Women in TransitTech: Gronna Jones.• 2 min read
In honor of International Women’s Day and throughout the month of March, Via is proud to profile a number of changemakers driving real innovation in their communities. Enjoy the story below, and then check out the rest of the series.
Challenging the status quo takes diligence, determination, and vision — especially when it comes to an industry that hasn’t seen a seismic shift since the automobile was invented. And, as it turns out, it’s often women who choose to challenge these norms. In honor of International Women’s Day and throughout the month of March, Via is proud to profile a number of changemakers driving real innovation in their communities and inspiring their peers. Enjoy the story below, and then check out the rest of the series here.
Gronna Jones holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Transportation from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her career in transportation started with an apprenticeship sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Transportation in 1984, and she has been the Transportation Manager for the City of Wilson for many years.
What did 10-year-old Gronna want to be when she grew up? How did you evolve from there to your current position in transportation?
She had no idea what she wanted to be. When the 18-year-old Gronna got to college, she wanted to be an accountant. After not passing Accounting II and getting a “D” on the second attempt, I knew that wasn’t for me. I went to my advisor and asked what I could switch to and not have to start over with credits. He told me about their new transportation degree program. It’s all history from there.
What do you think are the most important qualities in a leader? Are there any leaders in particular you look up to?
The most important qualities in a leader are honesty and fairness. There are too many leaders I look up to — I don’t want to mention any names in fear of leaving someone out.
What are the big transit challenges in your community that your team is solving with innovative mobility projects?
We just went through our biggest challenge. We switched from a fixed route system to an on-demand microtransit project that has attracted nontraditional transit riders. We chose this new service to help increase efficiency and provide a better quality of public transportation service.
In your view, what’s the biggest challenge the transportation industry as a whole will have to tackle in the next 2-5 years?
The biggest challenge for the transportation industry is overcoming the pandemic and regaining the public’s trust in our ability to provide safe transportation.
Tell us about a defining moment in your professional life that has helped guide you on your path.
Shortly after I began my career with City of Wilson, I was included in a national public transportation publication.
And finally, what drives you? (Pun intended!)
The desire to succeed and try new things drives me. Had it not been for the microtransit project between Via and the City of Wilson, I would have retired a couple of years ago.