Amanda Wall Vandegrift was about to start her senior year at Georgia Tech when she came to a critical juncture.
She’d planned to go to law school, but in the final few days of a summer study abroad trip to Europe, she was aboard an overnight train bound for Bavaria, Germany, and she made a decision: “That night, rocking back and forth on the train, I decided to rip up my law school applications and begin my master’s degree studying transportation sales tax referenda,” said Vandegrift, who earned her bachelor's in civil engineering 2012 and a master's in 2013.
“I wanted to be a part of advancing public transportation in the U.S., and the biggest impediment to providing these options was and still is funding."
Since those days, Vandegrift has gone on to work in transportation funding and finance at WSP and HDR and now is helping launch a new firm, InfraStrategies, as a senior consultant. Her work — and her service to almost every transportation and transit professional organization you can think of — has landed her on Mass Transit magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 list for 2018.
"I absolutely love my job, because what I do gets down to the core of what is required to advance much-needed public transportation infrastructure and ultimately improve mobility, accessibility, and quality of life in communities across our country,” Vandegrift told Mass Transit. “We can put a wealth of visionary plans on the shelf, but we won’t be able to implement them without a sustainable funding strategy and financial plan. I love that my role changes significantly from project to project and each community requires a tailored approach to developing a project financial strategy. That variety keeps me challenged and excited about the impact I can make in each community."
Wall Vandegrift has dedicated her relatively short, but impactful time in the industry to assisting transportation providers with addressing one of the most pervasive and difficult challenges facing the industry — funding. Recognizing the impact of this universal issue on the future of public transportation, Wall Vandegrift immediately chose to specialize in transportation funding and finance as an engineering graduate student.
Wall Vandegrift was a first-generation college student who graduated first in her class with a perfect 4.0 grade point average from the Georgia Institute of Technology with two engineering degrees in civil engineering. She went on to gain invaluable experience working with some of the best in our industry, including working for Beverly Scott while she was serving as the CEO and general manager of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and working as a specialist in transit and rail financial strategies for two major engineering consulting firms — WSP and HDR.
Wall Vandegrift’s dedication to her work can be seen by the fact that only a few short years into her career, she was tasked with leading and coordinating complex financial work for transportation projects across the country, including the multi-billion dollar Amtrak Gateway Program into New York City and Link Union Station (Link US) Project in Los Angeles. Wall Vandegrift has dedicated her career to developing viable project financial strategies and has assisted numerous agencies with positioning projects for federal grants and loans and identifying potential state, local, and private funding options.