Letitia Collins, Member at Large
Letitia moved to the Coachella Valley in 1979 from New York, immediately fell in love with the area and established roots here. Her very first job was at the Palm Springs Public Library where she worked as an audio-visual clerk. Letitia’s career path led her to retail and commercial property management and she left the valley in 2001 to pursue opportunities in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas.
After retiring in 2011 because of a spinal cord injury, she now resides in Cathedral City. Letitia created a website to raise awareness, provide support and information to those who have also been diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis as she was in 2010. Her road to recovery is documented at RefocusedLives.org, a website she created to highlight people worldwide who are moving beyond their boundaries and showing the world that having a physical disability does not mean that they lack ability.
Letitia serves as a board member for Desert Ability Center whose goal it is to provide opportunities for people living with injuries or disabilities to get out into the community, be active, and live happy and productive lives. Letitia is the proud mother of a lovely daughter, and she is a serious photo enthusiast.
Gary Lueders, Secretary
Gary lives an active lifestyle and began riding bicycles in the early ‘70’s for sport, pleasure, and errands. He has ridden in Europe and many cities in the U.S. and quickly realized that off-street bike trails are much safer than riding with cars.
His advocacy work began when serving as president of the local Desert Bicycle Club by encouraging Coachella Valley cities to improve cycling by installing bike lanes and better signage.
He served as a board member on the Coachella Valley Community Trails Alliance since 2007 and has been instrumental in the changeover to the nonprofit Friends of CV Link. He is also a member of CVAG’s Citizens Advisory Group for CV Link; serves on the CVAG Trails Management Sub-Committee; and is a board member on the Desert Trails Coalition.
Gary was a USAF pilot in Vietnam, is a retired American Airlines Captain, lives in Rancho Mirage with his wife Shirley, and has 2 children and 5 grandkids.
Contact Gary at his personal email.
Jim Rothblatt, President
Jim an avid bicyclist, had his first bike ride on a neighbor’s new bike in 1950 when he was seven years old. He loved the freedom it gave him and then his parents bought him a three speed Hercules English road bike. He rode it everywhere in the south Los Angeles area until he got his driver’s permit at 15 ½. 10 ½ years later, after a stint in the Army in Vietnam and as a student at Cal State Long Beach, his wife bought him a new Raleigh 10 speed road bike. He loved the freedom it gave him. He commuted to work and school on his bike and in 1975 upgraded to a beautiful Motebecane 10 speed road bike and continued his commuting and recreational riding. Upon retiring in 2006 he upgraded again to his current Trek 1600 and rides recreationally whenever he can. He hosts a cycling blog: http://desertroadkill.blogspot.com/ and advocates for safe cycling in the Coachella Valley. He is consistently amazed at how hard a two or three hour drive in a car can be when compared to the joy he experiences on a two or three hour bike ride in our beautiful desert.
Mary Settle, Vice President
Mary has been coming to the desert for about 20 years, and has been waiting desperately for an off road, paved trail to go from one end of the valley to the other. She has lived in the midwest, south, and now the west and seen the advantages of cities that provide resources encouraging active, healthy lifestyles. A “hiker with a biking problem”, Mary is a hike leader and on the Executive Council of the Coachella Valley Hiking Club, and a member of Friends of the Desert Mountains. Living part time in Park City, Utah, Mary also volunteers for the Wasatch Mountain Hiking Club and other non-profit organizations.
Mary’s professional career included management consulting, training and development, and human resource management. She recently retired as the Vice President of Human Resources for a medical device company. Mary can be reached at her personal email.
Ernie Smith, Treasurer
Ernie spent the bulk of his life in the Pacific Northwest, having moved to the Coachella Valley in 2010 to retire. His professional life was spent mostly as Controller of University Volkswagen Audi in Seattle, having retired after 25 years. Having always been impressed with and a frequent user of the Burke-Gilman Trail in King County, he was instantly excited about the prospects of a 50 mile car-free trail between Desert Hot Springs and the Salton Sea. He has only returned to biking since retiring. In addition, finding a place to ride where he did not have to always be competing with cars made biking irresistible. He has since become much more comfortable co-existing with cars and biking on the highways, but feels the CV/Link in a worthy project to support. He feels the future of tourism in the Coachella Valley will transition from a golf focus toward more environmental, space, and water friendly activities like biking, walking, hiking, and running; plus all the activities enabled by the revival of the Salton Sea.
Vic Yepello, Member at Large
Victor Yepello has been a Palm Springs resident since 2005. He obtained his Real Estate license in February of 2006 working hard to establish a name and trade. Vic has also been a city commissioner on the Palm Springs Sustainability Commission. He co-chaired the Non-Motorized Transportation Subcommittee. During that time, the committee worked closely with the city as they embarked on a plan to build a citywide network of bike lanes that doubled the number of available miles so everyone could ride more safely. The plan was to also be ready for the CV Link with bike lanes that will connect riders to the Link.
When not doing any of the above, he can be seen around town quite often on his bike. As Vic says: “If you want to learn about the city, it’s best done on two wheels!”