October 25, 2019

MPA Alum Gabriel Scheer on Transportation and Cross-Sector Partnerships

Meet Gabriel Scheer, MPA 2004 – an Evans School alum who exemplifies how a public sector education can help a private sector company promote the public good!

Since graduating from the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, I have consistently utilized my public policy background to follow my passion for environmental sustainability. Most recently, this has been in my work at Lime, where I serve as the Senior Director of Data Policy & Strategic Partnerships. Equipped with a heart of public service (but perhaps with the patience of the private sector), I am driven to make a difference in the way people navigate cities.

It is my goal to help people see – and to help realize – the better world that is possible by dramatically reducing dependence on single occupancy cars. To do this effectively, I have experienced the critical need for the collaboration between the public sector and the private sector. By leading efforts to bring smart mobility (including: dock-less bike & scooter sharing and free-floating car sharing) to cities across North America and beyond, I work with officials at different levels of government to promote this cause.

The public sector has the unique and wonderful role of creating the most broadly beneficial frameworks for society to operate, while the private sector holds the ability to quickly leverage and mobilize massive amounts of funding to try new things. When paired together – transformative changes can be accomplished.

But that’s not to say that this type of partnership isn’t challenging. From redefining what a scooter is called in Salt Lake City to fit policy standards, to finding places to park our shared bikes in Seattle, I have worked with government officials to find optimal solutions to issues that arise. From our birth, Lime has been committed to working with government to minimize our negative impacts while taking best advantage of the positive impacts we can bring. I worked with councilmembers and mayors to showcase the promise and the potential of Lime’s vision, at a time when we did not have any concrete evidence on why this approach would be effective. Through close collaboration with government officials, we had the opportunity to prove our value – something that has seen us grow from no operations anywhere to providing service in more than 100 cities globally.

My work focuses on the big picture and how the private sector can collaborate with government to mitigate problems. And, my public-sector based education at the Evans School enabled me to represent a business with a more empathetic approach. I learned how to work with government first to improve lives of residents. Working at Lime, this opens all kinds of interesting questions: how should cities prioritize public space, such as sidewalks, to serve different needs? How do we integrate a previously-uncontemplated transportation option, at scale, into existing right of way? How can we best collaborate to educate the community as to appropriate, responsible usage of these new vehicles so as to minimize negative impacts – and how do we do so within a built environment that doesn’t typically change quickly? These are the type of questions I face in my position, and invariably the best approaches to answering them have been to collaborate, to respectfully push each other to imagine better ways of doing things. We are just the beginning.

We live in a time where dramatic change requires everyone work together. My public policy background has been great in helping me understand where people are coming from and the values and perspectives they hold. While at the Evans School, I relished the opportunity to collaborate with so many other students from across the UW – including the Law School, the Department of Engineering, and the Business School. That experience exemplified the collaboration necessary to do my job, and I apply the lessons I learned through that experience every single day in my work.