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Els Van Woert, Program Support Coordinator
Els Van Woert, Program Support Coordinator

Little Bellas, a mountain bike organization whose goal is to help young women realize their potential through cycling, is pleased to announce the addition of a new staff member. Elisabeth Van Woert, who goes by “Els" (rhymes with bells), joins the team this July in the role of Program Support Coordinator.

Els’ efforts will aid in the geographic expansion of Little Bellas throughout the US. Little Bellas camps, ride series, and other events already operate in Vermont, California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts and Minnesota, with new programs in Pennsylvania and Utah also starting up this year. In its effort to get more girls on bikes, Little Bellas has to date served over 2,000 young female riders ages seven to 15. So far in 2016, an additional 535 girls are enrolled in Little Bellas programs, with more opportunities for girls to ride this late summer and fall for which Little Bellas is currently accepting registrations.

The Little Bellas community strives to empower girls through the sport of mountain biking, emphasizing the importance of goal-setting, promoting healthy lifestyles and recognizing the positive impacts of strong female bonds. The (wo)manpower that makes Little Bellas programs run includes an impressive network of women — 147 volunteer mentors and 13 mentor leads that provide essential regional leadership. Part of Els’ role will be to support this tribe of mentors as Little Bellas builds on established programs and launches new ones throughout the country. Els will also provide various forms of key logistical support to the organization.

Little Bellas was founded by professional cyclists and sisters Lea and Sabra Davison. It is a big year for both the sisters and their non-profit organization, with Lea taking second at World Championships this July in her ramp up to the Rio Olympics representing the stars and stripes, and Sabra spearheading the rollout of 10 new Little Bellas programs this year. Despite the Davison’s competitive nature, the Little Bellas program is consciously non-competitive, centered instead around creating camaraderie for girls on bikes and focused on having fun in a constructive environment, with the integration of top level female cycling pro mentors only adding to the fun.

With these big happenings in the works, Els joins Little Bellas at an important moment. An All-American soccer player in college and longtime collegiate soccer coach thereafter, Els brings to the position deep experience in coaching, mentoring and leadership of youth sports programs. With a background in environmental work, Els holds a Masters of Environmental Policy and Law, was a recipient of a Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism, and has worked for various conservation and renewable energy organizations -- all a great fit with Little Bellas’ commitment to valuing the environment and being good stewards of our trails and our planet. The expertise Els brings in marketing, outreach and coalition-building will serve the Little Bellas organization well.

An outdoor enthusiast, Els fell in love with biking early, but really dove into mountain biking in her 20s while living in Montana exploring the single track trail systems in her backyard. These days, Els can be found riding Vermont trails with her one and a half year-old daughter Pippa sitting in a bucket seat behind the handlebars calling out “root!” and “rock!” as Els navigates various trail features.Little Bellas is grateful to add Els to the team, and excited for the ways in which hiring this go-getter drives forward the mission to mentor more girls on bikes. You can learn more about Els by reading her bio.