Trail crew group photo

Staff Bios

Erin Rushing

Erin Rushing

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Natural State native and enthusiast Erin Rushing currently resides as the Chief Executive Officer of the Trailblazers, a local non-profit tasked with developing trails in this region. In Rushing's primitive years, he spent his time on a cattle farm in rural north-central Arkansas. Professionally, Rushing is a 1995 Landscape Architect graduate from the Fay Jones school of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, a collegiate entity providing design consulting work within the Northwest Arkansas market for the past 20+ years. During his time in Northwest Arkansas, Rushing has accumulated numerous design awards for the work he has completed. Rushing has been designing and consulting on parks and recreation projects in this area for over 20 years, including 70+ miles of Greenway Trails and 300+ miles of natural surface trails and versed in land development and a strong background in site and civil-related development projects with an emphasis and passion for bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

Rushing, a proud father to three boys and two step daughters where he finds his comfort and motivation from their enthusiasm for all that Northwest Arkansas has to offer, the outdoors, and embracing cycling as much as he does.

Paxton smiling for headshot

Paxton Roberts

Managing Director

Paxton has been an avid cyclist for over 25 years. He started mountain biking recreationally in college and then spent several years racing road, cyclocross, and mountain bikes.  He currently finds himself spending the most time on gravel roads riding with his 14-year-old daughter. Paxton has been an active member of the Arkansas bike advocacy community since 2010 when he started volunteering, and then became the advocacy director for Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks in 2012, and then executive director of BikeNWA in 2016. Roberts has a Bachelor's Degree in Anthropology, a Master’s Degree in Geography, and has completed coursework towards a Ph.D. in Public Policy.

Square headshot of Bianca Montoya

Bianca Montoya

Director of Communications and Marketing

Born in Texas and shaped in Arkansas, Montoya, a Northwest Arkansas resident of 13 years, has embedded herself in the non-profit scene and has categorized herself as a part of the spirit and morale team for this corner of the state. Montoya moved to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where she studied advertising and public relations. She spent time in corporate communications at Walmart and worked in tourism promoting this region post-graduation. Montoya has volunteered alongside many non-profits across the region, helping organizations expand their marketing efforts, advocacy, event planning, and fundraising. Montoya made the list for Arkansas Life's Top Arkansans of 2018, NWA Business Journal's 2019 Fast 15, Celebrate Magazine’s 2019 'Ones to Watch’, received the 2021 Business Women’s Conference Emerging Leader of the Year, and is a recent graduate of the The Personal Leadership Effectiveness™ Program for Rising Female Leaders.

Ciara Logan

Ciara Logan

Project Manager

Ciara Logan is a community volunteer expert, advocate for accessibility, bike enthusiast, and experienced program director in Northwest Arkansas. 

Ciara has her Phd in Deaf Culture & Education and has worked to support Deaf students in a mainstream education program, and those in marganalized communities. Ciara also has her Masters in Secondary Education. 

Since moving to Northwest Arkansas from Tucson AZ, Ciara has become the FAST TAP ( Trail Adoption Program ) Coordinator, and Bikeboom Coordinator, bringing the first ever bike experience to Bentonville for the Deaf community.

In Ciara's free time, she enjoys being in the outdoors, mountain biking, and living with her dogs on Beaver Lake.

Daniel Marley

Daniel Marley

Senior Director of Trails

A Fort Smith, Arkansas native, Marley moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2011 to pursue his career in trail design. Graduated from John Brown University, obtaining a degree in construction management and minoring in business administration, Marley has worked on the NWA Trailblazer team since 2016 and is the hard surface project manager. Daniel Marley is an avid bike rider and has a deep passion for trails of all types. During his downtime, you can find him spending time outdoors with his family or riding his bike around town. Some of his most notable projects to date include Coler Mountain Bike Preserve and Osage Park.

David Criswell

David Criswell

Director of GIS 

After growing up in Oklahoma and living as a transplant in Fort Collins, Colorado, David moved to Northwest Arkansas to live closer to family and to be a part of the bike culture that has been accelerating in the region. A resident of several college towns, David loves bikes and is passionate that active transportation is accessible, safe, and useful for the public at large. After working as a water resources engineer in the Western U.S., David brings his GIS and engineering experience to the team to help people explore the ever-changing trail systems in our area. He believes life is full when friends meet for breakfast by bike and he loves witnessing his kids’ pure joy when they go on a bike ride. So, if you want to talk mapping or want to bike off some biscuits and gravy, he’s your man!

