For nearly 15 years, North Star’s founder Stephanie Gidigbi has worked with leaders at every level of government to champion public policy solutions that promote economic, social, and environmental benefits for communities.
As a community development practitioner, Stephanie applies a restorative justice approach to improve the social well-being of spaces and places.
As a Cultural Bearer, who actively practices the art of remembering, Stephanie credits her West African lineage for her resilient spirit and deeply rooted faith in liberation theology. Honoring the ancestral healing practices, cultural resilience, and wisdom found within light-bearers who seek to illuminate new ways of being, becoming, and belonging. An ambassador of joy, Stephanie laughs without fear of tomorrow, as a spiritual act of resistance.
Stephanie directs Policy & Partnerships for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Healthy People, Thriving Communities Program advancing federal policy campaigns, coalition efforts, social equity, and climate justice strategies. She teaches at Johns Hopkins University as a lecturer on topics ranging from persuasion to public policy management & advocacy. Stephanie serves on the Board of Directors for the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) as First Vice-Chair and Principal Director, representing the District of Columbia. She lives in the Congress Heights community of Washington, DC.
Stephanie previously served as a political appointee for the Obama Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Housing and Urban Development. She oversaw the office of the Mayor, as Chief of Staff for the City of Orange, NJ, and began her career working in Capitol Hill for the late Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr. (NJ-10) in Washington, DC.
Stephanie managed the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Ladders of Opportunity Every Place Counts Design Challenge, a federally funded initiative to reconnect neighborhoods and improve community health, mobility, and opportunity. In this role, Stephanie not only designed and developed the program, but she also facilitated visioning workshops in Spokane, WA; Nashville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; and the Twin Cities – St. Paul & Minneapolis, MN to engage directly with neighborhoods adjacent to planned or existing transportation infrastructure projects. These workshops assembled federal advisors, state agencies, local officials, community organizations, and neighborhood residents to explore design and policy approaches in fostering connected communities.
Stephanie directed the USDOT LadderSTEP Transportation Empowerment Pilot. The pilot provided technical assistance to local officials on supporting game-changing community revitalization projects in Atlanta, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Phoenix. This model enabled USDOT to connect cities to new partners and resources, increase community and developer confidence in local projects, create inclusive stakeholder engagement networks, increase collaboration between federal partners, and enable projects to achieve visible results.
Stephanie also advanced several innovation initiatives including the USDOT Smart City Challenge equity components focused on smart land use, partnership, citizen involvement, user-focused mobility services, and choices. In addition to, a $90 million initiative created to focus on regional housing and transportation infrastructure investments that support community-driven integrated strategies to promote equity, better health outcomes, and climate resilience.
Stephanie was selected to conduct extensive public outreach with civic groups, elected officials, and community leaders to develop the Hurricane Sandy rebuilding strategy for the $8.6 billion dollars federal disaster assistance awarded to the State of New Jersey.
Stephanie has helped to secure over $225 Million in federal funds for local communities. Stephanie has developed small business workshops at the local and federal level that train and support minority contract opportunities.
A systems change strategist and respected community advocate, Stephanie possesses strong political acumen working with underrepresented groups. An accomplished project manager, Stephanie is recognized for her proven ability to execute multifaceted programs and projects.