Meet the ECGA Staff! Please click the staff member's name to send him/her an email.
Dennis Markatos-Soriano is an East Coaster based in the ECG community of Durham, North Carolina. Born and raised in the small town of Pittsboro, NC, Dennis attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon graduation in 2001, he worked for NC Common Cause Education Fund before becoming the first Executive Director of the organization he had co-founded earlier, Students United for a Responsible Global Environment (SURGE). After three great years leading SURGE, he moved up the eastern seaboard to attend the Master's program in Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University.
He came out of the program with fresh knowledge on how to help leaders throughout the US address climate change and energy security. In 2008-09, he was a featured writer through blogs and op-eds based in another nonprofit initiative he founded, Sustainable Energy Transition (SET) based in New York City. The opportunity to lead the completion of the East Coast Greenway was a perfect one to make a tangible climate impact while simultaneously addressing other issues he is passionate about--including lowering health care costs, lowering transportation costs, creating good jobs (constructing the trail), and driving a green economic recovery. When he is not working with ECGA staff, volunteers and allies to complete and promote the greenway, you may find Dennis playing basketball, riding his bike, and otherwise enjoying life with his wife, young sons, extended family, and friends.
Niles Barnes - South Atlantic Coodinator Niles Barnes joined the ECGA in 2013 as the South Atlantic Coordinator. In his role, he helps to build and grow momentum to
create and link trails from the Savannah River near Bluffton, SC, to the Potomac River and our nation’s capital. Niles's passion lies not only in developing the physical trail, but also the potential it has to create a sustainable future that includes more healthy and prosperous local communities along the entire eastern corridor.
Before joining the Alliance, Niles spent over six years working for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). As one of the earliest and longest tenured employees at AASHE, he played an important role in growing the Association from a small start-up into one of the most influential actors in the campus sustainability movement.
Niles holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Kentucky, a certificate in business administration from the Gatton College of Business and Economics, and is a LEED Accredited Professional. In addition to working full-time for the Alliance, Niles is also a graduate student participating in the Duke Environmental Leadership Master of Environmental Management (DEL-MEM) degree program at Duke University.
Outside of work, Niles enjoys biking, swimming and eating homemade tasty food. In slightly younger days, he competed as an NCAA Division 1 runner, completed a 57 day self-supported bike, climbing and camping tour of the Pacific Northwest and participated in an unplanned helicopter evacuation from Mont Blanc in the French Alps.
Andy Hamilton - Mid Atlantic Trail Coordinator
As a former Pennsylvania state committee chair and a member of ECGA's Board of Trustees, Andy Hamilton has always shown great dedication and passion for the East Coast Greenway vision. We are so glad to now have him as our Mid-Atlantic Coordinator.
Andy's professional experience lies in landscape architecture, where he has spent almost two decades at Carter Van Dyke Associates enriching spaces such as the greenways or linear park segments in our corridor. He appreciates the natural and cultural experiences that the East Coast Greenway connects millions of Americans to by bicycle and by foot. He also knows how to organize throughout diverse communities, bringing people together to achieve a common purpose.
Eric Weis - Trail Program Coordinator
With the ECGA since 1998, Eric oversees the trail program, and staffs our New England and South Atlantic regions (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina). He also manages our cartography, cue sheet, and signage programs. A geographer by training, he has degrees from Vassar College and the University of Rhode Island. Eric and his wife Mandy Jordan live in Providence, RI with their daughter Violet. Hobbies and pastimes include walking, biking, gardening, and reminiscing about days when his knees were healthier. Eric also serves on the U.S. Bicycle Route System Task Force, the board of the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition, and the Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission.
Debbie West - Office Manager/Marketing
Debbie is thrilled to be part of the East Coast Greenway Alliance. She grew up enjoying what is now the Mount Vernon Trail section of the East Coast Greenway in Alexandria, Virginia, and loves that she gets to live and work near the American Tobacco Trail section in Durham, North Carolina. She joined the ECGA in 2011 after moving to North Carolina to be closer to family. Having lived in Portland, Oregon for 11 years, Debbie believes that creativity and bike fun can and will change the world. She is also an artist who makes letterpress printed cards of bikes, bigfoot, and other interesting creatures she would like to meet. Debbie loves biking, hiking, camping, and doing art inspired by her adventures, and she looks forward to seeing a lot more of the East Coast via the Greenway.
Herb Hiller - Southeast Program Consultant
For 30 years Herb has been Florida's most forceful advocate for bicycling, trails, and place-valid tourism. His writing and advocacy have launched the Florida bicycling, bed-&-breakfast and urban tourism movements. He has consulted with 1000 Friends of Florida on the preservation of coastal communities, with the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Agency to form the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor and Florida Wildflower Festival, with Bike Florida and the Florida Bicycle Association to form the Florida Discovery Bicycling Center, a touring program that teaches safe riding on roads. Additionally, he is founding chairman of the Society of American Travel Writers' Institute for Travel Writing & Photography, and sits on the boards of the St. Johns River Alliance and the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation. Two of his three books have won highest honors in their fields. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, National Geographic Traveler, Land & People, and Florida Trend. He originated the Caribbean Tourism Research Center -- today's Caribbean Tourism Organization -- in Barbados; also, the Miami-Bahamas Goombay Festival and Coconut Grove Farmers Market. Herb lectures frequently about place.