Austin McInerny, President
After witnessing the power of organized mountain biking to help teenagers learn life-long lessons during his seven years of coaching the Berkeley High School Mountain Bike Team, Austin decided to put his career in natural resource management and public policy mediation on hold to become the president of NICA in late 2012. Since then, he has helped grow NICA into the largest youth cycling program in the United States. Austin is a strong believer in the power of cycling to transform individuals and communities and loves to tour and ride all types of bikes with his wife and friends. Austin received a Community Leadership Award from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and was named by BICYCLING Magazine as one of 21 “New Heroes of Cycling” in 2016.
Lauren Duensing, VP Programs
Lauren Duensing is passionate about NICA. She manages the program staff in the NICA headquarters, and works closely with League Directors to support NICA programs in 19 Leagues (and growing) across the United States. Lauren is committed to raising the bar of excellence that NICA programs provide for League Directors, Coaches, Student-athletes and parents. She understands the expanding reach of the youth mountain biking movement in the United States and the strategic role NICA continues to play. She comes to NICA as a parent impacted by the NICA story. An avid trail runner and reluctant biker, it was her two children who participated in the NorCal League and taught her to mountain bike. How fun is that? She went on to become an enthusiastic mountain biker, road rider and tri-athlete – all because of the impact of NICA.
Melissa Davies, Adventure Coordinator
Melissa is a strong believer in adventure education and it’s power of positive transformation. Her journey began as a director of an outdoor experiential program taking eighth grade students from her hometown Marshall, MI camping, hiking, and exploring in Alaska. She went on to get her B.S. in Biology and Outdoor Education with a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate from Central Michigan University. Combining all her interests, she found work as a high school biology teacher and adventure educator in Seattle WA, where she was also a successful cross country and track coach. During her time in Seattle she worked throughout the summer months as an outdoor instructor for a women run non-profit dedicated to the positive development of girls.
In addition to her role with NICA, Melissa is also the Assistant Director of the PA League. Where she works to get #morekidsonbikes.
To fuel her soul Melissa enjoys mountain biking, trail running, triathlons, adventure racing, hiking, rock climbing, and road riding…as her husband says, “she’s a fun hawg”. She currently rolls with her husband Josh in Cenn Penn, and spends as much time as possible adventuring with her two children Miles and Althea.
Chris Spencer, Director, Risk Management & Training
Chris is a proud NorCal League Alumni. As a high school Freshman he experienced the adventure of mountain biking as a mechanic then racer on San Francisco’s Roaring Mouse Cycles Team. After some early racing successes, he started working with the Whole Athlete on a performance training program that helped him achieve some NORBA national podiums. While studying at UC Santa Cruz, he coached for a local team and volunteered for league events. Since 2009, he has worked for the NorCal League and then the NICA national office. Chris has had many roles at NICA with his primary contributions being the development and refinement of the risk management and training programs. The focus of his post-high school education has been economics, project management, counseling, program development, and risk management. Chris brings a wide range of experience including work as a bike mechanic, deckhand-engineer on tug boats, aviation and maritime insurance adjustor, comedian, residential advisor, outside salesman, and marketing representative. Chris enjoys many outdoor sports and is STOKED to be a coach on the Berkeley High School Cycling Team.
Amanda Carey, Coach Licensing Manager – Coach & Team Development
Amanda lives with her husband, Nate, in Victor, Idaho where they love to mountain bike, ski, and adventure out in the mountains. Amanda discovered the power of #morekidsonbikes when she started her local Teton Region Composite team with 7 riders in 2015. 3 years, 60 riders and 20 coaches later, Amanda comes to NICA as a team director/head coach and with a deep passion and commitment to coaching and making mountain biking accessible to riders of all ages and abilities.
Amanda has a B.A. in Political Science from Colorado College and a M.S. in Sports Psychology from Capella University. She is an Idaho Coach Supporter, an IMBA Level 2 skills instructor and runs her own mountain bike coaching business in Teton Valley. Amanda was also a successful, professional ultra-endurance mountain bike and cyclocross racer, racing as a full-time pro from 2008-2014. She has many years of non-profit and bicycle advocacy experience, most recently as the Executive Director of Mountain Bike the Tetons, an IMBA chapter serving the Teton region. She is currently the mountain bike representative on the Teton County Wyoming Public Lands Committee, working to solve local land management issues in Wilderness Study Areas.
