Saturday, May 18, 2024

Willis Knighton’s Brian Crawford to deliver LSUS commencement address

by BPT Staff
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SHREVEPORT – Brian Crawford described himself as a hyperactive child that struggled in school to the point where high school graduation wasn’t a given.

Crawford did find that educational focus when he attended college for the first time at age 32, earning four college degrees along with a number of certifications.

Now a senior vice president at Willis Knighton, he’s challenged himself in a number of careers that included being a paramedic, the Shreveport Fire Department Chief, and the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Shreveport in addition to a variety of volunteer service opportunities.

Crawford will share nuggets of his journey as part of the commencement message at LSUS’s graduation on May 10 at Brookshire Grocery Arena.

“I learned through college that you didn’t have to be the smartest person to begin and later excel at higher education – you just needed to be determined, self-disciplined and to make learning a priority,” said Crawford, an LSUS alumnus. “Each degree and work experience (good and bad), like investments, compounds over time and becomes a greater and greater asset of knowledge from which to draw, regardless of what job you’re performing.”

Crawford excelled in his emergency medical service roles with his “perfectionist personality,” but then Shreveport Fire EMS Chief Richard Lazurus encouraged Crawford to pursue a college degree.

“He also said I needed to have a combination of different work-related knowledge, skills, and abilities as well as an advanced education if I ever wanted to become the fire chief,” Crawford said. “I didn’t understand it at the time, but (Lazarus), and later fire chief Kelvin Cochran and Tom Dark (current Shreveport Chief Administrative Officer) would change my life over the next 10 years.

“They guided and pushed me into other city roles, taught me about municipal finance, budgets and strategic planning. My personality also needed to soften and integrate more compassion and empathy in my leadership style and decision making.”

Crawford also took Lazarus’ advice of diverse work experience to heart, becoming Shreveport’s Fire Chief before moving into general city administration.

But his professional roots were in patient care from his days as a ground and flight paramedic, so when the opportunity surfaced to serve in the Willis Knighton administration, Crawford didn’t hesitate in 2018.

“I had partnered with Willis Knighton throughout my time as (fire chief and chief administration officer) to improve emergency and patient care initiatives in the community,” said Crawford, who uses his community relationships in Strategic Partnerships, External Affairs and Community Engagement duties. “That, coupled with my work there as a flight medic, allowed me to become familiar with senior leadership.

“Believing in this mission and getting to work with an incredibly talented and dedicated group of individuals throughout the organization seemed like a perfect fit when I left public service.

Already carrying three college degrees when he began with Willis Knighton, Crawford needed more formal education to overcome a learning curve in a new administrative career. He pursued his Master of Health Administration at LSUS.

The 2021 graduate said it’s been a keen investment of time and energy.

“From the time I enrolled at LSUS in 2019 through today, there has honestly not been a day that I haven’t used my MHA degree to help me better serve our patients, residents, employees, partners and community,” said Crawford, who also has an organizational management degree from Wiley University and an industrial psychology masters degree from Louisiana Tech University. “The knowledge I gained from the LSUS MHA program has been a game-changing difference maker in my ability to navigate the sometimes complex healthcare industry.”

It’s not just through his formal roles that Crawford has cared for, and about, his community. He’s a board member for the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, the Providence House, Volunteers for Youth Justice, and the Independence Bowl Foundation.

He also serves on the national Department of Commerce NTIA’s First Responder Network Authority Board of Directors and is a past vice chair of the Louisiana State Police Commission.

The son of a Barksdale Air Force airman, Crawford relocated back to Shreveport-Bossier after living in California, Japan, Delaware, and Virginia.

“Regardless of where we lived, there was one place we always called home – Shreveport-Bossier,” Crawford said. “We moved home and ever since believed it is the best place to live and raise a family.

“There are beautiful, caring and incredibly unselfish people throughout this region, and they are in every neighborhood where they work, raise families, worship, play, give, and live their best lives. That’s why Willis Knighton continues to work every day to improve the health, lives, and welfare of the people in this community.”

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