Brooke Belman is all about building community.
In her work at Sound Transit, she has helped shape the way we think about livable neighborhoods around stations – among many other accomplishments.
And in her career, she has fought hard to always have a seat at the table – and encouraged others around her to do the same.
March is Womxn’s Month, and March 8 is International Women’s Day.
“At Sound Transit, we’ve had so many good role models of women in leadership positions, and I think it’s a strong tradition,” she said.
Belman will become the agency’s Acting CEO this summer, continuing that tradition.
“We need to keep that going and keep bringing more and more diversity to the table and different perspectives,” she said. “It’s critical to the work we do. We deliver transit, but it’s much bigger than transit. It’s more about community and making sure we represent the communities we serve.”
Belman said she has big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of CEOs Peter Rogoff and Joni Earl.
“It’s surreal, and it’s been humbling to get the support,” she said. “I think of it as an opportunity to keep all of our work moving forward, and to keep a steady focus on everything the agency is trying to do right now – bridging where we’ve been and where we’re headed.”
Belman hasn’t stopped moving since joining the agency in 2004. She currently serves as Sound Transit’s Chief of Staff, a role she will return to once the search for a new CEO concludes.
Her other leadership positions include Deputy Executive Director, Land Use Planning and Development; Chief of Staff of the Design Engineering and Construction Management department; and Director of Community Engagement.
Belman previously held consultant roles in communications and politics. She has a degree in History.
From campaigning to construction management, Belman has found herself drawn to fields that have been traditionally more male-dominant, though “it is changing, and hopefully it won’t always be the case.”
“It’s the kind of environment where it’s a little tougher to get in there, but it can be more fun too,” she said. “It makes you come to the table with more moxie. And I’ve loved the things I’ve gotten to work on.”
One of her most rewarding projects was advancing the agency’s work with equitable transit-oriented development (TOD).
Belman’s advice to womxn in their careers is to “just go for it.”
“Women feel like they have to have 100 percent of the qualifications to show interest, but that’s not the case,” she said. “Be curious and explore what interests you.”
She also encourages recognizing and supporting other women and their achievements – providing a confidence boost when needed.
“Whatever you’re working on, there are examples of women who have broken through and are just great role models, and I’ve been lucky to get to work with many of them,” she said. “And when they take a step forward, they reach their hand back to pull others with them.”
Some role models in her career with Sound Transit have included Kathy Albert, Leslie Jones and Amy Shatzkin.
“It takes a village. The agency has had so many accomplishments, but we can always improve,” she said. “We look back, and we think about the lessons learned and how we can do better moving forward.”
This International Women’s Day, we are all invited to call out gender bias and inequity. Learn more here about how you can join and #BreakTheBias.