Rebecca Rusch

Athlete, Author, Adventurer, CEO

Rebecca Rusch is the Queen of Pain with a heart of gold. It doesn’t matter if she is on an epic expedition like riding her bike up Africa’s legendary Mt. Kilimanjaro, competing in a race, or teaching at a #JoinTheRusch RUSCH Academy, she inspires people to be their best with the energy, positivity and passion to whatever challenge she meets. Through Red Bull Media House in 2017, Rebecca released an Emmy award winning feature film, Blood Road, which followed her personal journey along the 1,800 kilometer Ho Chi Minh Trail. A story that resonates with people and motivates them to do and be good.

As a 25 year (and counting) professional athlete, the 7x World Champion is always seeking new skills and ways to test her own limits breaking boundaries and records in sports and expeditions. Techniques she shares and that can be applied to everyday life whether for personal or professional enrichment.

Rebecca is recognized for being a trailblazer and consistently demonstrates one of her core values - with risk there is great reward.  Her impact is felt everywhere from redefining team dynamics of adventure racing to first female ascent rock climbing El Capitan in Yosemite, river boarding 300 miles of the entire Grand Canyon in 18 days, and giving men a run for their money in endurance mountain bike racing in events like the Leadville 100 and Dirty Kanza. But her work extends far beyond the start line.  Rebecca is CEO of Rusch Ventures, her company that oversees a network of business assets including Rusch’s signature Rebecca’s Private Idaho gravel bike event, Rusch Academy’s outdoor camps, and her epic travel adventure MTB Lao. She is also a best selling author of, Rusch to Glory, a world renowned motivational speaker, and firefighter.  

Activism and making a difference are important to Rebecca. She recently launched the Be Good Foundation, a non-profit organization, which supports inclusivity, unexploded bombs (UXO) clearance in Lao, and preservation of public lands through personal growth and outdoor exploration.

To date she has raised awareness over $500,000 for various local, national and global charities.

“There are the moments that truly fuel my fire: reaching new summits, inspiring others to chase their goals, and exploring the far corners of the earth. I want to the share with the world how powerful it is to live outside of your comfort zone and it is through these special projects that the stories of inspiration and passion shine the brightest.”

- Rebecca Rusch

Career Highlights  

  • First person to ride entire length of the Ho Chi Minh Trail 
  • Seven-time World Champion in multiple sports
  • Four-time Leadville 100 MTB Champion
  • Summited Mt. Kilimanjaro by bike
  • Course Record: Kokopelli Trail (Moab-Fruita) 13h 32m4 6s
  • Raid Gauloises Adventure Racing World Champion Team


  • Emmy Award winner
  • Outside Magazine’s Top 40 Women Who’ve Made the Biggest Impact 2017 (article here)
  • Men’s Journal 25 Most Adventurous Women in the Past 25 years 2017 (article here)

Rebecca’s role at the conference:

Rebecca’s keynote, “Taking Risk & Finding the Reward” encourages others to take risks, push themselves physically and mentally, and get everyone in the world on a bike. Rebecca will take us deep into her philosophy about how to pave your own path in life and how to make it in a career without a clear road map.  

Allison Bergh

Partner at Leadership at Play

Allison’s passion for leadership development started at a young age. From being the captain of two high school sports teams, to always listening and asking thoughtful questions of her friends and acquaintances, Allison has been leading and coaching people all her life.  She started working for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in 1994, which she credits with developing her personal leadership style and inspiring her adventurous spirit. Allison launched Leadership at Play in 2010 with her business partner, Kat Smithhammer, with the goal of sharing their passion for helping individuals and teams develop their leadership capacity.

Examples of Allison’s work include teaching a communication class to a NASA astronaut crew in the canyons of Utah, to facilitating a leadership development and teambuilding experience for the United Nations Development Programme, to developing, implementing and managing an organizational wide mentoring program for the Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming.

With an honest and direct communication style, an easy way of connecting with people, and a knack for asking the pertinent question or observing the relevant leadership behavior, Allison has a real talent for helping people and teams grow. She won the NOLS annual staff award in 2006 for her excellence in coaching and mentoring female instructors. Allison currently sits on the Board of Womentum, whose flagship program is a women’s mentoring program designed to effectuate meaningful social change for women. She lives in Wilson, WY, with her three dogs, and always finds the time for wilderness adventures with friends.