Michael Eastwood, Coach Licensing Senior Manager
Michael Eastwood (Charlotte, NC) started mountain biking as a high school student with his school’s mountain bike club. Unfortunately, cycling didn’t stick the first time around, and it wasn’t until 2008 that Michael returned to the sport. Working as a high school counselor and coach of the freshmen girls basketball team at the time, Michael began entering XC races around New England. Quickly the joys of mountain biking came flooding back as he realized how impactful mountain biking can be on a personal, physical, and mental level. He wanted to see interscholastic cycling become a reality not only at his school, but in his state. That passion lead Michael to become a founding board member working with a group of dedicated leaders to bring NICA to North Carolina
Michael continues to support the North Carolina League as a Board Member, the Coaching and Team Development Director (Coach Supporter), a Core Race Staff member and at the team level, as a coach of the Lake Norman Charter Knights mountain bike team.
Michael brings this valued experience with the North Carolina League to his new position at NICA. Additionally, Michael’s experience includes his recent management role as Department Chair at his school, and past experience in program management, implementation, restructuring and execution.
Off the bike, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife Annie and their three dogs: Scout, Tater, and Maizey. When off his bike for too long, his loving wife tells him to go ride his bike.
Bonnie Kabel, Program Coordinator
Growing up Bonnie used her bike for transportation and enjoyment. While in college she rode two months through Europe with friends. It wasn’t until her daughter joined the newly formed SRV Mtb Club at her high school that she was introduced to mountain biking. Bonnie started as team sweep and over ten years later is still an active coach. She joined NICA as the Program Coordinator and enjoys being able to help with NICA’s mission. Knowing the positive impact mountain biking had on her daughter, Bonnie continually wants other families to have that same experience.
Ben Tufford, NICA Coach Licensing Manager: Skills Curriculum Development & Standards
Ben Tufford became passionate about riding in his teens and went on to compete in cross-country MTB, road, cyclocross, enduro, and downhill. He later formed his own business, Cognition Coaching, in 2011 to provide training and skills programs to cyclists in the New Jersey area. He completed all three levels of the IMBA Instructor Certification Program and is now one of the highly respected ICP Instructor Trainers who travel the country teaching the Instructor Certification Program courses. As a cycling ambassador and parent of teenagers, the enthusiastic stories of riding success and adventure reignite his passion to keep exploring life by bicycle.
Before joining the NICA staff, Ben was a consultant for the NICA national program for two years, providing insight and training at two NICA National Conferences and clinics in numerous leagues. He is currently one of the Coach Supporters in the New Jersey League and the Head Coach of the Princeton Progressions middle-school and high-school team.
Ben draws from his earlier career experience in the engineering consulting field where he was a software administrator with duties to establish productivity standards, quality control, and staff training. Now, at NICA, Ben is a great fit to collect input from coaches around the country and establish best practices for teaching student-athletes. Preaching along the way that improved riding skill leads to greater confidence and fun on the bike.
Phil Waidner, Program Manager Camps and Teen Trail Corps
Phil Waidner’s mountain bike love started early growing up in Indiana but blossomed into an obsession during his college years in Asheville, NC. Considering his mountain bike roots to always be Pisgah, Phil has traveled the world seeking out adventures on the bike. Combining his experience as a BICP Instructor Trainer, AMGA climbing instructor and PSIA ski instructor, Phil has developed a wide variety of co-ed youth programs blending traditional outdoor education philosophies with action sports.
Merging his interests in outdoor education and mountain biking, Phil developed MTB programs for a variety of summer camps and outdoor education programs across the country. He then spent time guiding and instructing in China, Bolivia and Colorado before landing in WV. Here he developed mountain bike, BMX, skateboard, and ATV programs at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, a large national facility for the Boy Scouts of America.
When he’s not mountain biking, he can often be found exploring on his dirt bike, rock climbing, hiking, or just relaxing in the nearest swimming hole.
