The 2017 Journal of Business Rising Stars

Friday, July 7, 2017

Two University District all-stars, current board member Latisha Hill and past employee Brandon Rapez-Betty were honored by the Journal of Business as 2017 Rising Stars. Congrats to you both!


Brandon Rapez-Betty

Age: 36

Job title/company: Customer and community relations manager, Spokane Transit Authority.

Education: Master’s degree in urban and regional planning, Eastern Washington University; B.A. in international studies and Spanish language, University of Idaho.

Tell us about your career so far. I have found great reward working in the public and nonprofit sectors. I’ve had the opportunity to work as a legislative aide in Washington, D.C., as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic, and as a project planner at the city of Spokane. My most formative experience came from my five years at the Downtown Spokane Partnership as the University District project manager, and the last three years in the communications department at STA.  I enjoy being in the mix of those who work to advance the concept of community, as well as those who are willing to explore new ways of doing things. 

What are your aspirations? To see the good in others, to hold true to my values, to learn from adversity, to address conflict with reason, to trust my instincts, and to continually strive to improve the quality of life for my community, my friends and family, and myself. 

Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration. My brain started “buffering” when considering the variety of amazing people in my life who have helped shape my perspectives, skills, and experiences. I’ve had teachers and employers who have encouraged my growth and given me opportunities. My friends and family have supported my goals every step of the way. More than anyone, however, my husband and best friend, Vic Rapez-Betty, inspires me with his commitment to excellence, his kindness, patience, forgiveness, his easygoing sense of humor, and his love. Surrounding oneself with good people is the best first step to success.

What generational stereotype do you feel strong about? I think generational stereotypes are like other social constructs—a way for groups (in this case, generations) to contextualize the unfamiliar. They are similar to horoscopes in that they create a sense of familiarity, but aren’t often reliable. Generational trends, however, are entirely relevant. Using demographic data and studies to identify trends is an important way for communities to adapt to changing needs. In the end, it seems most helpful to approach new people, regardless of generation, with a clean slate and allow them to define themselves by their own words, actions, and presence.  

Something interesting/random about yourself. Last year I completed the full Ironman to prove to myself I could do it, but more so to get the cool logo tattoo. Also, I love artificial banana flavoring.


Latisha Hill

Age: 38

Job title/company: Senior vice president, Avista Development.

Education: B.A., Washington State University; M.A. in urban and regional planning, Eastern Washington University. 

 Tell us about your career so far. I have been blessed with so many opportunities. My passions have always found energy within the work of economic prosperity. Whether it was expressed through grassroots work in neighborhood business corridors, small business development, or supporting the implementation of large-scale community investments like transportation, my career has been a journey cemented in the values of cross-sector collaborations and visions. With more than 125 years of community involvement, Avista has been a great place for me to grow and contribute. 

 What are your aspirations? I see every single day as a gift. I don’t bank on tomorrows. As a result, wherever I am I aspire to contribute in a way that is both relevant and impactful. In my work, in my home, in whatever capacity I serve, my intention is to be fully engaged and to deliver in a way that is worthy of the task and the greater vision. 

Tell us about your mentor, or someone you look to for inspiration. I like to say that I have been raised by a village. My family, teachers, and countless community leaders have inspired me. But my greatest mentor was my grandfather Oscar Shines Sr. A humble giant, he taught me to work hard, to love people, and to grant grace to myself and others. And that no matter what I chose to do, I should do it with integrity and sweat equity. 

What generational stereotype do you feel strong about? I’m not a fan of generational stereotypes. People are people. 

Something interesting/random about yourself. I love a good spontaneous dance party. I have strobe lights under my living room couch, just in case.