Kristina caught our Editorial team's eye when she reposted an article on LinkedIn about commuter trains in Texas. We thought, "Trains in Texas? Cowboys on the commuter rails?" and then we picked up the phone. What we found was a dynamic professional who was having great success moving a city toward more sustainable transport with a population that doesn't love to leave the comfort of the driver's seat.
Our focus at Influence Magazine is to boldly celebrate brilliance and in this, a Spotlight feature, on Kristina Brevard, we shine our light brightly so you can get to know the story behind her success.
THE INFLUENCE INTERVIEW
Talk to us about how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in a small farming community in Southern Illinois. I always knew there was something more for me outside of the tri-state area but after being awarded a full scholarship to the local community college, I decided financially it made the most sense. I attended one semester and knew it wasn't right for me. In the middle of the year, I packed my car and transferred to Eastern Illinois University.
During the four years I was there I changed my major three times, fell in love with Student Life activities, worked in nearly every office on campus (student life, residential life, minority affairs and admissions), served as a Resident Assistant for eight semesters and an Orientation Leader for two summers, all while dabbling in my commercial art business and working at the local Subway. (Clearly I've always been an ambitious one)
My Senior year I was recruited by the University of Texas-Arlington, moved to Texas and started my what turned out to be a short-lived career in Residential Life, but was the first step of my career in the Public Sector.After six months I changed jobs and worked for the City of Richardson for three years and then "followed the money" and went into the Private Sector for a few years; the fitness industry and then telecom.Then Hurricane Katrina hit the coast and that's when my career path took a big turn. I was volunteering in the Katrina relief efforts after work and realized I was in the wrong line of work. I was no longer having an impact on lives at my job.
I left the Private Sector that year and became the Director of Development for a small Human Services agency. I was a part of something great and I was having a positive impact on the lives of others. I was helping an organization bridge financial crisis for residents in Allen, Texas. The pay was low, but the "warm and fuzzies" were incredible. As a single mom, I was unable to pay the bills with those warm and fuzzies. I began looking for a new position. I wanted something where I could have an impact lives, a place where I could leverage my skills and passions and still pay the bills. That's when I found Denton County Transportation Agency (DCTA).
What are you short term goals?
To continue breaking the mold and thinking outside of the box; using an innovative approach in the development of new projects, establishing and leveraging strategic partnerships, identifying new funding strategies and implementing new solutions to improve mobility and land use within our region.
Long term goals:
To continue being a leader by pushing the envelope and encouraging others to think outside of the box.
The biggest obstacles standing between you and meeting your goals?
Biggest obstacle? I believe all obstacles can be overcome by deciding what you want in life, where you want to go and going after it. I've never had a problem going after what I want in life. My biggest obstacle is probably deciding what opportunity I want to "go after" next. I never dreamed I'd be at this agency for nine years, but what has kept me here have been all of the opportunities that have developed through the years. Opportunities to be a part of something great and have a positive impact. Opportunities to learn, grow and develop while leveraging my skills, experience and expertise. Opportunities to be challenged while being encouraged to think outside of the box. These are the kind of opportunities I look for and will determine what's next for me.
What professional goals have you met over the past year?
I've been with this agency for over nine years. I started as an hourly employee working as the Marketing Assistant. Within six months, I was promoted to Marketing Manager, later Vice President of Marketing & Communications and then two years ago I was placed into my current role, Vice President of Strategic Planning & Development.Through my time at DCTA, I've had my hand in the planning, construction and launch of the county's first commuter rail line, developed and implemented a community rail safety campaign, developed and deployed innovative transit solutions leveraging technology and have played a role in the region's transportation planning efforts with a huge focus on the 2040 Mobility Transportation Plan.Serving on the executive team at DCTA has been a great experience as we lead an incredible team. We're a lean team, but we accomplish big things. Playing a role in the planning efforts of our region has also been an amazing journey. We are a large region, but we all have the same goals; Improve mobility, reduce congestion and improve air quality.Over the past few years it's been an honor to be recognized by my industry; Mass Transit Magazine's Top 40 Under 40 and most recently was named a Progressive Railroading Rising Star. I've also been recognized through my philanthropic work over the years with the American Red Cross. Though I am not currently an active volunteer with the organization, I'm grateful for the opportunities they've given me over the years to serve my community when there was a need.
Looking ahead 5 years what would the dream result be of the work you’re doing right now?
To see vertical construction on one of the land development projects I've been working on.
How do you work in an innovative way?
Ambition, hard work, persistence, and tenacity. These were instilled in me at a very young age by my mother. She taught me to set my goals high, work hard for them and never give up. I am so blessed to have her words of wisdom.I'm not sure if you would consider this "innovative" but when I was 12, I had my own business, Kristina's Apparel. I sold dance apparel to dancing schools located in small rural towns. This is when I really put my mom's words of wisdom into action. Later, I put myself through college with a commercial art business which was a business venture encouraged by my mom. I think her teachings were quite innovative for the times.
Life is filled with surprises, what has surprised you?
When I was in college, I planned to have a great career. I knew I would excel at whatever path I chose because I would choose a career where I could have an impact and do big things. I never expected I would graduate from college, move to Texas, get married, change career paths, have a child and get divorced...all in three years. If THAT doesn't make you stronger...I don't know what would! Those are the life challenges that make us stronger, that teach us to "never give up."I would also say that staying at this agency for nine years was very unexpected. I never expected to stay anywhere this long, let alone in transit. In the past, I had a tendency to outgrow my positions within a few years. This agency has been helping me grow and has leveraged that growth to benefit the agency and my professional career.
One thing you wish you knew earlier?
How important networking is. I never learned this in college and it is so important and mutually benefits everyone.
Contacting Kristina Brevard: