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Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition

Key Coalition Documents

Click on the links to the right for access. 

Executive Director

Shayla Miles

Shayla is the Executive Director of the Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition. She comes to us with a Masters of Public Administration from Evergreen’s Tacoma Campus and a passion for ensuring outdoor recreation is accessible, plentiful and safe.

Much like any long-time nonprofit employee, Shayla has worn many hats: fundraiser, education program manager, field trip facilitator, events planner, volunteer manager. Her most recent role was Development Director at Pacific Bonsai Museum. She also managed restaurants and was a Sommelier in Seattle, and has a deep appreciation for wine and good food.

Shayla lives in Tacoma with her husband and young daughter, and can be found most weekends running or hiking the many amazing trails Pierce County has to offer.

Coalition Board Members

Dan Bucci - President

Dan is an avid mountain runner and trail enthusiast who firmly believes that the outdoors should be accessible to everyone. Dan’s involvement with the Foothills Coalition began in 2017 as he assisted with producing the Rainier to Ruston Relay, and B&O Half Marathon & 10K races which serve as fundraisers for the FTC. Dan joined the FTC board in 2020 to bring his energy to help the coalition in their mission to expand the trail network in Pierce County to provide a continuous, non-motorized trail from Mount Tahoma to Puget Sound. Dan firmly believes that safe, accessible trails are a key to promoting outdoors activities, which help the broader population stay fit, healthy and connected with the beauty that surrounds them in Western Washington.

Theresa Turpin - Vice President

I am a Washington native and have been a cyclist since an early age, I remember around middle school age, my sister and I borrowed our older brothers' bikes, as we rode from our Steilacoom home to Point Defiance Park and back (my sister and I still ride together, often on the Foothills Trail). I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University and for most of my career I was fortunate to be working in Transportation and Environmental Planning fields. I have worked in both the private and public sectors including work on several regional trails, (the list is long) but notably, the Foothills and Pipeline trails. I was fortunate to be the lead author on the feasibility document for the pipeline trail extension (at that time called the Cross County Commuter Connector; AKA Quad C) and provided construction management (for Pierce County Parks, working closely with local property owners and Pierce County Public Works) on the Pierce County section of the Foothills Trail from South Prairie to Buckley City Limits. I recently retired from WSDOT as the Olympic Region Multimodal Development Manager, and I look forward to continuing trail work as a Board member on the Foothills Rails To Trails Coalition. 

Pat Johnson - Secretary

It has been a great honor to be on the Board of Directors and I have lost track of how long I have been active in the Foothills Rails to Trails organization.  I grew up in Buckley and remember the trains coming through town.  When the railroad company decided it was no longer profitable to move freight by rail, they abandoned their right-of way.  The town doctor, Doc Tait, gathered a few people together such as Ernie Bay from Puyallup, Fred Hart of the Back Country Horsemen and Jan Walcott the Pierce County Parks Director at the time and the idea of a connected trail system connecting communities was a perfect use of this abandoned property.

The first section of the Foothills Trail was built in Buckley.  Doc Tait gathered volunteers together to clear the right-of-way and lay gravel.  Over time the City paved the trail with grant funding and donations.  It took over 25 years to get connected to the rest of the Foothills Trail in Pierce County but the wait was worth it!  Our next goal is to get the bridge across the White River to connect to King County and Enumclaw.

At the end of 2021 I retired from the position of Mayor for the City of Buckley.  I served the City as Mayor for 16 years and prior to that I was a Council member for 14 years.  During that 30 year period of time I lobbied heavily for trails before the County Council, the State Legislature and a few times in Washington, DC.  Trails like the Foothills Trail are safe pedestrian corridors that connect communities and now are becoming tourist attractions for both walkers and cyclist.

We must continue to keep the Foothills Trail in front of our elected officials and letting them know what the benefits are.  In Buckley, the “Trail” is the new Main Street!

Board Members

Steve Brown

I've been involved with the Foothills Trail as a volunteer for over 30 years (over half my lifetime)

Lately, I have focused on county connections: Foothills Trail north to Sumner and then the Interurban; Yelm to Roy; and of course our favorite, from Mount Rainier to Tacoma using the R2R route.

