This is part 3 of 5 articles highlighting women who work at the
Brazos River Authority as we celebrate Women’s History Month.
Even after 11 years with the Brazos River Authority, every day is still a little different for Lake Granbury Reservoir Manager Connie Tucker.
And that’s just the way she likes it.
Tucker is not afraid to ask questions or try new ideas. If a new way of doing something doesn’t work out, you dust yourself off and try another way. Tucker said she enjoys a good challenge and attributes any success to those who work for her at the lake in Hood County.
Tucker joined the BRA in November 2010 as the organization’s first female project manager. She was honored, not to be the first, but that there wasn’t a fuss.
“I was the first female project manager hired, and that was never mentioned ever. And that was kind of cool,” Tucker said. “It means I’m just a project manager. I’m not the female project manager. I’m the project manager. A lot of places put the person on display by identifying a project title by saying woman, like a woman being a project manager somehow demeans it.”
Tucker said she was impressed with the number of women who held higher positions at the BRA.
“It’s a good place to work for women. It’s a good place to work for anybody,” she said.
March is Women’s History Month, a time to honor and recognize the contributions, struggles and achievements of women. With all the struggles in the world right now, it’s important and empowering to take a break from the chaos and focus on those doing the hard work. Since 1991, U.S. presidents have proclaimed the month as a time to celebrate contributions made by women, according to Forbes.
Tucker said she is fortunate to have had several female role models throughout her life that helped guide and mold her into the person she is today. There were great piano teachers, her sixth-grade teacher, and her dad’s mom.
“She was awesome,” Tucker said. “She lived by herself, had a little house in Iowa, grew her own garden, went places on the bus all the time in her 70s and 80s. She just did. She would say, you don’t have to be lonely if you live by yourself. She taught me that too.”
Tucker’s best role models, however, were her parents.
“Mom always worked. She worked her way up at a large pharmaceutical company. She always taught me to go for it. Whatever you want to do, you can do it,” Tucker said. “Nothing was ever out of reach as far as my dad was concerned too. I was never one to say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that; I’m a woman.’ No one ever told me that either, or if they did, I didn’t listen to them.”
Up for an adventure
Tucker said she started her career in government in Alaska, working for the city of Bethel, a community of 6,400. She served as a city clerk and later worked for the Indian Housing Authority as a program manager. While living in Arizona, Tucker worked for the city of Prescott in their water and wastewater utility division and later in the water division as a management analyst. She said she attributes how she handled her work as a management analyst that helped impress the leadership at BRA. At the time, she said, there was a large and controversial project regarding importing water from another basin, and she was in the middle of it having to address the city council and media regularly.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Tucker soon found herself in the Lone Star State.
Tucker said her main role, which is now referred to as reservoir manager, is to ensure her employees have the resources they need to do their jobs correctly and safely.
“I have the best staff ever,” she said. “I’ve got people who’ve been here more than 30 years and others who have worked here three months. They are awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better group of folks. Everything they do makes me look good. I can’t take any credit. I am in awe. I have 18 people that report to me. Every one of them does anything they need to do.”
Tucker works with a wide array of members of the public, from other governmental entities, dock owners, park visitors, boaters and more.
“We’re here to make sure that people are safe, meaning the dam is safe, the people in our parks are safe, and the people in boats on the reservoir are safe,” she said.
One of the biggest differences in this position from other government-related jobs is being on-call 24/7/365. After-hour calls are typically related to operations of gates at Lake Granbury’s DeCordova Bend Dam.
“Storms like to hit at night,” she said.
Or it’s a call from a lake ranger reporting an issue, whether that be a missing boater, a drowning, or an accident, among other matters.
“The phone ringing in the middle of the night is rarely good news,” she said.
The pandemic hasn’t changed work much for the lake office. Everyone abides by the governor’s safety orders. But other than that, the dam still needs maintaining, parks need to be patrolled, docks need to be permitted, and infrastructure needs to be preserved. The BRA-owned parks around Lake Granbury saw a huge spike in new visitors last summer as people looked for ways to stretch their legs during the pandemic, she said.
“We just adapted and overcame,” she said. “It’s what you have to do when you have a dam.”
Tucker said she’s utilized her time at home this past year to redecorate her house. The kitchen is under construction right now and will soon provide more space for her husband of almost 29 years to cook and for her to bake.
She’s also rediscovering the joy of playing the piano.
She started learning to play the piano when she was eight years old. She studied at the conservatory in Kanas City but hadn’t had the chance to play since her time in Bethel.
Until last year, when she opened her birthday present, a new piano.