Jerry Pomije – Chairman
Year of birth: 1965
City/State of Residence: Prior Lake, MN
City/State of Birth: Faribault, MN
Day Job: President – Q Enterprises, Executive Vice President – Quality Bicycle Products, Inc.
Jerry has a passion for coaching and mentoring kids and getting them excited and engaged in activities that they can learn and grow from. He has been actively involved in coaching and supporting youth activities including baseball, football, basketball and outdoor environmental retreats. He is now thrilled to be a part of building the NICA High School Mountain Bike League.
As a Senior Executive for Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) since 1997, Jerry helped QBP rapidly grow into one of the most successful and respected companies in the bike industry. He is excited to share his skills in vision, strategy, execution, finance and operations to help NICA grow.
With many mainstream high school sports limited to a select few athletes, Jerry’s vision for NICA is to see it grow into a new inclusive mainstream nationwide high school sport. NICA brings a great opportunity to engage kids in a healthy life long sport and lifestyle.
The early great success of the NICA League has created a rapidly expanding demand for new leagues. Jerry expects to use his skills to help NICA meet that demand and grow to its full potential.
Susan Helm-Murtagh – Vice-Chair
Year of birth: 1964
City/State of Residence: Chapel Hill, NC
City/State of Birth: Danville, KY
Day Job: Adjunct Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Gillings School of Global Public Health)
Susan Helm-Murtagh is the president of NICA’s North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League and previously served as vice president at Mosaic Health Solutions (a division of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina), where she was responsible for building and managing — through acquisition, investment and development — a portfolio of health solutions products and services centered on information technology, analytics and consumer engagement.
Susan earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and management science from Duke University and her Master’s degree in management (with distinction) in marketing and finance, from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Finally, she holds a doctoral degree in public health from Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Susan is on the Board of Visitors for the Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the boards for Girls on the Run of the Triangle and Triangle Bikeworks, and is President and Board Chair for the TriCyclists Bicycle Racing Club in Chapel Hill. She is also a competitive cyclist and multi-sport athlete; she has been competing in road, mountain, cyclo-cross, and multi-sport events at the regional, national and world level since 1995.
Thomas Zirbes – Treasurer
Year of birth: 1960
City/State of Residence: Los Altos, CA
City/State of Birth: Clinton, IA
Day Job: Financial consultant
Tom started his career in 1980 and has been with North Star Resource Group since 1987. As Regional Vice President of the St. Paul Division he maintains a national practice with clients in multiple states with help from his practice management team. He is one of the founding members of North Star Law Division specializing in the complex and ever changing needs of Attorneys, CPA’s, Trustees and the families they represent. He is also a member of North Star’s Medical Division specializing in the needs of physicians and medical professionals. The North Star Law and Medical Divisions bring together experienced financial advisors who collaborate with members of the legal and medical fields every day, devoting their time and expertise to find customized solutions to the obstacles faced by these professionals.
In addition, Tom is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table, The Premier Association of Financial Professionals©. He was also named as one of the top advisers for Dentist’s in 2015 (Dental products report magazine). To meet the need for financial guidance from the professionals in this industry, Tom co-authored the book Real Life Financial Planning with Case Studies with North Star Senior Partner, Todd Bramson in 2009.
Tom takes an all-encompassing approach to planning which involves every aspect of your financial life, and more. It is based on the premise that one can’t get the most value out of their money without first knowing what purpose(s) their money serves. Armed with clarity of the client’s purpose, intentions, values, and goals, Tom coordinates the advisor team’s efforts to develop a single, comprehensive strategic plan. That plan correlates the unique passions and purpose of the client’s life and financial resources with retirement, investment, and estate planning strategies entwined with tax and asset protection solutions. Aligning privately-held business goals with personal goals helps to create higher potential to design a successful succession plan, develop an optimum transition team, and realize retirement goals sooner. Tom splits his time between Minnesota and California where he is active in both communities serving on both charitable boards and foundations.
Year of birth: 1972
City/State of Residence: Carson City, NV
City/State of Birth: Honolulu, HI
Day Job: Brand manager, SIDI America
Now the US brand manager for SIDI America, Sara Ecclesine has had a 17-year career in the cycling industry that includes working for a global manufacturer, distributor, subsidiary, and at retail as a buyer and fit specialist. While at Specialized she was central to the development of the women’s bicycle line. A persistent focus of hers has been to make cycling more accessible to more people.
She raced for 10 years on the road, mountain bike, cyclo-cross, and track. Additionally, Sara has taught beginning mountain biking, run weekly women’s rides, taught bike maintenance classes, participated in and organized trail work days, and promoted a mountain bike race. She is currently involved in trail running and ran her first ultra in July of 2009.
Sara has some key objectives in her ideas for NICA’s future. “I want to see NICA bring more girls into the sport, and I want NICA to give kids that are typically under-served by high school athletics (whether it’s scrawny climbers or beefy descenders) a place where they can benefit from the physical and emotional development of team sports,” she says. A former participant in the National Collegiate Cycling Association, Sara also sees some potential parallels for NICA at the high school level.
