Grew up: Houston, Harris County, Texas
Studies: I attended the University of Texas at Austin for both undergraduate and graduate school. I studied government/pre-law as an undergraduate, and taking civil engineering and public affairs classes shaped a curriculum that added a transportation focus to my Master of Science from the school of architecture.
Career aspirations: Growing up, I wanted to be a pathologist like Quincy, MD. But somewhere before I left for college, I could no longer stand the sight of blood.
Industry start: In my senior year of college, I took a class in social psychology to fulfill my minor. This class studied how land use and the accessibility of services affect people psychologically and their overall quality of life. I found the class fascinating and it set a path to my passion. For graduate school, I secured an internship with a transportation consulting firm. I quickly learned that access to safe, reliable, affordable and easy-to-use public transit can transform lives. I wanted to be part of that transformation. I had found my purpose.
Early influence: I have worked in both the public and private sectors of the transit industry. I do not think that it has been one job that has influenced my career, but the people that I have been blessed to work with on this journey, both the good examples and the bad examples.
Current role: I collaborate with HNTB’s regional and local leadership on strategic planning and implementation, industry representation, business development, service delivery and client satisfaction.
Accomplishment: Working with HNTB teams across the nation, I am always overjoyed when I can bring a perspective, idea or relationship that had not been previously captured. I like to be that value added. Then, I like to see the team take ownership of it and run with it.
Projects: I am very excited about HNTB’s efforts to build more capacity in the transit workforce by exposing more youths and young professionals to the opportunities that exist within the industry. We have several programs that build workforce capacity and they are being complemented with some new initiatives as we work with clients. Our HNTB Partners Program partners with small businesses, teaches them HNTB business practices and helps them apply those practices to their own companies for long term success. We have successful program participants that are pursuing work as primes in Detroit, Dallas and Houston. In some cases, we have hired local talent on projects that have gained experience that enabled them to start their own companies. On the other end of the spectrum, our SPARK program provides monthly sessions with junior high and high school students to expose them to career opportunities in the architecture, engineering, and planning industries.
Inspiration: From one perspective, it is the risk takers like Elon Musk with his Hyperloop and Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp who founded Uber. They challenge us to not become comfortable and complacent. They shift our paradigm, make us put on our capes and realize that we have a responsibility to continue providing the public with reliable, safe, affordable and convenient transportation options. From another perspective, it is all of the women and minorities that have and still are working hard in the transportation industry that created a space for me to occupy a position of leadership at HNTB and in the transit industry. I want to make sure that I build upon their achievements to create more opportunities in the future. It is also my colleagues that are eager to share ideas and experiences to build strategies that address our future challenges. Most of all, it is every person that chooses transit at least once a week to fulfill their mobility needs. They inspire me to continue to help improve and increase transit options across the nation.
Favorite pastimes: Cooking, travel (for pleasure), reading and spending time talking with my family. If I was not in the transit industry, I would probably own a bakery restaurant, or try out to be the next Food Network star.