The Forward-Thinker: Kristie Goforth

By Candice Wagener | Photography by Hillary Schave

Her last name being what it is, it’s certainly reliable mode of transportation and an escape from kismet that Kristie Goforth has been a catalyst for change and momentum throughout Dane County. Having grown up in poverty with low career expectations, Goforth rose above it all.

In April 2020, she became the first person belonging to a native tribe elected to Monona’s City Council and is the newest executive director of Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison, an organization providing bikes to underserved populations in Dane County.

“When I make up my mind to do something, I’ll work as hard as I need to, to be successful,” Goforth says. “because I don’t see failure as an option.”

For example, instead of one large FB4K bike collection date in January — not ideal in our Midwestern climate — Goforth extended the collection by a few months, starting in the fall, and plans to give away bikes in the spring. She’s aiming to give away 2,021 bikes in 2021, about 521 more than the current record, and 3,000 bikes in 2023.

Goforth is passionate about opening up the world of cycling to populations that have historically been excluded. Beyond providing bikes, she’s partnering with organizations to eliminate additional barriers, like access to safe storage, safety equipment (locks and helmets) and trails. The benefits outweigh the barriers, as kids gain independence, healthy habits, a reliable mode of transportation and an escape from what can be a stressful lifestyle.

“It’s a huge honor to be a part of seeing that all people get to experience cycling, especially young kids, because that’s when the love for it starts to blossom,” says Goforth.

FB4K has also provided bikes to essential workers during the pandemic. One recipient was riding a push scooter one hour to and from his job as a CNA in the COVID wing at a Madison hospital. Having a bike has changed his life, she noted. He has more time for himself and his family.

Goforth is also wholeheartedly committed to promoting diversity, including on the board of FB4K and the City of Monona, where she is a strong proponent of greater access to public transportation and housing options. “Having less diversity makes systems weaker,” says Goforth. “If we all just acknowledge that to be factual, then we know the direction we need to move in.”

Heidi Duss, a 2020 Woman to Watch who nominated Goforth, admires her friend’s willingness to challenge the status quo and admires Goforth’s transparency, ability to elevate other women, help her neighbors and fundraise like a powerhouse. “She is a force. She’s setting such a great example for her children; she shows up for her community, and she brings a sense of belonging to everyone.”

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