2021 40 Under 40: Brittney M. Farr

Nov. 23, 2021
Brittney M. Farr, Director of Government Relations, Denton County Transportation Authority
  • One word to describe yourself: Passionate
  • Alma Mater: The University of Texas at Austin (Hook Em!)
  • Fun fact about yourself: I played roller derby in college.
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): DART Hatcher Station. This is my favorite station because I was able to take an adjacent vacant piece of land DART purchased to put in the alignment, and, working with community partners, transform it into a community garden and training farm for one of the largest food deserts in the City of Dallas. It’s amazing, and everyone should go see it!
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): Route 57 for MBTA. That bus was my lifeline in law school, and really sparked my love and appreciation for public transit.

After nearly nine years with DART, Brittney M. Farr joined the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) as its new director of government relations in September 2021. Farr is responsible for DCTA’s local, state and federal legislative strategy and engagements, maintaining relationships with elected and appointed officials, chambers of commerce, school districts, higher education, businesses and non-profits. Farr also represents the agency within local communities, at regional meetings and industry-wide events to meet agency interests, needs and objectives by identifying and establishing strategic partnerships.

Farr joined DART in 2013 where she demonstrated a tireless commitment to the agency and its mission of improving mobility and economic opportunity for all residents of its 13-city service area while pushing the agency to act intentionally to connect transit to solving the region’s challenges of human trafficking, food insecurity, workforce access and homelessness. Her efforts helped DART achieve notable results in these areas and supported its goal to educate the transit industry about the role of transit agencies in creating solutions to these vexing problems.

Farr's work, particularly in the area of food insecurity, helped position the agency to respond to the significant challenges in this area created by COVID-19. Thanks to Farr's leadership, the agency’s work with programs like the Hatcher Station Community Training Farm, Restorative Farms and the University of North Texas at Dallas Mobile Market, gave residents in some of the most seriously affected parts of the DART service area access to fresh, healthy food. Working with other agency divisions such as transit education, innovation and transportation, DART delivered food and other essentials to public school students and their families who would otherwise do without because of school closures.

DART is a recognized leader in the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) space thanks to its early involvement with Lyft, Uber and others. In 2018, because of work with local community and political leaders, DART began creating a transportation management association (TMA) to address the need to connect workers with a rapidly growing job creation center, the Inland Port, which is located in an area traditionally underserved by many city services and mostly outside the DART service area. The challenge was to develop service alternatives that would operate within the Inland Port TMA and coordinate with and complement the adjacent DART services and the limited services provided by others in the area. The task also included making companies, communities and interest groups in the area aware of the new services. Farr applied her transportation training, as well as her training as an attorney, and her work developing community connections, to organize the effort, secure grant funding, create the new, non-profit entity, secure the needed legal approvals to operate and identify additional funding opportunities to establish the TMA. She also coordinated the planning efforts and, as a result, residents in the area have access to large employers like Amazon.

At the same time, in a different part of the DART service area, the agency was asked to assume responsibility for a second TMA that was not initially created by DART but was undergoing several management and administrative challenges. Again, DART applied its experience in TMAs to maintain connections to employees as businesses such as Toyota, Liberty Mutual and Boeing while navigating and resolving a number of complex legal and financial issues.

Farr was a member of APTA’s Emerging Leader Program and is the current president of the Greater Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar. She is active in the North Texas community as a board member of the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce and board member of After8toEducate, a nonprofit providing drop-in services and shelter for Dallas students experiencing homelessness.

Farr humanizes transit and transportation for the North Texas area.

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

I always knew I wanted to be a public servant, but it wasn’t until going to law school in Boston that I really learned the value of public transit. I took the bus everywhere in Boston, and not just because I got lost… a lot. I also don’t drive on snow. In all seriousness, using MBTA in Boston, I began to see how transportation, and specifically transit, knits together our communities and our lives. Transportation is the great equalizer, and I wanted to bring that back home with me to DFW.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The thing I enjoy the most is knowing the difference we make every day in people’s lives. They may not know us, and sometimes they may even be really mad at us, but at the end of the day, for so many people, transit is the only way they get to work, school, the doctor, the grocery store, wherever. Being a part of making people’s lives better is far and away the best part of my job.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Selling mass transit in Texas can be challenging. We don’t have the same levels of congestion or physical barriers (like say… the Atlantic Ocean) that make transit conducive for some of the other larger metropolitan areas. Plus, Texans like their trucks. But I’ve never been one to stand down from a challenge!

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

This one is tough because I was able to be a part of so many great things over the course of my career. If I have to pick one, I’d say the creation of Inland Port Transportation Management Association (IPTMA). Starting a nonprofit from scratch is no easy task and I’d often joke with Gary Thomas at the time that he was lucky the one corporations class I took in law school was nonprofits. I learned a lot, from how to file article of incorporation, to drafting bylaws, to installing a board of directors. But the mission was critical. Connecting people to jobs is a cornerstone of transit, and if not for the blood, sweat and tears put in to the IPTMA, many people in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in Dallas County would not have access to high paying jobs. Passing the Texas Bar Exam was pretty awesome too, though.

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?

As the liberal arts gal in the room, I cannot emphasize enough how important fostering and maintaining relationships is for our industry. Having trusting, genuine relationships with your colleagues, stakeholders and customers allows you to be proactive and address issues before they become problems. Grace, compassion and understanding go a long way. I’d also add that you should never, ever utter the words ‘That’s not my job.’ One of my closest mentors once told me that I needed to be a Swiss-Army knife and be ready to take on any task assigned to me. Not only do you contribute to your organization and your organization’s mission, but you’ll grow as a professional and as a person.