By Jessica Reid, Communications Intern
V Christiansen is Florida Coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, where they continue to follow their passion of increasing access to transportation.
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Christiansen collaborates with organizations at the state and local levels to advance the Greenway in the region, which helps people gain access to affordable and sustainable transportation.
Fortunately, the State of Florida has dedicated funding for greenways, so capital is a resource more available in the Sunshine State compared to others. However, the sheer size of the state can make Florida feel as if it has multiple regions, according to Christiansen.
They have experience working on equitable transportation solutions. As part of AmeriCorps, Christiansen served two terms with City Year, a nonprofit organization focused on education.
“I found [City Year] fantastic professional development but also [helpful for] me to discover what I want to be doing with my career - working with transportation-disadvantaged individuals, which is basically people who don't have a car. That prompted my interest and my love of active transit and the need for more human-centered design and human-scale design,” said Christiansen, who served in Miami.
This experience was a catalyst for Christiansen to earn their master of science in planning with a specialization in active transit from Florida State University. They also earned an undergraduate degree in psychology, but it is their desire to help transportation-disadvantaged individuals that guides their work.
“My interest in this has always been the equity part. I believe it's everybody's right to be able to get around without needing to spend at least a quarter of their income on a vehicle,” shared Christiansen.
Christiansen has private, nonprofit and local experience. Before working at the Greenway, they were the first Regional Market Manager for the bike share system Zagster in Tallahassee, Florida. Christiansen was also a Transportation Planner for Cambridge Systematics, a consultant firm, and a Senior Planner for the NEFL Regional Planning Council.
Since joining the Greenway in spring 2019, Christiansen’s favorite event has been the Week-A-Year Tour in Florida in November 2019 because they got to work closely with other members. They also enjoyed the staff retreat in February 2020. “It was the first time that I met some people in person, which is cool. It was great being able to spend that time together and have the space to continue building the strong trust and bonds that we all have as a team,” said Christiansen.
Another great moment for Christiansen was the first virtual Southeast Greenways & Trails Summit in April. They said the Greenway had never hosted a large virtual event before COVID-19, and the event’s success means the Greenway may host more virtual events in the future. “I’m proud that we were able to adapt so quickly to this changing circumstance,” they said.
Christiansen’s favorite trail is the American Tobacco Trail in Durham, North Carolina. They also like the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail because it is long and has a stunning view. The Greenway in Florida is unique since it mostly hugs the coast.
In their free time, they like to bike around their neighborhood, hike, play board games and hang out with their dogs.
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