Veronica Davis is being honored as a Champion of Change for her time and effort developing innovative ways to help grow and expand the transportation industry.
Being selected as a White House Champion of Change is an incredible honor. From the time I was a little girl, my dad encouraged me to consider civil engineering as a profession. At the time, I did not know what it meant to be a civil engineer; I simply knew was I wanted to improve people’s quality of life and make a difference in the world. During my junior year at the University of Maryland, College Park, I took a class that taught me being a good civil engineer is more than designing civil infrastructure; it is also about considering the concerns of the people. That same lesson was reinforced in my involvement with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). That class and NSBE helped me find my passion in using transportation as a tool to positively affect people’s lives.
It is in the vein of bridging the technical gap that exists within communities that I co-founded Nspiregreen, LLC with Chanceé Lundy. As the Principal Planning Manager for Nspiregreen, a sustainability and environmental consulting company located in the Historic Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC, we specialize in bringing the people element back into civil infrastructure planning and sustainable communities. Nspiregreen affords me the opportunity and freedom to engage communities and advocate for transportation in unique ways.
Many people do not recognize the role that equitable and accessible multi modal transportation options play in their everyday lives. Transportation planning and choices have the ability to impact socioeconomic conditions, personal health and overall quality of life. I seek to help others understand that the role of transportation cannot be underestimated. Furthermore, the highlight of this honor is that my life can serve as a testament to others that it is not always necessary to have a separation of work and home because the work that I do for Nspiregreen also affects communities like mine. For example, I am able to use my technical knowledge to shape and advance transportation options in my neighborhood. In my term as the transportation chair for the Hillcrest Community Civic Association, I have worked with other transportation advocates to improve bus service, expand the Capital Bikeshare program, and market carsharing programs. In addition to my community, I have the privilege of representing DC on the Citizens Advisory Council of the Transportation Planning Board, the DC area’s federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization.
As a result of many casual discussions with others about transportation options in my community, Black Women Bike DC was founded. Although it started as a twitter hash tag (BlackWomenBike), it grew into a movement within the District of Columbia. I have always been an advocate of sustainable transportation but after noticing the absence of black women on two wheels Nse Ufot, Najeema Washington and I founded Black Women Bike in May 2011. The organization has grown to over 550 African American women in Washington, DC ranging in age from late 20’s to late 60’s. The news spread to women via word of mouth and social media. Although the group takes a monthly group recreation ride to help novice riders get prepared for riding on the road, we encourage the women to use biking as an alternative form of transportation for running small errands and getting to work. Biking is an important form of transportation and recreation in the community because it allows people to have fun while receiving benefits of exercise at the same time. Black Women Bike is building a community of women who bike in the District.
My advice to people is to live your life in alignment. If you can convince one person to make better transportation choices it can be the catalyst for a movement that engages communities and sparks progressive change. Know that there is no contribution to society that is too small.
Veronica Davis is the Principal Planning Manager at Nspiregreen LLC.