Stephen Place | Programs Leader
Stephen, born and raised in Denton, Texas, moved northward in 2010 to attend The University of Tulsa. Initially unsure of what to study and wary of higher education bureaucracies, he eventually found his home in the Sociology department (not free of bureaucratic processes, but, a source of solidarity and skeptical examination).
Through the University, Stephen was able to surround himself with a supportive and passionate community; first, through student groups focused on environmental and social justice issues, and then through an internship at the Tulsa Hub in 2011. In the early stages of seeing the potential for combining his love of cycling – integral for transportation, therapeutic, and recreational needs – with a deeply established drive to serve through compassion and integrity, the Tulsa Hub was principally a place of personal growth. Seeking to seize every opportunity to learn and finding inspiration in the Hub’s profoundly gracious community, Stephen is dedicated to the Hub’s mission of “changing lives through cycling”.
Metal-head/musician first, Texan second, quiet rebel third. Stephen is also father to Lizzie, the world’s kissiest dog.
Rob Franklin | Senior Mechanic
Rob has been a cycling enthusiast since before any of the rest of the Tulsa Hub “kids” were born. Rob works with gates and clocks at his day job, and volunteers with Up With Trees on weekends. Rob found the Tulsa Hub crew when the crew contacted his employer in 2011 about a potential facility, then started showing up to volunteer and lead volunteers every time the Tulsa Hub opened. Finally, Rob let Tulsa Hub compensate him for his dedication, service, and leadership in 2012 by accepting the title of Workshop Manager.
Rob enjoys the wide variety of mechanical equipment donated to the Hub, and takes great pride in reviving bikes “left for dead” into vital conveyances and passing his vast mechanical knowledge on to the program participants and volunteers.
Although a total goofball on occasion, he tends to balance the “incurable optimism” of the other staff with a sober dose of cynicism and austerity; meanwhile, he shares the same birthday as Neil Young and can hit a wicked tennis serve. Rob has two daughters and celebrated the birth of his first granddaughter in 2013.
Stuart Hetherington | Senior Mechanic
Stuart has been involved with Tulsa Hub as a volunteer mechanic since 2008 and as a Workshop Manager since 2010. Stuart has been a vehicular cyclist since 2004.
A second-hand mountain bike and the windy streets of Chicago was all it took for Stuart to become hooked on bikes. After a winter of commuting in the cold and snow, this Tulsa native soon left for the greener (and rainier) hills of cycle-friendly Portland, Oregon, where he soon became immersed in the do-it-yourself bike culture of the city. “Adventures in bike mechanics” has been a theme throughout his career as a cyclist. He learned the basics by working on his own and most of his friends bikes, that came mostly via thrift stores and garage sales.
Soon after moving back to Tulsa in anticipation of the birth of his son in 2008, Stuart began work at what was the loose collective of Bicycle Vigilantes known as Tulsa Hub. As the Hub’s mission and purpose grew, so did Stuart’s appetite for mechanical skill. He attended United Bicycle Institute in 2009 and was promoted to Workshop Manager in 2010. His favorite part about working with Tulsa Hub, besides the odd and rare donations that sometimes come through the garage, is the chance to work with the ACE recipients on their bikes, and to feel the sense of satisfaction and purpose after the bikes are complete.
Outside of the Hub Workshop, you'll find Stuart around town as the Retail Manager for This Land Press, as well as "going to town" on the drums in the various bands with which he performs.
Jason Schmidt | Bicycle Mechanic
Jason began life in the quiet, quite out-of-the-way place of Evansville, Indiana. He spent much of his childhood on bicycles and has great memories of blasting around and over everything on a green Schwinn tandem with his childhood friend Jeff.
Jason went on to study wildlife biology, moving around the US and Texas, and along the way met Paige, his perfect compliment. In 2011, they moved back to her home state of Oklahoma to welcome the arrival of their son, Orion. Searching for a local "Cooperative" bike Workshop, he began volunteering for the Hub in the fall of 2011. His availability allowed the Hub to expand their hours and be open every Tuesday and Thursday morning. During this period he would work on bicycles with Orion riding in a backpack on his back.