David wearing plaid posing for headshot

David Greer

Trail Crew

Greer lives in War Eagle with his wife Andrea and two daughters, Piper (2) and Quinn (6). He studied geology/geoscience and graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Greer has worked in geology, business management, and construction and is an avid outdoorsman and native Arkansan. Greer enjoys camping and outdoor sports and photography in his spare time and can be spotted riding around town on his beloved Santa Cruz mountain bike, riding rock tech, and single track.

Dustin Fairbanks

Dustin Fairbanks

Trail Crew

I was born in northwest Arkansas and grew up in Bella Vista. Spent much of that time exploring creeks fishing, hiking, and hunting the area. I have a wife and 2 kids and we still reside in Bella Vista. I was working at Compton Gardens in Bentonville when I heard about an opportunity to work on the trails I got to watch begin built around me and couldn't wait to be a part of it. Have been building trails for two years with a longer history operating heavy equipment and working in the outdoors. 

Ethan Edman

Ethan Edman

Trail Maintenance Manager

Ethan is a transplant from Southwest Missouri but an Arkansas native at heart, he moved to Fayetteville in 2012 and then later to Bentonville after graduating from Missouri Southern State University with a B.S. in marketing and a minor in Spanish. After moving to Northwest Arkansas he fell in love with mountain biking, the outdoor centric lifestyle and the cycling community that the area has to offer and joined the Trailblazers team in 2019.  When Ethan isn’t playing in the dirt you can find him out on the trails riding his bike, doing wheelies and jumping around.  Ethan has enjoyed being able to curate many local favorite trails as well as having participated in event preparation for large events such as Bike Bentonville, Outerbike, and the UCI Cyclocross World Championship.

Gabriela Ruiz

Gabriela Ruiz

Program Manager

Gabriela Ruíz grew up in Houston, TX where her journey as a classically-trained flutist began. While studying at the University of Texas at Austin, she found the need to escape the music practice rooms and hopped on a bike. Riding a bike not only allowed her to commute to class but also allowed her to explore the social and competitive cycling scene of Austin. By the time she received her Masters in Music Performance from Boston University, she had adopted a love for mountain biking and had worked for two of the “Top 100” bicycle shops in the country. Though still a regular performer and teacher in the flute community, she hopes to promote active transportation and recreation for all. You can find Gabriela spreading her love of cycling as a Program Manager for Trailblazers or as Mountain Bike Ride Leader with Arkansas Latinas en Bici.

Gina smiling for headshot

Gina Nida

Director of Finance

Gina moved to Bentonville from Northern Michigan in October of 2015 to be near family. She loves all the natural beauty that this area has to offer. She is out walking every day with her 2 dogs. She is passionate about biking and hasn’t missed a day on two wheels since late 2018. She loves exploring new places on her bike. Gina has a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Art in Elementary Education. She has over 20 years of business management and administrative experience that she brings to our organization.

Headshot of Gordon Venturella

Gordon Venturella

Senior Director of Development

Gordon grew up an hour north of Bentonville in Joplin, MO. After spending much of his career in Chicago, he moved to Northwest Arkansas to be closer to family. Gordon chose downtown Bentonville as a home because of the cultural amenities and walkability. He came to Trailblazers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he was Senior Director of Development in Fayetteville. His background includes fundraising with a variety of nonprofits, higher education, and international relief organizations. In his spare time Gordon and his wife enjoy exploring trails and attending concerts and museum events in Bentonville.

graham smiling for headshot

Graham Burrow

Trail Crew

Born and raised in Northwest Arkansas with a passion for the outdoors, I am excited with what the trail system is doing for our community. With over 5 years of heavy equipment experience and a significant amount of time in ski operations in Colorado, I quickly threw myself at a chance to be a part of this trail building movement. It's a great feeling to be a part of something you truly believe in, especially with the support of an entire community. I'm beyond stoked to be on this incredibly talented team, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us. 

Hogan Koesis

Hogan Koesis

Soft Surface Project Manager 

Hogan Koesis' relationship with trails began when he started racing mountain bikes at the age of 12 in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. Fast forward a decade after racing Pro XC and BMX, a short tour in Marine Corps, and obtaining a degree in Education at the University of Texas. Koesis began scouring iconic riding destinations worldwide; Koesis was determined to combine his passion with his vision to create something that everyone could enjoy. Professionally Koesis has curated over 200 miles of soft surface trails and designed over 300 miles of multi-use and mountain bike trails. Koesis has engaged and collaborated with various public agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, State Parks, city municipalities, as well as many private landowners in my 12+ years in the trail building industry. In Hogan's free time, his wife and son enjoy camping, biking, paddle boarding, sailing, freediving, food production, and gardening.

