Four Strategies for Finding Your Voice by Jo Miller

Four Strategies for Finding Your Voice

by Jo Miller
Originally Published, August 18, 2021

When Stephanie Matthews worked as a producer in broadcast news, promoting her expertise and accomplishments was something of a nonissue. Her TV shows, stories, and writing were highly visible thanks to the nature of her work. But after making a career change into public relations, she discovered a jarring new reality: she needed to step up and make her voice heard, own her ideas, and do personal PR.


“I had to learn how to speak for myself and become an advocate for myself and for my team,” says Stephanie, now executive vice president of integrated media and engagement at the PR agency Golin. “It’s not enough to find your voice. You’ve also got to use your voice,” she says.

Stephanie, who has worked on public relations for household name brands, says establishing your voice as a new or aspiring leader requires bragging about yourself in a tactful way and calling attention to the great work that you’re doing. Like most of us, Stephanie found that hard at first. Here are four strategies she developed.

Four Strategies for Finding Your Voice

1. Don’t Wait For Your Annual Review.

Stephanie started simply, scheduling weekly check-ins with her boss with the point of getting him up to speed on what was happening. The idea is to create a casual cadence for sharing accomplishments, rather than saving everything up for an annual performance review.

The idea is to create a casual cadence for sharing accomplishments, rather than saving everything up for an annual performance review.

2. Double Down On Wins.

A constructive way to show what you know is to take what you worked on in one area and reproduce those best practices in another area, says Stephanie. The bigger the business impact, the better. “Being able to tie accomplishments to bottom-line growth is an easy way to brag about yourself—without seeming boastful,” she says.

3. Know What Differentiates You.

“My passion is the intersection of social media and news media,” says Stephanie. “That’s where I thrive. I’m a news junkie and obsessed with the way we’re getting our news.” Identifying your passion, deepening your knowledge in that area, and pouncing on opportunities to share your expertise put you well on your way to becoming a sought-after voice of authority in your industry. Says Stephanie, “Understanding what differentiates you is a key to unlocking new opportunities both internally and externally.”

4. Connect, And Share Your Expertise.

Stephanie’s specialization in integrated media made her a global resource across her agency, which in turn connected her to teams with different, and often complementary, areas of expertise she would not have otherwise met. “Being exposed to other peoples’ smart ideas is the biggest benefit you’ll receive from using your voice,” says Stephanie.

So if you want to grow your influence and be a leader who makes an impact, let alone get credit for your track record and get people to see your potential, don’t just find your voice.

Use your voice.

Adapted from Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive (McGraw-Hill, 2019) by Jo Miller.


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Safety Matters: Safe Streets and Roads for All – Grant Program


Safe Streets and Roads for All – Grant Program

On May 16, 2022, The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that the application process is now open for communities of all sizes to apply for $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2022 funding to help them ensure safe streets and roads for all and address the national roadway safety crisis. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s new Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) discretionary grant program provides dedicated funding to support regional, local, and Tribal plans, projects and strategies that will prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries.

“We face a national crisis of fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways, and these tragedies are preventable – so as a nation we must work urgently and collaboratively to save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The funds we are making available from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help communities large and small take action to protect all Americans on our roads.”

The primary goal of the SS4A grants is to improve roadway safety by supporting communities in developing comprehensive safety action plans based on a Safe System Approach, and implementing projects and strategies that significantly reduce or eliminate transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries.  Applications may come from individual communities, or groups of communities and may include Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), counties, cities, towns, other special districts that are subdivisions of a state, certain transit agencies, federally recognized Tribal governments, and multi-jurisdictional groups.

The Department has made the application process to receive funding to develop a comprehensive safety action plan as easy as possible to reduce administrative burden and encourage broad participation in this new funding program, especially for smaller communities, Tribal governments, and new federal funding recipients.

The Safe Streets for All Notice of Funding Opportunity can be found at Applications are due on or before Sept. 15, 2022.

As we receive additional information, we will be sure to share with all the CT municipalities and regional planning agencies.