“Kids who learn mountain biking in high school grow up to ride centuries or do 24 hour races or commute by bike. NICA can start them on that journey.”
Year of birth: 1976
City/State of Residence: San Anselmo, CA
City/State of Birth: Eugene, OR
Day Job: Director of Sales, Clif Bar and Company
As a 16+ year veteran of Clif, Eric, has played many different roles. Starting out co-managing their sponsored athlete program, he currently heads up their sales efforts in the Specialty Retail and Foodservice segments, which includes the traditional bike/run/snow shops as well as breaking new ground in airport stores, healthcare, corporate campuses, colleges, and other non-traditional outlets.
This experience with breaking new ground is something that Eric believes he can bring to NICA, which in June 2010 did not have a template for operating at the national level.
Back in 1999, Eric worked in marketing for Clif Bar and sponsored the Berkeley High team, which Matt Fritzinger used as the model to create the NorCal League. “We’ve stayed in as a sponsor ever since. To see what it’s grown into and what Matt’s been able to do with it, it’s phenomenal. I have an emotional attachment,” he says.
Eric’s vision for NICA is an organized network of competitive high school cycling teams, coast to coast, with recognition and support by school districts, that results in fostering a supportive and positive environment for both the student-athletes and their families. “There’s a great empowerment in getting kids on bikes. Lots of people have no access to outdoors and nature – just to be that connection would be huge.” And while he acknowledges the need for a structure, he sees sufficient flexibility within that to encourage regional differences. “We’re 50 states, not one big state. There are going to be different dialects, accents and flavors.”
In Eric’s view, early priorities for NICA will be creating a structure that will accommodate the growth of demand. “We’re figuring things out, but new things will come up. We need to get a good structure in place.”
Dan Brooks is the co-founder of the Georgia Interscholastic Cycling League and a businessman in Atlanta. In addition to overseeing a diversified portfolio of investments for his family, Mr. Brooks serves on the board of directors of Cell Constructs, a biomaterials company focused on regenerative medicine; New Constructs, a financial technology company; RPS Environmental Solutions and Grain & Barrel, LLC.
Mr. Brooks began his career as an attorney for King & Spalding in Atlanta, Georgia, in their corporate division supporting clients such as The Coca-Cola Company, Sprint, Kimberly-Clark and Georgia Pacific. He then transitioned to general counsel of American Tower International, a subsidiary of American Tower Corporation (NYSE: AMT), where he helped develop businesses in South and Central America, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Africa and India. Since leaving American Tower, Mr. Brooks has served as Chief Executive Officer of Cold Smoke Capital, LLC, and The Family Office, LLC.
Dan earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, summa cum laude, from The University of the South at Sewanee (with highest honors), and his Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University. Mr. Brooks lives in Atlanta with his wife, Lisa, and three sons, Sam, Marley and Cash.
City/State of Residence: Hayward, WI
City/State of Birth: River Falls, WI
Day Job: Risk Manager within Marsh & McLennan’s Bicycle Industry Vertical
Scott has a passion for several aspects of the bicycle industry, whether it is helping bicycle retailers and manufacturers with their risk management needs to bicycle advocacy. Specifically, he enjoys mountain bike/trail advocacy assisting his local IMBA Chapter with fundraising and coordination of their new Fat Bike Trail System. He also has served on the Board of Directors of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, the 4th largest nordic race in the world (14,000 participants). He started the Fat Bike Birkie, which is now the worlds largest fat bike event.
Scott has been in the commercial insurance industry for over 20 years. He started a national Bike Shop Insurance Program in 2009) which is designed to protect bicycle retailers from risks that are normally excluded from traditional insurance policies. This program is endorsed by NBDA, QBP and Velofix. He also has a lot of experience writing coverage for IMBA Clubs/Chapters as well as events/races.
Scott has spoken dozens of times in multiple states on the Economic Impact of Trails/Mountain Biking. He has helped co-author a couple economic impact studies. The most important study, The Economic Impact of Silent Sports Enthusiasts was co-authored with the help of the University of Wisconsin. The goal of this study was to annualize the regional economic impacts on an annualized basis for anyone who has participated in a local event.
He feels that NICA is opening a lot of doors for youth to participate in a lifelong sport. Growing the number of NICA’s teams is the ultimate form of grassroots advocacy. A question he asks himself is “what if I never was introduced to mountain biking?……the quality of my life would be greatly diminished”. He wants to introduce as many kids to the sport he loves so much
Year of birth: 1965
City/State of Residence: Savage, MN
City/State of Birth: San Francisco, CA
When Libby Shea Hurley joined the Erik’s Bike Shop crew in 2004, biking became more than just a hobby for her. When she started at Erik’s, there were six stores in the Twin Cities and upon her departure after 12 years as the Marketing Manager, there were 18 locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. She was instrumental in leading the interactive marketing design and development for the corporate and e-commerce site. In addition, she managed Erik’s sponsorship support for over 40 charities, foundations and community organizations.
