At February’s monthly meeting, the Omnitrans Board of Directors proudly recognized Senior Executive Assistant to the CEO/Clerk of the Board Araceli Barajas as Omnitrans Employee of the Year for her accomplishments throughout 2019!
Winning this award was a humbling surprise for 24-year transit veteran. Throughout the year, Araceli consistently performed her role at a very high level, demonstrating her commitment to the agency by going above and beyond in her daily duties in providing administrative support to the Omnitrans CEO, senior leadership team, and Board of Directors.
In just over three years at Omnitrans, Araceli has promoted from executive staff assistant to her current role. When she first applied here, both openings were available, but she admittedly hesitated to apply for the senior position despite years of experience in paratransit, bus, and rail. She preferred to play it safe to learn the agency culture and familiarize herself with our Board of Directors.
Since then, Araceli has excelled in her career, taking the lead on various efforts, which have both greatly impacted the agency and have given her a boost of confidence to further her professional development. Last year, Araceli kicked off a project to implement PrimeGov, a new meeting agenda management software. She leads the inter-departmental working group to ensure successful implementation of this new solution.
Additionally, Araceli played an instrumental role in coordinating one-on-one meetings with every member of the Board of Directors and staff from each of the 16 City and County members of our joint powers authority. This was a crucial step in gaining their support and approval of the ConnectForward service plan, which comprises significant service change proposals to ensure financial sustainability into the future.
“I’ve had a lot of great examples throughout my career who have empowered me to grow professionally, Erin being one of them, so I am very proud of these accomplishments,” says Araceli. “There is always an opportunity to learn, whether in your personal life or at work, and I want to be the best that I can be to benefit the organization.”
Her newfound confidence and desire to flourish motivated Araceli to serve in the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Transit Board Administrators Committee, enroll in the Omnitrans Leadership Development Academy, and begin working in a long-term program with the International Institute of Municipal Clerks toward becoming a certified municipal clerk.
These are all steps Araceli has taken all while attending college, where she is currently working toward her associate’s degree, a goal she started working toward many years ago, but had to pause due to life events. Her drive to resume her higher education exemplifies her commitment to professional development in order to better serve the agency.
“Araceli has a highly technical job that requires great attention to detail and knowledge in order to successfully accomplish all the tasks that come through the Executive Office,” says Interim CEO/General Manager Erin Rogers. “She excels in all her duties with the highest level of professionalism and shows everyone the same level of respect, which positively impacts the agency and those around her.”
Araceli understands the importance of her work and the positive impact that it has on our community and those who rely on Omnitrans for their transportation needs. “Whether I’m putting together an agenda packet or organizing a meeting, it contributes to the bigger picture. It is important that I provide our board members what they need to make informed decisions on behalf of their constituents to help us provide better transit service,” she says.
Araceli looks forward to continuing her path toward leadership development and gaining more tools and resources to serve Omnitrans and our riders as best as she can, especially as a woman in the profession. “Good leadership is caring about the people you serve no matter your gender, but it has been a positive experience for me to see women excelling into high-level roles in the industry,” says Araceli. “It’s exciting for me to see the shift into a more diverse field with equal balance.”
Omnitrans is fortunate to have driven individuals like Araceli on our team. Congratulations on a well-deserved recognition!