Allison’s role at the conference:

Allison will present two keynote sessions with her LAP business partner  Kat Smithhammer. These keynotes will examine the many facets and impacts of leadership behavior including communication style, facilitation skills and beyond. They will equip new and seasoned leaders for current and future challenges as well as address new “Adventure” Programming opportunities in their roles. Leadership, Coach Supporters and Guilds will have the opportunity to take a deeper dive into the above areas in smaller settings with Kat and Allison.

Kat Smithhammer

Partner at Leadership at Play

Kat approaches life with curiosity, creativity and awe. Usually laughing (at times referred to as a “katcophony”) and smiling, she is passionately fascinated with the growth and development of individuals, teams and organizations.

Kat divides her time between the custom division of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS Custom Education) as a Senior Expedition Leader, and Leadership at Play, LLC. She has led over 100 wilderness expeditions in N.A., Europe, Argentina, Chile, and Australia, teaching mountaineering, whitewater canoeing and back-country skiing. Highlights include canyoneering with Shuttle Crew STS 122 during 100 yr flood conditions and summiting Mt. Burney, in southern Chile for the second time, 30 years after its first ascent.

A few of Kat’s past clients include: NASA, Google, the United Nations Development Programme, the Wharton School, Wharton Exec Ed, the Prevention Management Organization of WY, Teton Science Schools, the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Timbuk2, Four Season’s, National Park Service, and Tata Steel.

With a unique talent for inspiring people to be their best and concluding discussions positively, Kat offers insights, builds common understanding and encourages contributions from all team members. A firm believer in learning from practical experience and cultivating robust self-awareness, Kat practices her own lifelong learning with passion and focus. She has a M.A. in Leadership and Training (Royal Roads University), a B.Ed. (Queen’s University), a B.A. (Trent University) and is a certified Integral Master Coach.

Kat is happily married and lives in the Teton with her two dogs, Hank and Luna. She loves soaking in remote hot springs, exploring the backcountry by bike or skis, sketching, cooking and slowing down.

Kat’s role at the conference:

Kat will present two keynote sessions with her LAP business partner Allison Bergh. These keynotes will examine the many facets and impacts of leadership behavior including communication style, facilitation skills and beyond. They will equip new and seasoned leaders for current and future challenges as well as address new “Adventure” Programming opportunities in their roles. Leadership, Coach Supporters and Guilds will have the opportunity to take a deeper dive into the above areas in smaller settings with Kat and Allison.

Lou Bergholz

Managing Partner and Founder, Edgework Consulting

Lou is entering his 18th year of work with Edgework and has over two decades of experience working with teams, organizations and communities on their most pressing human capital and human development issues.

Lou oversees Edgework’s unique Knowledge Lab, an internal research and learning system that fuels all of Edgework’s content creation and program design.  Lou also designs interventions and facilitates trainings for Edgework. He is known for his dynamic presentation style and integration of the most up-to-date trends and research in learning and youth development.  

Lou has worked on four continents with organizations such as CARE International, UNICEF, Grassroot Soccer, Mercy Corps, Kids Play International, the SeriousFun Network, Play Rugby USA, Legacy Youth Tennis, Newtown Parks and Recreation Department, Street Soccer USA, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, and Up2Us Sports. 

For over a decade, Lou has been working to create trauma-informed and resilience-based interventions in the US and abroad that apply academic research and clinical practice to populations without reliable access to definitive clinical care. 

  • Between 2009 and 2012, Lou led a three-year engagement with the Justice Resource Institute to embed a treatment approach for adolescent girls affected by complex trauma inside a competitive sport league. The results of this innovative approach have helped to build the case for sport as an adjunct treatment approach for trauma.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, Lou worked with CARE International to design and launch a unique after-school program for eight communities in Gaza most heavily affected by regional violence. Using a caring adult framework, the six-month intervention saw a reduction in clinically diagnosable symptoms in over 50% of the population.
  • Starting in 2016, Lou and Maren Rojas, from Edgework, have been leading a five-year project with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, to create a sport-intervention that would address resilience and trauma.