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Signal Spotlight: Greenwich Arch Street Corridor Adaptive Signal Project


Signal Spotlight: Greenwich Arch Street Corridor Adaptive Signal Project

In late April, the Town of Greenwich Department of Public Works unveiled the long-awaited Arch Street Corridor Improvement project, which was funded through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program. Arch Street is a minor arterial in the town and connects I-95 to Route 1 and to downtown Greenwich, which includes a railroad station, retail and commercial businesses, large office facilities, the town’s Teen Center, Greenwich Harbor, recreational facilities, a hotel and numerous restaurants. The roadway has an Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) of approximately 35,000 vehicles and serves numerous pedestrians.

The improvement project’s highlight was the installation of Adaptive Signal Control Technology (ASCT), the first ASCT project in Connecticut. The project strategically installed cutting-edge Miovision cameras on traffic signals to collect and analyze traffic data on directional traffic flow, vehicle delay, and lane queue length. These cameras can detect the type of vehicle (car, SUV, truck, tractor-trailer) traveling through the intersection as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. Intelligent software receives the current traffic information provided by the cameras and automatically optimizes the traffic signal timing. Each traffic control box communicates with the others in real-time through a fiberoptic network loop. Additionally, the pedestrian signals were converted from exclusive to concurrent to further optimize signal operations.

“Adaptive Signal Control Technology (ASCT) makes traffic signals more effective and efficient. Unlike traditionally timed traffic signals, ASCT accommodates changing traffic patterns and calculates a traffic signal timing plan based on the changing traffic conditions on the roadway caused by traffic crashes, special events, road construction, and other roadway incidents in realtime,” said Gabriella M. Circosta Cohee, P.E., Town of Greenwich Senior Civil Engineer and Project Manager. “The new adaptive traffic signal system can detect an influx of vehicles and can improve the traffic congestion by instantly adjusting the timing of the traffic lights at all five intersections.” This was a key component of the project to minimize congestion and reduce peak-hour queues onto I-95, address heavy volumes during incidents on I-95 and optimize progression through the closely spaced intersections on Arch Street.

Also installed as part of this project, another first in Connecticut, is a flashing yellow left-turn arrow at one of the intersections. According to the Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Jim Michel, “We are excited to be a leader for the state of Connecticut in implementing new and advanced infrastructure that can decrease vehicle emissions and improve air quality. This project is an example of how the Department of Public Works can make a positive impact for our residents today and for future generations to come.”

Like many projects in the past two years, the Arch Street project was impacted by the pandemic. When asked about the challenge of overseeing such an important project in the center of town during this time, Ms. Circosta-Cohee had this to say, “Having been handed a one-of-a-kind project was challenging enough, but then the bids for this project were due on the same day that Town Hall went into COVID lockdown.  During the past 2 years we changed the way we do things to keep the ball rolling.  I learned so much throughout this project and I am extremely grateful to have worked with such knowledgeable people at Urban Engineers and the NY-Conn Corporation.”

Well done Gabriella and the rest of the Greenwich Public Works team!

Town of Greenwich, Department of Public Works Press Release, April 26, 2022

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Leaders to Watch: Gabriella M. Circosta-Cohee, Town of Greenwich

Gabriella M. Circosta-Cohee, Town of Greenwich

Gabriella M. Circosta-Cohee, P.E. is a Senior Civil Engineer with the Town of Greenwich Department of Public Works Engineering Division and has more than 20 years of experience working in both the private and public sectors of this field. As an integral part of the Department of Public Works, she designs and executes crucial capital improvement projects related to transportation, bridges, traffic signals, remediation, waste disposal, and stormwater infrastructure. 

Prior to joining the Town of Greenwich, Gabriella worked at Dvirka and Bartilucci Consulting Engineers in Woodbury, NY. Gabriella received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 2001 from Manhattan College and her masters in Environmental Engineering in 2006 from Manhattan College. She has also completed the CTI Transportation Leadership Program through the Connecticut Training & Technical Assistance Center (T2 Center).

