Devan Allen: Working to make an impact wherever she can
Devan Allen currently serves as the Tarrant County Commissioner for Precinct 2. This precinct serves approximately half a million people in Southeast Tarrant County and is one of the most diverse in the state. Growing up as the youngest child of two incarcerated parents, Allen moved around frequently, moving from Houston to the Midwest and back to Texas. These combined experiences helped to shape how she chooses to lead as a County Commissioner, as she realized she wanted to work on a level where she could be the most impactful.
Devan Allen’s approach to public service was really inspired by her service as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) during her undergraduate years. She originally began college as a pre-med biology major and was an EMT for three and half years. This work as an EMT helped her prepare for her role in elected office, as she never got to pick her patient and had a duty to serve each patient equally. This allowed her to learn how to do the best job that she can for everyone in her community, as everybody is unique and has different needs. She has continued to work by this same philosophy with her constituents of Tarrant County.
While not her original career goal, running for office was no accident for Devan Allen. She made a career working as a staffer at both the city council and state level and had been asked many times when she was going to run for a position herself. Specifically, after being asked twice to run for Arlington City Council, she began to think more seriously about where she could make the biggest impact. After considering the most pressing issues of the day and those that she had personal and professional experience in, it became clear that it was the right time, she was the right person, wanting to serve the community as County Commissioner for the right reasons.. Having already served as a campaign manager for a state house race, Allen knew the ins and outs of running for office. A goal early in her career was to be well rounded in her abilities working in all sectors of politics and policy, so this experience gave her a great background to run for office.
In her work as a county commissioner, Allen and her office focus on nine key issues impacting her constituents, those being: elections, education, economic development, transportation, criminal justice, the Census, redistricting, healthcare, and Covid-19. Within each of these separate issues, equity and access are key concerns of Allen’s. She says that her office tries to include equity in as many conversations and decisions as possible, as it impacts everyone. In terms of access, she wants every member of her community to know how to access their county government.
When asked what she considers to be the greatest accomplishment of her career so far, Allen says it is the work she does to show up every day. She says that just showing up and being ready to work tirelessly is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Showing up and putting yourself and your effort into the work is how change is made, and Ms. Allen has certainly succeeded in this regard. She also says that she is proud of the way she has handled situations in which she is the only woman of color in the room, as it can sometimes be difficult to speak for her generation, race, and gender in ways that consistently honor such broad perspectives.
Allen said that she advises any woman interested in pursuing a career in politics or activism to start now, as leadership does not begin with a title. It begins with channeling passion in productive ways, with becoming educated and active in one’s community. These actions provide a great starting ground for understanding the needs of a person’s community. Allen’s achievements over the course of her career are evidence that passion is essential.