Women of the Walking Movement: Wendy Landman
America Walks recently posed an opportunity for our audience, internal staff, and supporters to nominate women walking champions who they admire. This piece was written by Stacey Beuttell, Executive Director at Walk Boston, in recognition of Wendy’s powerful, 15-year tenure as Executive Director there.
Wendy assumed the role of WalkBoston Executive Director in 2004. In her first major advocacy effort, she galvanized support to ensure that the Charles River North Bank pedestrian bridge was built. The highly publicized walk she led with community and agency leaders showed that riverside trails to the new parks would dead-end without a bridge over the rail tracks. Globe and Herald editorials followed and revitalized widespread interest in the bridge, which encouraged the state to seek funding. The bridge was completed in 2012.
Wendy is particularly passionate about the connection between walking and transit, and can often be heard stating that “transit is the middle leg of a walking trip.” Massachusetts state agencies have heard to her calls for improving the “last mile” of a commute – from “a crosswalk at every bus stop,” to sidewalk improvements and lighting to and from transit facilities – and have embedded her strategies in statewide planning and capital improvement efforts. Thanks to her advocacy, MassDOT is piloting a sidewalk snow removal program for the first time this winter – a major win for all of us but particularly those with limited mobility.
Women tend to be the primary caregivers of young children and older adults, and as such experience difficulties related to a challenging transportation system and unsafe walking environment more often than men. As a woman, Wendy can empathize with these struggles and often names them when testifying about being dependent on unreliable transit systems to pick up children before daycare closes or take someone to a medical appointment. Wendy, like her mentors before her, has worked to diversify the transportation industry and bring the voices of those not often heard from to the table.
The most important thing I have learned from Wendy is the importance of relationship building. Her approach to advocacy focuses on coalition building and measured discussion which has allowed her to push on issues from the inside and the outside. Strategic alliances between advocacy groups, state agencies, policy makers and community-based groups have led to some of her biggest wins for walking.
Wendy is a true believer in the idea that the quality of the built environment has a direct effect on a person’s quality of life. She has built longstanding relationships with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and has advanced the idea of the importance of walkable communities in Age Friendly efforts happening across Massachusetts. You will often find Wendy pouring over the latest research on walking and health, or walking and economic development, or walking and climate resiliency. She believes in a data-driven evidence-based approach and uses her knowledge to align like-minded groups toward a common goal of more equitable, healthy communities.
Wendy has been a Walking College mentor through America Walks for several years now where she helps individuals develop strategies to increase and improve walking conditions, and to advise on advocacy approaches in their neighborhoods. She often consults with recent graduates and seasoned professionals about her career path and offers to assist them with connections in her network.
Important to note that Wendy is not retiring, she has stepped down as Executive Director and will remain at WalkBoston as a part-time Senior Policy Advisor. She will continue to make the metro Boston region more walkable and help advance ideas on Age Friendly walking across the state.
More about Wendy Landman: As Senior Policy Advisor for Walk Boston, Wendy focuses her efforts on statewide transportation policies and programs that work to increase pedestrian safety on our roadways and to promote walkable environments. She is a member of the Executive Board, Transportation Justice Committee and Nominating Committee of the Transportation for Massachusetts Coalition (T4MA). Wendy served as the Executive Director of WalkBoston for 15 years before stepping down in October 2019. She continues to be WalkBoston’s point person on many Boston metro area transportation and development projects, including the I-90 Allston Interchange Project. Wendy also works on Age Friendly Walking and is a member of the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative Executive Committee and serves on the Board of America Walks. She holds SB and Master of City Planning degrees from MIT, and a Diploma in Urban Design from the University of Edinburgh.