Billie Campbell, Senior Program Manager, Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born in Pekin, Illinois and grew up in Bloomington, IL.
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
My husband and I moved here in 1999. I had just completed my Master of Public Administration at George Mason University. This was a career change for me and I wanted to move from Northern Virginia to an area with a strong sense of community. My husband’s job at the time allowed him to work from home, so he was able to make the move without changing jobs. I feel like we escaped from Northern Virginia.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
We live on a 7-acre wooded lot in Earlysville in Albemarle County. It’s a beautiful setting, but not really a neighborhood.
Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
I’ve been married to Raymond Keneipp for 30 years. We have two grown sons, one living in Chatham, Virginia and one in Newport News.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, finishing my last year in Versailles, France. I took a year off to work full-time before starting graduate school, then earned a Master of Architecture with a specialty in structures. After a career as a structural engineer, I finished my MPA at GMU.
What were you doing before you came to work for TJPDC?
I was the Structural Engineering Department head and Project Manager for an Architectural/Engineering firm in Rockville, MD. For most of the five years I was there, I was also in the MPA program at GMU. Our A/E projects were exclusively for the federal government, mostly the Department of Agriculture, so it was a good segue for my shift to public service.
Your job title is Senior Program Manager – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
TJPDC is a regional governmental agency, but operates largely as a consulting firm. Our main work areas are transportation, land use planning, environment, and housing. During my 14 years at the TJPDC, I have done work in all of these areas and have also taken on responsibility for many of the administrative functions for the whole agency. My focus now is on housing and our newly formed non-profit arm, the TJPDC Corporation. I manage work for the HUD-funded regional HOME Consortium and other projects related to housing, and represent TJPDC on the Boards for the Thomas Jefferson Community Land Trust (TJCLT) and the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH). Through TJPDC Corporation we are working to launch a homesharing program, and have established working relationships with new programs including Cville Village to support aging in place and the Geriatric Collaborative of Central Virginia (GCCV), providing training in geriatrics and gerontology for health care professionals.
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
The work here at the TJPDC is varied and interesting, and impacts the quality of life in the region. Every day is different. I get to work with very capable, creative and committed staff members who invest their whole selves in the important work we do here. TJPDC has a broad range of expertise and provides a neutral, regional gathering place which serves as a springboard for new initiatives. Since most of our programs and projects are federally-funded, the most difficult part is keeping up with the always changing and ever-expanding body of regulations that are connected to those funds.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
TJPDC’s customers are really our member localities – the City of Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson. Our housing work touches many families, but is actually carried out by the HOME sub-recipients – Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP), Fluvanna/Louisa Housing Foundation (F/LHF), Nelson County Community Development Foundation (NCCDF), Skyline CAP, Piedmont Housing Alliance (PHA), and community partners selected through the City’s request for proposal process. The TJPDC Corporation offers the potential to serve individuals, which we hope to be doing in a year or so through the homesharing program.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the TJPDC?
The Heritage Tourism Toolkit was a really fun and interesting project we did several years ago. We developed this guide for owners and operators of heritage sites who want to open their site to the public, and for localities planning to create a heritage tourism program. The Toolkit provided an overview of legal, physical and management tools and included published materials providing practical guidance on creating tourism destinations. The Toolkit was distributed at an event at Michie Tavern. We won an award through the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) and the Toolkit was featured in the Guide to Best Practices in Southern Tourism and Destination Management by Dr. Rich Harrill.
What is a little-known fact about you?
I spent my 21st birthday in Sorrento, Italy.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
I’m very active at my church, Aldersgate United Methodist behind Fashion Square Mall. We are a Stephen Ministry congregation and I have served as the Stephen Leader for ten years. My husband and I sing in the choir. We also both ride Yamaha motorcycles and are charter members of the Charlottesville Chapter of the Star Touring and Riding Association started earlier this year. I play badminton twice a week in a racquetball court at ACAC – drop in on Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00!