Blog

For Immediate Release
June 16, 2022 

Norte Hires Jill Sill as Executive Director

Sill has earned the full confidence of Norte’s board and staff in leading Norte into its next phase

Traverse City, MI. Norte’s board of directors has named Jill Sill as executive director. The board is confident that Sill’s lifelong dedication to education, leadership, and community focus will elevate the organization’s initiatives and further its mission.

“We are thrilled to introduce Jill as our new executive director,” says Anthony Rupard, president of the Norte board. “She has provided steady, thoughtful, and productive leadership through a challenging time of change and transition. As the board discussed what the organization needed in an executive director, it became clear that we already had the ideal candidate. She has the organization’s full confidence to advance our mission.”

Sill joined Norte as the director of operations in 2020. The board appointed her the interim executive director after the departure of former Executive Director Ty Schmidt last September. Rupard explained that the board defined and followed a deliberate process to identify the next executive director. “During that process, Jill continued to prove herself daily and establish her leadership,” said Rupard. “We’re enthusiastic about the next phase of Norte with Jill at the helm.”
A graduate of Traverse Connect’s Leadership Grand Traverse program, Sill has devoted her professional career to education, focusing on access to the outdoors and physical activity as the keys to developing confidence and strengthening social connections. Sill formerly taught at Homer Flex High School and was the program director at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies — both in Homer, Alaska. Most recently she was the administrative assistant for Woodland School in Traverse City.

“It’s an honor to lead one of northern Michigan’s most important organizations,” said Sill. “I have seen firsthand Norte’s profound impact on local youth, including my own children and their friends. They’ve gained confidence, connections, and a deep sense of caring for others that will continue to benefit them for years. I’m committed to working with our incredible staff, volunteers, and supporters to ensure that future generations enjoy our programs and develop lifelong habits.”

Norte was founded in 2014 to change the culture of health in northern Michigan. The organization advances its vision through Safe Routes to School initiatives, youth bike programs, and advocacy. Last year, over 1,200 children participated in Norte bike programs, an increase of 300 percent over five years. The organization also loans out nearly 500 bicycles annually through the Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Library. Norte calls the Grand Traverse County Civic Center home, where it operates out of two buildings — the Norte Clubhouse and Norte Wheelhouse.

“Norte experienced rapid expansion over the last few years, both in numbers and geographically. As a result, we’re rolling out programs from the tip of Leelanau around the bays and up to Harbor Springs,” said Sill. “Our next opportunity is to continue to elevate our programming while also building organizational resilience to ensure that we’re here for northern Michigan. We’re approaching the end of our two-year strategic plan, and I have full confidence in what we affectionately call Team Orange — our staff, volunteers, supporters, and riders— to move boldly into the next phase of the organization.”

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Norte | Happy. Healthy. Strong.  Norte is the Traverse City area’s active transportation–centered, youth-focused, neighborhood-based 501c3 advocacy organization. Norte’s mission is to help build stronger, better connected, and more walk/bike-friendly communities by empowering the young and young at heart.