Lawrence Simonson is a wingtips-wearing, cargo bike-riding, rad dad from Columbia, Missouri. He grew up as a military brat in small towns all over, but dreamed of one day living in a big city and riding his bike to work. His first job out of college required a 40-minute drive that was a drain on his finances and his quality of life. He quit. This experience focused his attention on how transportation options affect our opportunities, and how many people are ignored and held back when having to own and drive a car is the only option. He felt compelled to do something. He took a temporary position with Local Motion and now years later he is Chief Executive Officer, advocating for walking, biking, and transit solutions to meet people’s everyday transportation needs. And he’s living his dream of riding bikes to school and work with his kids. Lawrence believes that when a transportation system serves the needs of the most vulnerable people in a community, it works best for everyone.
You might find Annette riding through town on a basket bike in heels. She lived without a car while she was in university (mostly because she didn’t have much money), and found that she liked walking and riding the bus to get where she wanted to go. When she got her first job, she drew a 2-mile radius around her office and decided to buy a house in this area so she could keep walking to work. Her pleasant and easy walk to work each day showed her how much transportation influences our lives (for good or for bad), and reminded her that not everyone has the privilege of choosing where they live. Annette is now Chief Development Officer, where she helps ensure that Local Motion has funding to advocate for policies and infrastructure that make walking, biking, and transit safe and easy. She’d love to nerd out with you about growing native plants for pollinators, and that time she planted 400 heads of garlic in her backyard. Annette sees transportation as the great connector between us and everything we want and need, and believes that good transportation builds happiness.
Rikki Ascani is a runner and outdoor adventurer originally from Ironton, Pennsylvania. She discovered her lifelong passion for the environment and social change while studying fish and wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech. After her partner Emily’s PhD program brought them both to Columbia, Rikki wanted to walk a path that more directly connected her with the people and environments she hoped to serve and preserve. She joined Local Motion as Community Engagement Coordinator, where she’s excited to work on the ground in the community, out from behind her desk, to see and shape how change takes hold over time. Rikki wants to build deep and lasting connections to our community and environment. You might also run into her exercising her activism muscles with Peaceworks. Rikki loves to garden and is in the process of transforming the Local Motion office into an indoor rainforest.
Michaela Marshall Dungey grew up in southeast Idaho and has spent the last ten years living in Columbia, Missouri. Michaela came to Columbia to attend the University of Missouri, where she received a degree in English and minors in Journalism and Women and Gender Studies. She grew to love Columbia because she found the town aligned with her values. She worked a variety of jobs in different fields but hadn't found a position that used what she was good at to work on something she cared about — until she joined Local Motion. She now works as Development Director, raising funds and awareness about Local Motion. She knows firsthand how important Local Motion's mission is after being temporarily disabled with a serious injury and experiencing that her mobility was restricted and she wasn't able to get where she wanted to go. Michaela lives with her partner Brian, her dog Boomer, and her cat Kenda. She has learned more about Columbia while on her bike than any other way, and believes that we're more connected to our community when we walk, bike, or ride transit.
Gabi Jacobs is a stylish dressing track and field star from Bloomington-Normal, IL. She proved to be anything but normal as she excelled in discus at University of Missouri, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s degree in education, focusing on positive coaching. While working at a local grocery store, she noticed Local Motion's mission on the dime token donation box. She followed up and realized how much Local Motion's work applied to her life. Gabi now works for Local Motion as Community Engagement Coordinator, where she connects Local Motion's mission and vision to the community. When she is not training, you can catch her at a local coffee shop jamming to some indie, or cruising around town on her single-speed track bike. Gabi believes that when you get around town outside of a car, you connect with people and build relationships, and that you don’t just simply move through a community, but you become part of it.
If you need someone to build a ukulele for you, have a genuine conversation about life, or just a friendly reminder that you’re awesome, Ron is your person! Ron worked as a construction contractor in central Missouri for ten years, and before that, he and his family of four spent several years in South Africa leading diverse teams in community development and sustainability projects. Ron wanted to use his privilege and experience to create change in communities and found the perfect job as the Project Director for Missourians for Responsible Transportation. This position allows him to use the community-building skills he honed in Africa as he travels the state and meets with community leaders who want to increase walking, biking, and transit options for all Missourians.
Cindy DeBlauw grew up primarily in St. Louis, but now resides in Hartsburg, Missouri. Cindy and her husband have three loving daughters, two who live in Hartsburg and one who lives in Switzerland. Cindy began her journey into the transportation realm in 2010 while working at The University of Missouri Extension. She recently retired from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services where she spent most of her career working on nutrition and physical activity programs. She joined Missourians for Responsible Transportation in May 2022 as Interim Project Director where she is helping communities adopt complete streets policies and active transportation plans. She is committed to making healthy choices the easy choices for all Missourians. When she isn’t working Cindy enjoys riding horses, cycling, hiking with her dogs and gardening.
If you are choosing your next vacation destination, Jackson is the person to ask! Jackson Hotaling is a history aficionado and world traveler from Webster Groves, Missouri. Throughout his international travels to 53 countries, Jackson quickly realized how important public transportation and accessibility are to meeting your basic needs. But Jackson has always been interested in how people get where they need to go whether he was in China or Peru riding public transit or recognizing the transportation challenges of Greater St. Louis in the wake of COVID-19. When he saw an opening at Missourians for Responsible Transportation (MRT), Jackson knew he could combine his passion for community engagement and transportation equity. Jackson works with MRT Project Director, Ron, traveling around Missouri and meeting with community leaders who want to increase walking, biking, and transit options for all Missourians.