Trans4M is thrilled to welcome our new coalition coordinator – Laurel Burchfield! We were able to talk to her last week about her ideas for the future of our coalition, the direction she wants to take us, and how she plans on getting there.
First, some background: Laurel comes from the Michigan Public Health Institute, where she evaluated state-funded programs and coalitions. She has a master of arts in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from Arcadia University in Pennsylvania, and bachelor’s degrees in English and History from the University of Kansas. Laurel is determined to apply lessons learned through her previous work, education and her vast travels to improve public transportation in Michigan.
There is strong synergy between Laurel’s goals and Trans4M’s platforms – many of her goals are expansions on what we already do. For example, she already has plans to build on Trans4M’s work focusing on the mobility needs of Michigan’s minority populations and those with disabilities.
Laurel wants to think outside the box on how to get Michiganders interested in transportation. As we have seen, many people do not realize that our transportation system includes all modes and users, not just cars and drivers. Nor do they realize that strong transit systems are beneficial for the social, economic and physical viability of a community. Laurel is determined to find creative ways to get the transportation conversation to the forefront in Michigan.
Since Laurel comes to us with a background in program evaluation, she plans on utilizing these skills on Trans4M programs and priorities. She explained, “I hope to bring my evaluation experience to the coalition. I want to use evidence-based, rigorous evaluation to see if we’re making the kind of impact we want to be making in the state.”
What can we expect from her in her first few weeks? She first wants to focus on learning our members’ priorities, “I think it’s vitally important to reach out to all of our Trans4M members”, she said. Laurel plans on taking advantage of Trans4M’s internal coalition data to learn how we can mutually benefit one another and how we can build a stronger coalition.
If you aren’t already sold on Laurel, here’s another selling point – this native Kansan has already been won over by our beautiful Michigan. “I love learning about Michigan. There’s a great, diverse population here; I love meeting people from around the state and hearing their stories.”
If you haven’t spoken with her already, go ahead and welcome her to the coalition – laurelb@trans4M.org. Between Laurel’s excitement on getting to know coalition partners, her accordance with our platforms and the addition of her evaluation skills, we are very excited to see how Laurel will steer us in our efforts to move Michigan!
Written by Kajal Ravani, Trans4M Fellow