Westley Kern, City of Charlottesville

Westley Kern, Marketing Coordinator for Charlottesville Area Transit, City of Charlottesville

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?  
I was born in Lockport NY, a small town located outside of Buffalo on the Erie Canal. 
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area? 
In the summer of 1998, my family relocated to the area.  My mother had accepted a job offer from UVA Hospital in their Heart Center Step Down Telemetry Unit.  It was probably one of the greatest things that happened to our family as the economic opportunities were quickly diminishing up north.  My father is a Farrier (a person who works on horses’ feet) and with the population of horses in the county, he was able to settle in quickly.
What neighborhood do you live in now? 
I currently reside in the Fry’s Spring neighborhood.  This is my first attempt at “city” life as I have always been a country kind of person.  I love the community feeling that Charlottesville offers.
Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?  
I have two siblings, one that lives in Stanardsville and the other that lives in Richmond. 
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate? 
I graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from James Madison University in 2008.  While attending, many of my studies focused on the business to business aspects of marketing.
What were you doing before you came to work for the city?  
I was working for another city!  In my junior year at JMU, I discovered that my bank account wasn’t keeping pace with the costs of tuition. I found out that the city of Harrisonburg was hiring bus drivers and applied.  After passing my drug test and obtaining my Commercial Driver’s License, I was cruising the city streets in a 35’ bus.  I had so much fun that after I graduated, I moved into the offices handling many of the odd jobs that came about.  Eventually I was put into charge of their marketing operations and special events including coordinating the transportation needs of JMU home football games.
Your job title is Supervisor of Programs & Camps – what, in your own words, would you say you do?  
In short, I handle everything that holds the CAT logo.  I oversee much of the communication that occurs between CAT and the general public.  Online materials, brochures, signage, and outreach events all cross my desk.       
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?  
I’m going to tackle this question backwards as I think the most difficult part of my job creates the best part of my job.  In the business of communication, it’s always a challenge to get your message heard.  To combat this, you have to have a certain level of creativity.  I love the challenges of presenting our materials in new and exciting ways.  Our latest route launch is a perfect example of that.  As part of the promotion, we wrapped the Route 11 bus in giant sticker.  The vibrant colors really draw attention to the message onboard creating awareness that might not have happened otherwise.
How does your job most directly impact the average person? 
Our mission at CAT is to move as many people as possible quickly and efficiently.  Through education and outreach we are able to reduce the number of cars on our community’s roads – decreasing traffic congestion and pollution.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the city?  
When I joined forces with the city, CAT was in the middle of a transit study.  It was interesting as the “new kid on the block” to learn the current route structures and potential future changes.  Having taken a key role in coordinating the various presentation and outreach meetings, I was able to quickly grasp what was important to our riders.
What is a little-known fact about you? 
I can pick my hair out into a perfect afro.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.? 
I enjoy a lot of outdoor activities.  I’m always getting my hands into weekend projects.  Wood working and car maintenance are my specialties.  Last summer I took my motorcycle for a cross country ride, roughing it in the desert and riding through the snowcapped mountains.