March 1, 2018

Candida Lorenzana (MPA ‘07)

Manager, Transit Strategy and Service, Seattle Department of Transportation

Why is the work you do important?

Since graduate school, I always believed that transportation is important because of its nexus to many policy areas. Transportation is about so much more than what we see on the street; it’s connected to public health, access to jobs and housing, and race and social equity. The decisions we make about projects and programs influence much more than someone’s commute. It influences their quality of life.

What lessons from your graduate education still influences you today?

One of my goals when I decided to pursue transportation as my focus, was to be able to simplify and communicate complex ideas. This is something that influences my everyday work. The ability to break down technical information to a few key points is essential.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The people I work with. They are brilliant, motivated, and fun individuals. I am proud of what we accomplish, everything from seeing more people riding transit, giving youth access to bus service, to seeing a bus lane or transit priority signal go in.  I am consistently amazed what we accomplish working together.

What has been the most surprising part of line of work?

It hasn’t been as surprising for me necessarily, but I think people underestimate the role of politics in transportation. When you get into the science of engineering and the art of planning, sometimes you forget all the other factors that can influence both those arenas. Awareness of the political environment makes you a stronger in both those fields.

What advice would you offer to a graduate student at the Evans School?

When opportunities arise, jump at them. This is something one of my mentors once said to me, and I think about it almost daily. Earlier in my career, I had no interest in being a manager because the circumstances didn’t make management attractive. In the right environment, with the right people, it gives you a different perspective. So when the opportunity presented itself last year, I knew I had to jump at it. It was scary and exciting at the same time, and it’s a continuous learning experience.