Executive Director, Springfield Redevelopment Authority: Age 36
Amanda Pham joined the Springfield Redevelopment Authority in 2010, at what would have to be called a watershed moment — for the city, the SRA, and her own career.
Indeed, the long-waited project to redevelop and re-imagine Springfield’s Union Station, built in 1929 but dormant and mostly vacant since the early ’80s, was entering a critical new stage. The pieces — most of them, anyway — were falling in place, and construction was set to commence.
Over the next several years, the clock was essentially turned back at the historic station, and it was returned to not only its former glory, but its former role — as a transportation hub and center of activity for the city.
And Pham, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Western New England University and American International College, respectively, played a critical role in this $94 million project, coordinating 13 federal, state, and local grants for the project, while also handling lease negotiations and creation of standard operating procedures.
“That was such a big part of my life at the SRA prior to my role as executive director,” said Pham, who has worked for the city of Springfield for 16 years, starting in the School Department and then the Community Development Department. “I got exposure to all the different levels of government; there was managing, tracking, and reporting — relationship building and connecting the dots. I got my first taste of Amtrak, MassDOT, and all those other agencies … it was a great learning experience, and it was great to be part of it.”
The work on the Union Station project not only provided invaluable experience, but it afforded Pham the confidence that ultimately led Mayor Domenic Sarno to appoint her executive director of the SRA in 2021.
She is the first woman to serve in that role, and presides over the agency at a critical time for it and the city, with the SRA taking on a number of important projects, including the redevelopment of several properties directly across Main Street from MGM Springfield, part of the Court Square Urban Renewal Plan, which covers most of the downtown.
Speaking about that project, and the state of the city overall, Pham said, “I felt such great energy before COVID, but then the pandemic pulled everything back. I’m looking to see much more activation. We have so much culture and so much pride in our city; we just need some resources to get back to where we were before COVID.”