By Jessica Reid, Communications Intern
From her job to the way she travels to how she spends her free time, East Coast Greenway Alliance Summit and Events Specialist Devin Cowens has built her life around her passions for biking and advocacy.
Based in Atlanta, she manages and measures the impact of the organization’s regional summits, bike rides and other events along the Greenway like the New York City-to-Philadelphia Greenway Ride.
Cowens’ favorite experience with the Greenway was the annual staff retreat shortly after she became a team member in January 2019. Since she works remotely, the Durham, North Carolina, retreat helped her connect with other team members and added to her understanding of the value of her work to the Greenway and its mission.
“Especially now that we're in a pandemic and we are not able to see each other, those moments feel extra special,” she shared.
Cowens has long been a people person. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, because she wanted to understand individuals and human behavior.
“I'm a lover of people, and so being able to learn about folks in a genuine, authentic way and build relationships is something that I really enjoy,” said Cowens. She considers her psychology background a “guiding point” for communicating at her job.
“Entering the nonprofit service world was a way for me to continue some of that interest in people,” Cowens continued. In the past, Cowens worked in fundraising for the Atlanta Botanical Garden and volunteered for the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
Working at the Greenway has allowed her to continue supporting her passion for biking. Her favorite biking spots on the East Coast Greenway are the American Tobacco Trail in Durham, North Carolina, and the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Washington, D.C.
Cowens has been a bike commuter since 2012. She lived in Los Angeles for a year while working with the national service program AmeriCorps and traveled by bus and bike. After that she looked for a place to live with good public transportation, which she determined was Washington, D.C. Her brother then built her a bike, and she’s been riding ever since.
“Cycling has transformed my life as a commuter and being able to visit and explore cities another way, but also in the form of experiencing freedom and joy and for healing,” explained Cowens.
She also is passionate about the improved access to transportation for communities of color that bikes and bicycle infrastructure provide. “Cycling being a tool for folks to have access is something that resonates with me,” Cowens said.
Outside of her role with the Greenway, Cowens manages WTF Bikexplorers ATL. It is a group to “help eliminate barriers to access for folks who the cycling industry has mostly ignored,” including women, trans, femme and non-binary riders. The group provides resources, events, training and partnerships to people who want to start cycling or already cycle and want a community.
She values inclusivity when promoting biking through her work at the Greenway and beyond. “In my free time, I am an advocate for black and brown folks in the cycling world,” Cowens added.
We'll send monthly updates on East Coast Greenway progress and people.
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.