Grateful. Thankful. Faithful.

Transformation for Transportation 2016 / 2017 Road Trip

July 6, 2016

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14

Leaving Miami… but before I do I visited the Miami Intermodal Center. All roads – and flights and trains – lead to this massive $2 billion transportation hub called the Miami Intermodal Center. It’s adjacent to the airport. It connects the passenger terminal with all modes of ground transportation while apparently reducing environmental impacts. I watched as the Metrorail Orange Line connected passengers directly with Overtown, Downtown Miami, Brickell, Coral Gables and South Miami. Also, The MIA Move, an automated light-rail system, connects the airport to the Rental Car Center and the MIA Metrorail Station.

With respect to public transportation, Metrobus, Metrorail and Metromover seem to be the alternatives to taxis and rental cars. For trips north to Broward and Palm Beach, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority operates the Tri-Rail system. In 2017, All Aboard Florida will begin offering the Brightline rail service connecting Miami to Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando. To top it off… the Citi Bike sharing program exists where riders can check out bikes from any station and return to any station. I LIVE IN LUTZ! I LOVE LUTZ! But, we are so behind. And note to my South Florida team! All of these agencies have marketing / communications / community outreach initiative contracts. If you haven’t built relationships yet, you might want to check them out.

US 1 has been an interesting little driving adventure for me. While I didn’t commit 100 percent to this road, I did explore and experience some of what it had to offer (versus I-95 and/or the Florida Turnpike). I checked out South Miami on US1 as it entered into Coral Gables. I checked out US 1 along Downtown / SR 970. I saw where it meets the southern part of I-95, which is joined over the Miami River into downtown. At this point, I believe it is Biscayne Boulevard. As I was heading north through Broward County and Palm Beach County I jumped on the Turnpike, then onto I-95. At Treasure Coast thoug
h, I checked it out at Port Saint Lucie Boulevard. I also got curious about US1 as I entered into Brevard County, then again in Rockledge. I’m in Saint Augustine right now. And it was cool to see it intersect with SR 312, followed by SR 207, where US 1 is here known as Ponce De Leon Boulevard. I took the tourist route through Old St. Augustine (only because I got lost) and saw where it crosses the San Sebastian River.13566988_1129702720385875_4997055895498397927_n

My US 1 Highlight of the Day: I checked out the baby gators and I paid twenty bucks for a beautiful bag of oranges. I took selfies (with no plan to share) at the little tourist shop when I gassed up. And answered questions to curious tourists about the Hippie QCA magnets on my car.

Before today’s adventure, I enjoyed some time at the FDOT District Six Office, and had lunch with one of our clients. Right now I’m at an interesting place called The Conch House Marina Resort in Saint Augustine where they have their Seminole Raw Bar on the Everglades Dining patio with its live alligator exhibit. I didn’t do my homework on this one… I’m personally not a live alligator fan… but I will do my best to relax and enjoy. I have a long day tomorrow as I head into Jacksonville and Lake City, then back to Jacksonville to enjoy some evening time with our folks in Northeast Florida. It was a good day!

WELCOME TO ST. AUGUSTINE

Saint Augustine claims still to be the oldest city in the United States. It is known for its Spanish colonial architectures, as well as Atlantic Ocean beaches.

The Bridge of Lions brings back memories for me. It is one of St. Augustine’s most noticeable structures. It’s visible in almost every view of the local skyline.

Back around the year 2005 I was on the second place team to provide the Public Information Services for the renovation work. It was to be a beautiful project! I remember spending countless hours preparing for the presentation. While I did my best back then to get on multiple teams, the first place team was determined to handle PIO services in house. The District Two PIO office was also going to be the lead contact.

This would have been a great one! I love bridge jobs. There’s just so much community passion that goes into them. It’s always a rough start, but my experience has been that these jobs are always so rewarding in the end.

QCA has built quite the reputation when it comes to representing large bridge renovation / construction projects. These are also amazing portfolio projects. And they include huge events – for those of you out there interested in providing event related services.