Gabriella M. Circosta-Cohee

For the past 14 years, Gabriella has provided professional engineering services for several departments within the Town of Greenwich, assisted in the Town budgeting process for capital improvement projects as well as administration and inspection of construction, and served as the Town Administrator for projects involving MSAT District 3 coordination. She recently received her Part 107 Drone Pilot license.  Her attention to detail and broad technical background have aided in the successful completion of many complicated projects. Recent or current notable key projects include:

  • Round Hill Road Bridge Construction – Federal/Local Bridge Program Funding – $2.5M
  • Bailiwick Road Bridge Construction – Federal/Local Bridge Program Funding – $2.5M
  • Sound Beach Ave Bridge Design & Construction – LOTCIP Funding – $3.5M
  • Adaptive Signal Control Technology along the Arch Street Corridor – CMAQ Grant $2M

Gabriella is a devoted mother of three children and enjoys spending time with her family, cooking up new recipes and spending time in nature.

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Signal Spotlight: Norwalk’s New Adaptive Traffic Signal


Signal Spotlight: Norwalk’s New Adaptive Traffic Signals

The City of Norwalk has begun to implement new “Adaptive Traffic Signals” that will automatically adjust the cycle length and distribute green light time. The system will accommodate changing traffic patterns and helps ease congestion.

What are adaptive traffic signals?

Adaptive Traffic Signals adjust the timing of their green light cycles to match current traffic conditions on the roadway. The system constantly collects data of approaching vehicles and creates new timing sequences and adjusts accordingly. The signals will change based on traffic patterns in the area rather than a standardized shift from red to green.

The main benefits of adaptive signal control technology over conventional signal systems are that it can:

  1. Automatically adapt to unexpected changes in traffic conditions.
  2. Continuously distribute green light time equitably for all traffic movements.
  3. Improve travel time reliability by progressively moving vehicles through green lights.
  4. Reduce congestion by creating smoother flow.

The City of Norwalk began to imagine a citywide Traffic Adaptive System program in 2018.

The 1st phase of the Adaptive Signal System was completed in 2019 with implementation of 8 adaptive traffic signals on West Avenue as part of the SoNo Collection project.

The 2nd phase of the Adaptive Signal System will add 8 more signalized intersections on West Avenue and Belden Avenue to the Adaptive Signal System Network under LRARP funding. This project will be completed by the end of 2022.

The 3rd phase of the Adaptive Signal System will add another 14 signalized intersections in South Norwalk on MLK, South Main Street and North Main Street to the Adaptive Signal System Network as part of the Walk Bridge project. This project will be completed late this year or early next year.

The 4th phase of the Adaptive Signal System will add 3 more signalized intersections on East Avenue to the Adaptive Signal System Network as part of phase 4 traffic signal upgrade under CMAQ founding. This project will be completed by the end of 2023.

The 5th phase of the Adaptive Signal System will add 21 more signalized intersections to the Adaptive Signal System Network. These signalized intersections are located on Route 1, East Avenue, Martin Luther King Boulevard, and South Main Street. This project will be built under the recently awarded CMAQ founding. The estimate time of completion is the end of 2024.

The City’s goal is to complete the Traffic Signal Adaptive System project by the end of 2025.

Along with implementing the Adaptive Signal System, the exclusive pedestrian crossing phase will be replaced with concurrent phasing and the LPI (Lead Pedestrian Interval) where appropriate. As part of these changes, all regular pedestrian push buttons will be replaced with an (APS) audible push button system.

Fred Eshraghi
City Traffic Engineer
City of Norwalk

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Safety Matters: Spring Into Safety With an RSA


Spring Into Safety With an RSA

Happy Spring! As the weather improves and we all start to get back outside walking and biking, roadway safety becomes even more important. Many of you are familiar with RSAs or Road Safety Assessments/Audits, but for those who may not be, an RSA is a formal safety evaluation of a location, performed by a multidisciplinary team. It is different than a traditional safety review in that it considers all potential road users, includes team members with varied expertise, accounts for human factor issues and results in a formal written report. These assessments, which are a Federal Highway Administration Proven Safety Countermeasure, are a valuable tool for municipalities of all shapes and sizes to evaluate roadway safety for all users.

So why should you perform an RSA? There are several reasons actually! Maybe you have an area where residents are concerned about children walking and biking to school. Perhaps you are planning changes to a roadway and want to ensure that all users are accommodated in the final improvements. Or maybe your community has an area that experiences seasonal increases in vulnerable users and you’re interested in potential safety improvements. All of these, and more, are reasons to conduct a Road Safety Assessment.

