Florida Trail Association

Meet the Team

Janet Akerson
Janet AkersonAdministrative Director
Janet Akerson became the part-time bookkeeper for FTA in 2002. Her responsibilities evolved, and in 2009 she became the Administrative Director.

She manages the Gainesville office, supervises the FTA staff, helps with event planning, and continues to keep the books.

Janet grew up in St. Petersburg, FL, and attended Berry College and the University of Florida. Since 1976, Janet and her husband, Randy, have lived in Gainesville, where they managed Burrito Bros. Taco Co. – a popular local restaurant – until 2017. They have been members of the FTA since 1982.

Diane Strong
Diane StrongMembership and Retail Coordinator
Diane is the friendly voice on the other end of the phone at our Gainesville headquarters. She administrates the FTA’s membership, coordinates donations, and manages the store.

Diane came to Gainesville in 1990 for school and never left. She earned a degree in history and secondary education in 1994. After graduation she worked at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine for 15 years.

Diane grew up in Orlando, where she spent a lot of time on the Wekiva and St. Johns Rivers. She is married to an entomologist who works with the USDA on the University of Florida campus.

Diane and her husband enjoy spending their free time kayaking and fishing in the Gulf.

Alex Stigliano
Alex StiglianoFlorida Trail Program Director
“Nature can bring out the best in people. Time spent away from roads, electricity, and commerce challenges us with new perspectives that inspire positive changes to our lives and communities.”

Alex unearthed his love of hiking, camping, and storytelling as a teen in the wild and wonderful mountains of West Virginia and western North Carolina. He channeled this passion into the simple mission of introducing people to the natural world. Alex joined the FTA with over a decade of experience in the outdoor industry. He has lead and directed scores of wilderness adventures in the Southeast, the Pacific Northwest, New England, Nova Scotia and the US Virgin Islands.

Kelly Wiener
Kelly WienerCentral and South Florida Trail Program Manager
As our Central/South Trail Program Manager, Kelly manages the 600 miles of trail between the southern terminus and the Ocala National Forest.

Kelly is a graduate of the University of Vermont, where she earned a BA in Environmental Studies. She developed a passion for working outdoors after studying abroad at a biological research station in Costa Rica and interning at the Lake Champlain Land Trust.

After graduating, Kelly completed a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Boston City Hall. She then went on to manage a regional food access program at a non-profit in Upstate New York before starting with the FTA in 2016.

Jeff Glenn
Jeff GlennNorth Florida Trail Program Manager
Jeff manages 400 miles of the Florida Trail on the eastern and western corridors of the trail from the Ocala National Forest to Suwannee River State Park and from the Withlacoochee State Forest to Silver Springs State Park. He joined the FTA in 2013.

Jeff works with volunteers and agency partners to coordinate trail construction, maintenance, protection, gap closures, and outreach efforts. He also engages volunteers in stewardship events on the Florida National Scenic Trail.

Previously, Jeff worked with the Student Conservation Association (’06 – ’13), as both a seasonal trail crew leader and a full-time staff member. For 4 years he managed a large SCA program and maintained 100 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail through the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. He has led crews in Alaska, the US Virgin Islands, Arizona, Colorado, and Kentucky.

Jeff is a graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, where he studied environmental education and outdoor leadership. An avid hiker, he loves to spend time out on the trail with his kids and the best trail dog around, Strawberry, as well as playing music, fermenting food, and organic agriculture.

Van Tran
Van TranCommunity Outreach Manager
Van is our first ever Community Outreach Manager. Her love of the outdoors, passion for community organizing and commitment to environmental stewardship paved the way for her to join FTA in 2017.

Over the past decade, Van has backpacked several sections of the Appalachian Trail as well as other hikes throughout the country and abroad. She has served as an outdoor guide for youth & adults and has a background in organic farming. Of all the wilderness settings she has explored, Van finds her greatest happiness when she is immersed in the natural Florida landscape where she was born and raised. She considers the Florida Trail to be one of the state’s greatest gems and is enthusiastic to ensure that it is enjoyed by a diverse community of current and future recreationists and stewards.

Van’s professional background includes work at a Florida-based nonprofit organization directing a food access program and years of experience managing volunteers in an organic farm setting. As our Community Outreach Manager, Van is responsible for building and improving outreach programs for the FTA by ensuring that volunteer stewardship events are inclusive, fully promoted, well-coordinated, engaging and rewarding.

