As Northwest Arkansas’ cycling scene continues to gain speed, you’ll find Bianca Montoya right in the middle of it. You might call her the hype queen of the cycling scene.
A Texas native, Montoya has spent the past year working for BikeNWA, a nonprofit funded primarily by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation (WFF). She initially began as a contract worker but after three months was offered a full-time job.
Montoya’s job is to create content and drive attention to initiatives that are designed to transform the region into a cycling destination. A series of studies commissioned last year by the WFF found cycling contributed $137 million to the Northwest Arkansas economy in 2017. BikeNWA’s work to build on that focuses in three areas: advocacy and education, on-street infrastructure improvement and events to spread awareness.
When offered the opportunity to work full time for BikeNWA, Montoya — a self-described cycling novice — was a bit surprised.
“I’m not this amazing cyclist, and they said, ‘That’s the point. We need somebody that’s able to communicate to an audience that we haven’t reached yet.’
“A lot of people think my job is to communicate to people wearing spandex,” she joked. “It’s more important to communicate to the people who aren’t.”
Montoya graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2013 with a degree in advertising and public relations. She said having trouble landing any of the jobs she coveted gave her some insight that still drives her professional approach today.
“I realized I needed some additional skills,” she said. “And the best way to do that is to volunteer my time and surround myself with people who are smarter than me and have done more than I have.”
Montoya’s resume of nonprofit work is extensive, with involvement in some dozen organizations including Artinfusion, a social group designed to connect young professionals to initiatives of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. After her second meeting in 2014, she was appointed the group’s youngest advisory board member.
She’s also volunteered with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Young Entrepreneurs Academy, NWA Young Professionals Summit and NWA Fashion Week.
“People joke about my being busy, but I’m really not,” she said. “If I have an hour in my week, I’m going to give it to someone else. Even just an hour can make an impact.”