Leader Profile: Carrie Harvilla
An interview with Carrie Harvilla, TransForm/Program Manager of Alameda County Safe Routes to School
How did you discover your current career path?
I wanted to combine my interests in public spaces, participation, and bike facilities, so I got a Masters in Community Development at UC Davis. Safe Routes to School involved working with a wide variety of people: students, teachers, engineers, bike mechanics, and others. Everyone is doing it because they care, they’re all volunteers. It’s uplifting to see people take action because they care about something.
What are you most excited about with your program?
Engaging students and bringing activities to school. Particularly, the Golden Sneaker Contest has been an opportunity for middle school leadership. We talk work with the students and they plan the event themselves and direct the contest. When the students make decisions together in ways that make sense, they will promote the event to their peers.
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
Hearing a little girl say “this is the first time I’ve bicycled to school.” It’s also very rewarding to work with parent champions; they get involved for all sorts of reasons. We couldn't do all the work we do if not for their enthusiasm and support.
Tell us about a story that’s been inspirational
The Parent Champion in Union City organized a bike club for fourth and fifth grade students in fall and spring with 15 kids. Every Friday they ride together, to the library, Coyote Hills, and to other destinations. It was cool to see kids learn and get out to great places while also learning about biking. The kids gain independence and see how they can get around on their bicycles.