PPT welcomes Cheryl Stephens to our team as our new Community Organizer
For nearly a decade, PPT has been a democratic member-led organization that fights for change in our community. We have won campaigns for improved bus service, fare accessibility, affordable housing, and transit equity. These successes are fueled by a dedicated family of members and volunteers who steer our efforts.
We believe that every person is a leader, that every person is an organizer.
With this belief, we have been fortunate enough to generate enough funding through our members, union partners, and foundations to grow a paid staff of three. Organizing is at our heart, so it’s no surprise that the first position we hired for back in 2014 was a community organizer. It has remained a funded position ever since, with an incredible list of people who’ve filled in over the years (shout-out to Joshua Malloy, Crystal Jennings, Chandana Cherukupalli, Molly Nichols, and Helen Gerhardt!).
Earlier this year we put out a job opening for a new person to work as our Community Organizer. We put together a highering committee made up of 5 of our Coordinating Committee Members, our previous Community Organizer, and 2 our other PPT staff members. We recieved dozens of incredibly qualified applicants for the job. After nearly two months of interviews and very difficult conversations, we can to a decision.
Now, we are excited to announce the next chapter for our organization’s history and welcome Cheryl Stephens to the PPT fam! Cheryl brings a phenomenal set of skills and experiences to the team. We’re eager for the campaigns and victories that lie ahead!
Learn a little more about Cheryl by reading her bio and some interview answers below.
Growing up in Pittsburgh and an avid public transit rider, Cheryl has seen the developing landscape of transit and understands firsthand how access to transportation can have a life-changing impact on opportunity outcomes. Civic engagement, public outreach, and service to others run at the heart of her previous experiences, beginning with her as a resident assistant and serving as a senator in the Student Government Association in college. After graduating with bachelors degrees in History and Political Science from Penn State University, she worked as an organizer with NextGen America to increase young adult voter registration and electoral participation in State College, PA. In her free time, Cheryl enjoys going to the museum (any museum) and taking walks in the park.
The PPT team is excited to have you on board! Why did you want to apply for the job?
I am thrilled at the opportunity to join PPT. Transportation has played an enormous role in my life and the lives of people who have come before me. In many ways, access to transportation is life changing and I wanted to contribute my efforts to working on history, policy, and a way of life that does not receive enough attention.
What’s your experience with Pittsburgh transit? What routes have you ridden during different parts of your life? How has the system changed for you?
Some of my first experiences riding Pittsburgh public transit are with riding the bus after school. I always wanted to participate in after school activities with my friends but there was not always an adult to come pick me up. I was grateful for the number of times I was able to stay and my mom would pick me up and we would walk to the bus stop. Overall, I have ridden the 71 series of buses to move around Pittsburgh. Over the years, I have watched the 71B and 75 change the most noticeably. Having the ability to go to the Southside has been amazing and I feel that the 71B has increased frequently between downtown and neighborhoods on the East side of Pittsburgh.
What work are you excited to do? What victories do you think you’ll help us win in the coming months?
I am very excited to work on the PPT campaign for fare equity in the Pittsburgh region. I know that a future with equitable fare is possible and I look forward to giving every effort to seeing it through.
What inspires you? What gives you energy that you want to share with others?
I am inspired by other organizers around me and a hope that as a collective we can accomplish real social change. My relationships with my friends help to keep me energized when times get tough.
What is your favorite pump-up song?
One song that helps me to stay upbeat is Just Like Fire by P!nk. I listened to that song dozens of times while working as an organizer and it is one of my favorites. I’d recommend adding it to your campaign playlist.