Eventually Orion became too big and too curious to stay satisfied in the backpack, and began wanting to work on the bikes as well. That development combined with a full-time job offer swayed Jason away from the Hub for almost three years. But, he stayed in touch as a volunteer and donor, and always wanted to return. Then, in the summer of 2015 after waiting nearly 5 years, Jason became a staff member of the Tulsa Hub.
You can find Jason in the Workshop surreptitiously changing the dial on the radio from Country and Western to 90s Alternative or whatever semblance of punk/metal which can be found.
Arianna Harmon | Operations Leader
Originally hired as the Creator of First Impressions, Arianna Harmon is now managing operations at Tulsa Hub. A soon-to-be graduate of the American Studies program at OSU-Tulsa, she is fueled by the belief that individuals have intrinsic knowledge and potential which, if fanned, can empower and transform their lives and their communities. Arianna has been fascinated with the intersection of capitalism and philanthropy throughout her university career, and is culminating her research in her senior thesis project which examines "Oligarchic Philanthropy" and its implications for the nonprofit sector and Democracy in the United States. Arianna is enlivened by speaking about justice issues, having done so from the pulpit when she studied religion and philosophy at Oklahoma City University, and in community settings both at Tulsa Hub and through community organizing work. In her two years at Tulsa Hub, she has put her education into action to cultivate leaders from within the Tulsa Hub rider community to begin learning about the democratic engagement process in order to organize for equitable transportation access for all citizens of Tulsa.
Matt Compton | Education Coordinator
As a Tulsa native, Matt biked his way through college and graduated in 2006 from Oklahoma State University, where he earned his degree in History with an emphasis in Middle East Studies, Archaeology, and Anthropology. His interests in these fields led him to be a part of archaeological excavations and surveys in Jordan and in Oklahoma during his tenure there, and he continued his experience in phase archaeology in Green Country Oklahoma.
Matt moved back to Tulsa in 2008 and began working for Tulsa Public Schools as a para-teacher before earning his certification in elementary and secondary education. It was during this time - from 2009-2012 - that he was the sponsor of the after school bike club at Kendall Whittier Elementary and began his work with Tulsa Hub. During this stint, he became a LCI certified bicycle instructor and continued to volunteer with the Tulsa Hub at bicycle rodeos for kids, youth bike clubs, the ACE program, and YMCA Summer Institute program for the Tulsa Hub (2013-2016) .
He transferred to the district of Union Public Schools to teach elementary education from 2013-2015 where he continued to work with the Hub, assisting with STEM related bicycle community events at schools and community centers. He finally found his opportunity to continue teaching using all his previous experiences, developing curriculum for the youth and adult programs at the Tulsa Hub. Being able to teach bicycle focused instruction has always been a passion for Matt, as a student of life and bikes he has enjoyed continuing to teach youth and adults through his work at the Tulsa Hub.
Ren Barger | Founder & CEO
Ren is alive to demonstrate that love is the only engine of survival. As the founder and CEO of Tulsa Hub, she has a long and eventful history as a vehicular cyclist and active-transportation educator. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and raised between Wisconsin and Nantucket Island, she settled in Chicago after high school, where she began using a bicycle as her primary means of transportation. It was here in the Windy City where she earned a living as a bike courier while attending Columbia College Chicago and volunteered for Working Bikes Cooperative and Blackstone Bike Works.
In 2004, after completing a self-contained bike-tour of the state of California, Ren was hit by a motorist and sustained several broken bones, including a spinal fracture, and was confined to a wheelchair for two months. Through a therapeutic yoga practice, she was able to recover into "normal" mobility. This experience galvanized her commitment to active-transportation safety education and equity promotion for all users of the roadway, and resulted in ongoing analysis of the built environment "from the gutter up--" not to mention the inherent prejudices within the concept of "normal."
In 2007 Ren completed her League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor training, and resettled in Tulsa. Ren founded Tulsa Hub in 2008, as a volunteer-powered social business which offers low-or-no-cost reconditioned bikes and gear to local adults and youth in need of transportation to achieve improved autonomy. Upon consummating studies at the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon, in 2009, she honed her passion for service, social justice, and bicycle advocacy into a mission focused on “changing lives through cycling”.
Ren sources great joy from being involved in every aspect of the Tulsa Hub's mission, and continues to practice and teach Therapeutic Yoga at various studios in town.