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.
If you want to get to know Heather, ask her about her favorite tabletop game or her latest camping trip! Heather Marriott is a born and raised Columbian who has lived in several different parts of town. When she started working at a downtown restaurant, she quickly realized that the expense of owning a car plus the hassle of parking just didn’t make sense. She sold her car and began biking and using public transit to get where she needed to go. When she saw a job opening posted on Local Motion's Facebook page, she knew this was an organization she wanted to be involved in. Heather came on board to help run Local Motion's programs and events, and her skill at developing community relationships made the position her own and has broadened the influence of Local Motion around the Columbia community. Heather wants to help more people understand that transportation access is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Erica 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, Erica 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. Erica wants to build deep and lasting connections to our community and environment. You might also run into her exercising her activism muscles with Peaceworks. Erica loves to garden and is in the process of transforming the Local Motion office into an indoor rainforest.
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 Communications and Events 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 a recommendation on the best TV series to watch or honest feedback on your outfit, Kathleen is the person to ask! Kathleen grew up in a small town in Arkansas surrounded by family pets and fostered animals. While working on her master’s degree in public health at the University of Missouri, she happened into an internship with Local Motion. As a person from a rural community dominated by car culture with no real alternative options to get around town, Kathleen found it very eye-opening to learn of the direct impact that a community’s transportation system has on its residents. Kathleen remained involved with Local Motion over the years after her internship and was excited to jump on an opportunity to work for the organization as the Operations Manager. Kathleen still fills her free time with furry friends, having fostered over 150 cats and dogs through a local rescue while creating her own animal family of one dog, two cats, and a horse. As a homeowner on the outskirts of town, she can tell you firsthand that where you live matters when it comes to how you get around. Kathleen wants to work to make sure everyone has accessible and affordable transportation options no matter where they live.
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.
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 52 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.