With love, Sharlene


July 5, 2016

My weekend with my husband comes to an end as my roadway trip truly begins. Key West was a good time. It was small in size, but big in heart, soul and fun. The weather was HOT. The crowd was pretty mellow. And they did a pretty awesome job with the fireworks on the 4th!

13620247_1131706496852164_9204108134413311415_nA HUGE I LOVE YOU TO MY HUSBAND LANCE, AS I DROP HIM OFF AT THE AIRPORT, FOR SUPPORTING THIS CRAZY PLAN OF MINE!

Speaking of the airport…Did you know that aviation history for Monroe County began in Key West when Augustin Parla flew a bi-wing seaplane to Cuba on May 19, 1913? He left Key West carrying the Cuban Flag that Jose Marti had carried with him during his travels in Florida raising monies for the Cuban cause. He landed at sea near Mariel, Cuba, where sailors rescued him from his hydroplane. According to the story, his pioneering spirit in aviation is preserved in memorabilia at the San Carlos Museum in Key West and his name is inscribed at the Smithsonian Institute as one of the “Early Birds.”

Key West International Airport is the southernmost airport in the continental United States.

Departed Key West at 11 a.m. this morning. Dropping my husband Lance off at Key West International as he heads home… then on my way to Coral Gables for dinner with the South Florida Team tonight!

Traveling south on U.S. 1, after going over the Stock Island Bridge, then making a left turn onto South Roosevelt Boulevard (State Highway A1A) takes me right to Key West International Airport. It’s only about two miles from the City of Key West. It’s publicly owned (Monroe County) and managed by Peter Horton where, according to their website statistics they average approximately 155 flights per day (50 percent transient general aviation; 22 percent air taxi; 15 percent local general aviation; 12 percent commercial and 1 percent military). While I don’t see a whole lot of work for QCA at this airport in the near future, I definitely plan on paying attention to what’s in their future plans.

Heading north to Miami from there was stop, go…, and very, very, very slow. But I am prepared. I have with me a mix of Leadership, Motivational, and Spiritual audio books.

Today I listened to Max Lucado’s book called “Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer.” If you’ve never read one of Max’s books, read this one. I promise you will be inspired. Even if you aren’t religious, you might agree that we all pray…some. This particular book was basically teaching how to pray more, better, stronger, with more fire, faith and fervency. Most people struggle with prayer. In private, I don’t struggle, because it’s like talking to myself out loud… and I’ve been doing that already for a very long time. Anyway, I won’t say too much more about that, other than to say my driving experience into Miami was a calm and educational experience due to Max!

What is this trip truly about?

Operational Innovation. Moving our company to an entirely new level. Keeping ahead of the pack. A departure from familiar norms, which will inspire how we conduct our work and relate to one another. In search of new technologies and new customer needs to make the old innovations passé. From how the work is done, to measurement and reward systems, to structure and managerial roles.

MIAMI: I arrived to my hotel around 4:30 p.m. excited to be in Coral Gables, and in Florida Department of Transportation District Six (FDOT). The tragic, recent loss of FDOT Public Information Manager Maribel Lena is still fresh in my mind, and still hurts my heart. Tish Burgher, who has been instrumental to our organization in leading public information efforts down here for many years, is also struggling with this loss. Tish is very much in my prayers tonight.

QCA’s South Florida team has been serving the FDOT District Six Construction Department on dozens of state road and bridge construction projects within Miami-Dade and Monroe counties for years. These projects range from minor intersection upgrades that enhance traffic flow, to major multi-million dollar programs. Tonight I had the pleasure of spending time with Tish, as well as with the rest of our South Florida team… Sergies, Juan, Isabel and from Creative Services, Sophia. Tish and Sophia are also supporting safety messaging and campaigns with respect to the dangers of aggressive driving. And I enjoyed meeting Melissa Rodriquez, QCA candidate.

What is the path to QCA’s next destination?

This trip is about discovering and documenting best practices used within the United States with respect to community engagement. It’s about recruiting and providing opportunities to our next generation. It’s about forming new relationships and improving old ones.

It’s about working hard while loving life. And it’s about paying tribute to fallen workers. It’s about safe practices, the use of social media, empowerment and remote management. And mostly, it’s about my commitment to providing you with the best leadership possible at all times.