In 2016, Lou and co-authors Megan Bartlett, and John McCarthy, Director of the Institute for Athletic Coach Education at Boston University, published the book “Redesigning Youth Sport: Change the Game.”  The book combines vivid examples and case studies of innovative sport programs who are re-designing their sport with a comprehensive toolkit for practitioners on how to change their game for bigger and better outcomes. It offers a fresh and exciting perspective on the seemingly intractable issues in sport.

Lou’s second book, “Vital Connections: Harnessing the Power of Relationship to Impact the Lives of Young People” was released in March 2018. Combining research with poignant storytelling from Lou’s 25+ years of work in youth development, the book provides youth workers, teachers, parents, and caregivers with an exciting and accessible road map to utilize the power of relationship to forge deep connections with young people.

Lou is a graduate of Cornell University with a BS in Human Development. He currently resides in Boston, MA.

Lou’s role at the conference:

NICA hired Lou and Edgework in December 2018 to begin work on a organization-wide character development pilot. Since then, Edgework had been working closely with the NICA program team to understand NICA’s programmatic structure and to design a character development curriculum that will have a profound, positive effect on the entire NICA community. With Lou and Edgework’s expertise, NICA believes we can fully reach our stated mission potential of building strong minds, bodies, character, and communities through cycling.

Lou will provide two keynotes drawing from his years of diverse experience and his deep understanding of NICA programming. His first session will bring attendees up to speed on the character development project, how it will be implemented across NICA leagues and the immense impact it can have on NICA participants now and into the future. Lou’s second session will address our own personal character and how strong character positively influences our own leadership success. Lou will expand upon Leadership at Play’s trainings to building effective leadership teams.

Risha Grant

Founder & CEO of Risha Grant LLC

Today, Risha is the Founder & CEO of Risha Grant LLC, an award-winning diversity consulting and communications firm. Their mission is to utilize diversity communication strategies, tactics and training as a catalyst to create an inclusive culture in every company and community. Additionally, Risha created, a highly successful online recruitment tool utilized by both small organizations and Fortune 500 companies to connect diverse professionals to their career opportunities, internships, and non-profit and corporate board positions. As an international speaker, Risha uses passion, knowledge and humor to empower attendees to increase their bottom line by giving them tools to get rid of their B.S. The engaging approach of her consulting and training has helped governors, NBA teams, mayors, Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, and companies to reduce bias and further the understanding of Diversity & Inclusion.


Guest Speakers and Conference Sponsor Representatives

Ally Seidel

Senior Consultant, Sidekick Solutions, LLC

Ally spends her days working with organizations that are looking to get more out of their software systems. She leads the Blackbaud eTapestry consulting practice for Sidekick Solutions, a team of consultants that offers a wide range of professional services to help nonprofits save time, streamline tasks, and gain insight from their software systems. She's been working with NICA for the last year to customize NICA's eTapestry donor database in order to allow leagues full access to the system's suite of fundraising management and reporting features.


JD Wallum

Risk Management, IOA Denver

A graduate of the University of Wyoming and a former Division 1 All-American Football Player, JD Wallum started his own insurance brokerage and then joined IOA in 2014. He brings a unique perspective to our sport clientele and has recently been made a partner and stockholder with IOA.

As a member of IOA’s National Sports and Entertainment Practice Group, JD specializes in Sports Insurance and Risk Management Programs. He works with his clients to make sure that they are protected against risk and threats that are unique to athletic programs.


Rob DeMartini

CEO, USA Cycling

Rob joined USA Cycling in February 2019, bringing with him extensive knowledge and experience from a diverse background as well as strong business-building experience across various industries. A passionate athlete and cycling enthusiast, Rob was drawn to the opportunity to lead USA Cycling after recognizing the potential for the organization to take on a larger leadership role in the cycling industry.

Rob came to USA Cycling after spending 12 years as President and CEO of New Balance where under his leadership, New Balance doubled its global annual sales to reach $4.2B and achieved one of the highest growth rates in the athletic footwear and apparel industry. Prior to joining New Balance, his career at Procter & Gamble spanned 20 years, beginning in their Food & Beverage Division and including management roles with the Gillette Company, North American Snacks, and Millstone Coffee.

