Women + Cycling = Empowerment

Alta Services, Bicycle-Pedestrian Planning, Giving Back to our Communities

Bicycling in America went mainstream in the 1890s. People rode bicycles as a main mode of transportation, where an estimated one bicycle for every 30 people was sold in the United States – the equivalent to two million bicycles in 1897. At the same time, the first wave of the women’s rights movement was well underway, and the bicycle came to represent a source of freedom for women, freedom to travel where she may, and freedom from restricting clothing styles. As a political, social, and cultural symbol, it’s no coincidence that the bicycle came to represent the progress and change of the women’s rights movement.

There is still a gender gap in the architecture/engineering industry and in cycling in general. According to the 2016 Benchmarking Report by the Alliance for Biking & Walking, women represent 51% of the population, yet only 24% of the commuters who bike. Over 50% of Alta’s workforce is female, and we are improving this paradigm through these leaders who are paving the way for active, healthy communities across North America.

We asked some of the women of Alta how they are creating progress and change by creating more active and healthy communities.

Jessica roberts quote

 

“My job gives me a positive outlet for what otherwise would be a lot of frustration about the status quo of transportation in our country. I am motivated by helping people change their lives for the better through active transportation and recreation.”

Jessica Roberts, Principal, Education and Encouragement Programs

Why do you do what you do? What motivates you in your career?

My job gives me a positive outlet for what otherwise would be a lot of frustration about the status quo of transportation in our country. I am motivated by helping people change their lives for the better through active transportation and recreation. My favorite part about my job is getting “love notes” from our program participants. When someone tells me that our program helped them meet neighbors and get more exercise, or that we are helping their household save money, or that they love getting to know their neighborhood better by foot and bike, I feel really proud.

What do you love about working for Alta?

I have been blessed with a series of outstanding female bosses who have been role models and inspirations for me. Most recently, I had the pleasure of reporting directly to Mia Birk for nearly a decade. Her energy, confidence, and ambition have pulled and pushed me in many ways and helped me get to where I am.

Alta has allowed me to shape my own career in many ways. I’ve been allowed to develop a totally new national service area and build a great team. I have enjoyed the trust and autonomy I have received from management at every step along the way.

Cathy Cibor quote

 

“I love designing programs that help people experience the joys of getting out of their car, and I am so grateful for the wonderful people who help me plan and implement those programs.”

Cathy Cibor, Planning Associate

Why do you do what you do? What motivates you in your career?

I’m motivated to come to work every day for two very important reasons: (1) I believe in what I do, and (2) I get to work with a great team of people. I love designing programs that help people experience the joys of getting out of their car, and I am so grateful for the wonderful people who help me plan and implement those programs.

What do you love about working for Alta?

In the eight years I’ve been at Alta, I’ve grown so much. I am really proud of how far I’ve come and where I am now, and I feel that Alta has matured a lot in that time too. Over time, Alta has allowed me to find and hone my strengths, and those strengths get to shine. I don’t feel like I have to be a certain type of project manager or marketer; I get to be my best me. I am also extremely grateful for the support I’ve had from Jessica Roberts over all these years. I try not to take for granted how well we work together, how remarkably our strengths complement each other, and all the ways that she advocates for me and pushes me to succeed and grow in my career.

What is one of your favorite projects you have worked on?

One of my favorite projects has to be the Heads Up pedestrian safety campaign we designed and implemented for the City of Eureka, California last year. Media campaigns are a fairly new service area for the programs team (at least we haven’t gotten to do many until recently), and this one serves as a great model for future work. We had a serious, longstanding problem to address, but the client was easygoing, decisive, clear, and realistic. It also helped that Eureka is a manageable size (at about 25,000 people), which allowed us to really make a visual impact across the city. Our stellar graphic designers developed a bold, clean look to the campaign, and the programs team developed a suite of clear, positive messages. We tried some creative new outreach and marketing strategies, and I had a lot of fun going to Eureka to do outreach and host events myself (which I don’t get to do as often anymore).

Anne Conlon quote

 

“I love working at Alta because I get to work with smart planners, designers, and engineers who each come at a problem from a unique perspective. I am learning something new every day.”

Anne Conlon, EIT, Senior Planner

 

Why do you do what you do? What motivates you in your career?

