A Letter from VMBA’s Director

Ansel Dickey

The last eight years at VMBA have been a time of innovation, excitement, and unimaginable growth. Serving as VMBA’s Executive Director has been an honor. Today, though, I am writing to let you know that I will be stepping down as the Executive Director of VMBA at the end of this year.

It’s a bittersweet moment for my family. I remember running my earliest ideas past Matt Swartz, and later sitting in the Black Back Pub in Waterbury with Dana Allen, Steve Fischer, Jay Provencher and Sparky Millikin building the first iteration of the Chapter model. Soon after Berne Broudy and John Peters were instrumental in helping me write our first major grants to get operations going in the office (aka – my kitchen table).

With a solid plan and a little funding, I set out to bring Chapters into the statewide model. I was so nervous, but the Chapters were (and always have been) supportive. They shared ideas, concerns, and excitement openly. With their faith, I was confident we were headed in the right direction.

There is another handful of people to whom I cannot express enough gratitude. To Forest Legace for putting together our first website that supported the add-on model – his innovations have yet to be replicated. To Kim Quinlan for graciously designing the first versions of the member benefit coupons, and to Jacob Grossi and his never-ending list of ideas.

To my wife Mary. She played a huge role in VMBA’s early success. She worked tirelessly alongside me to accomplish a long list of administrative tasks, including enticing our neighbors over with pizza so they would help us pack member envelopes. VMBA wouldn’t be where it is today without her.

The first statewide Chapter and membership model launched in 2014. Since then, the riding community has doubled the number of Chapters and increased membership by over 600%. The Association also became a successful grant making entity through partnering with multiple outdoor-minded businesses that have enthusiastically invested in Chapters’ trails. VMBA’s cooperative agreement with the state has meant new and expanding access. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a partnership with Holly Knox at the US Forest Service, which has resulted in many miles of new access and an amazing future.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the members. Thousands of riders have graciously shared their faith in the organization by becoming a member, and participated in trail days, raffles, and special events. Community members coming together to serve on Chapters’ boards is an investment in time that is greatly appreciated and that has led to Vermont being an amazing place to ride.

VMBA is strong and gaining momentum. In some respects, this transition promises to be challenging, but the progress our community has made will ensure new leadership inherits an organization that is ready to embrace the future with optimism and excitement. It is difficult for me to step away from the work we do, but when it’s time – it’s time.

Moving forward I am committed to supporting a smooth transition and will be available as the board and staff need me. The VMBA board has strong leadership in place and the staff are truly outstanding. Although I am leaving VMBA in my official capacity, my family will be staying in Vermont. So, this is not good-bye, but merely see you next time. Don’t be a stranger on the trail!

Thank you for the privilege of being VMBA’s Executive Director.

Tom

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