Bryna Helfer Appointed as Director of Communications and Public Engag

Published on August 19, 2016


  • Senior public engagement executive

  • Longtime Arlington resident


Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz announced today that he has appointed Dr. Bryna Helfer as Assistant County Manager and Director of Communications and Public Engagement. She will join Arlington County government on Monday, Sept. 19.

Helfer currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Transportation and also serves as Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Accessibility and Workforce. She is responsible for developing and leading a comprehensive public engagement strategy with thousands of senior level government, business, and community leaders across the country to advance national transportation policy.

"I am very pleased that Bryna is joining our team," said Schwartz. "She is bringing the expertise, energy and creativity that we need to make even more improvements to our public engagement efforts."

Helfer succeeds Diana Sun, who is retiring Sept. 2 and has served in the role since January 2003.

Helfer previously served as Senior Director of Civic Engagement for the National Academy of Public Administration, the Manager of Strategic Planning for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and the Director of Easter Seals Project ACTION. She began her career working in therapeutic recreation, enhancing opportunities for people with disabilities.

She holds a bachelor's degree from Ohio University, a master's degree from George Mason University, and a doctorate from The George Washington University. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspiring Leaders Award and the Secretary of Transportation's Gold Medal Award. She was most recently honored by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials for "Women Moving the Nation."

Helfer has lived in Arlington since 1989 and is active in the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Neighborhood Association. She has served on the Arlington Aquatics Committee and the Board of Directors of the ENDepedence Center of Northern Virginia. She also plays violin with Malarky and the Symphony of Northern Virginia.