Eight-year-old Ellie Castleman learned to ride her bike on the Fort Wayne Trails system. Now, she can tell her friends her daddy will soon be in charge of it.
Kent Castleman, 37, of Fort Wayne, this week was named the new executive director of Fort Wayne Trails, Inc., just as the nonprofit organization embarks on raising its profile to the regional level.
Castleman comes to the trails from Cornerstone Youth Center, where he served as executive director for 15 years. Cornerstone operates programs in southeast Allen County from a base in Monroeville.
He succeeds Lori Rose, the trails’ founding executive director, who late last year announced she was starting a new career as an educational speaker on abusive and healthy relationships.
Greg O’Daniel, a member of the search committee, said Castleman founded Cornerstone and grew it to "a thriving organization with a $500,000 budget."
Castleman "is very well respected in the community," O’Daniel said, and has served on several boards, including that of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
Castleman also has experience working with the county commissioners and the Capital Improvement Board, O’Daniel said.
He added that as executive director, Castleman will likely be involved in the organization’s new involvement with the Regional Cities Initiative.
"He has a very good knowledge of a nonprofit, and what it takes to run one," O’Daniel said. "Our organization is at a point where there is an influx of interest in trails from a regional perspective, and we think he can help out with the regional aspect."
Castleman says he, wife Heather, and daughter are regular trails users.
Especially, he said, they bike the portion between downtown Fort Wayne and New Haven, where the family lived before a recent move to Fort Wayne.
"I’m really excited about the mission to connect people and trails in our community and develop our community to be a better place to live and work," he said.
"I’m a builder by nature, and I’m really excited about growing the trails into the next phase."
Cornerstone began advertising Castleman’s position this week. Castleman announced in October he would be leaving.
He said he and Rose will work together for the next few weeks to ensure a smooth transition and he also will aid the transition at Cornerstone.
An estimated start date for his job with the trails group is the end of this month, O’Daniel said.