Southeast Missouri State University alumna Becky Bradley of Springfield, Ill., has become the first woman to be promoted as executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission in Pennsylvania.
“I live what I do, work harder and look for opportunity at all turns. I believe that’s why I was chosen to lead such an important metropolitan planning organization. No matter what you do in your career, roll-up your sleeves and dig in – success will follow,” Becky says.
Becky was selected when the former executive director announced his retirement after 47 years.
“I love that I have the opportunity to manage the growth of a major metropolitan region in the northeastern United States. It’s a tremendous honor to be trusted with all of the aspects of the region’s planning,” Becky says.
She said the commission is entrusted with a $17 billion transportation program and is involved in the planning and development of the northeast Pennsylvania region. Her job responsibilities include the revitalization, preservation, growth and development of the metropolitan planning agency for Lehigh and Northampton Counties, and 62 municipal governments. The region is the area between Philadelphia and New York City-North New Jersey areas and serves as a base for the surrounding regions.
The population is growing at about 12 percent per decade as New Yorkers and New Jerseyians flee to the area for lower taxes, and better schools, housing and recreational activities, according to Becky. Businesses and industries have grown as well. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission manages the growth as well as the abundant natural resources, parks and recreational development.
Becky, who currently lives in Germantown, Penn., earned her Bachelor of Science in historic preservation from Southeast. She went on to earn a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
She says she chose Southeast because it was only one of three universities that offered an undergraduate degree in historic preservation, and because her great-grandmother attended the University when it was a teacher’s college in the early 20th century.
“At Southeast, I learned that searching for the needle in the haystack does pay off and I utilize this principle in the ordinance work that I do to support community growth and revitalization. Whether I’m planning for new highways or looking for ways to reduce traffic congestion, understanding historic development patterns as a function of future development is critical,” Becky says.
She enjoyed studying in the historic preservation program.
“The quality of the courses, knowledge of the professors, spirit of collaboration among the students and small class sizes are gems that few if any other colleges or universities provide. I really enjoyed now retired Professor Bob White’s class where he gave us an historic photo and we had to find out where and when it was taken and any other information we could gather about the image. My classmates and I became close searching for information which led to still lasting friendships,” she says.
She loves to travel, going everywhere she can and making sure she enjoys the walk, experience, the spirit and culture of the place.
“Travel makes you a much better person as you learn about people and things that are outside of the typical day-to-day. I also, collect great ideas from the places I visit and bring them back to where I live to share with others and to implement,” Becky says.
When she’s not traveling around the world or the country, she hikes almost every weekend on the Appalachian Trail near her home.
“Talk to everyone you admire, listening to what they say and challenge yourself to build on the ideas and thoughts that they convey. Also, own what you do – and not just the good bits but everything. I’ve learned more and become better at what I do as a professional planner and as a person from the mistakes. The character that you grow and the integrity that you uphold is what makes you successful,” she says.