Jerel Wilson, Training Manager
Jerel grew up down the street from a local bike shop in the suburbs of Chicago. She spent as much time there as the owner would allow before kicking her out. After college, Jerel did some Ironmans and fell in love with competitive cycling, quickly switching over to road and cyclocross. She enjoys both the physical and mental challenge of bike racing and is convinced her life is richer because of her experiences as a cyclist and the friendships she has gained (both teammates and competitors). Jerel is passionate about introducing cycling to youth and loves to see kids get their parents hooked on cycling. Riding bikes recreationally is a favorite family activity in her household. Jerel joins NICA with a background in social work and education and holds master’s degrees in both social work and educational leadership. She has spent the majority of her career in public education advocating for alternatives to expulsion for gang involved students and students with disabilities.
Finance and Administration
Lauren Haughey, VP Finance & Administration
Lauren began her stint at NICA before it actually existed – as part of the NorCal Mountain Bike league staff – and transitioned to Finance Director while helping to launch the National organization in 2009. Prior to joining NICA, Lauren spent 20+ years working in the corporate world – shifting paradigms, thinking outside the box and taking it to the next level, while running it all up the flagpole – only to suffer a midlife crises, resulting in a lifestyle shift towards nonprofit work. When not at work, Lauren spends time volunteering as Board Treasurer for two advocacy organizations – the BTCEB trails council, and the East Bay Bike coalition. She also rides her mountain bike for fun, commutes to work by bike, enjoys trail running, is pursuing an MBA, and guides her two teenaged kids while their pre-frontal lobe development continues to progress.
Julia Lawrence, Registration & Administration Manager
Julia is an outdoor enthusiast and all-around “fun-seeking” mountain biker who came to the NICA team as a current parent and Assistant Coach of San Ramon Valley High School. A stay at home mom for the past 20 years, Julia fills her days with volunteering at the local schools and exploring Las Trampas and Mt Diablo on her mountain bike. She has seen what a positive impact high school mountain biking has had on her own children as well as the students in her community. “Our team emphasizes life skills, and while we love to compete, at the end of the day it is more about our experiences on the bike with our teammates, learning a life-long sport.”
Sara Marks, Accounting
Sara recently returned to work, after a 15-year hiatus, where she was a stay-at-home mom, volunteer with several non-profit organizations, coach of youth soccer teams, and heavily involved in local schools. She received a B.S. in Business Administration, Accounting Concentration, from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Sara grew up riding bikes, was a member of the Cal Poly SLO Wheelmen, and one of her favorite activities is exploring the hills, either on foot or by bike. She played college soccer and in the W-League and WPSL semi-pro soccer leagues for the San Diego Autotrader and Albuquerque Crush. Sara’s husband Derek is an avid cyclist who is an Exercise Physiologist, Nutritionist, and Director of the Human Performance Lab at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. She and her family recently returned from living abroad, in Australia, for two years. They now call Australia their second home and loved every minute there. Sara is passionate about animals, gardening, the beach, and being out in nature. She is very, very excited and proud to be part of the NICA team!
Nargis Solis, Systems Management
Two time Ironman finisher and long time triathlete, Nargis Solis started her athletic endeavors in high school as a runner and then continued into rowing. Never having considered herself as a swimmer, Nargis was encouraged by a friend (also not a swimmer) to register for her first olympic distance triathlon. She learned to swim and completed her first triathlon in 2001; the start of a longtime passion with the sport. Her last athletic achievement was The Tour of the California Alps (aka Death Ride). Having recently coached a small team of charity runners for the 2014 and 2015 Boston Marathons while simultaneously keeping up with her 3-year old daughter, Nargis is passionate about getting kids outside running and cycling. Nargis has a BA in Applied Mathematics from UC Berkeley.
Sarah Thomson, Registration Coordinator
Sarah is a Bay Area native, growing up in Menlo Park and attending UC Santa Cruz where she earned a degree in Marine Biology. She has been a competitive fencer for over 15 years and has worked with fencing clubs and and leagues for over 10 years. Sarah is excited to join NICA and bring her extensive experience with fencing tournaments and registration to her new role here. In her spare time she likes to read, in particular murder mysteries.
