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Rail News: Passenger Rail
Rising Stars: Cyrenthia Ward, Federal Transit Administration
Cyrenthia Ward, 36
Federal Transit Administration
Job description: Responsible for providing technical assistance to grant recipients on federal regulations, grant management and managing the National Environmental Policy Act process for transportation projects, as well as the oversight of the metropolitan planning process with the Federal Highway Administration.
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science and African-American studies, William Paterson University; master's degree in urban planning, Hunter College, New York City
Nominator's quote: "Cyrenthia is an informed, passionate and dedicated transportation professional. She is keenly interested in the connectivity of transportation and land use, environmental justice and the impact that technology has on transportation agencies today. She is constantly seeking opportunities to help our communities and our complicated transit system succeed, flourish and, yes, rise." — Vivian Baker, New Jersey Transit
How has your career path evolved so far? My career began at New Jersey Transit. During that time, I took advantage of being able to learn several areas of the agency. I also had the opportunity to work with New Jersey municipalities that had a vision of implementing transit-oriented development in their communities. In addition, I had the opportunity to work on station facility projects. Over the past two years, I transitioned to working for the federal government, which has allowed me to gain additional skills.
Why did you go into railroading? During graduate school, I needed an internship to satisfy graduation requirements. I landed a position in NJ Transit's Capital Planning and Programs Department. I've been in the transit industry ever since.
Of your career accomplishments, which one makes you feel the most proud? Creating an agency-wide early-career program at NJ Transit. I have noticed the heavy wave of retirements and observed that peers my age and younger were not planning to stay at the agency very long. I then began to understand the importance of succession planning and retaining early career professionals. This is when I decided to create the program at NJ Transit to educate early-career professionals on the diverse components and opportunities at an operating agency. The program provides professional development sessions, site tours and mentorship.
Describe a fun fact about yourself. I love pizza and could eat it every day if I knew it wouldn't affect me in a negative way.
What do you like to do when you're not at work? I am a foodie who loves to try new cuisines and restaurants. I also love to travel to different countries.
Who has been the biggest inspiration to you in your career? Both of my parents instilled in me to work hard at whatever task I am given. In addition, I have had the opportunity to work with some great individuals in the railroad/transit industry who have been some of my largest supporters. They've passed down industry wisdom and inspired me to evolve in my career.
What do you hope to be doing in five years? If I'm not in some sort of management/leadership role, I hope to continue to strengthen and diversify my skill set. I also would like to work on innovative solutions that plan for safe, reliable, cost-effective transit services.
Rising Stars 2018 Award Winners:
Florida East Coast Railway
District Department of Transportation
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
R. J. Corman Railroad Group
BNSF Railway Co.
MTA Long Island Rail Road
Red River Valley & Western Railroad Co.
Central Maine & Quebec Railway
Transportation Technology Center Inc.
Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association
Federal Transit Administration
Genesee & Wyoming Inc.
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