Van is a graduate of the University of Florida (class of 2011) where she studied Horticultural Science and was actively involved in the university’s outdoor leadership, Travel and Recreation Program (TRiP). In addition to hiking, Van enjoys chasing sunsets on her bicycle, gardening, surfing and finding humor in day-to-day life.

Adam Fryska
Adam FryskaPanhandle Trail Program Manager
Adam Fryska is an experienced long-distance backpacker and trail steward. He joined the FTA in 2017 after working in various conservation and stewardship roles along the Appalachian Trail and Vermont’s Long Trail. Adam is a passionate supporter of the National Scenic Trail system; he’s experienced the magic of these trails and their communities first hand while completing the “Triple Crown,” thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail.

Now immersing himself in the unique environments found along the Florida Trail, he’s working to ensure this exceptional resource is developed, maintained, and protected for current and future generations of users.

Adam grew up in northern Indiana. He studied biology at Indiana University, European studies at Jagiellonian University, and environmental law at Vermont Law School. Previously he worked with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Randolph Mountain Club, and Green Mountain Club. As the FTA’s Panhandle Regional Representative, Adam coordinates trail building, maintenance, resource protection, and volunteer work along the Florida National Scenic Trail from to Suwannee River State Park to the Northern Terminus of the Florida Trail at Fort Pickens in Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Abe Christian
Abe ChristianTechnical Advisor
Abe grew up in Gainesville where he spent a lot of time exploring the woods and swamps in and around Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Food and Resource Economics. During and after his time at UF, Abe spent almost two decades in retail sales and was Verizon’s first general manager to complete a Lean Six Sigma green belt project. After tiring of the retail aspect, he transitioned his love of the outdoors into volunteering and nonprofit work.

He has enjoyed developing his hiking, woodsman and horseman skills. Abe recently was awarded The FTA’s “2018 John Weary Trail Worker Award,” which he was surprised and honored to receive. He is very passionate about using his acquired skills to increase awareness of the Florida National Scenic Trail and helping the FTA in any way that he can. In his free time, Abe enjoys traveling to the beach, touring zoos and going on long walks with his wife and dogs.

Kayla Mae Davis
Kayla Mae DavisGateway Communities Program Lead
Kayla Mae Davis grew up in Daytona Beach, FL on ten acres of woodlands. She enjoys long walks and plenty of sunscreen. In her spare time, she enjoys reading a good book with one of her cats on her lap, cooking, watercolors, and playing a mediocre game of pool. She developed her passion for exploring in Alaska and Colorado and has since made an effort to experience the unique wilderness of Florida.

Kayla Mae became a Tallahassee resident in 2010. In 2013, she completed her BA at Florida State University for French language studies; she remained in Tallahassee working in finance until she returned to academia to study Urban Planning. In 2018, she will be graduating with her Masters of Science in planning with a focus on transportation and developing areas.
Her recent projects include working with regional planning councils to create economic development plans for local communities and partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation for risk management programs throughout the state of Florida.

While working with the FTA Gateway Communities program, she hopes to gain more experience working with towns along the Florida Trail and to develop new insights into creating more multifaceted relationships between outdoor recreation and communities.

Meghan Leeds
Meghan LeedsGateway Communities Program Intern
Meghan grew up in a small town in Ohio and came to Tallahassee to study at her dream school, Florida State University. She is currently pursuing a degree in International Affairs and Spanish and working as a student director for the FSU Outdoor Pursuits Program.

Meghan has had a passion for the outdoors since her childhood. Her free time was and still is consumed by building campfires, hiking trails, and just being out in nature. Meghan hopes that she can spread her passion to others, helping them foster their own love of the outdoors in any way possible.

Halle Goldstein
Halle GoldsteinAdministrative Intern
Halle was born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida. In recent years, she moved to Tallahassee to pursue a bachelors degree in psychology at Florida State University, graduating in 2018.

She grew up with a passion for wildlife and conservation, all starting when her dad would send her to Maine every summer for 5 years to an outdoor summer camp. From there, she also discovered her love for hiking, camping, scuba diving, biking, and much more. She ultimately hopes to give back and to gain some more knowledge of the environment that surrounded her as she grew up.