Jessica Alvarez (MURP ’10) Recognized by Mass Transit

Monday, December 11, 2023
By: Tatiana Rodriguez

After discovering her passion for transit planning during her time at the University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning, UF alumnus Jessica Alvarez (MURP ’10) has now been recognized in the 2023 40 Under 40 list of Mass Transit magazine.

Jessica Alvarez is a vice president and senior project manager for Foursquare ITP, and she has worked for the company for about nine years. She’s currently working on a bus network redesign for WMATA, which runs through Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. She said this is one of her favorite projects because she gets to make an impact on a community that she lives in, and it’s fun to tangibly see the bus routes changing.

She has been focused on the Better Bus network design now and explained that her job entails coordinating internally with her team and with the client that she is working with. She discussed how they are messaging the project with the client and ensures that the outreach team is pushing for the project and that people understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. Internally, she meets with her team to talk through the analyses they are conducting to either test the route recommendations or scenarios they’ve created and make changes to ensure the system runs as effectively as possible.

Regarding her Mass Transit Magazine recognition, Alvarez said it felt nice to be recognized for all the work that she has done in transit the past few years with Foursquare. She said that transit can be the “unsung planning field,” and that it felt good to be recognized for what she is doing on a list that people in her industry are very familiar with.

Alvarez graduated from DCP in 2010 with a master’s degree in urban and regional planning. Before that, she earned bachelor’s degrees in both anthropology and business administration in 2007. Alvarez also earned a master’s degree in engineering in 2010, making her a rare quadruple Gator graduate. She decided to study urban and regional planning for graduate school after taking a class that discussed it her senior year. While in college, Alvarez was a student assistant who helped teach about Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which she said kicked off her career in data analysis. Her GIS training at DCP helped her acquire analytical skills that she still applies at her job today. Alvarez’s interest in transit, however, began when she interned with the Gainesville Regional Transit System. She ended up getting a full-time job with them and worked there for about two years.

Reflecting on DCP, Alvarez said she is especially appreciative of the camaraderie that she developed during her time there. Alvarez is still friends with a lot of people that she went to college with, especially in her graduate program. From weddings to babies being born, they keep in contact with each other to this day.

Alvarez attends a 2014 wedding with her former UF URP Classmates

“DCP set me up to have colleagues and a support system in the future that I still rely on today,” she said. “It gave me that background and those opportunities that pushed me forward.”

She also joked that “the Gator network is everywhere.”

“If I go to a conference, a lot of times, I’ll run into some former classmates, and it’s just always good to connect,” she said. “And then they always connect me with new people who aren’t necessarily from DCP, but who are planners that would be important for me to know and help me grow or help them grow in our field.”

Alvarez’s advice to students who want to work in urban and regional planning is to get an internship.

“My first internship drove my career in transit,” she said. “It set that foundation that not only gave me the experience I needed when I moved on to get a job, but also helped me figure out what I wanted to do.”

She also said that Foursquare ITP not only has internships, but they love to hire entry-level planners out of UF. Anyone who is interested can go to the company’s website or connect with Alvarez through LinkedIn or by email: She’s always happy to connect with a fellow Gator!

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