MEET OUR BOARD MEMBERS
Craig Della Penna
Early in his professional career, Craig Della Penna worked for Pinsly Railroad Company that years earlier, was the first short-line railroad operator in the U.S. He assisted with the marketing of rail freight and planned the start-up and managed the operations of several of the northeast’s largest--and most successful, railroad-owned transloading facilities.
Having a background in railroad history, he was invited by a regional publisher to write a series of books about the history of old railroad lines and their conversion to bike and hike trails. He was later hired by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy as an organizer and for seven years covered the New England region as an on the ground organizer. He has been involved in much of the rail trail development in the northeast.
Today, he is a Realtor and now with over 1,200 lectures in 21 states, he is also one of the most in-demand speakers in the U.S. on various topics related to real estate and rail trail development. He and his wife Kathleen also operate an award-winning bed & breakfast in Northampton—that sits eight  feet from one of New England’s earliest municipally-built rail trails. Read his one-page bio. Link here.
Rob Kusner is a mathematician and (since 1988) a professor at UMass Amherst. Before serving on Amherst's Conservation Commission and Select Board, he led the town's Public Transportation & Bicycling Committee, working with Art Swift and Pete Westover to design the shared-use path joining the MCRT to the UMass Amherst campus, a path now known as "Swift Way".
Most recently, as chair of the Norwottuck Rail Trail Advisory Committee, he guided the redesign and reconstruction for the MCRT's first segment through Amherst, Hadley and Northampton.
Rob helped found Norwottuck Network, and was also a founder and former co-president of the nonprofit North Amherst Community Farm. His first "rails-to-trails" efforts date back to the early 1970s when (as a middle-schooler) he tried to resurrect Philadelphia's Fairmount Park Trolley line.
Glenn Pransky is a physician and public health researcher, with a focus on occupational and environmental health, based at the UMass Medical School. He’s been an avid cyclist for many years, and with his wife Terry has explored most of the major rail trails in New England and the southern US on their tandem bicycle.
He’s a member of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Advisory Task Force for the town of Sudbury, and has written several reviews of research studies on e-bike safety and bicycle crashes.
Glenn has seen first-hand how rail trails can improve the health, safety, and connections in a community, and provide safer exercise and transportation. Although he enjoys riding the MCRT in Sudbury on his mountain bike, he’s looking forward to a few years from now when this portion of the MCRT is completed, and many more people will be able to enjoy it.
Brennan is an attorney who earned his J.D. at Suffolk University School of Law in Boston. He previously worked in the railroad industry for both Conrail and Pinsly Railroad Company, where he handled land sales and railroad right of way, utility leases, and easement agreements.
Today he is the data privacy officer for the Thales Group in the United States, a leader in the global aerospace industry. He is an experienced bicyclist having extensively toured much of the US and Europe on biking vacations on both single and tandem bicycles.
BRENNAN WALL, Esq.
Steve Donnelly serves on the Board of the Friends of the Manhan Rail Trail, in Easthampton, Mass, a component New Haven & Northampton Canal Greenway, the longest interstate trail in the northeast U.S.
He was a founding a member of the team instrumental in conceiving the Manhan Rail Trail that opened in 2004. A history buff, Steve is a regular contributor to the Historical Journal of Massachusetts.
Below are the volunteers in Easthampton beginning the installation of the iconic 120 foot mural on the Manhan Rail Trail. This was one of the first, large scale murals on a rail trail in the U.S. and was funded in part by the Norwottuck Network years ago.
Sharline grew up in a loving and close-knit family in Uganda. Her father was an educator and business man and her mother was a businesswoman who, to this day, is the family rock. Both of her parents instilled in her a spirit of tenacity and hard work. They taught her that anything worth doing is worth doing well.
As a little girl, Sharline was extremely precocious and always asked "Why?" She respectfully challenged authority and the status quo to answer that probing question, and never settled for an answer that was neither rational nor practical. Subsequently she was nicknamed "Why."
Her world of wonder and discovery was turned upside down by a series of atrocious events amidst political upheaval. By the time she was 16, she had survived two wars. Sharline came to the United States as a refugee and was welcomed by this community. Her first jobs were as a caregiver to youth with special needs at the Fernald School and as a cashier at Osco Drug on River Street. She went on to work as a teacher, writer, and health care aide.
