Over the last 2 years I have been focused on the growth and evolution of Transit Alliance in anticipation of my desire to take the next step forward in my own career. I took the Academy on the road to other parts of the nation and other parts of our own state, I recruited the next generation of our organizational leadership both on staff and on our Board of Directors, I transitioned our funding from 100% public sector to a mix of sources, and I began lasting partnerships with other advocates in the mobility space.
Now after 12 wonderful years, today is time for me to make that leap into the next phase of my career! This decision naturally comes with excitement and reflection. Over a decade ago, I went to this interview that lasted about 50 minutes (the shortest interview I had ever had) and wasn’t sure that I was able to convey all my passion and excitement for transportation in the Denver Metro Region in such a short amount of time. Apparently, my passion, experience, and leadership were easy to see!
October 1, 2005 was my first day on the job which was about one year after the FasTracks vote. I always remind people that in those first 30 days I was asked to answer the growing doubts about the need for continued regional leadership for transit. And answer I did, with over 600 participants in a series of regional leadership forums, release of a national best practices study on placemaking, and hosting the world’s most renowned guru in placemaking, Professor Jan Gehl from Copenhagen, DENMARK all within my first 6 months. I understood that our region needed a new model for how we empowered our citizens to get involved in transportation and community building. The region had invested $3.1M to get voters to say yes to FasTracks and I wanted to pioneer post-ballot education to keep their new-found passion and interest growing.
Working with the region’s key stakeholders, I quickly developed the Citizens’ Academy and launched it in February 2007 with 99 applicants and the first Academy class of 25. 40% of that first class went on to serve in key elected, appointed, and volunteer leadership positions; the call to serve our region has continued with 28% of the over 900 Academy graduates having served in elected, appointed and volunteer leadership positions.
That is why I believe, Colorado has the MOST amazing people. I am so humbled and proud of the contribution that I have been able to make over the last 12 years, the lives that changed (sorry to all the spouses, friends, and colleagues that now have a “transit-nerd” in their life), and the chance to serve as a leader for transportation.
What’s next for me? Well, I am looking for the next chance to lead and support our state so I know that means that our paths will cross soon. So, stay tuned!
Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me along the way. I came to Denver in 2001 with very few professional and personal contacts and the welcome that I received is THE reason that a native DC girl now calls Colorado home, that I am the proud Mom of two Colorado natives, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.
In particular, I want to thank Chris Waggett, CEO, D4 Urban and Transit Alliance Board Chairman for being an incredible colleague and mentor. Chris, your leadership for our region is unparalleled in my book and I will always be incredibly thankful that we got to work together!
There are SO many others to thank, other members of the Transit Alliance Board, both past and present, the amazing alumni of the Academy, all the Transit Alliance staff through the years, and all the friends I have made along the way. I also owe a huge thank you to my wonderful husband Neil and my two little loves Colin and Campbell – their love and support know no limits and made it all possible.
So, what’s next for Transit Alliance? The Transit Alliance Board of Directors has decided that after 19 years in the Denver Metro Region it is time to say farewell. However, the Citizens’ Academy will live on in the very capable hands of our regional partner DRCOG. The Academy legacy is TOO important and we searched long and hard to find the right partner that would honor the program, its alumni, and its future.
We look forward to working with DRCOG to create a smooth transition for the Academy and all of its alumni. There isn’t a program like the Academy anywhere else in the nation and as the creator, I believe it can jump start new public engagement efforts at DRCOG with its established, respected, and trusted brand of truly engaging our citizens in the future of the region.
Thank you again and please stay in touch!