I took a class on sustainability my junior year in college that has influenced my career trajectory ever since. We spent 3 weeks in Costa Rica studying sustainable ways to develop and sustain an economy and I’ve been convinced ever since that our economy need not destroy our environment. I love planning and designing for active transportation because I see it as one piece of this puzzle. Transportation engineering is also really fun because there’s an analytical side to it, but there’s also a messy people side. More lanes = more capacity? Not once you throw those people into the model!

What do you love about working for Alta?

I love working at Alta because I get to work with smart planners, designers, and engineers who each come at a problem from a unique perspective. I am learning something new every day.

What woman, living or deceased, do you see as a positive role model for young women?

It’s hard to choose one, so I’ll pick a woman I’m currently inspired by. I follow Tina Roth Eisenberg’s blog and love her optimism and sheer delight in all things design-related. She’s an excellent role model on how to be a thought leader by focusing on elevating great ideas rather than tearing down poor ones. She’s also a great problem solver. When she couldn’t find a to-do app, she made one (which I use daily!). When she wanted a space to network with other creative types, she started a monthly gathering.

Britt Storck quote

 

“I believe in the power of movement. When you can move, you can be active. When you are active, you tend to prioritize health. The domino effect is really transformative.”

Britt Storck, ASLA, PLA, Design Associate

 

Why do you do what you do? What motivates you in your career?

I believe in the power of movement. When you can move, you can be active. When you are active, you tend to prioritize health. The domino effect is really transformative. What motivates you in your career?  I’m motivated by connections. The essence of this occurs when you study trails and greenways. Years ago communities only wanted their trails to connect to places. Now communities want to connect places to the trails. Trails are becoming destinations.

What do you love about working for Alta?

Alta is a specialty firm, which to some might seem limiting. However I think our niche, active community design and planning, opens doors to changing lifestyles. If our projects give people more choices to be active, the opportunities are unlimited.

What woman, living or deceased, do you see as a positive role model for young women?

I think both women and men have powerful influence on young lives, and find anyone who cultivates a life of integrity, grace, and balance a good candidate for the next generation of women.

Natalie Lozano quote

 

“To lead marketing and development of a company whose mission is to create active, healthy communities, working with remarkable professionals who jump out of bed to get to work each day, is most rewarding.”

Natalie Lozano, Vice President, Director of Marketing

Why do you do what you do? What motivates you in your career?

I’ve been fortunate to have strong female role models along the course of my career, which has helped me develop great confidence in my ability to make meaningful contributions to a company’s growth.

I studied architectural history in college, and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I graduated. By chance, I landed my first job in the marketing department of an architecture firm working for one of my favorite college professors, Dr. Meredith Bzdak. She and others I’ve worked with along the way taught me that marketers for professional services firms are some of the greatest assets of a company; we are strategic thinkers, storytellers, and brand ambassadors.  As a women working in an industry traditionally led by men, being a strong role model myself and coaching my team to succeed is a great motivator.

What do you love about working for Alta?

I think a lot about how I can contribute to making the world a better place, especially in this age of climate instability, the obesity epidemic, and community inequities. To lead marketing and development of a company whose mission is to create active, healthy communities, working with remarkable professionals who jump out of bed to get to work each day, is most rewarding. The work we do aligns with my personal values, and the people I work with feel like family.

I am grateful to my most recent mentor, Mia Birk, for seeing my potential and bringing me to the table as a principal at Alta. I’m proud to be the second woman invited as a partner in the firm’s 20-year history (we now have four female owners, and women represent about 50% of our workforce!).

What woman, living or deceased, do you see as a positive role model for women?

Rachel Carson comes to mind as a brilliant thinker in a field that was not traditionally pursued as a career by women. Her 1962 book, “Silent Spring,” was ground-breaking then, and still has great relevance today as we recognize the need for drastic changes in the way we treat our environment.

 

What motivates you in your career? Let us know in the comment section below.

Alta

About Alta

Alta Planning + Design, Inc. is an international consulting firm with a mission to create active communities. We plan, design, and implement infrastructure and programs that improve community and individual health, safety, mobility, and livability, such as bicycle, pedestrian, trail, park, greenway, and roadway planning, design, and implementation, as well as outreach and education.
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