT announced today, one of Fergason’s first tasks will be to staff a new Rules Advisory Committee that will create the policy framework for how these new funds will be allocated.

According to the ODOT job description, Fergason will also be responsible for:

“Managing an advisory committee, identifying selection criteria, and developing and managing a project selection process.

Collaborating with ODOT’s Director’s Office, other ODOT branches, and the Oregon Transportation Commission.

Being a technical resource to parties interested in the program.

The position will also support the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Program and Transportation Options Program, helping to lead implementation efforts and integrate these modes and topics into the way ODOT and the state does business.”

With the departure of Fergason, The Street Trust loses yet another veteran staffer. Of the organization’s remaining 11 full-time employees, only five were hired before 2016. Five of The Street Trust’s current staff — including Executive Director Jillian Detweitler, were hired in 2017. The current average tenure of a Street Trust employee is 3.5 years.

As I wrote in an editorial back in April, The Street Trust is going through a major transition as an organization: From staffing changes, to the formation of a new political action committee and a change to their name and mission.

The Street Trust plans to celebrate what Executive Director Jillian Detweiler calls her, “immeasurable contributions” at the organization’s upcoming Holiday Party on December 7th (5:00 to 7:00 pm at Glisan Garage, 714 NW Glisan).

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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16 Comments
  • Jessica Horning November 17, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Yay!! Congrats, LeeAnne! So excited to work with you!

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • Rachel Cameron November 17, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Jealous.

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      • Jessica Horning November 17, 2017 at 3:50 pm

        I’m gonna need a new paid intern this summer. ; )

        Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Eric Leifsdad November 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • Todd Boulanger November 17, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    LeeAnne, congrats and good luck!

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • kate November 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    congats to leeanne! she’s the most passionate safe routes advocate i know…what a great fit!

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Go By Bike
    Go By Bike November 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    In college I went on a BTA bike safety community ride with LeeAnne. I didn’t think there could be as cool a job or someone who was so passionate about what she does. I have never met anyone who gets more joy getting kids biking and walking then LeeAnne. If I had not gone on that ride I might not have been at all interested in bikes.

    Working at ODOT is not something I would wish on anyone but there is no one better suited for this position or who can get more kids walking and biking to school then LeeAnne. My one piece of advice is to not forget to take lots of time for yourself, avoid meetings, continually question whether things are working and do not be afraid to give up on an idea and try something entirely new.

    Recommended Thumb up 15

  • B. Carfree November 17, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    The primary criticism I read about the former BTA is that it pretty much sold its soul in return for access to entities like ODOT and PBOT and became absolutely ineffective as a result.

    Now we’re supposed to celebrate as one of its longer-term staffers goes completely over? I have to wonder if this is really about moving into a position from which she will be able to be effective or if it is a further step of being co-opted and silenced since now her paycheck and retirement will be completely owned by ODOT.

    Time will tell (and this could be fantastic) but only if someone does a lot of digging to see what is really going on. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst (which ODOT just seems to have a way of delivering).

    Recommended Thumb up 13

    • nuovorecord November 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      So what is it to be? Do you want ODOT/PBOT and any other government entity you choose to remain your adversary? Or, do you want them to embrace the need to change the culture within their organization by hiring good, caring people like LeeAnne (and Jessica, for that matter)?

      Seems to me LeeAnne’s hiring is another sign of change at ODOT. They could have hired anyone with experience in managing funding programs. But they chose to hire a known advocate for changing the status quo with a ton of passion for making streets safer. To me, ODOT gets kudos for this hire. Go get ’em, LeeAnne

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • zuckerdog November 21, 2017 at 8:37 am

        ODOT could have hired an engineer but rather chose an advocate – not that they are mutually exclusive beings
        Good luck, LeeAnn. Your change remind me of the last chapter of he MonkeyWrench Gang.

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  • Jessica Horning November 17, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    You don’t have to dig very far to find that she is a champion responsible for bringing the public and electeds together to win us $10 million dollars a year in new Safe Routes funding. That’s pretty darn effective if you ask me. (Or at least a very well-negotiated price for a soul, especially in this market.)

    Recommended Thumb up 10

  • Steve Scarich November 18, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Question: what does ODOT have to do with riding safely to schools? Schools are urban with city-owned streets (for the most part). I don’t quite see the role for ODOT in this issue. Over here in Bend, encouraging kids to ride or walk to school consists of a few publicity events every year, and neglect the rest of the year. Enforcement of speed laws, maintenance of bike lanes, etc is pretty much neglected.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • John Liu
    John Liu November 19, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    So who and what are left at the Street Trust now? Seems like some significant departures recently. Why and who are the replacements?

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Aaron Brown November 20, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Congrats to LeeAnne, an indefatigably charming, positive, thoughtful, and wonderful human being and change agent! She’s an excellent person for this gig.

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  • Phil Richman November 20, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Congratulations LeeAnne!

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