Who We Are
Our Streets Minneapolis is a community supported organization works for a city where biking, walking, and rolling are easy and comfortable for everyone. Every year hundreds of volunteers help make our work possible; doing everything from street monitoring (and sometimes hula hooping) at Open Streets Minneapolis events to leading work groups and group rides.
Have questions or want to learn more about getting involved? Contact one of the staff below!
Ashwat Narayanan, Executive Director
Ash has nine years of experience advocating for cleaner, more inclusive and resilient transportation systems in the Midwest. Before Our Streets Minneapolis, Ash was Director of Transportation Policy at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to building healthy communities through better land use. He developed campaigns that shifted state funding away from auto-centric infrastructure and into walking, biking, and public transit through legislative, legal, and community organizing means. He authored and co-authored numerous reports including The Road to Clean Transportation: A Bold, Broad Strategy to Cut Carbon Emissions and Arrive Together: Transportation Access and Equity in Wisconsin.
Most recently, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers appointed Ash to the State's Transportation Task Force, advising the state on future transportation investment. He served on the City of Madison's Transportation Commission and the City's Transportation Policy and Planning Board. He also chaired the Dane County Climate Council's Transportation and Land Use Working Group. He has a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from SRM University, India, and a Master's degree in Transportation Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Carmela Ortiz Menendez, Event Associate
Carmela joined Our Streets Minneapolis in April 2019 as the Event Associate. As a participant of Open Streets Minneapolis events in the past, she is eager to assist with the process of getting the events rolling.
Through living in different cities, she has seen and interacted with a variety of transportation systems, which have all inspired her passion for walkable, bikeable, and accessible urban transportation.
In her spare time, Carmela loves to go on long walks or rides along the river, swim, dance, and constantly make people around her aware of the ways we transit or not transit the city.
|Photo by Will Elsas|
Cindy Vue, Bicycle Encouragement and Volunteer Coordinator
firstname.lastname@example.org | 651-447-8696
Cindy has a passion in bringing resources about health and wellness to under-served communities. She has over 11 years of experience working with diverse populations doing direct services across the Twin Cities. Cindy’s favorite thing about bicycling is being able to slow her life down and connect with her community and the earth. In her spare time she loves to cook, continue her yoga practice, and teach others about being more conscious about environmental impact.
Cindy is excited to utilize this space and position to bring awareness about not only seeing bicycling used recreationally, but as a part of life and its huge contribution to overall mental health and physical health stability.
|Photo by Rhea Pappas|
Emily Wade, Development & Communications Director
Pronouns: she, her, hers
email@example.com | 612-758-0203
Emily joined Our Streets Minneapolis in December 2017 as the Development and Communications Director. She fell for biking and walking in Minneapolis after learning to ride a bike as an adult in 2012. Since then, Emily's bikes have taken her on many adventures including working as an Events Coordinator at Nice Ride Minnesota, racing at the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, and commuting to and from all corners of Minneapolis. Her favorite thing about biking and walking in the city is seeing friends' faces crossing her path. Emily is excited to work toward a Minneapolis where more and more people feel comfortable experiencing our city by biking, walking, and rolling.
Emily lives with her bikes and two cats in Whittier. When she's not on her bike, Emily enjoys learning more about feminisms and theories of justice and social change.
Karlie Cole, Web, Data and Systems Manager
Pronouns: they, them, theirs / she, her, hers
Karlie joined Our Streets Minneapolis (formerly the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition) in December 2013. She loves using her tech skills to support people to connect in their neighborhoods through Open Streets as well as helping to make our streets better and safer for pedestrians and people on bikes.
She has over 10 years of international, national and local web design, development and training experience. Her B.A. in Sustainable Community Development was one of the first in the nation completed via distance learning through Prescott College.
Her advocacy work on local food and environmental issues continues including building web tools and data visualizations that support awareness and taking action. She makes most of her family's food from scratch and is working with others to eliminate pesticide use in our parks.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 612-758-0722
Board of Directors
For as long as I can remember, I have always found wonder in walking. When I was young, I'd read books about long journeys on foot. In college I'd walk miles to new coffee shops to study in, enjoying the discovery of each new neighborhood. As an adult in New York City, walking was my preferred method of transport. If I had to go anywhere, chances are I would skip the subway for foot, meandering through Manhattan. Back in Minneapolis, I see a city thriving with life and spirit, hindered and crushed by the car-centric street culture. I can't wait to change our city, block by block, until they again become, collectively, Our Streets.
Annie Van Cleve, Secretary
I've been walking and biking to get around for about 10 years now. In 2006, I moved to New Orleans and hiked those incredibly uneven sidewalks and dodged potholes on my super cool Roadmaster (that might have technically been a kid's bike). In 2010, I moved to Washington, DC and discovered the beauty of protected bike lanes and the pain of a car driving over my foot. In 2012, I moved to Minneapolis and saw my first real live bike boxes and started plugging in to biking and pedestrian advocacy. My background is in public health and public policy, and I love how good biking and pedestrian infrastructure and help support vibrant communities. I'm excited to serve on the board and support Our Streets Minneapolis's awesome work. I now ride a bike that fits me.
