Next City isn’t just a news website, we are a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities. Part of how we do that is by connecting our readers to urban changemakers and holding an annual Vanguard conference bringing together 40 top young urban leaders. Adrian Lipscombe is a member of the 2014 Vanguard class.
Name: Adrian Lipscombe
Current Occupation: Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Austin; Owner of Knotty Nice Bakery
Hometown: San Antonio
Current City: Austin
Twitter Tag: @ADIE_ML
I drink: Tea
I am an: Extrovert
I get to work by: Car, bike & public transit
The area I grew up: Military bases around the country
What is your favorite city and why? This is a tough question. There is not one city I love more than another. I love cities and how their form can change the behavior and attitude of people. All the cities have a special place and meaning to me. If I had to pick a city it would have to be Florence, Italy. It contains everything I love: architecture, art, history, scenic views, and memories of life-changing moments.
What do you do when you are not working? When I am not working for the City of Austin, I am experimenting with making delicious pastries and confections for my bakery, mentoring my mentee, working on projects that address environmental justice issues or running my stress away.
Did you always want to be a city planner/ architect? Not always, I thought I was going to continue to be a chef and an artist my whole life. In high school, I was told I would be the only girl in a drafting class and that it made no sense for me to take it. I made the decision that if I had an interest in something, I should pursue it and I would never let anyone tell me different.
What do you like most about your current job? What I like most about my job is how many people it touches. Not only do I get to work with all the departments at the city, ranging from its Water Department to Special Events. I get to work with the people of the city and help them find their voice in the process.
What is the coolest project you worked on? The coolest project right I’ve worked on is bike share. I’ve been a part of establishing bike share systems in San Antonio and Austin, which means defining what this system is to a city and how it can connect and network within a city. One of the most amazing things is to see perceptions and attitudes change towards transportation.
What are the hard parts about your job? The hardest part of my job is not being able to be everywhere at once. Where is the time machine?
What is the biggest challenge facing cities today? One of the biggest challenges that cities face is the migration of people and gentrification of areas. Cities need to not only look at the projection of growth and underdevelopment of their cities but also the effect of it. The movement of people and cultures comes with costs that could be avoided.
What makes a successful leader? A successful leader is someone who listens to others, takes criticism, admits their faults, and finds a way to make the solution of the problem equitable.
Who do you most admire? I have a set of people that I call my mentors: my Aunt Jo- a feisty woman who takes no nonsense and who will tell it like is; Professor Isabel Garcia- she has always been in my corner through my career and I respect her tremendously; Dr. Terri Givens- who see the beauty in all things and fights for what is right. Arizona House Representative Demion Clinco (a 2014 Vanguard) – he is a close friend and he is true advocate to civil rights. Women I admire for being different, their honesty and stating their points of views are Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, and bell hooks.
What career advice would you give an emerging urban leader? Be true to who you are, but be willing to listen and adapt.