I also have been spending a lot more time in the Carbon Canyon, which is everything above the town of Wilkeson. It is a great area for hiking, biking, fishing and camping. This is also the access to the NW corner of Mount Rainier National Park.

John Hopkins

I left London, England in my early 20’s to visit my sister in Anchorage, Alaska and ended up staying 15 years. I became an electrician, met my wife and had three children. It was a rags to riches to rags story that ended with us all driving down the Alcan Highway in a brown station wagon with suitcases strapped to the top. We ended up in Puyallup and started an electrical construction company.

All went well until the last recession, but closing the business was a blessing in disguise. It freed up time for treks and climbs throughout the world and to give back to the community. I joined the boards of Arts Downtown and Pierce Conservation District and now serve on multiple committees with other organizations. I currently work with the Foothills Coalition in my position of Chair of Friends of the Riverwalk and founder of the All Along the Riverwalk Arts and Education event, which has successfully showcased our local trails. I would be honored to become a Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition board member.

David Lee

My wife Carla (61) and I (71) live in Tacoma and are proud parents of four children, two daughters and identical twin sons. We've been fit and active all our lives and among our many interests, cycling and travel are two of our favorites and we've supported and cycled the Foothills Trails for a long time. We've cycled the Pacific Coast Bike Route from Tacoma to Santa Barbara, the Coeur d'Alene Bike Trail, and many other regional bike trails in Washington, Oregon, and California. 

We’re also avid backpackers having trekked the 380 km John Muir Trail (Yosemite to Mt. Whitney), the 67 km Timberline Trail (Mt. Hood), and the 153 km Wonderland Trail (Mt. Rainier) twice. Now we're planning a 1250 km cycling journey from the headwaters of the Rhine River in the Swiss Alps downstream to Amsterdam next summer.

Our volunteering stints include living in Costa Rica, teaching English in Argentina, Ukraine as Peace Corps Volunteers, and at Baan Chivit Mai (Swedish-run NGO providing housing & education to hill tribe children) in Chiangrai, Northern Thailand.

Victoria Lincoln

I’m a lifelong resident of Pierce County and very supportive of projects like this Trail that get people outdoors. I have a degree from Evergreen State College and spent most of my career in Olympia, advocating for local governments in front of the Legislature. It would be a pleasure to be able to serve on this Board and hope my experience in state government can be useful.

The Foothills Trail is one of the jewels of Pierce County.  One of my favorite things to do is to ride the Trail on my mountain bike. It’s amazing how many people I see enjoying it – walkers, runners, bikes, skateboards, and strollers, to name a few. I’ve even seen a unicycle along the trail on more than one occasion. It’s gratifying to see the community embrace the trail and all it has to offer.

Loras Gassmann (Retired from the Board January 2024)

I was born in Eastern Iowa, near Dubuque, very close to the movie site for the Field of Dreams.   I worked for Georgia-Pacific and ended up in Olympia, WA.

In 1985 I took my first bike ride on a rail trail, it was in North East WI, Ahnapee State Trail.  I told my brother about the ride and he mentioned about a new group that was being founded, Rails-to-Trails.  I joined the organization, now I am one of their oldest members.

I moved to Washington State in 1992 and heard about the Foothills Trail and became a member.   I moved to Sumner, WA in 2006 and became involved in the group.

In 2009 I became the Treasurer of the organization, and continue to date.

I have been involved with the Trail activities, R2R, B&O, trail cleanup, purchasing items,  T-shirts, hats, etc.

I love the trail,  my favorite section is South Prairie to Buckley, I like the ride up the hill,  but really enjoy the ride down the hill.

Mark Hamilton

Mark is a lifelong Northwestern living in both Oregon and Washington. He first became interested in the Foothills Trail when brought to a meeting in Orting in 1987 and supports the Trail's completion. He previously volunteered on Adhoc committees for the Pierce County Council dealing with juveniles and a Civil Service Commission. He served on the Bonney Lake City Council from 2004 to 2016.

