Brittney Chappell has taken Person County to the nation’s capital as a director at Technology Transformation Services, an organization within the federal government. With aspirations of working on Capitol Hill, she began building her future at Person High School, where she graduated in 2006. In 2010 she graduated from East Carolina University where she earned a degree in accounting, and in May she will complete a Master’s in Business Administration from George Mason University. Her story emphasizes that hard work yields rewards.
Q) What was your upbringing like in Person County?
A) I grew up in a single parent home. I saw my mom struggle to make ends meet, moving from place to place. However, it taught me perseverance. My childhood was very family oriented with my aunts, but it wasn’t the best situation. But I learned to preserver. I learned how to be independent. But most importantly it taught me how to have faith in God. So it was some good times and some bad times but it laid the foundation for me to be the person that I am today. So I definitely wouldn’t change anything. And it taught me the importance of community and the sense of family.
I played basketball and ran track at Northern Middle School and Person High School and that taught me a lot about teamwork and having friends. In high school I learned how to be responsible and those years set a foundation for me for my college years. When I graduated high school I went to East Carolina University. It was a different experience from what I was used to, but I was able to adapt and get to know new people who I still, to this day, see as life-long friends.
Q) What is your career path and what are your proudest achievements?
A) In college I studied accounting and that’s where I learned the value of hard work. At one point I was working three jobs in college to make ends meet because I had a single-mom who couldn’t support me from that perspective, and I knew I didn’t want to leave college and go back home. I knew I wanted to pursue a different life so I worked my tail of to graduate in four years. And I also worked to build my resume.
One of the greatest moments that I had was when I was able to get a job prior to even graduating. My senior year in college, right before the second semester, I was applying to a lot of jobs because I knew I was about to graduate. It was 2009-2010 and the job market wasn’t the greatest. But I was applying to jobs and I ultimately got a call back from an agency within the federal government. I had to go to Washington D.C. to interview and I got the job right before I graduated college, which was a blessing. And I ended up moving to Washington D.C. from there. So I started my career as soon as I graduated from college.
I do want to say this, I didn’t graduate from college with honors. Most people are surprised when I say that considering I was able to enter into a career right out of college. I didn’t graduate with honors, but I didn’t have the lowest GPA either. As I mentioned, I worked my tail off. And that’s why I graduated with a job in hand. And I tell people all the time, its not always the smartest people who graduate from college and immediately start their career. It’s the most responsible. And so I was able to do that because I had learned to be responsible.
So I started my career with the federal government in the finance field. I like to say I’m like a government acquisition innovator, but I procure specifically I.T. for federal government agencies. Currently I have the privilege of being the director of acquisition at the Technology Transformation Services organization within the federal government. I’m the youngest executive leader in my organization and the only Black person. But I credit God with that. It really is the result of walking by faith. Like I said I didn’t graduate with honors. And I think most people, particularly black kids, think that they have to have the best grades and the best scholarships and all of that, but that’s not all of it. I’m a walking testament of that.
I started out as a contract specialist. When I moved to D.C. I had to find a roommate and I had to get a second job to support myself for the first two years I was up here. So, I worked hard. Piggybacking off what I said about working three jobs in college, I continued to work hard even after I got into my career. I knew I had to be the hardest worker at my job. And to learn as much as I could within the federal government to continue to move up.
In the future I definitely want to be on Capitol Hill influencing policy and decision making behind the scenes. I feel like that’s where real change occurs. Working on a House committee or a Senate committee influencing policy for the federal government behind the scenes.
Q) What organizations or community endeavors do you participate in?
A) I’m an active member of my church which is Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va. At one point I served on the career ministry at the church because I really enjoy helping people revamp their resumes and practice interviewing and all of that. This was prior to the pandemic. Also prior to the pandemic I volunteered at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. That was something that I really wanted to do when the Museum was being built and I ended up volunteering for the first couple of years of it being open. And then also I’m a member of the National Contract Management Association which is a professional association based on my career in Washington D.C. And I joined that to make sure there was Black representation there and that young Black people who are in my field can see someone within a leadership position.
Q) Why is it important that women be recognized for their foundational work in our community and our nation?
A) Women, especially Black women, should be recognized because so often we are the root and back bone of our communities, but we go unrecognized. Black women for years have been the ones on the front lines paving the way for the next generation. I thank God for Stacey Abrams. Her grassroots movement to get people registered to vote in Georgia is phenomenal. Things like that can’t go unnoticed. And I’m so happy that it is not going unnoticed anymore. And I can’t forget the women in my life who have made a difference for me. My mom, my Godmother, my aunts, people who would probably not get recognized for community activism but just their presence in my life, I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
Q) What do you envision for the future of Person County?
A) I mentioned earlier that I grew up with my mom who was a single mom but I often went to my grandparent’s house on my dad’s side over the summer. And seeing my grandad, who was the president of the NAACP chapter in Roxboro, taught me a lot about local politics. What I envision for Person County is that the community of color recognize their importance and power to change local politics. I feel like there is an opportunity where we can affect change at the grassroots level in Person County.
Q) What is your advice for girls and young women who look to you as motivation?
A) It’s okay to make mistakes. Embrace them. They’re your opportunities to grow and learn. Also don’t be too afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Often times those are the moments that will define your life. And again, its not always the smartest person in the room that gets ahead, but the hardest working and most responsible. And lastly, I would say to black women in particular, don't be afraid to be your own advocate nd speak on your own success. That's something I'm working on myself.