September 2010

Women In Transportation: Terry Gruver

by Claire Atkinson, Senior Editor

Gruver currently leads InfraConsult's communications and public involvement practice. She continues to work with Phoenix's Valley Metro on light rail and community outreach efforts and is involved with the Arizona Transit Association on their statewide transit visioning project.

Terry Gruver is an Arizona native, born and raised in Phoenix. After studying business administration at Arizona State University, she attended law school but, before graduating, her skills in marketing and communications drew her to a position at a marketing firm. Eventually, she landed a position with Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) as a marketing ­coordinator.

"I did a lot of technical editing, marketing and communications in college, which is what I really ­enjoyed," she says. "Over the next 16-and-a-half years that I spent at PB, I really came to grow and love ­transportation."

Following about five years focusing on business development at PB, Gruver got involved in transportation planning and was assigned to the Phoenix light rail system project. When PB won the project in 1998, it was "a significant study, but nothing too big on the radar screen," Gruver says. But in 2000, when the public approved a four-tenths-of-a-percent sales tax to fund light rail and other transit projects, it turned overnight into a major project, and what would eventually become Phoenix's 20-mile starter line. Gruver worked as a public involvement manager for the light rail project, overseeing agency coordination and working with community groups and advisory boards.

"Introducing a brand new technology to a community that historically did not support public transportation — to be able to be part of planning, crafting and implementing a project of that scope to a community like ours with the public transportation history like ours, or lack thereof — was something that I will always remember being part of," Gruver says.

A few years ago, Gruver began thinking about exploring new opportunities. "The InfraConsult opportunity came up and it was a great chance to strike out on my own without being on my own, so to speak," she explains.

Gruver currently leads the firm's communications and public involvement practice. She continues to work with Phoenix's Valley Metro on light rail and community outreach efforts and is involved with the Arizona Transit Association on their statewide transit visioning project. Other recent projects include a streetscape project in Tempe, Ariz., and a transportation master plan update for Chandler, Ariz.

Gruver also serves as a transportation commissioner in Scottsdale, Ariz. "With the economic situation, we're dealing with what everyone else is dealing with in terms of budget cuts," she says. "Public transportation in the city is being hit pretty hard, and it's very difficult to sit there as a commissioner and listen to wrenching stories about how these cuts impact people's lives."

In her line of work, Gruver sees developing a commonality of vision as a crucial element in bringing all stakeholders together. The skills that help her develop a common vision include "the ability to help people understand each other, to figure out ways to find common ground, to facilitate discussions, to try to explain sometimes very technical issues to grassroots groups," as she puts it. "It's sometimes very difficult for people to understand the technical feasibility of a project. It's very rewarding to me when I've been able to facilitate a discussion where decision makers, affected jurisdictions, and all the interested parties and stakeholders understand what the problem is; what the potential solutions are and what things need to be considered to make a good decision."

In addition to Scottsdale's transit commission, Gruver serves as the chair of the International Board of Directors for the Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS). "I joined WTS almost the same week I started in the transportation industry," Gruver says. "It's been incredibly valuable for me. It's helped me to understand the industry, make connections and, I think, helped me do my job better."

 

 


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