In 2007, a loose-knit group of skateboarders and skateboard enthusiasts in Ann Arbor decided it was time to create a skatepark in a city that has many other exceptional public amenities. In 2014, after a large community effort, Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark — a nonprofit public skatepark in Ann Arbor — was created. Twelve years after this initial push, the skatepark is a thriving nonprofit. And now, it’s elected its first female president, Nina Juergens, on Jan. 21.

Juergens joined the skatepark effort in 2009 to oversee branding and merchandising. She said she was optimistic about the progress of the skatepark, as the interested skate community members had transferable knowledge to contribute to the project.

“I think the timing happened because we were older and knew people that could help us along the way with volunteering, advice, grant writing and legal help to form the non-profit Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark,” Juergens said. “It truly was a community effort.”

After the grand opening in 2014, she helped to organize and run a free program to teach women and girls how to skate. As the new president, she hopes these programs will continue to advance under her leadership.

“Just because it’s built doesn’t mean it’s done evolving,” Juergens said. “Upon the park opening, I co-created a program along with Crystle Partington, another board member from the beginning, called All Girls Skate, with free instruction to women and girls during the summer. We provide all the equipment needed. I’d like to see more events, programs and amenities happen in the future.”

Juergens also has long-term plans for the skatepark, including adding more infrastructure and amenities.

“I’ll be meeting with the head of the Parks Department soon,” Juergens said. “I would like to see lights for winter use and things that make it comfortable to families to spend the day there, such as bathrooms, picnic tables and shelter.”

Also elected at the annual meeting were Secretary Trevor Staples and Treasurer Josh Meisler. Meisler has served as the organization’s president for the past four years. Meisler said in the announcement press release that he has high hopes for the coming year with Juergens as president.

“I am proud of the great events, community collaborations, programming and park improvements that our board of directors and volunteers have facilitated in the past few years,” Meisler said. “I look forward to more success for the best public skatepark in the Midwest under the leadership of the new president and founding board member of Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark, Nina Juergens.”

Business junior Jordan Stanton has been skateboarding since he was 14. In Ann Arbor, he’s familiar with the skate shop scene. But he grew up in New York, where many skateparks have tried producing skate programs, specifically for girls, since he started skating seven years ago.

“I have seen a definite increase in girls skateboarding since I started seven years ago,” Stanton said. “Specifically in New York, there’s been momentum for a while, but I believe it usually takes longer for that to spread to the Midwest.”

Though Juergens has many long-term goals on her agenda, she emphasized in a press release that her goal from the beginning of her involvement in the skatepark was to increase girls’ interest in skating and to allow them to feel included in the Ann Arbor skating community.

“The goal from day one was to have a larger presence of girls and women skateboarding and using skateparks,” Juergens said. “We’ve run the All Girls Skate instruction free for participants since the opening of the park, and we’ve had professional skateboarders such as Samarria Brevard, Nora Vasconcellos and Jordyn Barratt come to be a part of the All Girls Skate program.”


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