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Foothill Transit’s Doran Barnes:  Energizer-in-Chief Extraordinaire

May 4, 2020 0 Comments

Our readers will recall that the March 31 post at this blog, “Crises Demand Energizers-in-Chief at All Levels” (https://boardsavvytransitceo.com/crises-demand-energizers-in-chief-at-all-levels/), describes chief executives who wear the Energizer-in-Chief hat in tackling the twin challenges of education and inspiration during crises such as Covid 19.  “On the one hand,” the March 31 post explains, “people naturally hunger for explanation and explication.  They crave understanding: of the forces at work in the crisis, and of the extent of the danger they are in.  On the other, they crave hope – that resolute, capable leadership will bring the ordeal to an end.”

You’ll find a number of golden nuggets in the video interview (see below) I recently recorded with Doran Barnes, Executive Director of Foothill Transit in Los Angeles County.  You can put the wisdom that Doran shares to good use in dealing with Covid 19 and future crises you must grapple with in your authorities.  Indeed, Doran’s  responses to my questions add up to a veritable Energizer-in-Chief primer.  Three examples particularly struck me:

  • In playing the Energizer-in-Chief role at the helm of Foothill Transit during the Covid 19 crisis, Doran has been guided by a powerful philosophical framework in the form of a detailed set of values and a succinct, to-the-point mission statement.  Carrying out the inspirational facet of the Energizer-in-Chief role, Doran continuously refers to such Foothill values as safety, integrity, and gratitude in his frequent virtual meetings with Foothill managers and his communication with stakeholder organizations in the Foothill region of Los Angeles County.
  • Dealing with the educational dimension of the Energizer-in-Chief role, Doran has followed a golden rule: communicate, communicate, and communicate more so that Foothill customers, key stakeholders, and the wider community understand why Foothill Transit has had to adjust its services to ensure public safety in the face of a devastating pandemic while continuing to meet residents’ transportation needs.
  • And while necessarily focusing on the nuts and bolts of day-to-day crisis management, in close partnership with his highly supportive Board, Doran, as he explains in our video interview, has been giving thought to innovation opportunities that the Covid 19 crisis has begat. In that regard, he mused in our interview about the likelihood of managers increasingly working from home post-Covid 19 – a good example of necessity functioning as the mother of invention.

Finally, one of the important lessons Doran says he learned from dealing with Covid 19 is what a precious resource his colleagues in the national transit community are in terms of the best practices they are able and quite willing to share.  Another valuable lesson that he has re-learned during the crisis is the value of a close partnership with his Board.

Doug Eadie