Rob is the past Chairman of The American Apparel & Footwear Association and is a current board member of The Advanced Functional Fabrics of America, a nonprofit spinoff from MIT, focused on accelerating innovation in the apparel industry. He is also a board member of Welch Foods, a Farmer Owned Cooperative and Aloha Foods.

Rob earned his B.S. in Finance from San Diego State University. He resides with his Wife in Park City, Utah.

Scott, Rachel, Emma, Erik and Morgan Hurst

NICA Participants and Coaches

The Hurst family loves the outdoors. They’ve adventured many places together from backpacking the Grand Canyon to rafting through the River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho and from biking in Central Park to climbing trees in San Francisco.

When the kids were young, the family ran most errands on their bikes; they rode to the library, the movies, the grocery store, and city parks. When they first heard that a NICA team was developing in their town during Idaho’s Inaugural year, they weren’t sure they needed to “join” the team. One by one, each member of the family has joined NICA as a participant or coach.


Zack Rundell

Zack Rundell, 18, joined NICA at age 16, with no cycling or athletic experience. He raced Junior Varsity his first season and finished 2nd overall for the State of Pennsylvania.  The following year he competed as a Varsity rider and won the title. Zack’s passion for cycling was ignited, and he now trains year-round and competes as a category 1 men’s rider. He has competed successfully in regional and national races and will enter a few international races this year as a U23.  

Zack’s road to success in cycling came after overcoming serious learning disabilities, behavioral problems and psychiatric diagnosis throughout his childhood. Currently, he is a senior at Abington Heights High School in North Eastern PA where he combines training, racing, working part time at a local bike shop, and running his own landscaping business.  Zach is also an assistant coach for his former PICL team, USAC official and inspirational speaker.


Kent McMullen

Chief Meteorologist for AMB Weather

Graduating from the University of Missouri with a B.S. in Atmospheric Science, Kent joined the National Weather Service (NWS) as a Meteorologist Forecaster in 1985. On May 22 of this year, Kent retired from the NWS, and started AMB Weather where he has provided weather support for the Georgia League, Chain Buster Racing and Go Nuts Bike Racing.

Kent got connected with the Georgia League in 2017 as a coach for a local team. Since then, he has worked with Georgia League director Kenny Griffin to create the Weather Committee and the Weather Policy for the Georgia League in 2018.


Jenn Dice

VP Business Network, PeopleForBikes

Jenn Dice’s team at PeopleForBikes works with governments at the federal, state and local level to make bicycling better for everyone. The PeopleForBikes’ Business Network represents the bike industry by leading with the voice of business – economic development, job creation, and improving communities and health through bicycling. Business Network programs include public policy, congressional development, Washington, D.C. executive fly-ins, industry leadership gatherings, and bike entrepreneur meetups.

In 2011, Jenn was recognized by Outside Magazine’s “power list” of the top 25 people that influence the world outside for her time working for the International Mountain Bicycling Association and was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2014. She has worked for the South Dakota, Kansas and Colorado state legislatures.

Jenn is an avid endurance mountain biker who has completed the Leadville Trail 100 14 times and was the first woman to hike up, and mountain bike down Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

Nate Carey

Teton Adaptive Sports MTB and Ski Coach, Idaho League Coach

Nate Carey is a mountain bike and ski coach for Teton Adaptive Sports (TAS) at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Cycling has taken Nate around the world working as a team mechanic for six years with Giant Bicycle. In 2015, Nate got off the road. He and his wife Amanda, started a NICA high school mountain bike team with seven student athletes and five coaches. Three years, 60 riders and 20 coaches later, the team is running strong. He grew up skiing and riding on the east coast and Santiago, Chile. Nate revels in sharing the outdoor experience and pushing what is possible, with the right skills. When Nate is not on skis or behind a handlebar, you will find him working on his new mobile bike repair business, Teton Wrench!