Elizabeth Johnson is a retired high school English teacher who has served for many years in the College Board Advanced Placement English Literature and Advanced Placement English Language programs as a national teacher workshop leader, curriculum consultant, and exam reader.
She is a child advocate, serving as a recruiter and grant writer for the CASA Project ( Court Appointed Special Advocates), an organization that provides volunteer Guardians as Litem for abused and neglected children in the care of the Worcester County Juvenile Court and for the Learning First Charter Public School serving minority and immigrant communities in Worcester.
Her volunteer activities include collecting, packing, and shipping over 26,000 books and other educational materials for schools, libraries, and universities in Liberia and leading the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Worcester. An avid adult cyclist for over twenty years, she has explored New England, Vancouver, Santa Monica, West Virginia, and Denmark by bicycle. She is the mom of two splendid daughters and two delightful grandchildren.
Alan Moore and his family live a few blocks from the Mass Central Rail Trail in Somerville and is co-President of the Friends of the Community Path, joining the group a few years after it was founded in 2000 to extend the Community Path (MCRT) eastwards to Cambridge and Boston.
In his professional career he is an experienced consulting engineer in the fields of Environmental Remediation services and Sustainable Transportation Planning. Here are links to a couple of Alan's short presentations. A history of the Somerville Project and a presentation about using CPA funds to do improvements on the Community Path.
Danny's interest in biking dates back to his early years in high school, when he began using his bike for transportation, as opposed to recreation. After several summers of biking between his home in South Boston and his summer job teaching sailing in Charlestown, he came to appreciate street designs that make biking safe and comfortable.
Today, Danny is a passionate advocate for safe streets, active transportation, and public transportation. He is an active member of Southie Bikes, a local bike advocacy group, and regularly participates in public meetings for Boston area transportation projects.
Danny recently graduated from Hamilton College where he studied Computer Science and Economics. He is now a software engineer at Athena Health, a health care firm in Boston.
My family and I live in Natick adjacent at various times to an Aqueduct Trail, NYC / CSX / MBTA Main Lines and the former Saxonville Branch--now the Cochituate Rail Trail.
My first exposure to Rail Trails was in 1972, hiking on the Peterboro and Shirley Branch in Townsend MA -- now the Squannacook River Rail Trail (MA), and followed by explorations of the Rutland Railroad Island Line--now the Island Line Rail Trail (VT.) Other trails my family has enjoyed include the Great Allegheny Passage (PA), Burke Gilman (WA), Pinellas (FL), Southern New England Trunkline, Cape Cod, and Shining Sea (MA), Hop River (CT) Airline State Park (CT), East Bay (RI), and South County (RI), Katy Trail (MO). For decades we have found inspiration in every trail we visit.
Long time advocacy has led me volunteer for 3 N.E. Rail Trails and several Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committees. The Mass Central Rail Trail presents a powerful opportunity to revitalize the social, economic, and environmental vitality of not only the cities and towns the MCRT directly links, but also for the many people living in communities connected via intersecting trails. Can you imagine the day when we can give directions to our homes by saying, "take Mass Central Rail Trail to the Bruce Freeman, go north two miles, then turn east on Main St.?"
I strongly believe a bicycle is a happiness machine. I became personally invested in the MCRT as my local MCRT - Wayside section was slowly but surely built out. I was surprised to learn how incredibly complex the many different projects are, and I developed a hobby of compiling the fine details for my own edification. I realized this work would be valuable to trail users and trail builders as well, leading to my volunteer effort.
I look forward to the option of a stress-free, safe commute on the MCRT to my day job as a systems engineer. Personally, I calculate the optimal bike route from my home to the MCRT at 2.83 miles. I believe that everyone should have a similar option, and this is the basis of my advocacy.
In my free time, I enjoy being a Dad to two wonderful girls (including biking with them on many Massachusetts trails), mountain biking, snowboarding, and exploring the outdoors.
Paul Marrone, P.E., Leed AP
Board Member and QR Code Project Mgr.
Paul is a retired Professional Engineer with a long career spent in heavy construction project management. In retirement he has undertaken a forensic analysis of the construction methods used at the Wachusett Dam & Reservoir using available public archives.
His research has revealed the extensive impact on the project of the railroad systems of the era. The results of his work, together with that of selected student engineers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, can be found at the website Before There Was a Dam https:beforetherewasadam.com/
In December 2023, He was awarded the Distinguished Public Awareness Award Issued by New England Water Works Association