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Meet The WPB Staff: Bryan Dixon Jr.

by Laurence Bass

Brinton Cooper, from left, Matthew Kujava, and Bryan Dixon at the M&T Bank and The Baltimore Sun's Business and Civic Hall of Fame induction dinner

Fells Point is a timeless district that makes it welcoming to daytime visitors and all the partiers at night looking for good times. Bryan Dixon Jr., Fells Point Operations Manager for the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, is one of the many people on the scene, making this neighborhood the meeting place for history, shopping, and dining that many know, love or have yet to discover. Just in his first three months of rising to this position, Bryan continues to prove why his list of honed skills and step-by-step path to this new title made him the perfect choice for the role. The dedication shown today is molding his sights for tomorrow.   

“I see this as being my last job because I don’t want to work anywhere else," Bryan says, sitting on the tree-shaded path at Pierce's Park as the late morning sunlight covers its lush green lawn. “I plan on actually becoming the General Manager here one day. That’s my goal right now, and it's getting closer and closer. Basically, one step away, and I’m quite positive that I’m going to get it.” 

That’s more than ambition heard in Bryan’s prophetic statement–it’s experience. As most of his peers are looking up new employment opportunities while on the clock at their current positions, Bryan views a career on the waterfront as the successful apex of his professional aspirations now and in the bright tomorrows he sees for himself. Surprising? Not after hearing how this once far-fetched and unbeknownst vision to others instantly manifested into the progression that many are observing still years after he first joined the Living Classrooms Project SERVE in 2015. 

Bryan started off as a participant in Project SERVE en route to becoming a hospitality guide for the Waterfront Partnership. Realizing his own areas of professional self-improvement was what led Bryan to becoming a member of the Clean Team. Senior staff and fellow colleagues recognized Bryan’s growing potential as a Team Leader and he was promoted to Team Leader, then Operations Supervisor, where he is currently within the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore.

Bryan Dixon Jr. (left) with colleagues

“When I first started my journey to getting where I am now, I was a lot younger and didn’t really see myself as being productive in the world,” Bryan says looking out over the plush, rolling lawn of Pierce’s Park. “I joined Living Classrooms where I learned some core values that I didn’t have at the time as I was still trying to find my way. But then I started working with the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and saw the culture here where everyone was treated like family. And that's why all the team members do everything they can to keep it. They bring their families here to the waterfront–and none of them want to see trash everywhere. No one does.” 

Bryan's ability to identify the winning qualities of each team member comes from his love of the cohesiveness witnessed in all the sports he watches–especially his Philadelphia Eagles. A superfan of a cherished quarterback of his team–Donovan McNabb–Bryan knows that creating a tight knit huddle depends on the rapport with others and a direct focus on accomplishing the goals of each day’s agenda. He spent the first part of his youth in East Baltimore’s now demolished Lafayette Courts when he was six and then to Jefferson Street and Collington Avenue--only blocks away from Fells Point. Bryan, an 'Eastsider' at the core, was soon living later parts of his childhood years across town in West Baltimore, later moving to Philadelphia for eight years, and finally returning home to Baltimore. Bryan’s knowledge of both sides of Charm City and elsewhere makes developing a winning culture within his group of team members from all over very natural. As reflective as this may be in sports, it proved to be also true for a teenage Bryan in an artform where notes determine the score.  

“I used to go to the recreation center near my house when I was fifteen. I was playing football at the time, but my mother put me in the music group where I learned the violin because she wanted me to do other things, too.” His mother’s hope of giving her son–then a future graduate of Patterson High School ℅ 2007–a total education in and out of the classroom that included a strong foundation in the arts. “Back then, I thought it was boring. But, over time, I learned how to play the violin. That wasn’t an easy thing to learn. I used to practice at home and play whenever we had ceremonies at the center.” Bryan will be the first to tell you that he is not Baltimore Symphony Orchestra-ready, but his appreciation for harmonizing with other dedicated and talented people is the catalyst helping him keep a high level of maintenance. At the core of Bryan’s work is one of the many tenets of his role that necessitates constant advocacy for the natural ecosystems and commerce-driven potential on the waterfront. “Along with helping the environment, you’re improving the appearance of the area, helping to attract more businesses and overall it just makes the world a better place. This is one of the main things I try to instill to all new team members and visitors.”   

Bryan’s personal relationship with the entire waterfront goes beyond the district he manages today. West Shore Park–home to Waterfront Wellness and other events throughout the year–is the location that is near and dear to Bryan’s heart. When asked about this location, he’ll instantly talk about how much he loved working that ‘11:30 - 8:00’ shift because it has the responsibility to help setup and break down staging for events and how much he enjoyed seeing visitors enjoy the show.

Bryan and his soon-to-be wife posing for an engagement picture!

"It was amazing," Bryan says, recounting the moment he asked his soon-to-be-wife the big question atop the BG&E Observation Deck overlooking the Inner Harbor. "I didn't want to do it the usual way of being at a restaurant or some place indoors. I wanted to be outside. My family from Baltimore and Philadelphia were there. And the staff from my days at Living Classrooms, caseworkers, some of the Guides and other team members who I work alongside today. A real dream come true." 

The possibilities of where we want to go in life become endless once we devote our entire selves to the vision we see. Bryan’s path to the position he saw for himself back in 2015 is the very definition of manifesting the reality you envision for self. His drive for greatness within and with others is the very one embodied by the entire Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore staff as we look to keep improving upon the achievements residents and visitors are noticing each day.