How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
Wynder: MVTA is a wonderful company that will continue to be a part of the community and to grow with the community. Transit dependent immigrants are migrating out of downtown into the suburbs. As an organization, we are positioning ourselves to provide more services for them. I spent a large bulk of my career in para transit (disabilities). I have seen first-hand the life changing impact providing transit to an individual that was homebound but now because accessible transportation is a part of the community. You can’t be in transit without being compassionate. Our Bus Route 495 from Mall of America to Burnsville to Marschall Road Transit Station in Shakopee provides more transportation options and is decreasing unemployment. It’s about connecting pockets of communities and making employment accessible and building bridges to get people that live in the suburbs to jobs in the city or suburbs.
What word describes you the best?.
Wynder: I would have to say “strategic.” I think strategically. I spent a lot of my career working and being mentored by exceptional leaders. Also, my background as chief performance officer makes me goal centered. What I try to do is anticipate all possible outcomes and think two or three steps ahead hopefully to mitigate issues and find solutions.
What are your goals?
Wynder: I’ve always wanted to help people. I feel like as long as I can continue to make a difference I will continue to push forward. The more I can reach back and serve others and be able to mentor and serve others, the better. There is a lot of work to be done. There is always someone to serve in the transportation industry. “Optimistic” and “hopeful,” – those are the words people would use to characterize me. Keeping my struggles in perspective keeps me filled with gratitude and acting from a place of contribution. I also hope to be a small part of the success of the MVTA.
What Are Your 3 Biggest Accomplishments?
Wynder: I consider myself a team player, so my professional accomplishments are team accomplishments. But I am extremely proud of the success of the Route 495. The 60% increase in transit amenities in our service area like Bus Shelters. Also, the continued dialogue and successful working relationships we’ve established with the business community in the South Metro area.
How many careers have you had?
Wynder: Started out boxing apples on an apple farm across the street from my house. I talked so much that they moved me from the box machine to selling apples. I was 16 or 17. This shaped my ability to make a connection with others because I was communicating with people who could not speak English too well. We had to find other ways to communicate and it taught me a lesson at a young age — people are more alike than we are different. In college, I worked as a pharmacy tech. I learned not to judge a book by its cover. No matter how bad you have it, someone could be going through something even worse. But they’d still manage to smile. Finally, what set me on my transportation career was my work in Medicaid transportation, assisting individuals with scheduling rides to and from medical facilities. That exposed me to the immense transportation challenges people faced and how inadequate transportation could be a barrier in people’s daily lives that could affect overall health. That really opened my eyes to the socio-economic aspects of transportation.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are you?
Wynder: Some don’t believe in luck, but I think I do believe in luck. In the sense where sometimes you must be at the right place at the right time. I feel like I’m blessed. I always try to pay it forward, based on my level of success and opportunities. There have been a lot of people that have helped me along the way.
Any relevant information in support of VOICES Magazine mission to empowering immigrants?
Wynder: The immigrant community adds to the fabric of Minnesota, especially in my service area we have a very diverse ethnic population. What they add to the culture and community is important. That’s why Minnesota Valley Transit meets people where they are and provides access to them so they understand our services. For example, we have a language line and have print information in Somali. We are looking to grow that market.
How would someone write about your life for a magazine or newspaper?
Wynder: I would want it to be about how I’ve used my personal life and professional life to continue to give back and reach those who really need the services we provide. We started the “Stuff the bus” campaign in our service area to provide nonperishable foods. We collected over two tons of food that we donated to two shelters; one in Scott County and another in Dakota County. We are not only here to provide transit, but also to be a part to our community. I’m very proud of that.
If your story or message can help one reader, what lesson would you hope to impart?
Wynder: Everything gets better at the next stop. No matter where you are today, know that at the next stop, it’ll get a little better. Just keep going. That’s what I tell our amazing operators and it’s my personal motto.
Favorite Book that you read every day
Wynder: Until today. Daily devotion for spiritual growth and peace of mind by Iyanla Vanzant. I read the daily devotional every morning and use the positive message as a catalyst to keep a positive outlook for the day.
Wynder concluded the interview with his favorite Quote from poet Maya Angelou. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou