Spotlight: 2020 New Member of the Year - Stephanie Stearns

Stephanie Stearns New Member of the Year

Each month we will spotlight an award recipient. This month we talked with New Member of the Year Stephanie Stearns, a Transportation Planner with the Maricopa Association of Governments about her job, her passions, and how WTS has helped her advance her career. 

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Besides my cat walking across my face demanding breakfast, I am energized by the opportunity to learn something new every day. I am constantly looking for ways to optimize my work and identify efficiencies where possible. I like to say “work smarter, not harder.”

What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?

A typical day starts for me around 5:00 AM. If I am not at the gym getting in an early morning workout, I am flipping between local news programs with a cup of coffee watching the traffic, weather, and news reports. As an employee of a regional planning agency I feel that it is important to stay connected to everything going on in our booming region.
Much of my work focuses on transit programming – or the assigning of transit projects to available transit revenues in current and future years; and then making sure that federal, state, regional, and local policies are adhered to as projects are obligated and funds are spent down. We are coming into the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant season so I am currently working on making sure that the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) lines up exactly with all of the projects that are going into a grant this year. 

How would you describe your job to a child?

See those buses driving down the street? I help make sure that cities can buy those buses so that people can get where they need to go!

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I have so many accomplishments to be proud of – the WTS New Member of the Year award being one of them! Other than that, my latest and greatest achievement is that I earned my Professional Transportation Planner (PTP) certificate – an exam with less than a 50% pass rate. 

What do you think is the greatest thing you’ve learned from being part of WTS? 

The value of mentorship and having a well-connected network. 

What would you say to someone considering joining the chapter? 

Do it! You will form both professional relationships and personal friendships that will encourage you during difficult days and toast your accomplishments when you’re successful. 

What is your guilty pleasure? 

Candy! For someone who exercises regularly, stays hydrated, and eats a relatively clean and healthy diet, I LOVE candy.