Imagine a day without email. That may sound like a quiet reprieve from the daily cacophony of Inbox notifications, but now imagine along with no email there is no phone service, no access to a printer or scanner, and no internet. That doesn’t sound so peaceful now. Those technological tools are used by all of us every day and without them, we would be woefully under-informed and likely highly agitated. Now imagine, an association with more than 165 employees without those vital tools. That would be a nightmare!
At the Texas Association of Counties (TAC), staff relies on easy access to all of those tools and more to support members. To ensure TAC stays online and in action, a team of highly trained professionals works tirelessly to maintain servers, upgrade computers, troubleshoot hardware problems and safeguard against cyber threats. TAC Sr. Systems Administrator Matt Bruns is one of those on the front line inside the TAC building, making sure it stays connected to the outside world.
After working for Austin Independent School District as a teacher’s assistant for several years, Bruns started his career at TAC 13 years ago in the Education Department as the main audiovisual tech. “I’d maintain all the technology and gear at the conferences TAC produces,” he said. After about three years, he moved to the Information Technology (IT) Services Department.
No day is the same, he said, and he is pretty much always on-call. “Just the other weekend, there was a power outage on multiple floors of the building, including where the server room is. I had to make sure there was no physical downtime by coming in early to power on the necessary equipment,” he said. “I like working in IT because it’s living by my wits. I have to figure things out.”
Problem-solving and technical aptitude are only a couple of the skills needed to make a great systems administrator; they also have to have curiosity and endurance. “IT never sleeps, and Bruns has had many sleepless nights either responding to network issues, working on upgrades or simply helping an employee during off-hours,” said Director of Administration Lisa Garcia. “Matt’s leadership, commitment to TAC and willingness to mentor his colleagues doesn’t go unnoticed. TAC is very fortunate to have someone of his caliber and loyalty.”
His team is also very tight-knit and rely heavily on each other to keep everything working. “Matt serves a critical role in IT Services’ mission to support TAC and our members,” said IT Services Manager Jonathan Turner. “As the most senior member of the Infrastructure Services team, he brings a wealth of operational knowledge and a real commitment to TAC’s core values. We are extraordinarily lucky to have him.”
Bruns is usually behind the scenes keeping the show running quietly with his head down, but this past year he put his education background to use out in the field. “One of the things I really enjoyed was speaking on cybersecurity to our members. That’s been a lot of fun to actually meet the members in their county — not just at TAC,” he said.
But it’s his TAC family that he most enjoys. “The best thing about TAC is my coworkers. Some of my best friends are here in TAC,” he said. That feeling is reciprocated throughout the Association. “Matt is a genuinely thoughtful and entertaining guy who enjoys playing guitar, hunting and doting on his 2-year-old daughter, Olive,” Turner said.
Bruns is another shining example of how each member of the TAC staff, whether inside a server room or out in the field, serves our members with pride and integrity.