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SDOT Women Paving the Way | Meet Kenya Bostic

During Women’s History Month in March, we shared stories of SDOT’s talented, brave, strong, and determined employees who are making our city safer, opening paths for others, and fighting for a more equitable city.  March may be over, but we’re still celebrating our amazing employees.  

Today, we want to introduce you to Kenya Bostic.

Kenya overflows with joy, compassion, and love, and makes sure everyone she encounters feel heard and valued. She brings her passion for serving others to her work at SDOT.

Just this week, Kenya started a new job at SDOT as a Traffic Permit Specialist! She previously worked as an Administrative Assistant in our Director’s Office and Urban Forestry divisions. In addition to doing administrative support, she sat at the front desk of our main office and greeted everyone who entered our front door with a warm welcome.

Outside of work, Kenya is active in her Lakeridge/ Rainier Beach neighborhood. She grew up in the heart of Seattle’s Central District. From volunteering with local community programs to the Seattle Police Department, grocery shopping for elderly neighbors, bringing sack lunches to people experiencing homelessness, to doing whatever she can to help friends in need, she’s a connector and always looking for ways she can make an impact in her community. Kenya is always into and up to something!

Hi Kenya, congratulations on your new position!  Tell me about what youll be doing. 

I’ll be working as a Traffic Permit Specialist on our Transportation Operations team where I’ll process and provide online support to people applying for restricted parking zone permits. I’m excited that I’ll still work with the public and help people get the permits they need. 

Going back to your old job, what did you love about working as an Administrative Assistant in our Director’s Office? 

Honestly, I loved being the first point of contact when people reached out to call SDOT. I answered the primary office line, which is different from our 684-ROAD customer service line, and I was the first voice that people heard. I tried to make sure I was pleasant when taking messages. 

Thank you for calling SDOT, this is Kenya, how can I help you? 

I love helping people. I’d often help by connecting them to another line. And sometimes, I’d help by just listening to them complain, letting them know they’re heard, and then directing them to another line. I learned not to take it personal when people were irate and disrespectful.  

Tell me about a defining moment in your career journey. 

Before SDOT, I worked as a Re-entry Coordinator for the IF project at the Washington State Women Correction Center. I loved helping others realize their potential and get them to their next level; however, I often felt stuck.  

As the Re-entry Coordinator, I’d facilitate a weekly session for a group of women. We’d start each session with a warmup exercise called, “what’s next,” where we’d go around the room with each lady sharing their next step to reach a goal. I was always the one asking the question. But one week, they turned the question back and asked me “what’s next,” and I didn’t have an answer! I was stunned.  

It did get me thinking, I’d always wanted to work in the public sector because I love working with people, but I didn’t have a next step to get there.  

That night I bought a new journal, sat down with a friend, and wrote out my goals for employment. I applied for three jobs and I was accepted into the Seattle Conservation Corps program. I worked there for a few months and then moved to a position with the Seattle Parks Department. I started at SDOT in November 2019, and here I am today! 

Whats the best career advice you’ve ever received and would like to share 

The best piece of advice I’ve received: Listen to understand, not to respond. 

My favorite advice to give: Nothing in life is free, so on that note, you can have anything you are willing to work hard for. 

How do you think your identity as a woman has impacted your career?  

I identify as a strong Black woman! I was raised by one, and I was raised to be one. I was raised to work for any and everything I want, and I’ve worked all my life. I didn’t grow up getting my ego stroked or having things handed to me.  

Here at SDOT, I’m inspired by women who work in all kinds of roles. We have women driving heavy trucks and doing extreme physical work. We also have women who are engineers and on our senior leadership team, including our Chief of Staff! The division director of my new department, Adiam Emery, is a strong Black woman whom I admire. I’ve seen women who look like me, Black women, in roles that are typically dominated by men. Seeing these women, few but mighty, has helped me let out a long sigh and say, “yes, finally.” They remind me that we can do anything we’re willing to work hard for!

Is there a woman you admire professionally or personally, and why? 

There are many! To start, my mother. At almost 80 years old she currently still runs her own children’s home in Thika, Kenya for less fortunate children. And she never gave up on me even when I got on her last nerve! 

At SDOT, one woman who I appreciate more than she truly knows is Iona McKenzie. She took me under her wing (I say wing because I truly believe she is an angel) since crossing paths, not a day goes by that she hasn’t given me a high5.  

Her High5s are humility, integrity, responsibility, chance to learn something new, and inspiration. 

Iona has taken the time to walk me through process and procedures and helped me master my job as an Administrative Assistant. I respect her and I respect her position. I appreciate all the accomplishments she has brought to her team as well as the Black Employee Support Team (BEST) that we’re a part of. Iona truly is a team player, excuse me team captain, because she really is a leader. 

Tell me about a time you were a role model for someone else?  

I brought my granddaughter (who calls me Granny Fresh!) to work one day and she sat and watched me work. She was so intrigued. She began to ask questions about SDOT and what we do here. She asked who was in charge, and I said our director, Sam Zimbabwe. And then she wanted to know who was in charge of him, and I explained Mayor Durkan was Sam’s boss. Then she wanted to know who was in charge of the Mayor, and I happened to say the Governor (which I know isn’t exactly true, but I needed a quick answer for my eight-year-old granddaughter).  

She responded, “That’s who I want to be! Governor Liyah! Then I can be your boss. I want to work and be important just like you, Granny Fresh!”  

I felt like the luckiest woman in the world that I could be a role model for her.  

Even though March is over, we’ll continue to share SDOT employee stories throughout the year.  

If you haven’t yet, take a look at other SDOT Women Paving the Way blogs and meet JessShaneNinaMildredKaren, and Kristen