News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Trail Alliance hires first executive director

Scott Penzarella moved to Sisters in January of 2021 after purchasing Sisters Motor Lodge. He jumped in with both feet, getting involved with the Sisters High School Transitions Program and becoming acquainted with the trail systems and Forest Service land surrounding Sisters. An avid outdoorsman, he spends time in the backcountry hiking, biking, mountaineering, and climbing. Several times a week he hikes the Whychus Creek trail with his dog, Louie. Just two weeks ago he climbed Middle Sister. And he’s just getting started.

Along with being a new local business owner, he will be the first executive director for the Sisters Trails Alliance (STA). His background as a business owner, nonprofit fundraiser, and board member made him a perfect fit for the position.

A passionate outdoor enthusiast since attending college in Durango, Colorado, he found that connecting with nature was a big part of his DNA.

“Over the last 30 years, I’ve been involved as an outdoor enthusiast and through board development and director positions with bicycle coalitions and deep development work in Nepal,” said Penzarella.

He’s developed a lot of experience with nonprofits, including sitting on the board of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, a bicycle advocacy group with a deep focus on environmental stewardship, recreation, and safe routes to schools for kids.

“I’ve worked in nonprofit governance and fundraising to develop what started as a local program and became a national program to get kids safely to school,” he said. “We did a lot of trail maintenance work and lobbied for more access, which was not always successful in Marin County. The opportunity to come into an organization that’s been really successful at working with the Forest Service to develop, maintain, and further the use of trails is exciting.”

Penzarella begins his new position on June 10. He’ll take the time necessary to learn the landscape of the organization and looks forward to meeting stakeholders. He’s already met with the Forest Service to hear what their management goals are.

“I want to hear what success looks like to them and how we can play a role in their success,” he said.

He will also continue to operate Left Coast Lodge, formerly Sisters Motor Lodge.

Learning from every recreational group and the City of Sisters is important to Penzarella. He knows that’s how he’ll learn what needs to get done.

“I’m a North Star kind of guy. STA has already done so much meaningful work maintaining and creating trails. I’d like to look at creating a model that others can learn from. Other organizations can see the work we do here as a model for sustainable recreation for the future. That comes in every shape and form. That includes working with the Forest Service around prescribed burns to ensure our forests are here for us to recreate in. We want to bring all user groups together,” he said.

Sisters Trails Alliance member Ann Richardson said, “Scott will begin transitioning into his role on June 10. After that date, he can be reached at [email protected] Please mark your calendar for the evening of June 16 for a Toast the Trails gathering to welcome Scott to the Sisters Trails Alliance.”

The STA is a nonprofit organization. Their mission is to connect people and communities to each other and their natural surroundings. The STA plans, builds, and maintains multi-user, nonmotorized trails in and around Sisters, Oregon. Visit their website at


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