party 5 tralblazers boardOfficers

Jennifer Vestal – President

Jennifer visited her grandparents in Fairhope for almost 30 years before succumbing to its southern charm and settling here with husband, Jason. More than 10 years, two beautiful children and a mischievous beagle later, they’re happy with their little spot on the Eastern Shore. A graduate of University of Central Florida, she owns a photography business specializing in college football, marathons and triathlons, but spends much time homeschooling her children. Before starting a family, she and Jason traveled the globe photographing races and college teams. Their extensive travels make them grateful for their community and determined to make it even better.

Casey Rodden – Treasurer

Casey grew up in Mobile, but college and life took him to a suburb of Memphis. After 11 years away, he, his wife and three kids relocated to the Eastern Shore and now call Fairhope home.  Casey walks his kids to school each morning with the Walking School Bus.  At his job in Point Clear, he has a view of a busy portion of the Eastern Shore Trail.  You may find him strolling the Trail while on conference calls. He is inspired by the walkers, runners and cyclists, and wants to ensure pedestrian access to safe trails and roads remains a priority for Baldwin County.  He brings 10 years of financial expertise to his role as Treasurer.

Jeremy Portillo – Secretary

Jeremy is a licensed architect at Watershed, a green building consulting and design firm in Fairhope. A graduate of Florida A&M, Jeremy is an accredited LEED professional, passionate about designing healthy, sustainable buildings. He earned certification as a Fitwel ambassador, the first in Alabama, demonstrating an expertise in healthy workplace design. His hobbies include gardening, tinkering with cars, goofing off at the piano with two young daughters, and designing tiny houses with his wife, Dana, an interior designer. He volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and Prodisee Food Pantry. Jeremy and his family live in Fairhope.

Board Members

Charlene Lee – Director, Walking School Bus

Charlene’s passion for giving children an option to walk to school was ignited by the Trailblazers’ International Walk to School Day. Under her leadership, the partnership with Fairhope Elementary School expanded to become Alabama’s first daily Walking School Bus. For her efforts, the City of Fairhope named her Volunteer of the Year in 2017. She is a graduate of Auburn University, a former high school PE teacher and gymnastics coach, and directed adventure therapy programs in adolescent psychiatry/ alternative juvenile justice settings. She championed building the original Fairhopers Community Park. Her hobbies include walking, cycling, hiking, reading and kayaking.

Nancy Johnson

After retiring as public affairs director of the Mobile County Commission, Nancy chose to move to Fairhope, knowing she could park the car and rely on her bike to live fully and locally. She joined the Trailblazers board, hoping to contribute to preserving and enhancing the trail system. She was community relations coordinator for the Mobile Police Department, and a staff writer for newspapers in Milwaukee, Denver and  Colorado Springs.

Ken Niemeyer

Ken is a Fairhope native who attended Organic and Public schools. He retired from Regions Bank in the trust and estate administrative area. An environmental activist, Ken is involved in several charitable trusts. He is a Big Brother and supports various programs to aid and advance public education. His primary interest in the Trailblazers is promoting safety education for runners, walkers and bikers who actively use our trails, and programs that encourage walking and litter control. Ken is involved in historic preservation and was active in tree planting and billboard removal programs along the Eastern Shore.  He is a graduate of University of Virginia and University of Alabama School of Law.

Josh Warren

Josh volunteers every weekday morning to stop traffic on two busy streets, allowing the parade of children in the Walking School Bus to cross safely. He and his wife have one son who attends Fairhope Elementary. After several years of service as a parent-volunteer, Josh joined the Trailblazers because he shares the group’s vision for the future of the community. An alumnus of Troy University and University of Alabama, Josh works in pharmaceutical sales. Previously, he used his skills as a certified athletic trainer to help the athletes on Fairhope High School teams for five years.

Chris Riley

Chris is the co-chair of the Fairhope, Pedestrian & Biking Committee. He is an avid photographer, hunter and fisherman. Chris can usually be found by the Bay with his Service Dog, Tonya, photographing the sunset. A graduate of Western Kentucky University and retiree of The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Chris brings a wealth of knowledge in Social Media and ADA requirements to the organization.

Christopher Grant

Christopher is a professional Landscape Architect with years of experience as lead designer or project manager on planning, design, and environmental projects throughout the Gulf Coast. His passion for creating safe and accessible recreational opportunities for everyone inspired him to join the Baldwin County Trailblazers Board. Christopher lives in Fairhope with his wife, Ginny, and four daughters who frequent the Eastern Shore Trail and Walking School Bus.

Michelle Melton

Michelle hails from Auburn/Opelika area and lived in several states before settling in Fairhope with her Jack Russell Terrier, Lodi. Her personal and professional passion is the great outdoors. She and Lodi enjoy hiking, kayaking and sailing. For the Trust for Public Land in Chattanooga, she negotiated real estate transactions that make up the Tennessee Riverwalk and other state and national parks. She collaborated with The Nature Conservancy, Rails-to-Trails and other land trusts creating greenways and blueways, and adding acreage to existing green and open spaces. In her current job for the City of Mobile, she acquires property for RESTORE Act projects that add recreational/ open space in Mobile County. She has degrees in Political Science and Law with natural resources and land use emphasis from University of Denver.

Cindy Wilson

Cindy  is Director of the University of South Alabama Baldwin County and Chair of Leadership Baldwin County. A resident of Fairhope for over 25 years, she is now helping the next generation of her family enjoy the beautiful environment of Baldwin County. She and her sons and their families enjoy the coastal aspects of the county, as well as walking, biking and the outdoors. She earned degrees at Millsaps College, Texas A&M and University of Alabama.

Dione Heusel

Dione has 25 years of professional experience in Human Resources for large corporations. She holds a BA degree from University of South Alabama, and lives in Fairhope.

Jane Hill – Administrator

Originally from the DC area, Jane has advocacy in her DNA. Within her own neighborhoods she successfully lobbied for park improvements, new sidewalks and improved transit.  Among her many professional roles, she was a transportation engineer and grants project manager. She holds degrees in engineering and journalism.

 Past Presidents

1996
Jim Gambill

1997
Stanley Anderson

1998
Ben Meisler

1999-2001
Rufus Bethea

2002-2003
Julie Bagwell

2004
Rebecca Byrne

2005
Richard Horne

2006-2008
Terry Redfearn

2009-2010
Walter Ernest

2011-2013
Mike Henriksen

2013 – 2014
Valery Wiseman DeLaney Smith

2015 – 2018
Molly M. Peterson

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