Robin Partington

Robin and her late husband Don Partington first became involved with the Foothills Trail Coalition in 1987 when they volunteered to help staff the Coalition's booth at the Washington State Fair, accompanied by their then six month old son, Daniel. Dan is now 35 with a six month old daughter of his own who will soon experience the joy of trails from a jogging stroller.

Robin enthusiastically supports and uses urban, rural and wilderness trails. She looks forward to working with the Board to further the Coalition's mission in support of trails and trail users. As a Board member, Robin is excited to help with the capital campaign for the Foothills Trails Doc Tait Pavilion in Buckley, where Dr. Douglas "Doc" Tait founded the Foothills Tails-to-Trails Coalition and where the first mile of the Foothills Trail was completed.

Image coming soon!

John Peranzi

I have been a serious cyclist for over 30 years now, which I took up for health reasons after needing open heart surgery in my late 40s. Cycling has become a huge part of my life: I have bicycled all over the county, and even took part in a ride across the US from LA to Boston in the late 1990s. I have now bicycled over 130,000 miles and strongly believe in the benefits of trails for health, recreation and social connection. I am a business owner in Tacoma and have been in real estate investment since the age of 22. I currently live in Lakewood with my wife of 61 years, Lucy. We have 6 children and 14 grandchildren who join me on various bike rides.

Audrey Pitigliano

I’ve lived in Pierce County all my life from childhood in Steilacoom, to my home in Puyallup since the early 1980’s. My first love and college degree was in Recreation from WSU. I was thrilled when I first heard about the idea to convert the railway and periodically used and supported the trail as it got developed and I have loved every addition. 

I worked in Buckley since the early 1980’s and often used the trail during my lunch break or with clients for recreational pursuits. I retired in 2020 and biking, hiking, and walking on the trails was a life saver during COVID and continues to be in my retirement. 

I am running for a spot on the FTC Board to help support and sustain all the hard work that has already been done, and to advance more safe connections to our trails/parks across Pierce County. I look forward to using my skills to advocate for equal access to recreational opportunities and programs within the trail system, for persons of all ages, genders, ethnicities, socioeconomic status, and physical/cognitive abilities.  

Nicole Martineau

My love for trails began in 2010 when I was introduced to a group called, Friends of the Puyallup Riverwalk while serving on the Puyallup City Council.  The members in the group were so engaging, knowledgeable and hardworking, they spent a lot of time educating me about our local trail system. Overtime my family began to use the trails more and realized what an asset they we’re to the community in which we live.  I stayed active with this group for a number of years, eventually becoming involved with Foothills Rails to Trails Coalition and joining their board, which I continue to serve on today.  

John Selby

I fell in love with trails when I worked on trail crews in the Olympic National Park during my college summers.  As a runner and cyclist I have sought out trails all over the country.  I have hiked nearly all the trails in Mt. Rainier National Park and I think I have run all the trails in Pierce County.  Each quarter I publish an article in the Trail Line News called “How well do you know your Pierce County trails?”  The first person to correctly guess the location of a trail photo wins a year’s membership in the Coalition.  I have a MS in Mechanical Engineering and have worked at the Applied Physics Lab at the U of W, Tunisia’s National Gas and Electric Company while serving in the Peace Corps in the 70’s, and the Weyerhaeuser Company Research and Development for 30 years all over the US.  I joined the Foothills Trail Coalition in the late 90’s at the urging of Ernie Bay, soon became a board member and founded the Rainier to Ruston Rail-Trail Relay in 2003.  It has been a true pleasure to be a part of this organization. 

John Warhol

I have been a Foothills Coalition member for several years now. I have enjoyed the fact that there is a group of people that have a passion of establishing trails that all of us can use.
I have also enjoyed working on maintaining the trails that you can enjoy.

Kim Wells

Kim has lived in Puyallup since 2010 but grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has lived up and down the west coast nearly her entire life. An avid Foothills trail user (she runs on the trail 3+ times a week), Kim enjoys hiking, riding bikes with her husband, running and walking with their adorable golden retriever Kinley, traveling, exploring, and reading. Kim is employed full-time with the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Founders Remembered

The Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 192; Puyallup WA 98371-0021

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