2018 Top 40 Under 40: Amanda Wall Vandegrift

Sept. 14, 2018
Amanda Wall Vandegrift, Senior Consultant, InfraStrategies LLC
  • One word to describe yourself: “TranspoNerd”
  • Alma Mater: The Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Favorite TV show: "All things Netflix."
  • Favorite hobby(s): Hiking, mountain biking and singing.
  • Fun fact about yourself: "I completed a 24-hour non-stop kayaking, mountain biking, and hiking adventure race last month (June 2018)."
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): "I visited Istanbul, Turkey, on my honeymoon back in 2014 and spent an afternoon exploring the new Marmaray Metro line. This line included the world’s deepest underwater railway tunnel under the Bosphorus, which connected two continents by rail for the first time. Jumping between Europe and Asia in just 4 minutes by rail was one of my all-time favorite transit experiences — I drew a crowd with my excitement."

Amanda Wall Vandegrift worked at HDR and recently transitioned to launch a new consultancy, InfraStrategies LLC, to better serve and advise its transit clients in funding, finance and project delivery. 

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.

In addition to her day job, Wall Vandegrift has been actively involved in a number of local and national organizations. She serves on the legislative and membership committees for the Georgia Transit Association (GTA), which aligns with her personal goal of advancing public transportation in her home state of Georgia. She is a member of Young Professional in Transportation, the Eno Foundation, the Road Gang, and the American Public Transportation Association.

She is an APTF Scholar (2012), Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) International Scholarship Recipient (2012), Eisenhower Fellow (2012), and Eno Fellow (2014), each of which are tremendous accomplishments on their own. She served as the scholarship chair for WTS-DC for three years, and during that time was able to quintupled the annual scholarship funds raised, diversified the chapter’s revenue streams, and lay the ground work for future leaders to more easily maintain higher fundraising levels.

Wall Vandegrift’s work made a lasting impact on WTS-DC by allowing the chapter to provide additional and much-needed support to young women in the D.C. area as they advance into the transportation industry. Wall Vandegrift has presented numerous times on transportation finance across the country to the Transportation Research Board and the American Public Transportation Association, among others. She never shies away from industry events. In fact, she thrives in those settings, and is always seeking additional opportunities to either present her work, attend a conference, or make a new connection in the industry.

"I embarked on a scholarship trip of a lifetime to the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium as an incoming senior civil engineering student in the summer of 2011. As a first-generation college student from rural Georgia, this was a defining moment for me; this was my first trip abroad, and for the firsts time in my life, I spent weeks traveling across Europe by train. Near the end of my trip, I boarded an overnight train at Berlin Hauptbahnhof in Germany, a gorgeous modern station in the heart of Berlin, to see Neuschwanstein Castle, a magical castle nearly 500 miles away in southwest Bavaria, Germany. That night, rocking back and forth on the train, I decided to rip up my law school applications and begin my master degree studying transportation sales tax referenda. I wanted to be a part of advancing public transportation in the US and the biggest impediment to providing these options was and still is funding."

"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. 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. I am also blessed to say that I have been able to keep my promise to myself: that regardless of pay or position, I would strive to work on great projects with wonderful people I respect and admire."

"I’m most proud of graduating first in my class at Georgia Tech and maintaining a 4.0 GPA with both of my civil engineering degrees."