Brooke Garcia, the CEO and owner of special needs transportation company 4Seasons Transportation in Calgary, Alberta, won the 15th annual Peter J. Grandolfo Memorial Award of Excellence Sponsored by Q’Straint/Sure-Lok.
Garcia, who is also the chair of the National School Transportation Association’s awards committee, began driving special needs school bus routes for the for 4Seasons Transportation in 2010. Within a decade, she ran the entire company.
Lisa Nippolt, the western region manager of Q’Straint’s school bus and paratransit market announced Garcia as winner following opening remarks from Linda Grandolfo, Peter’s widow.
About the Award
Peter Grandolfo was a director of transportation for Chicago Public Schools, a school board member for 35 years, a National Association for Pupil Transportation board member, and local and national school bus trainer. He spent the last two and a half years of his life as the bus supervisor and router for Northside Learning Center in Chicago. He died suddenly on Jan. 22, 2006.
The award in his honor was established the following year by friends and colleagues Bill and Colette Paul, the founders of School Transportation News. The award recognizes a school transportation professional who exhibits exemplary service on behalf of the nation’s schoolchildren, especially those with disabilities.
Linda Grandolfo later said Garcia’s “passion for transporting students with disabilities would make Peter very proud.”
Though an individual award, Garcia said her win validates the work of her entire team.
“This meant a lot for our company to be recognized as doing excellent work in the special needs industry,” Garcia said following the award ceremony on Monday. “For myself as a leader in the special needs transportation industry, it was really important for us to be recognized with the Peter Grandolfo Award. We work with children with disabilities day in and out. It’s very thankless work. And for our drivers and our teams and all our staff, it’s a lot of work. To be recognized for a legacy of work is something that’s very special and something we’re very appreciative of.”
Kersti Rasmussen, the marketing and communications manager for 4 Seasons, nominated Garcia. Rasmussen lauded Garcia for her passion for transporting students with disabilities, a trait she has in common with the award’s namesake.
Garcia was also profiled in the October 2020 edition of STN as an industry “Rising Star.” As reported, she first gravitated to school bus driving because she was allowed to bring her daughter to work with her. Since she took ownership of 4Seasons several years ago, she’s grown the company from eight employees to 500.
Rasmussen noted that Garcia was featured in Avenue Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40” in 2012 and twice won awards from the City of Calgary. As a thought leader in the transportation industry, she shared that Garcia regularly speaks at forums such as The United Nations World Summit on Accessible Tourism and International Conference on Disability and Diversity. In 2021, Garcia was also recognized as an International Transportation Leader and Calgary Business Leader.
“Brooke leads the company’s vision to affect change in the lives of students with disabilities by being the leading accessible school bus company,” wrote Rasmussen in her nomination. “Brooke champions 4Seasons’ mission to transport students living with disabilities in a safe, calm and compassionate way.”
Garcia was one of 10 student transporters who were nominated this spring. Nominations for next year’s award will open in next February.
Related: McDonald Receives 2021 Grandolfo Memorial Award at STN EXPO Reno
Related:Hollander Receives the 2019 Grandolfo Award at the STN EXPO
Related: Shutrump Humbled By Grandolfo Special Needs Award at STN EXPO
Taylor Hannon contributed to this report.