Dustin Fairbanks

Jacob Smith

Trail Crew

Jacob has lived in NWA for 5 years now. He recently graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Soil, and Water Science where he gained experience in wetland studies and soil identification. Jacob loves spending time outdoors hiking, riding bikes and adventuring with his dog.
 

Lauren Smiling

Lauren Hildreth

Sr. Manager of Community Programs

Lauren grew up in Southeastern Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point with degrees in Natural Resources Management and Public Relations. First coming to Arkansas in 2013 to work in environmental education, she left after a year to travel and then work in urban sustainable solutions and landscaping. Drawn to the Ozark's splendors, Lauren moved back to Arkansas on a whim in 2016 and proudly claims that it was the best decision of her life (so far). As a part of the Trailblazers team, Lauren focuses on community programs and events such as Slow Streets, the National Bike Challenge, Pass the Mic events, Critical Mass Summit, and more. With spare time and resources, you can find Lauren socializing at breweries and dancing at local shows or out on the river, hiking, backpacking, traveling, and dabbling into climbing and mountain biking.

Nicole Rej

Nicole Rej

Office Manager

Nicole is an Atlanta native who relocated to Bentonville at the tail end of 2019. Nicole has a B.A. in Environmental Conservation from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has worked in office administration and operations, organizing & improving processes for over 20 years. After discovering six years ago that trail running was way more enjoyable than road running, she prefers to explore the amazing network of local trails by foot. Nicole also loves to spend time gardening, cooking, and exploring new places with her husband and 18-year-old daughter.

 

Prentis Grayson

Prentis Grayson

Community Outreach Manager 

Prentis has been active community member of Arkansas since 1992 when he moved here from Hawaii as a child. Growing up in Central Arkansas he found himself either walking or riding a bicycle as a primary form of transportation. He joined the Arkansas Army National Guard in 2003 as a Public Affairs Specialist, where he served in two Iraqi deployments and several disaster reliefs missions. In addition to serving with Arkansas Army National Guard, Prentis worked for Pulaski County Sheriffs’ Office as a detention sergeant. Prentis moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2018 to work for 4029 News as photographer and assignment editor due to his love of communicating with the public.

After the death of George Floyd, he realized there was a bigger purpose in his life and turned to more advocacy related positions. He worked for the Northwest Arkansas Center for Sexual Assault as the male African American sexual advocate. Doing this type of work led him to being the community organizer for Trailblazers. Bringing the community together to strive for change is what he's most passionate about.

Robbie Wells

Robbie Wells

Trail Crew

Robbie is an Arkansas native. After high school he took off to Nebraska where he spent several years trying to find out what he wanted to do professionally. In that process he joined the military. After deploying to Iraq him and his wife Caitlin decided to move back to Arkansas in 2017. After his deployment he was in search of something to give him purpose…something to fill a gap since he returned from his deployment. That’s when he found mountain biking. He could not have imagined at the time where that bike would take him. He joined the Trailblazers in 2019. When Robbie isn’t building dirt roller coasters you can find him spending time with his wife and daughter, playing drums, or out having a party on his bike. Robbie has been an important member on the team on many of your favorite trails and events such as Fireline, Jesse's Last Stand, Bentonville Bike Fest and many more. If you see him out on the trail…give him a real loud “yewwwww!”

Tommy Smiling Posing for Headshot

Thomas Houlihan

Trail Crew

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Tommy cut his teeth in building on some of the most renowned BMX trails in the world. He has been building trails since 2000. Transitioning to NWA in 2013, he was stoked to learn what the area had to offer in regards to the bike scene.  "My mother always laughed when I said I was going to be a professional trail builder. I joined Trailblazers/Ethic in 2021 and this has been a career change for the ages. I am honored to be part of this organization. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with...hands down! “ When Tommy isn’t slinging dirt, you can find him spending time with his family,  shredding the local trails, playing some hoops in the gym, or shooting a round of golf with the guys. 

 

Uriah Nazario

Uriah Nazario

Soft Surface Project Manager 

Uriah Nazario is a designer and project manager for soft surface trail projects in the OZ Trails network. Having been born and raised in Northwest Arkansas, Uriah has seen the entirety of impact and benefits that these trails have provided. With years of volunteer and professional trail-building and an education in architecture and design, Uriah now sits on the Friends of Arkansas Singletrack Trails board and volunteers for the OZ Mountain Bike Patrol and Arkansas Enduro Series. Uriah has now played various successful roles in hundreds of projects with the NWA Trailblazers and strives to be an important role in building a capital of innovative and all-embracing trails.