There’s a lot happening in South Florida. Stay tuned!

With love, Sharlene


Crop 17 July 4, 2016

 Happy Birthday America!

 Independence Day

On July 4, 1776 we claimed our independence from Britain and Democracy was  born.

Every day thousands leave their homeland to come to the “land of the free and the home of the brave” so they can begin their American Dream.

The United States of America (UNDER GOD) is truly a diverse nation of dynamic people!

Don’t take it for granted!

Protect it!

Be proud to be a part of it!


July 3, 2016

He even says in Hebrews 4:9… There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God.

Slowing down means taking time to enjoy whatever you are doing, to appreciate the outdoors, to focus on whomever you are talking to or spending time with – instead of being connected, or always thinking about work tasks and emails.

It’s Sunday, and even though Key West has a neighborhood church, I didn’t exactly get there. There’s something about it being located right next to the bar I struggle with. I have to admit, this Sunday morning I am torn between the Holy Mary and a Bloody Mary.

I did however get online to enjoy the message from my home church. And I chose a Mimosa instead. Smiles. In case you haven’t noticed, the goal for this weekend is for me to relax and slow down.

Many of us go through life with a stuck accelerator. I’m definitely in that group. I’m constantly in a hurry. For as long as I can remember I haven’t taken the time to slow down. For nearly 20 years, I have hurried to get to church on a Saturday evening, just so I can work and stay ahead of the “work” game on Sunday.

I know God established a day for us to restore and refresh. It’s called the Sabbath. God created this day immediately after he created the world. It’s in the Big 10 (Ten Commandments). Is it Saturday or Sunday is the question to the point that most Christians don’t recognize either one of them. I recognize I am one of those Christians. And I need to bring it back.

Life extracts a toll on our bodies, our souls and our spirits. It sucks us dry. It takes away what we are supposed to enjoy. There’s a purpose for the Sabbath, not only to rest from the prior week, but also so you can be energized for what’s ahead.

I’ve been going through life 24/7 for 365 days a year for a very long time. What I realized at the end of last year is that I’m messing up to the point of being weary. I feel a deadening fatigue of mind, body and soul. I decided that before I mess up my marriage, my family or before I drop dead because I don’t know how to rest… I needed to figure something out.

I’m making a conscious choice to slow down. And it’s not easy but I know it leads to a greater appreciation for life and a greater level of happiness.

Note that “resting” does not come easy to me. I have been wired for so long to run so hard, that I’m having to train myself to slow down. I love life and I don’t want to miss a second of it. I’m constantly filling my plate with things I want to accomplish before I go… but I don’t want to go because of burnout and fatigue. I’ve got to find that balance again!

Our world is crazy today. Maybe it was always crazy. It’s clear to me that we are going to face more threats, personal and professional failures, let downs, rejection, heartache, and more. I’m determined however, not to let this world beat me. I know that I need to learn to rest because I know that I need a body not running on empty. I need a soul not running on empty and I need a spirit not running on empty. It’s about healthy choices, and rest is definitely one of them.

It’s even crazy to me that while technology is continually invented that saves us time, we use that time to do more and more things, so our lives are more fast-paced and hectic than ever before. I’ve only realized recently that nothing is ever gained by rushing. I’ve found that hurrying immediately creates stress in my body… even if I just run down the street to the mailbox. Being a few seconds ahead of schedule can’t be worth the price we pay in our bodies.

So, slowing down is something that I’m definitely working on… but not to the point of risking deadlines or deliverables. As a business owner, wife, mother, daughter and more… I do have to do what’s required. I just don’t have to do it all.

With love, Sharlene


July 2, 2016

“… In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1

I am about to sound like a Key West Chamber of Commerce commercial.

Note that much of the information written below is taken from various publications and local fact sheets I’m reviewing.Crop 9

People living down here are definitely living their dreams, whether they are a native “conch” or have migrated from the north. “Let your conscience be your guide,” is just one of their mottoes, and in a way, when planning this trip, I think that’s what I did.

