Dynamic Black Women to Follow: Monica Backmon
In honor of Women's History Month, The Virginia Black Lifestyle Magazine is amplifying the narratives of dynamic Black women in the Commonwealth of Virginia for all of us to follow, learn from, and celebrate!
Meet Ms. Monica Backmon:
Monica Backmon is the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) and has led NVTA since May 2014. Bringing more than 25 years of public and private sector transportation experience, Ms. Backmon oversees the region’s long-range planning, prioritization, and funding of regionally significant projects bringing multimodal transportation solutions to Northern Virginia.
Managing an annual revenue stream provided through House Bill 2313 that is trending at $425 million per year, Ms. Backmon led the NVTA through the adoption of all six funding programs, the most recent occurring in July of 2022. With the implementation of NVTA’s six funding programs, NVTA is advancing 122 regional multimodal transportation projects totaling nearly $3.12 billion for congestion reduction throughout the region. Ms. Backmon also oversees the distribution of $110 million annually to the Authority’s nine member localities for their local transportation priorities.
Under Ms. Backmon’s leadership, NVTA adopted the update to TransAction, Northern Virginia’s long-range transportation plan, for the third time in December 2022. TransAction includes elements of technology and innovation and an emerging regional Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system amongst its 424 projects. Prior to her tenure with NVTA, Ms. Backmon served for a decade as Prince William County’s Reginal Transportation Planner. She has established herself as a leader in the region through her collaborative work with local governments, the Commonwealth of Virginia, regional entities, and transit agencies.
Ms. Backmon holds a B.A. in Psychology and a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
What are you most known for?
I'm most known for being the CEO of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.
How would your best friend describe you?
She'd say I'm a loyal friend with quiet strength.
What inspires you?
My daughter - at 12 years old, she's fearless! She reminds me to take chances. Additionally, being able to mentor, nurture and feed into other young women and help them with their professional development the way that others have fed and nurtured me, inspires me to keep going.
What is your greatest accomplishment? Why?
As the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, taking what was essentially a start-up organization, and developing it into a multi-billion-dollar regional entity. Building a team of 17 highly competent professionals, has enabled me to manage a portfolio of approximately $3.1 billion in transportation investments that have triggered nearly $6 billion of additional regional investments.
These investments will not only improve the quality of life for all Northern Virginians by creating an equitable, safe and sustainable multimodal transportation network but will improve the economy for the entire Commonwealth.
In a perfect world, share one thing you would like to see happen for Black women?
I would like for Black women to be acknowledged and revered for being the foundation that has birthed many nations...and to be able to breathe.
What are five songs on your playlist, that you think other women should add to theirs, and why?
"I'm Every Woman," by Chaka Khan. Reminds me that I am the only one who can set limits on my potential.
"Golden," by Jill Scott. When I've had a particularly hard day, I put this and my mood changes immediately. Regardless of what's going on, this song reminds me to live my best life!
"Good Morning Gorgeous," by Mary J. Blige. As Black women, we should compliment ourselves on a daily basis. We are always nurturing others, but we cannot forget to look at ourselves and say, "good morning gorgeous---I see you!" Put a smile on our own faces!
"You Wear It Well," by DeBarge. This song is about having confidence...walking proud and tall.
"Black Butterfly," by Deniece Williams. Another song about believing in oneself, standing proud in our inner and outer beauty and not being afraid of taking hold of one's dreams to reach your highest potential.
If you could go back in time and have a conversation with your younger self; which year would you return to? How old would you be in that year? What would you say to your younger self, to inspire her about her bright future?
1990---17 year old graduate from high school and headed to college. Would tell myself to embrace the journey - worry less, and don't be too eager to get to the destination. I would also tell my younger self to live life to the fullest - you will laugh, and you will cry but count it all joy.
Where can our readers connect with you?