Peter Ohlms

Ohlms FamilyUntil starting college at UVA in 2000, I lived in Nokesville, Virginia, a rural crossroads near Manassas. By the late 1990s, the church I grew up attending was embarking on a quest to seek megachurch status by purchasing the adjacent middle school (it did so and is still struggling with the debt) and by seeking louder and more contemporary forms of worship. This experience strongly influenced me when I began searching for a church in Charlottesville – I wanted no part of either trend.

I did manage to stick with the Baptist tradition, becoming involved in the Baptist Student Union, where I met my wife Amanda, and benefiting greatly from the student luncheons at various Baptist churches, including UBC, that were common at the time. I joined Jubilate my second year at UVA and became a UBC member my fourth year. I have family ties to UBC. Although my mother did not grow up here, she was born in Charlottesville. Her family lived here for about five years and attended University Baptist Church.

I am a “bus geek,” and a major part of my identity while in college was driving buses for UTS. My fourth year, I was a student supervisor and would occasionally show up to Jubilate rehearsals holding a handheld radio. Nowadays, I still get behind the wheel every couple weeks as time permits.

In 2004, I graduated with a degree in civil engineering, and that summer, Amanda and I were married at UBC. Fun fact: While I am an only child, she is one of ten. After the wedding, we moved to Chapel Hill so that I could pursue a graduate degree in city and regional planning from UNC, which I received in 2006. We then spent two years in Greensboro, where I worked as a transportation planner and Amanda completed a master’s degree in counseling. Although we had never felt entirely included in the Chapel Hill church we attended, our Greensboro church quickly became home, and we still miss it.

Due to Amanda’s close family ties and my desires to drive buses again (I only got to do so once while in NC, plus a brief seasonal stint driving a rattletrap holiday parking-shuttle “trolley” at an open-air shopping center), the plan was to return to Charlottesville somehow. As the economy was declining in fall 2008, Amanda and I were lucky enough to both find jobs. Hers came first, allowing us to make plans to move back. I later signed on at JAUNT as its first Mobility Manager, a position focused on coordinating transportation for people with disabilities and the transportation needs of human-service agencies. In 2012, I began working at the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research. Formerly called the Virginia Transportation Research Council, it is VDOT’s research division, and I am now its token “multimodal” researcher (meaning I get to focus on transit, bicycle, and pedestrian topics).

Amanda and I have two adorable sons. We recently bought an old house in Belmont and are spending all of our free time (although really, who has free time with two kids under age 4?) fixing things and scheming about how to get things fixed.