Following US Highway 1 down the coast of Florida for an Atlantic coast drive is very cool, even on a Holiday weekend, through some storms, and with thousands of tourists. What is normally a 7-hour drive from my house to Key West, this time took 9… but it was all good. Mangrove-fringed and water bound, the Overseas Highway (US 1) links a chain of subtropical isles that arc off the tip of Florida. The driving experience includes lots of tropical terrain, hammocks and reefs, miniature deer, until finally you arrive to the crazy little town of Key West.

The drive truly began a mile below Florida City on the mainland, where mile marker 126 starts counting down the miles to Key West. Following the former roadbeds and bridges of the Florida East Coast Railway, which was completed from the mainland to Key West in 1912, the highway shoots across the southern edge of the Everglades.

A mile beyond Lake Surprise, named by early railroad explorers who weren’t expecting to find it, the highway enters Key Largo, the largest and northernmost Key along US 1. Continuing through Plantation Key, where pineapple and banana plantations flourished at the turn of the 20th century. Islamorada (Spanish for “purple isle”) marks the beginning of the Middle Keys. The island’s Hurricane memorial (mile 82) honors victims of the Labor Day hurricane in 1935, which washed out much of the railroad and was one of the most powerful ever in the United States.

The Long Key Viaduct sweeps toward tiny Conch Key, then US 1 angles across Grassy Key and into Marathon, the heavily developed commercial center of the Middle Keys. South of Marathon, US 1 crosses the Seven Mile Bridge. One of the world’s longest bridges, it offers views of the open Atlantic on the left and the Gulf of Mexico onto the right.

As the road pushes southwest, the Keys seem more isolated and less populated. Bridges become shorter and islands begin to merge. Big Pine Key is the only pace in the world where endangered Key deer live. Standing only 2.5 feet tall, this subspecies of the Virginia white-tailed deer can be spotted. I was looking, but I didn’t spot one on this drive.

For the final 30 miles, US 1 crosses one small tropical key after another until it reaches Key West, definitely an eccentric tropical town whose atmosphere is more Caribbean than American.

Crop 13 On this particular day, I spent most of my time poking through the shops on Duval  Street, taking pictures at the southernmost point, checking out the Victorian homes  and “conch” cottages that line the streets, sitting by the pool, enjoying the great  entertainment… and trust me when I say there is entertainment.

From what I can see, the Florida Keys is filled with cultural, historical, family and  community events. Life in the Keys is celebrated and honored with events ranging from seafood festivals, regattas and fishing tournaments to bridge runs, art exhibits and outdoor concerts. If you are interested, Sunset Key is being advertised as the number one place to live.

There was no driving for me today. I’m simply sharing my “pre-road trip” experience. Focusing on getting plenty of sunshine, water, rest, exercise, fresh air and healthy food.

But definitely stay tuned!

With love, Sharlene


July 1, 2016

“… God is love.” 1 John 4:8

Day 1 Drive Details:

Departed: 10:15 a.m., Lutz, FL

Arrived: 7:15 p.m., Key West, FL

Traveling on: I-75 / U.S. 27 (Okeechobee Road) / Florida Turnpike / U.S. 1

Traveling with: Lance Lairscey

Listening to: Pandora Steve Miller Band Radio / the Beetles Radio.

Quote of the Day: I’m not on Facebook. What are you on? Caffeine.

13438801_1129702590385888_884816126752181122_n

My TRANSFORMATION for TRANSPORTATION road trip begins. Preparing  for this trip was a monster. Scheduling is very strategic, and when one piece falls  it’s like a domino effect…all of the pieces are at risk.

I thought packing was going to be complicated but it wasn’t. For a trip like this,  creating a checklist is important. It includes items from updating and finalizing my  will; setting up legal corporate officers to handle approvals and signatures in my  absence; reassigning facility responsibilities; setting up emergency contact  information for the care I provide to my father; planning for working remotely and more to national agency research of key leadership and transportation activities and events in the targeted area; scheduling of meetings; booking reasonable accommodations; packing efficiently and more. Thursday night was a late night getting everything ready, but note that July 1 kicks off a holiday weekend – 4th of July! I plan not only to enjoy my weekend, but also to relax and get plenty of rest before the drive.