Kim Wik, Office Manager & Accounting
Kim has always liked riding bikes but about 8 years ago a chronic running injury got her back on the bike full time. She started riding with a local group to improve on her riding and within a year she started racing in the Northern California/Nevada Cycling Association. Now after 7 years of racing she is still going strong. She is the reigning California State TT Masters 45-49 Champion for the last 5 yrs and has competed in Masters Nationals the last 4 yrs. Kim has found her dream job at NICA. When she isn’t working or riding she likes to spend time baking for the NICA staff (keeping them happy is important) and spending time with family/friends. Life is good and she is enjoying her ride to the fullest!
Kristine Urrutia, VP of Development & Strategic Partnerships
As a long-time runner and roadie, mountain biking was not on Kristine’s bucket list- until her children decided it was on theirs! In years past when her then small children would ride mountain bikes, she would trail run behind them. In 2015 her husband and three children decided to give her a mountain bike for Mother’s Day. Kristine found both a new freedom and community that came along with mountain biking. In 2016 she took her new passion to the next level and joined the Management Team of NICA’s emergent North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League.
Kristine has nearly 20 years of leadership experience in global, community and foundation development with a particular interest in social entrepreneurship. She profoundly believes that issues of the environment are inextricably linked with matters of social justice. Joining the NICA team gives her the opportunity to merge her passions for biking and getting youth outside and into nature. At the heart of all Kristine’s efforts is a relentless drive to lead, seek, design, or create ways for people to collaborate with purpose. Kristine has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Political Science from Bowling Green State University and is a Certified Teacher Naturalist.
Jorge Montoya, Senior Design Manager
In his youth, Jorge was a recreational mountain biker who was just as familiar with the pavement as the wind, as he barreled through the bike paths of the Bay Area Peninsula. After a long hiatus, he has been inspired by the NICA crew to pick up biking again, and now enjoys the trails and roads around the East Bay. After working in corporate, start-ups, and now the non-profit world, Jorge has years of experience in marketing, information technology as well as graphic, web and UX design. Jorge has a B.S. in Business Administration from San Jose State University, an M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University and a Graphic Design certificate from UC Berkeley Extension.
Eric Breit, Grants Manager
Eric discovered mountain biking with his daughters when their school, Central Park School for Children, joined NICA’s North Carolina league in 2016. He loved helping coach the team and saw first hand the impact that participation had on the lives of the student athletes. He is now helping to form a new composite team to provide access to the sport for more kids in Durham. Eric has many years of experience in community development, working in management and fundraising positions at nonprofit organizations large and small, and he looks forward to that experience helping to continue to expand NICA’s reach and impact. When not working, Eric enjoys going on long-distance bike rides with his daughters, playing pick-up soccer, and volunteering with a local financial empowerment and affordable housing advocacy organization. Eric has his Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Emily McDonald, Communications & Marketing Manager
Emily grew up hiking and exploring the outdoors with her family and was introduced to mountain biking by her older brother in 2003. She was an endurance mountain bike and adventure racer for several years on the east coast before moving to California in early 2014 with her husband Mike. Shortly after, Emily first became involved with NICA when she was recruited to help coach the Berkeley High School Mountain Bike Team and grow their Young Women’s Program. She is passionate about youth development through mountain biking and encouraging environmental stewardship.
Emily has a background in communications, marketing and program management and has worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. She has a M.S. in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of South Carolina.
Nic Sims, Development Manager
After being introduced to cycling by my father the fun and games began and the rest is history. I raced mountain bikes and wrenched for several road and mountain bike teams. In 1998 we moved to the US from the UK to work for Specialized, while there I enjoyed being the “Face of Specialized” at multiple Tours De France as well as other cycling classics. I left Specialized after 23 years and moved on to Alpinestars to work in the motorsports industry; this let me get a behind-the-scenes view of motorsports including Formula 1, Moto GP and Supercross. In 2013 I returned to the cycling industry to work for SCOTT Sport. Throughout my life I have had the distinct pleasure of turning hobbies into jobs. I have worked with some great companies that I can say have all made a difference in their sports and now with NICA the trend continues.