Chris Bryan ('87)
Vice President, Information Technology and Public Policy
Clarity Child Guidance Center
Class of ’87
Since leaving Virginia Tech, I have had a wide and varied 30+ year career. I was the lead architect/programmer for a medical logistics system used in Operation Desert Storm. I was on the Electronic Commerce Resource Center team, nationally advocating for the use of the Internet for business commerce. I oversaw the first electronic commerce strategy for a major financial services corporation.
Additionally, I am a lobbyist working in children’s mental health. More recently, my legislative policy work overlaps with technology to expand eHealth and interoperability for mental health in Texas. Growing up a military child, I was afforded the opportunity to live in a lot of cool places, including Bangkok and Honolulu. I co-founded the San Antonio Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association and I drag my husband of 23 years, Bay, all over the country for Hokie sports.
How did the department equip you for the ‘real world’...
During the first month of my first job, it became obvious that I was well-trained and prepared to pull my weight. I was able to hold my own with senior members during collaborative problem-solving, and my programming skills were equal or better than junior programmers that had a few years of experience. It gave me the confidence I needed to be a quick contributor and vocalize my ideas. I have been able to carry that confidence throughout my career. Our educational training was also very “solution driven”. It continues to amaze me how hearing a problem automatically sets off my algorithmic method, almost by muscle memory. I am often asked how I develop options for resolution so quickly and I always attribute it to our regular academic exercises in multidimensional analysis.
Being a Virginia Tech alumna means...
Virginia Tech has been secondary only to my parents impacting who I am. Virginia Tech exists somewhere in everything I say or do. My career, my community service, my lifelong friendships, the feeling of home upon return to Blacksburg – it all sits there together. Living in Texas, I am acutely aware that my personal interactions and expertise are a direct reflection of the Hokie Nation, especially as I work with young people. I am incredibly proud to be a Hokie, and hopefully, I continue to make Virginia Tech proud of my representation of the university.
My fondest memory from my time in the department is...
Hours and hours of lab time. We were on the VAX system (no personal computing) and had to do all our assignments from a university-provided lab computer. Getting access to a workstation was “first-come, first-serve” with a queue on the chalkboard. When you finally acquired a computer, it was not uncommon to occupy that seat for hours on end, and longer intervals as assignment deadlines loomed.
During any given period, especially in the wee hours, the collective character of the lab would oscillate between collaborative coding to exhausted giddiness. That environment really instilled knowledge sharing, idea diversity, and cohesiveness. (And of course, the late-night Carol Lee run didn’t hurt). Great friends, great minds, and sometimes great music … It doesn’t get better than that.
I’m involved in my alumni chapter because...
Living so far from Virginia, there’s nothing like knowing the people you hang out with share your same experiences (like a ‘rail’ at TOTS) and understand your little idiosyncrasies (like ‘Key Play’). I have lived in San Antonio since I left Virginia Tech, and most of my closest friends are also Alamo City Hokies. We share a small community for service projects, professional networking, and sports. And there is nothing more gratifying than sending a high school senior off to the ‘Burg with a scholarship. Every year, we share major holidays with Hokies that are unable to be home. It’s family!
I was drawn to work for Clarity Child Guidance Center because...
It’s pretty rare, but so gratifying, to be able to offer one’s skills and gifts to an organization that so desperately appreciates them while they do so much for the community. This year, Clarity will treat 20,000 low-income and state-supported kids in the San Antonio area with their severe mental health issues. Clarity requires community donations to overcome their operational shortfall, but still requires the same technical expertise as a larger hospital system for their network, their electronic medical records, and their regulatory mandates.
I always remind my department that even on bad work days, you get to go home every night knowing that you did something great to support your community. And the gift that Clarity gives me? I learn something new every day. I am constantly reminded of how fortunate I am to get pushed out of my comfort zone regularly. In fact, because of Clarity, I now manage all of the public policy and legislative agenda for Clarity – a long way from the first-floor computer lab in McBryde.