For example, the City of Stamford requested assistance from the Safety Circuit Rider with an RSA for Strawberry Hill Avenue, one of their busiest north/south corridors. The area has a mix of schools, businesses and residences and has some pedestrian amenities, but some are outdated and in need of improvement. According to Frank Petise, P.E., Bureau Chief of Transportation, Traffic and Parking for the City of Stamford, “For those of you who haven’t taken advantage of the program, I highly recommend it. Melissa did a great job.” The City plans to use the RSA report to support future improvement projects and potential grant funding.

Whether you have been thinking about conducting an RSA and just haven’t scheduled it, or you have never considered one before, now is the time! Many of the recommendations that come from these assessments are short-term and could be implemented within the next several months, before cold weather sets in again.

If you would like to schedule a Road Safety Assessment or are looking for assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at

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Safety Matters: Informing UCONN’S Future Transportation Professionals


Informing UCONN’s Future Transportation Professionals

At the end of February, I had the opportunity to give a presentation to a UCONN graduate class, Seminar in Transportation and Urban Engineering. I was provided a similar opportunity last year as well, and I truly appreciate the chance to speak to these students. The relationship between the University’s School of Engineering and the T2 Center is an important and valuable one, and these presentations reinforce that connection.

Prior to my presentation, I recently had an experience working with a group of senior design students from another university and realized they weren’t familiar with some of the Proven Safety Countermeasures from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). It seemed like these tools would be valuable information for students to have as they prepared to enter the world of engineering and roadway safety. My UCONN presentation highlighted FHWA’s newly revamped Proven Safety Countermeasures website and the recent addition of nine new countermeasures, for a total of 28. I also had the chance to explain what we do at the T2 Center and what services I provide as the Safety Circuit Rider.

The students were engaged and asked several questions about the information I provided. I also shared my presentation with them so they could reference the material afterwards. I shared several examples of installed Proven Safety Countermeasures around the state, and we discussed their safety benefits. The T2 Center’s website, which I also shared with them, maintains a repository of Connecticut Safety Examples and identifies those that are Proven Safety Countermeasures.

Example of a Road Diet, City of Meriden  – A Proven Safety Countermeasure

The opportunity to connect with the future transportation professionals of Connecticut is one that I welcome and embrace. The more information we all have on roadway safety and the more tools at our disposal, the safer all of Connecticut will be.

If you would like assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at


Federal Highway Administration, Office of Safety

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Signal Spotlight: Traffic Signal Cabinet Art


Signal Spotlight: Traffic Signal Cabinet Art

Installing public art on traffic signal cabinets can enhance the beauty and sense of place in a community. Artwork depicted on the cabinets often reflects the unique characteristics of the neighborhood, especially when local artists and students get involved in the project. According to Forbes Magazine, painting colorful murals on surfaces also reduces vandalism by up to 95%. In areas hard-hit by graffiti, keeping surfaces clean requires significant resources and staff time. Some vandals do still target surfaces painted with murals, but the time and effort required for graffiti removal is reduced.

There are several options for applying images to a traffic signal cabinet. The first is painting, which typically consists of a layer of primer, paint, several coats of a UV-filtering clear coat to protect the art from sun fading and a layer of wax or other treatment to allow for successful graffiti removal without damaging the clear coat. Painted artworks typically last five to six years.

Another option is to use a layer of thin, adhesive vinyl to wrap the cabinet. The artwork is submitted as a high-resolution digital image which is then printed onto the specialty vinyl wrap material. The material is applied to the exterior of the traffic signal cabinet and typically has a useful life of five to ten years.

Many cities have an ongoing traffic signal cabinet art program, often sponsored by a local or regional art commission. The art is typically funded through grants, private contributions and business sponsorships. The cost to apply artwork to a cabinet typically ranges from $800 to $2,000, including materials and an optional honorarium payment made to the artist for their time.

Before soliciting artists to decorate signal cabinets, there are a few items that should be considered. The first is that only town-owned equipment may be painted or wrapped. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) does not allow artwork on state-owned traffic signal cabinets. Agencies should establish a clear process for accepting, processing and voting on applications. Guidelines should be provided for imagery that is acceptable and unacceptable in a public space. For example, text can be distracting to drivers, so a best practice is to keep it to a minimum or place it on the side of the cabinet facing away from traffic.

