By: Staff; InsideBiz.com
Tell us about your background – where you grew up, where you went to school and your family.
I was born in Norfolk and grew up in Chesapeake. I attended Great Bridge High School and the University of Virginia, where I received an undergraduate degree and two graduate degrees. I have spent 26 years in public service, which I feel is a higher calling. I have been married to Johnna Carson Harrell for 23 years and we have one daughter, Charity, who is following in my footsteps at the University of Virginia.
What were your reasons for leaving the city of Chesapeake to take the job with HRT?
I am driven by professional challenges. I believe transportation and regional congestion is the No. 1 problem facing the long-term economic vitality of Hampton Roads. To play a meaningful role in this important chapter of this region’s history was an opportunity I could not resist.
What did you learn as city manager that will help you in your new position?
People are the heart of any organization. Whether it’s a big city, a company or a transit agency, it’s the people who work there and the people they serve that’s key.
As city manager, I learned the basic truth of municipal service: There are policies and budgets, and then there are people. I want us to focus on the process and the budgets, of course, but never lose sight that we are serving people who need us.
We know from the Origins and Destinations survey released in January that 80 percent of our fixed bus riders are transit-dependent. That’s an important finding because it underscores how critical our role is in helping the segment of the community that needs public transportation.
The survey also found that the vast majority of our riders are going to work, shopping, attending school or visiting the doctor. Our mission is to help these people meet the demands of their lives with sensible and reliable options for mobility.
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