2023 40 Under 40: Brad Cummings, JD

Aug. 22, 2023
Brad Cummings, JD, Vice President, Chief Business Services Officer, Dallas Area Rapid Transit

One word to describe yourself: Fearless

Alma Mater: Undergrad: University of Utah;. Law School: Arizona State University

Fast fact about yourself: I love a challenge and will take on any open need my agency may have. Also, I am an unashamed Swiftie.

What’s your best experience on transit and what made it memorable?: There are too many! Recently, I went to Washington, D.C., for the first time to participate in Eno Transportation Senior Executive Program. My partner joined me at the end of the conference, and we spent the weekend taking WMATA and VRE everywhere. We were able to see and do so much in such a short period of time because of the reliability of public transportation. My grandpa served in both World War II and the Korean War, and it was special to see those two memorials.

Brad Cummings, JD, vice president, chief business services officer, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), has changed how internal service units are utilized by committing them to dedicate as much time and energy to delivering stellar customer service as they do delivering high-quality work products. Cummings has taught several agencies internal customer service skills, developed key metrics to measure the success of the efforts, and reports on the successes through quarterly and yearly reports.

Cummings has also used his legal background to change how procurement is done in the industry. He helped procure the first public transportation contract for using autonomous vehicles at Valley Metro. At Jacksonville Transportation Authority, he issued the first solicitation with federal funds for autonomous vehicles in another first-of-its-kind progressive design-build, operate and maintain project. He has also led the procurement efforts on two light-rail extension projects, a streetcar project, and a commuter rail project, utilizing design-build and construction manager/general contractor delivery methods.

As chief business services officer at DART, Cummings is leading several internal service departments, including procurement, diversity and vendor management, materials management, innovation, and social responsibility. Cummings is leading DART's collaborative care outreach program that will introduce a three-pronged approach to meeting the needs of those experiencing homelessness and/or behavioral health concerns on DART’s system with multi-disciplinary teams that consist of a police officer, paramedic, and behavioral health clinician. The project also has partnerships with multiple cities, a county, and numerous nonprofits to provide a collaborative community approach addressing the needs of those experiencing homelessness and/or behavioral health concerns. Cummings has also increased minority and women-owned business participation on DART contracts to 54 percent.

Cummings is often asked to speak at industry events, including American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Legal, APTA Transform, Red Cabin's Railway Interior Innovation Summit, National Institute of Government Procurement, National Association of State Procurement Officials and others. Cummings has conducted peer reviews for other agencies to help improve their procurement practices.

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

After graduating high school, my dad sat me down and gave me the adulting talk all teenagers need. He told me he and my mom had helped get me to this point, but the direction I wanted to go in life was completely up to me. He talked about the need to set goals, self-accountability, how to learn from mistakes, give back to those who need it, and always make yourself proud. It meant a lot at the time, but I go back to that conversation repeatedly to shape who I am.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

My priority is to create an environment where everyone on my team can do their best work, so what I enjoy most about my job is seeing that happen in real time. Each person firing on all cylinders, teaming collaboratively together to accomplish important work in an atmosphere where trust, respect and dependability are paramount. There is really nothing better.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Being a younger-ish person for the positions I have been given has probably been the most challenging. It is probably more of a self-imposed challenge than anything. There are common misconceptions about millennials that I am up against, and I must compete my ideas with colleagues that may have more years of experience than I have. I have been the youngest person on teams I have led and executive teams I have worked with. I have been fortunate enough to have colleagues that have respected what I bring to the table and have been able to connect values between all five generations of the workforce to accomplish great work.

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

Graduating from law school is the accomplishment that I am most proud of. Growing up, school and getting good grades came easily to me. Then law school hit me like a ton of bricks and pushed me harder than anything previously had. I really had to find a new level of commitment, effort, and dedication to excel in law school. It has really shaped how I view and analyze issues that I am confronted with and has helped me change the way public procurement is done in a way that is customer focused.

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

Be inclusive, start early, set expectations, and be accountable.  

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service Pros.com in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.