Up until a few months ago, the opportunity to be a department head for Alabama’s second-largest city never crossed Quisha Riche Bryant’s mind.
A conversation with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle changed all that.
Bryant, who was appointed by Battle to the position in March, replaces outgoing director Tommy Brown, who recently retired after serving the City of Huntsville for 40 years.
“She’s a very smart young woman who has a lot of experience dealing with the federal, state and local government,” Brown said of Bryant. “She knows the community and the people, so she’s coming in with a really good knowledge and foundation for how to improve public transit and parking.”
Battle echoed Brown’s praise of Bryant.
“I’m confident Quisha has the skills and the know-how to lead this department into brighter and better directions in the future,” he said. “She has a unique perspective on what our citizens want and need from parking and public transit. The City Council and I will do everything we can to make sure she’s successful.”
A history of service
In her new role, Bryant is in a unique position to serve a demographically diverse population. She’s no stranger to the task, as she previously served as deputy executive director of the Huntsville Housing Authority.
Bryant came by her love of public service honestly. She was raised by her grandparents, John and Shirley Riche. John was a prominent Huntsville businessman who retired as president of A.C. Inc., in 2000.
“He was a founding member of the Committee of 100 and he was very active in many civic groups,” Bryant said of her grandfather, who passed in 2004. “He was probably on just about any board you can think of.”
Bryant’s grandmother has been just as influential in her life, though in a different way.
“She was just so great at taking care of us and making sure we had all we needed,” Bryant said. “She was also just a really encouraging person.”
The Mayor said, ‘If you like to do good and help people out, this will be a great job for you because we provide a service to help people who need it.’
A proud Huntsville native, Bryant attended Farley Elementary, Challenger Junior and Grissom High schools. She went on to receive her undergraduate degree from Tennessee State University and a law degree from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.
Her education could have taken her down any path, but she chose Huntsville.
“I wanted to come home because my family is still here and I’ve always loved Huntsville,” she said.
It was also where she felt like she could accomplish her primary goal – helping people.
Bryant’s first order of business is making sure the department bounces back to ridership levels prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her goals, however, extend far beyond the days, weeks and months ahead.
“We’re investigating electric buses and cleaner energy sources,” she said. “We’re also looking at building a new transfer station, so we’re pretty excited about that. Once we get that completed, we’ll do some upgrades to our existing facility.”
On the parking front, Bryant said new technology should make it more convenient for downtown shoppers who park on the street or in a parking garage. Even better, a new deck at the corner of Holmes Avenue and Greene Street is set to open soon.
Bryant said new and emerging technologies will play a pivotal role in the City’s parking efforts for years to come. Parking garages will transition to a card system that will negate the need for a person in a booth collecting money.
“We’ll look at our camera technology to make sure it’s where it needs to be to keep parking areas safe,” she said. “We’ll also be looking at utilizing different technologies to enhance our parking enforcement.”
She said her department’s efforts would not only reflect the City’s forward-looking approach, but also focus on helping all citizens and visitors alike.
“That was the biggest concern when I considered this job – ‘Will I be able to find that same pleasure in this role?’” Bryant said. “Before I was able to express this, the Mayor said, ‘If you like to do good and help people out, this will be a great job for you because we provide a service to help people who need it.’ With that, he alleviated my biggest concern.”
Bryant is the proud mother of Ava, a 12-year-old who is into dance and tumbling. Bryant married Henry Bryant in July 2020.