Joel Zellers

Special Education and AP Psychology Instructor Idaho League Coach

For the past 25 years, Joel Zellers has been a secondary level teacher in Idaho and currently teaching in the areas of Special Education and AP Psychology. He earned his BA in psychology from San Diego State University and continued on at Boise State University to earn his teaching credentials in psychology and special education. Between these two universities, he participated as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana, West Africa. His experiences in Africa led him to work with Amnesty International and Model United Nations upon his return. At Wood River HIgh School, Joel advises the Model United Nations Club and is the coach of the mountain bike team. Naturally, being in Sun Valley, Idaho, he could not resist introducing cycling to the youth in an attempt to grow the sport and teach those students to be stewards of the trails.  This stemmed from growing up in the San Francisco Bay area and riding the roads and trails that were his playground. Joel was a rower for SDSU where his crew traveled all over the states to compete at the collegiate level. In Idaho he replaced his rowing in eights with rowing rivers. When not on the river, he is surfing, riding or traveling. He knows he is lucky to live in such a vast wilderness with his wife, Elizabeth and son Wylie whom he shares these experiences with.


Dan Stewart

Owner and CEO, Strike Visuals

Dan Stewart is the owner and CEO at Strike Visuals (formerly Athletic Event Supply).  Dan started the company with the desire to help cycling, running, and other events create a stronger brand presence through amazing printed marketing assets.  Strike Visuals has been a national sponsor and supporter of NICA for 6 years. Dan Stewart is also a coach of his local team, and has had four of his own kids participate as student-athletes in the Utah League.  


Bob Burns

Vice President & Senior Legal Officer, Trek Bicycle Corporation

Bob is a 23-year bicycle industry veteran who founded Trek’s legal department in 1995 and served as Trek’s General Counsel until 2018. Bob is a past recipient of the Brainy Award for outstanding bicycle industry service and has served on many industry organizations in different capacities over the years such as Dream Bikes, People for Bikes, BPSA, and the European Cycling Industry (CIE). Bob has been active on the national and local level on issues such as model legislation for e-bikes, and trade and tariff issues. In addition to serving as Trek’s General Counsel, Bob helped found BCycle and served as BCycle’s President for the past decade. BCycle has grown to become the nation’s largest provider of public bike share systems and has launched over 52 cities and provided over 17,000,000 rides.


Lindsay Beltchenko

Salsa Cycles Marketing Manager

Lindsay Beltchenko joined the Salsa Cycles team in August of 2018 after having spent years in the adventure travel and cycling industry. With a passion for mountain biking, gravel riding, and fat biking, she is now managing the marketing strategy and direction for Salsa Cycles. Lindsay will be representing Salsa as the founding sponsor of the NICA Adventure Program throughout the conference and beyond.  



Carl Bakker

Trek Demo Team

Born and raised in the hamlet of Nowhere, Iowa, Carl quickly found out that a bicycle was the most effective form of transportation. It’s also his pain-free escape (he runs competitively), giving him access to views and adventures he wouldn’t find in a car. To Carl, riding a bike and camping go together like peanut butter and jelly; one of life’s greatest joys.  

Carl doesn’t have a position title so much as a position description; Carl is employed by Trek to get things done – be it demos, customer service, retail services, etc. Simply put, he’s on hand to “get done what needs doing.” Carl is also a certified mechanic and verified ‘bike geek’, giving love to all makes and models – it’s not about what you ride, but that you ride!


Eli Brock

Trek Demo Team

Eli grew up in a small town in southwest Colorado riding and racing bicycles. He enjoys just about anything that gets him outside and active. He commutes by bicycle year round and loves learning or participating in new experiences.

This is Eli’s thirteenth year in bicycle shops so he does whatever needs to be done. He leans (heavily) towards mountain bike riding and still enjoys going downhill more than going up but he’s always down for a nice bike push. Eli builds bicycle frames in his spare time and is a sucker for a well organized tool box.


Matthew Martinez

Trek Demo Team

Molded from an amalgam of adobe and green chile, Matthew was raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the Sangre de Cristo mountains shaped his biking life. From an early age mountain biking was what he lived and breathed, not only as a means of transportation but a means of release. After moving to Madison Wisconsin in 2005, life on a bicycle changed with the scenery but also the opportunity to explore various styles of biking. Now married with an 11 and 9 year old, he gets to share good times on a saddle with them.

After teaching in pre-collegiate programs for over a decade, Matthew is now very privileged to help develop and manage a non-profit organization that takes used bicycles to create jobs for underserved teens. The program teaches hands on skills to not only fix bicycles but to run a bike shop and see the value in helping our community.  Also striving to get #morekidsonbikes, he tasks himself with creating partnerships with community programs to share resources and make that dream a reality.


2019 NICA Conference Sponsors