A former UF Faculty Senate chair is running for a District 2 Commission seat, but Cheri Brodeur isn’t asking for any campaign donations. She said her conscientious, original problem-solving style is what the City Commission needs.
“I never do anything in a normal way,” Brodeur said.
The 65-year-old is running on a platform of improving quality of life for Gainesville residents by bettering infrastructure and fostering economic development. She said she has been able to get real leadership experience and knowledge of her constituents through her work at UF.
Brodeur was born in Chicago but grew up in Fort Lauderdale. She started her career in the ‘70s as a journalist for the Tampa Tribune.
In 1972, she graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s in language arts and journalism. She went back to school in 1996 to get her master’s in language arts from Nova Southeastern University and started working at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in 1998.
In 2003, Brodeur helped spearhead the creation of the Academic Professional Assembly, an organization for UF employees that is considered the staff equivalent of the Faculty Senate.
Diane Craig, coordinator of statistical research at UF’s IFAS program development and evaluation center, met Brodeur about 10 years ago through the assembly. She said Brodeur’s active role in its formation shows her creativity.
“She thinks. She’s innovative and thinks outside of the box,” Craig said.
After receiving her doctorate in leadership from UF in 2006, Brodeur served as Faculty Senate chair from 2012 to 2013.
Dr. David Quillen, an associate professor in UF’s College of Medicine, met Brodeur when she was elected chair. He said he immediately noticed she was organized and approachable. Quillen said Brodeur was kind of “the center point of all the activity” during UF’s presidential search.
“She has the ability to talk to people — get to know them,” Quillen said. “When she asked me to support her, I said ‘Oh, heck yeah.’”
In her current work as coordinator for UF’s IFAS program development and evaluation center, Brodeur said she has been able to find out about residents’ issues. Part of her job involves developing listening sessions — events held across the state to probe problems Floridians are facing.
“That doesn’t mean you don’t still go to the people in District 2,” Brodeur said.
She and her husband, Michael Brodeur, who is senior associate dean for UF’s College of Pharmacy, have lived in the district for 30 years.
As for the transition from university leadership to city leadership, Brodeur said she’s prepared.
“They’re all people. They’re all part of the community,” she said. “But the process is the important part, and that’s what I know how to do.”
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 1/28/2014 under the headline "UF faculty member in running for city commission"]