Cydonii V. Fairfax
Executive Vice President & General Counsel
“The Houston region is an economically vibrant, fast-growing metropolitan area and working at METRO really helps you understand how public transit is essential to contributing toward and sustaining that growth.”
— Cydonii V. Fairfax
Cydonii Fairfax is no stranger to multi-tasking.
She enjoys juggling numerous matters daily as she provides legal advice and counsel to METRO’s CEO, Board of Directors, fellow members of the Executive Leadership Team and their staff.
Fairfax has 18 professionals on her team.
She notes that the Legal Department handles a wide range of matters for the entire agency, including contracts, litigation, labor and employment, real estate, procurement, governance, compliance and ethics.
“I love being in-house counsel for METRO. There’s no monotony in the day because of the diverse matters that come across my desk,” she says. “Typically, the scope of legal work that we perform in-house is broader than in private practice. It requires familiarity with numerous areas of the law and involves proactive risk management. In-house attorneys are also uniquely positioned to serve as go-to advisors to their colleagues because they can utilize their institutional knowledge and business acumen to provide real-time, value-added legal and strategic advice on various matters.”
Prior to joining METRO, Fairfax was senior vice president and deputy general counsel of American Capital, Ltd., a publicly-traded private equity firm and global asset manager.
She was responsible for overseeing corporate governance for the fund group and the legal documentation of more than $30 billion in corporate financings.
Fairfax also advised the boards of directors and senior management teams for four public companies.
After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Maryland at College Park with a degree in finance, she worked at the Central Intelligence Agency and then obtained her law degree from Harvard Law School.
Fairfax was born in Washington, D.C. and becoming an attorney was her goal at an early age.
She loved to analyze issues and was never one to shy away from a challenge. Family and friends knew she had found her calling.
What she didn’t know then, is where she would be practicing law now.
Fairfax moved to Houston several years ago after she married her husband, a native Houstonian. She fondly remembers him raving about his hometown when they met, noting that there was no better place to live.
What does she love most about Houston?
“Its diversity. Houston is one of the most cosmopolitan and welcoming cities in the world, with people from so many different backgrounds and cultures. There’s also an abundance of museums, theaters and other places to visit with family and friends and a strong sense of community,” says Fairfax.
Fairfax saw the “heart of Houston” almost immediately, starting her job at METRO the week after Hurricane Harvey hit.
She was so proud of her new colleagues, who worked tirelessly to get buses and trains running again in just a matter of days, helping to restore some sense of normalcy to the community amid such unprecedented devastation.
“Everyone is put on this Earth to help others, whether they know it or not,” she says. “I’m fortunate to work at a place where that’s actually part of its mission. I enjoy using my expertise to help METRO navigate a complex legal landscape to provide innovative solutions to transit issues.”
What makes her most proud of METRO?
“The vital public service that we provide and the professionalism with which we do it. All METRO employees share a common goal – to serve the public,” she says.
Fairfax is also proud to live in the historic Third Ward with her husband and children.
They love walking in Hermann Park and watching performances at Houston’s historic Miller Outdoor Theatre.
“I’m not sure where else you can go in the country to see such a high caliber of programming for free,” she says.
Moving around Houston often means taking METRO.
When family scheduling allows, she rides the Red Line and the 54 Scott to get to and from work, and to experience the sights and sounds of a city she’s fallen for. She grew up taking public transportation to get around in Washington, D.C., New York and Boston and notes that riding METRO is a great way to learn your way around Houston.
From the vibrant vibe of downtown, to the wildflowers and natural scenery native to Texas, Fairfax finds it all enchanting.
Fairfax believes that METRO will continue to blossom as the future of transportation evolves with technology, and METRO prepares to implement a new long-term transit plan to help it serve the region’s growing population, which is expected to nearly double by 2040.
- Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Assistant Secretary, American Capital, Ltd.
- Senior Associate, Arnold & Porter LLP
- Judicial Law Clerk, Honorable Inez Smith Reid, District of Columbia Court of Appeals
- American Leadership Forum Class XLIX, Fellow
- Speaker on corporate governance, compliance and other legal topics
- American Bar Association
- Houston Bar Association
- Conference of Minority Transportation Officials
- Women in Transit
- General Counsel Forum
- Association of Corporate Counsel
Civic Activities and Honors
- The University of Maryland at College Park, Robert H. Smith School of Business Board of Advisors
- Miller Outdoor Theatre Advisory Board
- Greater Southeast Management District Board of Directors
- 2019 Audrey H. Lawson IMPACT Award Recipient
- 2017 “Top 30 Influential Women in Houston” Award Recipient by DMars.com
- J.D., Harvard Law School
- University of Maryland at College Park, Bachelor of Science (summa cum laude) in Finance
- District of Columbia