Environmentalist Spotlight: Denée Evans

Environmentalist Spotlight: Denée Evans

In honor of Women’s History Month, MCE is highlighting the women leading the charge toward a more sustainable future. Denée Evans is the Transportation Services project manager for the City of Richmond, where she advocates for sustainable and equitable transportation options.

Can you tell me about your background?

I am a San Francisco native, and I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration and a Masters of Administration – Public Management degree. I became a Transportation Services project manager for the City of Richmond in 2016 initially to develop a citywide parking program that evolved to include mobility services and transportation sustainability. Many innovative pilot programs and services are being introduced to underserved communities to improve the environment and expand travel options, so it’s an exciting time to be on the trail of sustainability.

What do you do as Transportation Services project manager?

My focus is on mobility services, electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, and parking management. I am currently working on several mobility programs to introduce affordable car share and bike share programs to the City of Richmond. We also hope to launch a local on-demand electric shuttle in the next year. The sustainability aspect of this job has been really fulfilling and exciting. Even before I started working in this field, I was driving a hybrid vehicle and recently installed solar panels on my home, so I really believe in the sustainable practices that I promote.

What are some of your most fulfilling projects you have been a part of?

Working in Richmond, we often face budgeting challenges, so it’s important to produce creative solutions to move projects forward. While expanding our EV infrastructure, I look for ways to do so on a small budget and in a way that is equitable to the public. For example, to provide equal access charging, I sought a partnership with EVgo. As a result of that partnership, they provided the City with two Equal Access Charging Hubs and eight EV fast chargers at no charge to the City and in return we provided high-profile parking spots to encourage high use. Additionally, I coordinated a public-private partnership with Volta, which is the first of its kind in the nation.  Again, the City provided the public street parking stalls and Volta provided enhanced infrastructure and charging equipment for public use.  With Volta’s help, we were able to install EV chargers within downtown Richmond that are free of charge to the public. I am proud to say that both projects expanded our EV infrastructure without costing taxpayers a dime.

How do you incorporate equitable values into your work?

Serving the entire community and leveling the playing field for the disadvantaged influences all the work that we do at the city level. We put policies into place to ensure that everything we do is equitable and accessible. I try to reinforce those values in my work. I make sure that we extend our services to those who normally wouldn’t have access to them. For example, Richmond is one of the early communities to supplement our paratransit services with rideshare services. It has been rewarding for our department staff to receive positive feedback about how those services opened the door for many physically challenged that now have the mobility to go anywhere they desire 24 hours a day.

How have you been involved with MCE?

The City of Richmond has an existing relationship with MCE as a Deep Green customer and is home to the MCE Solar One Project. When I was looking into options to update our existing charging stations, I learned about MCE’s EV charger rebates. Richmond was one of the first cities to take advantage of the rebate program to replace and upgrade the Civic Center stations.  Being familiar with MCE’s programs firsthand, I am a vocal supporter of MCE and recommend MCE’s programs to other municipalities and Neighborhood Councils. The City of Richmond tries to take advantage of MCE’s programs as much as possible because we see the benefit that MCE brings to the community. There is a commonality between the City of Richmond and MCE in that we both seek to serve the underserved and protect the environment. It’s a great partnership.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in public service?

Anytime that a woman can be in any realm of public service, it’s a win for everyone. Diversity in public service brings new representation, perceptions, and ideas. I think having more women in this industry is a value-add for the community.

What do you hope to see Richmond accomplish in the next few years?

I would love to see Richmond expand infrastructure so that more people can bike and walk as primary modes of transportation. Richmond is a little city that has so much potential to be a leader in this industry. I would like to see Richmond capitalize on opportunities to provide sustainable transportation options to our community.

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