Meet VP of Business Development, Joe Brumfield
Written by Karen Sampson
Joe Brumfield’s background as a teacher, a VP of Partnerships at educational publishing company Pearson, and the founder of a K–8 charter school gives him a unique perspective on HopSkipDrive’s mission. Throughout his career, he’s been focused on ensuring equitable access to education — and he sees his role at HopSkipDrive as an opportunity to continue doing just that.
Where are you located, how long have you worked for HopSkipDrive, and what exactly do you do for the company?
I live in Pasadena, California. I joined HopSkipDrive just six months ago. Currently, one of my primary areas of responsibility is identifying new markets for us. I get to work with potential new partners to identify their needs and our ability to bring our transportation solution to students and families in different metros.
What is your educational and professional background?
I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in economics. I began teaching middle school shortly after graduating. I worked in several district positions, including Director of Mathematics, before joining Pearson. In my 14 years there, I held several positions including Regional Vice President of Partnerships. During that time, I co-founded the Pasadena Rosebud Academy, a K–8 charter school in Altadena. I’ve also worked with Discovery Education.
How did you hear about HopSkipDrive, and what made you want to work here?
A friend actually told me about HopSkipDrive. She was so impressed with the mission and leadership of the company that she insisted I have a few conversations with Toby McGraw (SVP of Sales), as he was actively seeking to fill a couple of roles. Toby and I had several great conversations about what HopSkipDrive would look like in the next few years. The vision and conversations with Toby drove me to even more conversations with the leadership team, and led me to eventually join the team.
How important do you think HopSkipDrive’s mission is, and why?
HopSkipDrive’s mission is absolutely critical. While I have been in the education sector most of my life, my efforts have been focused on ensuring that students have access to quality education. I have been most interested in students who have historically been caught in the achievement gap. However, as I speak to educational stakeholders from a transportation perspective, I’ve quickly learned that the children most underserved have the greatest challenge just getting to school. HopSkipDrive specializes in getting these students there. We are far more than a transportation solution; we are an educational solution.
Have you had any personal experiences in your life that relate to the work we do?
Both of my children are out of school now. However, for six years, I drove them to school nearly every day. If HopSkipDrive was around then, it would have been a lifesaver for me.
Is there anything about the company culture at HopSkipDrive that is important to you?
Transparency, as well as diversity, equity and Inclusion (DEI). I served as DEI lead for my previous company so coming aboard HopSkipDrive, I certainly had my attention on how diversity, equity and inclusion FELT at the company. In my 20+ years in educational publishing and ed-tech, I have never experienced such transparency and intention to ensure such an inclusive environment. All employees are not only encouraged to express themselves but are given a company-wide platform to do so weekly. Slack channels, Donuts and a general feeling of comradery also support a strong feeling of inclusiveness.
What are some of the biggest challenges you encounter in your role?
My biggest challenges are navigating and understanding legislative and regulatory restrictions that either prohibit or make it very difficult for us to bring our solution to school districts. Many states and districts have antiquated regulations that do not account for the advancements in technology that support safety in the way that HopSkipDrive does. However, our legislative and legal team are changing that.
What are some of the positives for HopSkipDrive in terms of expanding our reach in the market?
HopSkipDrive is really becoming well known in transportation. Whereas much of our interactions in the past were a result of us seeking RFPs and such, more and more districts are reaching out to us. We are also seeing districts that are sharing their experience with others. In some cases, districts are letting us know that an RFP is on the way and are looking forward to our response.
What is your favorite thing about working at HopSkipDrive?
We are on FIRE! Our business and business model is in high demand. HopSkipDrive has a great impact on how schools transport students. The people here are everything — just really good people in every corner of the company. Some of the smartest people I have ever worked with, as well.
Have you had any special experiences with clients you can share?
During my first couple of weeks on the job, I met the transportation director of one of our larger districts. He and I became instant friends. While speaking to another prospective client, they asked if I could connect them with someone using HopSkipDrive so they could ask a few questions. Not only did this transportation director agree but he also connected them with the entire department, who shared details about their experience with HopSkipDrive. I am confident they will soon be one of our largest new metros based on his willingness to share his experience.
Do you have any causes you support through volunteering or other charitable efforts?
I am on the board of directors of AbilityFirst, which offers support to children and families who are differently abled. They have centers all over southern California that offer activities, jobs and support to students living with disabilities.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love hiking, eating (LOL) and hanging with my two children, nieces and nephews.
What advice would you give to someone who may be interested in joining the HopSkipDrive team?
HopSkipDrive is the place to be. Our mission, our people and our future are as good as it gets. If someone has the opportunity to join, I would suggest they take full advantage. I imagine growth opportunities within HopSkipDrive will be plentiful, as our growth is imminent.
What do you tell other people about HopSkipDrive?
I honestly say this is the best place I have worked. Really. The transparency, the strategic planning, the constant communication with the intention to just be better — and the ability to pivot when necessary — is incredibly exciting. It feels like everyone has the same goal of making the company better.
What do you see for the future of the company?
We will change how families, schools, districts and states think about and approach transporting students. Our reach will go beyond our sedans safely getting students to and fro, to a deeper solution allowing stakeholders to have a higher level of insight and transparency than ever.