The End of An Era

From Dennis Markatos-Soriano, ECGA Executive Director [caption id="attachment_6960" align="alignright" width="228"] 2013 Week a Year Tour, ECGA meeting with Stamford, CT's former mayor. Eric Weis, far left.[/caption] There's a time for transitions, and now is that time for the longest serving member of our staff. In 1998 Eric Weis became the second person to join the ECGA staff. A fountain of knowledge and pillar of strength, he has helped our organization grow and thrive for nearly two decades. His 18 years of dedicated leadership and encyclopedic know-how has helped to bring the East Coast Greenway from idea to reality. Along the way, he's helped our organization's culture become one of respect, commitment, collaboration, and fun. The Eric Weis era for our Greenway program is coming to a close this summer, as his path leads him to new challenges and adventures. I am proud to have served with him. He will always be a treasured member of the East Coast Greenway family, and we hope to keep him engaged in our project if we can. Please join me in thanking our Greenway Program Director, Eric Weis, and wishing him well in his future endeavors. – Dennis Markatos-Soriano
[caption id="attachment_6955" align="alignleft" width="258"]ECGA staff and MD state committee member Sally Malena pore over Maryland maps to determine the best locations for both interim on-road and permanent off-road routing. (ECGA Fall 2006 Print Newsletter) ECGA staff and MD state committee member Sally Malena pore over maps in 2006. Eric Weis, far left.[/caption] From Karen Votava, ECGA Co-Founder and First Executive Director Perhaps the most important decision I made during my tenure as ECGA executive director was hiring Eric Weis. In those early days there were just the two of us as paid staff, supporting a vast network of volunteers and state and local agency personnel with whom we interfaced. Eric came on as our administrative assistant and ably assumed a wide range of roles. He handled trail development and helped to shape trail policy, was our cartographer and our communications coordinator, managed our membership development, served as our in-house techie, and engaged in a myriad of other tasks. With intelligence and a broad range of talents, he became an essential part of our team. I valued his viewpoint and often sought it. Eric grew tremendously over the years, becoming a skilled public speaker among other things. [caption id="attachment_6956" align="alignright" width="184"]ECGA Staff in Jersey City, waiting to take the ferry to Manhattan. L to R: Mike Oliva, Tanja Wiant, Kitty Carter, Eric Weis, Karen Votava (ECGA Summer 2007 Newsletter) ECGA Staff, Jersey City, 2007. L-R: Mike Oliva, Tanja Wiant, Kitty Carter, Eric Weis, Karen Votava[/caption] He was always generous with and supportive of other staff, mentoring and giving a helping hand as needed. In short, he was a joy to work beside and he remains a dear friend. When I retired as ECGA Executive Director in 2009, I imagine his institutional memory and multifaceted abilities were critical to making the transition smooth for the new leadership team that Dennis assembled. While Eric is poised for great new experiences, in so many ways, the East Coast Greenway project stands as his legacy, serving millions of appreciative trail users for generations to come. – Karen Votova
From Eric Weis, ECGA Greenway Program Director Dear Friends, For 18 years it has been my distinct pleasure to work with you to develop our country's longest urban trail system. That's nearly two decades of consistently waking up feeling jazzed about what was on the docket that day! [caption id="attachment_6962" align="alignleft" width="229"]2015 Week a Year Tour. Eric Weis and Niles Barnes. 2015 Week a Year Tour. Eric Weis and Niles Barnes.[/caption] From Calais to Key West, it's been my honor to work with dedicated, passionate, and talented professionals and volunteers, representing everything from neighborhood associations to federal agencies. I'm so grateful to so many of you for our collaborations and conversations. We've worked together to implement local trail projects, create family-friendly streets, and put on great events for fun or education. We've taken exploratory rural bike rides, undertaken bushwhacking walks, and had urban adventures. And because of this work – which sometimes seemed like play – the East Coast Greenway is now comprised of more than 30% traffic-separated trails along our 3,000-mile route. We all have some notion, when we're little, of what we want to be when we grow up. Doctor, teacher, astronaut? At six years-old I wanted to be a professional bike racer. And while I have never had the temperament or fortitude to be an elite athlete, 40 years later I can say that I have indeed been paid to ride my bike! I hope to have one-on-one conversations with many of you as I transition away from ECGA in the coming months. Until then: see you out on the Greenway! – Eric Weis

Moving Forward

As Eric's strong service comes to a close, we have a strategy to keep the organization and project thriving. Current South Atlantic Coordinator Niles Barnes will step up to lead our outstanding regional coordinators into a new era of Greenway development. So, we're hiring a new South Atlantic Coordinator – a passionate, self-motivated individual ready to move the East Coast Greenway forward in Virginia and the Carolinas. A link to the job description can be found here. We'll be accepting applications until April 30, 2016. Want to make a tax-deductible donation in Eric's honor? All funds will go to support our Greenway program.
Join the Greenway!

Your support helps to develop this ambitious, 3,000-mile route, Canada to Key West. Your membership gift builds more protected miles that we can all enjoy, today and for generations to come.