Grateful. Thankful and Faithful to America btw! Independence. Freedom. Without it, there would be no trip. More on that Monday!

As you can imagine my husband and longtime transportation industry professional, Lance Lairscey, thought I was a nut case when I first ran this trip idea by him.

His immediate reaction: “Without me?” “Are you crazy?” “You’re driving?” “Why now?” “This is work?” “It’s not safe.” “You’re funny… Not happening.” “What about me?”

My response: Do you trust me? Do you love me? Do you believe in God? Do you trust his calling?

His answer to those questions were all YES! Then I said, God has given me the gift of Leadership. He expects me to deliver my best. I believe this trip will uncover my future potential. He’s been on board ever sense. And also, I’m not about to compromise or sacrifice my family, including my QCA family, for this trip. It requires having a solid plan in place for everything … at least for everything that God allows me to control.

Lance joins me for this Key West weekend, as U.S. 1 in Key West is my starting point on13557763_1130009560355191_3075883743318280310_n Tuesday, July 5. U.S. 27 was the most interesting part of our drive. Deep in the Everglades heading towards Miami, Lance points out the Australian Pines that were all wiped out during Hurricane Andrew in August 1992. On Okeechobee Road, it’s a tree graveyard. Twenty-three years ago, Andrew’s eye hit the shore near Florida City, 25 miles south of downtown Miami at 4:52 a.m. I remember Hurricane Andrew clearly, because I was nearly 9 months pregnant with Jessica. The effects of this hurricane  in Florida proved to be the costliest disaster in the state’s history.

Day 1 of the rest of my life… of the best of the future… is beginning!

Please enjoy a safe holiday weekend!

With love, Sharlene


QCA celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015. As we move forward, we not only continue to recognize our accomplishments, but also pay tribute to the history of our transportation system. Our road system, along with the automobile, not only opened up our country for travel, but also for exploration and discovery. We take pride in knowing that the highways, bridges, rail lines, airports and ports are critical to society.

I LOVE GOD! I LOVE FAMILY! AND I LOVE TRANSPORTATION!

We are truly blessed with opportunities to serve the Departments of Transportation and various municipal government agencies nationwide. As an American business owner, I am forever grateful, thankful and faithful to our industry.

GRATEFUL.  THANKFUL.  FAITHFUL.

I want to say thank you to all of the men and women, engineers, equipment manufacturers, public officials, educators, contractors, safety manufacturers, equipment operators, laborers and more for their vision, dedication, ingenuity and efforts that make us so great.

SPREADING THE WORD

Blessed with the opportunity to make my work matter and to influence lives, even if on a small scale, I want our next generation to know about the opportunities within our industry, be passionate about a future career and be able to take pride in the future work we do. It’s time to spread the word!

A LEADERSHIP PURPOSE

Whether we are casting vision, building team unity, resolving conflict, brainstorming strategy or drawing nearer to God, effective communication is essential to serving as an effective leader. I claim to be an effective leader, a lifelong learner – adventurous, committed, and disciplined. As a leader, my desire is to engage in conversations with other industry leaders nationwide, which will serve to challenge, inform, shape perceptions, create awareness and fuel urgency toward action.

PAYING TRIBUTE

I want to pay tribute to the agencies and individuals who work tirelessly to reduce the incidents and the associated trauma and grief. Sadly there are tragic stories of loved ones killed on our systems and loved ones killed while working. I want to pay tribute by remembering and recognizing the lives of loved ones lost on our roads, yet celebrate the lives and give thanks for those who survive.

IT’S A ROAD TRIP

QCA will kick off this trip in celebration as I depart from my Corporate Office located in Pasco County, Florida, and head south for a weekend in Key West. In the duration of a year, I will stop in all 48 continental states in the United States.

I will begin my journey on US Route 1 (US1) in Florida, which runs 545 miles along the state’s east coast from Key West to its crossing of the St. Mary’s River into Georgia, north of Boulogne and south of Folkston. US 1 was designated through Florida when the US Highway System was established in 1926. The road is maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). I hope to give a few folks some hugs and love along the way.

Stay Tuned for more details!