By Phyl Newbeck, Contributor
Bill Regan is a firm believer in community. He and his wife, Nina, moved to Charlotte in the summer of 2019 and almost immediately, while looking for ways to get involved, he joined the Trails Committee. “I was very interested in getting to know Charlotte and doing what I could,” he said. “I love to hike and bike so the Trails Committee seemed like something that would promote those activities, increase community spirit, and be environmentally responsible.” This spring, Regan was appointed chair of the group.
Regan reports that the committee just gave the Selectboard their scoping study for the final piece of the Town Link Trail, which would go from West Village to the Town Beach. The trail currently connects Mt. Philo to the Cohousing project on Greenbush Road, and the hope is that it can be extended north through West Village to the Town Beach.
Trail planning is quite a departure from Regan’s previous work as a counterterrorism expert for the federal government. “As a young person, I got exposed to the world beyond the town where I grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,” he said. “I knew I wanted to work in international relations.” Regan studied abroad twice and got his B.A. in International Relations and French, followed by a master’s in National Security Studies, European Diplomatic History, and International Negotiations. During his over three-decade career, Regan lived in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. He rose through the ranks and became Senior Reviewer of the President’s Daily Brief and then Chief of Counterterrorism Analysis.
Retirement from the federal government allowed Regan the opportunity to start a new career and he launched Regan Leadership, LLC. “The roots of it are that for my whole life I’ve been interested in outdoor activity,” he said. “All along I did as much cycling, hiking, kayaking and cross-country skiing as I could, though not as much as I would have liked since I was living in the DC area. Once my federal career was over I wanted to marry love for the outdoors with my passion for teaching.”
One of the components of Regan Leadership is Regan’s work as a certified cycling instructor for the League of American Bicyclists. “Most people know how to bicycle,” he said “although I have been asked to teach kids to ride and to help adults who haven’t been on a bike since they were kids.” The majority of Regan’s clients are adults who are reasonably proficient cyclists but aren’t comfortable riding in traffic or groups. He provides instruction on fixing flat tires and other roadside repairs and recently helped a client who wanted assistance in becoming a four-season cyclist.
In addition to teaching cyclists, Regan has worked with Local Motion on including instructions on dealing with cyclists and pedestrians in driver education programs. Pre-pandemic, he taught some high school classes on the subject. “I’d like to think the state is moving in the right direction,” Regan said. “When I’m alone on the bike, 99% of the time, motorists are considerate.”
In addition to his cycling instruction, Regan has taught cross-country skiing at Trapp Family Lodge and Catamount Family Center. He also teaches kayaking courses, helping those who already know how to kayak learn how to paddle more efficiently and how to judge the weather, as well as providing safety instructions, including single and two-person rescues.
Teaching has definitely been a constant in Regan’s life. Last semester he taught a graduate seminar at Tufts, and he has done some guest lecturing at UVM and Middlebury College on international terrorism. “I love being in the classroom and encouraging students to consider public service,” he said.
Regan’s volunteerism extends to a number of fields, including working on racial justice issues and mentoring troubled youth through Spectrum Youth and Family Services. He also does a combination of pro bono and paid work for Vermont environmental organizations and what he describes as socially responsible nonprofits. “These organizations may not have the resources for a management consultant,” he said “so I can provide some assistance.”
For Regan, it all boils down to trying to make a contribution to society. “Every citizen who enjoys any privilege has an obligation to contribute and make our little corner of the world slightly better,” he said. “That weaves through my career, volunteer work and teaching. I believe in the sense of community. We’re all in it together and need to come together to help each other and our communities.”