Maintenance responsibilities should be determined ahead of time, and guidelines should be provided for ensuring long-lasting art installations. Low-quality paints, interior paints and paints of different brands mixed together tend to produce inferior results. Commercial or industrial grade materials should be specified. It is also important to communicate to the artist that hinges, door handles and vents should not be painted over and need to remain fully operational. Finally, it is helpful to determine what will happen when the art installation reaches the end of its useful life, whether that means returning the cabinet to its original state or commissioning a new mural for the cabinet. For an example of a cabinet art program in Connecticut, check out the Norwalk Traffic Graphic Program.

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Leaders to Watch: Tom Farrelly – Town of Southbury

Tom Farrelly – Town of Southbury

Tom Farrelly started with the Town of Southbury Outside Properties (Parks) in 2014, was then promoted into Highways, and was most recently promoted to Road Foreman—a very tough and demanding job in which Tom is well suited for the challenge. He has a wealth of knowledge from his work in the private sector providing customer excellence in maintaining grounds and specializing in turf management.

Serving Southbury is close to Tom’s heart. He is a graduate of North Salem High School and Rutgers Center for Turfgrass Management. As the Road Foreman, Tom is in charge of the following departments for the Town of Southbury: Highway Department, Outside Properties (Parks), Tree Department, Vehicle Maintenance and the Transfer Station. He takes pride in developing positive rapport with all and in being an expert at organizational, fiscal and time management.

Tom has garnered many accolades for his participation with the UConn Training & Technical Assistance (T2) Center. He is a graduate of the following T2 Center programs: Public Works Academy, Road Master, Road Scholar, and the Traffic Signal Technician Level 1. Tom remains very active with the Center, providing positive feedback, support and continuing his certificate classes.

Mr. Farrelly has been instrumental in Southbury in taking charge of the Chip Seal Program, Mill and Pave Program, organizing the work crews with daily and long-term project assignments, working with GovDeals for auctions, and a myriad of different challenging projects. Tom is a true road warrior in developing positive solutions for the public at large and improving the life cycle of the Town’s infrastructure.

Not only is Tom a dedicated leader, he is a proud dad and family man. Tom has a wife, a son and a daughter. The Farrelly family enjoys camping, kayaking (most outdoor activities) and spending time at the beach.

Do you have a Leader to Watch? We want to hear about them! Email Regina Hackett.

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Safety Matters: The Benefits of Road Safety Assessments (RSAs)


The Benefits of Road Safety Assessments (RSAs)

You may have heard the term Road Safety Assessment, or Road Safety Audit, or RSA and wondered what it meant. Perhaps you know what an RSA is but aren’t sure why you should consider them for your community. Road Safety Assessments are formal safety evaluations of a location, performed by a multidisciplinary team. RSAs differ from traditional safety reviews in that they consider all potential road users, include team members with varied expertise, account for human factor issues and result in a formal written report. They can be performed at all stages of a new project and can also be done on existing roadways as a means to identify safety issues and identify opportunities to mitigate those issues.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has identified RSAs as a Proven Safety Countermeasure that can result in a 10%-60% reduction in total crashes. Many communities are successfully using these assessments as an opportunity to address safety concerns on existing roadways or at intersections. An RSA is also a useful tool in the planning process of a safety improvement project to ensure that all road user needs will be met. An assessment can even focus on a particular type of user such as pedestrians or bicyclists, especially if the location being evaluated experiences high volumes of those users.

Conducting a successful RSA starts with putting together a diverse team. Members should consist of representatives from Public Works, Planning, Emergency Services, Engineering and the Chief Elected Official’s office. Representatives from a neighborhood action group or association can participate to provide the resident perspective. Additionally, the Safety Circuit Rider program assists municipalities with road safety assessments on local roads.

Several municipalities in Connecticut have performed RSAs, with the assistance of the Safety Circuit Rider, to identify safety improvements to busy summer destinations, downtowns, school areas and more. These communities have used the resulting reports to further traffic calming and complete streets initiatives as well as to pursue grant funding for safety improvement projects.

If you would like additional information on conducting a road safety assessment or for general assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at


Federal Highway Administration, Office of Safety:

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