For the last four years, I have attended the University of Minnesota Duluth, where I received a Bachelor degree in Social Work. For these four years, I have dedicated myself to sustainability by working at the Office of Sustainability, leader of the Sustainability Coalition, and Student Director of Sustainability for our Student Association. As an immigrant to this country and a person of color, I remember some hardships my mother and I had with transportation, equity, and accessibility. These lessons and experiences led my social work learning and sustainable work to focus on empathy and equity. Now, as a college graduate, I realize more than ever life is a classroom. As I work with Our Streets, I hope to bring new perspectives to the table, new connections, but most importantly, learn from those around me in order to make our community better for everyone.
Jay Wells, Treasurer
I first started using a bicycle as transportation as an undergrad at the University of Minnesota almost fifteen years ago. While being on the board at Cycles for Change as Treasurer for five years, I learned to be a full-time, year-round bike commuter. After being car free for several years now, I bike, walk, and use transit every day to get around. I believe that non-automotive transportation methods are more cost-effective, build community by allowing people the opportunity to engage with one another on the street, create an active and healthy lifestyle, and provide environmentally sustainable commuting options. I am the Finance Manager at Wellstone Action, a national nonprofit that works with community leaders, organizers, and elected officials to transform the way we create change in the progressive movement. I have a master's degree in Nonprofit Management, a BA in economics, and a BS in accounting. I am excited to be a part of the Our Streets Minneapolis community, and am honored to help support Our Streets Minneapolis' amazing work in making our city a safe and fun place to bike and walk.
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I'm car-free-for-life. I first made the decision to not get my license as a teen afraid of climate breakdown, angry at racial inequity in housing/transportation, and unwilling to take on the moral responsibility of an object that kills and injures so many people, but I affirm it every time I walk, bike, and take transit (all of which I love). My transportation experiences run from being a car-free caretaker for an elderly loved one to bike commuting in college to walking roughly a dozen marathons around our city to moving furniture and apartments by foot to commuting an hour and a half by bus to spending hours walking even on the coldest days of winter. I love how walking and biking and using wheelchairs and taking transit are all deeply human and connective experiences that build community and foster contentedness. My origin story of being car-free is one of fear, anger, and grief, but the world that it's opened up for me is also one of trust, gratitude, and hope. I serve on the Our Streets Minneapolis' board because I'm excited for the just and sustainable future that we must rapidly create together in the coming months and next few years. My background is in urban and environmental geography and in systems, user-focused, and graphic design.
As a former year round biker (I still bike, just not year round!), walker, and car driver who works with people with disabilities, I believe deeply in creating safe roads and passageways for all forms of transportation. In my work as a director at the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living, I work with individuals whose ability to live their lives independently is directly affected by accessibility of and to roadways, sidewalks, and bike paths and I have become involved in advocating for accessible transportation. I am a passionate advocate for creating spaces that are accessible to all and I am so excited to be able to support an organization that does this work.
Maria Wardoku, President
Pronouns: she, her, hers
I joined the board of Our Streets Minneapolis to grow the power of community members to advocate collectively for the kind of infrastructure that makes our city a safe and easy place to bike and walk (and a more fun place to live!). I especially hope to make our streets safer for women and people who are targets of street harassment and police harassment and violence. As a transportation planner at Alta Planning + Design, I work in communities across the country to transform streets into joyful places of safety and connection that welcome people on foot and on bikes. I am a Longfellow resident and enjoy visiting the Midtown Farmer's Market, Riverview Theater, East Lake Library, and local restaurants and stores by foot and by bike.
As someone who has lived, worked, and studied in vibrant urban communities around the globe, I am excited to join the Board of Our Streets Minneapolis to help realize its vision of such a community here. I moved to Minneapolis in 2005 and began exploring the city by bike with my husband, which we now continue together with our two daughters. I hope to bring my passion for equity and the common good and my background in public affairs and human rights to create a healthier and more equitable place where everyone has access to safe, fun, and practical ways of getting around. I’m a South Uptown resident and spend many happy moments by Bde Maka Ska, Lake Harriet, and in our own small garden.
Olivia St. Martin, Vice President
While growing up in Minneapolis, I got around primarily on foot and by transit. As an adult, I have discovered the joy and freedom of traveling by bike. I believe that moving through Minneapolis in these ways helped me develop a connection and intimacy with the city that wouldn't have been possible in a car. I am passionate about making life here better for all citizens and am excited to work for changes that empower and enrich our communities, as well as protect our environment. I hope to use my background in child development and education to connect with children and their families to create a future full of passionate bikers, walkers, and rollers!
Scott Engel, Pedestrian Work Group Lead
I've been a year-round cyclist, transit user, and long-distance pedestrian for a dozen years now, and don't miss driving one bit. It can be tough addressing the 'windshield perspective' ("But how do you get to work/the grocery store/anything outside your home without a car?"), but in my experience, having great pedestrian/adaptive technology, transit, and bicycle infrastructure can serve the needs of so many more people than the car system can. I want to do what I can to make that happen, because everyone, no matter their mode of transportation, deserves to be safe and confident going about their daily lives. You can also find me hanging out at Cycles for Change, where I volunteer my time helping others learn to maintain their bicycles at Grease Rag FTW.
The Board meets on the first Tuesday of every other month at 6:00pm. If you are interested in more information about the Board, contact us at email@example.com.