Libby Shea Hurley was also a Founding Leader of the MN League. From the start in 2012 until 2015, she developed and executed the marketing, advertising and PR for the MN League. To date, this has been one of the most satisfying and exciting roles in her career.
Currently, Libby Shea Hurley is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Chandler, Inc., a custom fixture design and build company for leading retailers such as Under Armour, Sony and Target. She focuses her energies on the development and cultivation of new sales opportunities through marketing initiatives and sales prospecting.
Libby is dedicated to ensuring that kids and teens have multiple choices available when it comes to sports or activities. Besides cycling, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, backpacking, cycling, gardening, and seeking new trails.
Year of birth: 1968
City/State of Residence: Albany, CA
City/State of Birth: Rochester, NY
Pam is a serial entrepreneur and experienced CxO. Her specialty is working with technology start-ups to create disruptive market categories, define go-to-market strategies that establish category leadership, and implement operational processes that allow companies to effectively scale to successful exits. She embraces the challenge, complexity, hard work and team building required to navigate companies through growth transitions to successful outcomes. Most recently Ms. Kostka served as CEO of Bluebox Security, where she led the company to its successful acquisition by Lookout. Prior to Bluebox, Kostka served as interim CEO and Chief Marketing Officer at VirtuOz, SVP, Marketing and Sales for Sabrix, and CEO and Co-founder of Visiline, Inc. She has also held executive and senior marketing roles at enterprise and mid-market software companies, such as Arena Solutions, Connect and Extensity.
Pam is a passionate advocate of NICA’s youth development through adventure sports that fosters a life-long passion to push beyond comfort zones to build confidence and explore the possible, while discovering the hidden adventure of the great outdoors with friends.
Pam earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics, summa cum laude, from College of the Holy Cross, and her MBA from Harvard Business School. A lifelong cyclist, runner, and outdoor adventure seeker, Pam was introduced to mountain biking in her 20s and continues to explore Bay Area trails with her husband, Yuri, and daughter, Rae.
Mel Walker, CPA
Year of birth: 1979
City/State of Residence: Portland, OR
City/State of Birth: Remer, MN
Mel discovered cycling as a sport in 2005 and raced with Team Oakland for many years primarily in road and cyclocross, but also enjoyed mountain biking on the array of trails around the Bay Area. She also led Team Oakland’s women’s no-drop ride every Saturday for 2 years, encouraging women (and men) to discover new geographical areas, gain independence and skills to improve their riding as well as their confidence both on and off the bike. Her passion for biking, teaching, and empowering people are part of her motivation to join the NICA board.
During her time working at GU Energy Labs in Berkeley, CA, Mel acquired her CPA license through the California Board of Accountancy. She has worked primarily in the food manufacturing industry, but has enjoyed working in the leasing and outdoor industries as well. Her business experience includes creating budgets, forecasts and other analytical models, managing audits ranging from local to federal in nature, implementing new processes and systems to improve reporting and efficiency, and developing her staff. From 2011 through 2013 she was a treasurer and board member for Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO), a pedestrian and cycling advocacy group.
Mel earned her Certificate in Accounting from UC Berkeley and her Bachelor of Arts degree in international business, double majoring in Spanish and minoring in Japanese from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. Through the post-secondary enrollment option, she also graduated with her Associate in Arts degree, summa cum laude from Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, MN. She is a lifelong enthusiast of outdoor sports, learning and growth through body, mind and spirit.
City/State of Residence: Blue Ridge, GA
City/State of Birth: Decatur, GA
Day Job: League Director Georgia Interscholastic Cycling League
Kenny Griffin started his lifelong affair with cycling as a junior racer, competing in races when he was just 9 years old. He continued to ride and race for years until he forged his mountain biking passion into a career.
In 2009, Kenny and his wife founded Chain Buster Productions, an event production company offering a variety of race events and series exclusively for mountain bikers and endurance athletes. Under Kenny’s leadership, Chain Buster became an industry leading event production and timing solutions company appealing to a wide range of racers and participants.
Prior to Chain Buster Productions, Kenny proved himself to be an excellent businessman, developing and managing operations for multiple companies, growing them into successful multi-state operations. Kenny is excited to bring his business development and operations management skills to NICA. He brings a unique perspective to the NICA team as an experienced student-rider, racer, and event promoter. He understands all the components required to build a successful event and deliver the experience to fulfill the vision of NICA’s 5 core principles.
In 2013, Kenny was instrumental in helping co-launch the Georgia Interscholastic Cycling League. He has helped grow the league to over 43 teams and an expected 700 registered student athletes in 2017. Kenny’s passion for cycling is unwavering and he wants to instill the same love for cycling he grew up with in today’s youth. “Our youth deserve the opportunity to learn about and participate in our programs. I look forward to representing all Leagues on the board and collaborating together to become one voice.”
When he’s not running an event, or riding a bike, he can be found paddle boarding or lounging around a lake with his wife Nicole, son Lanier, and daughter Olivia.