Jessica Fieldhouse empowers communities through strategic planning and funding

When the C.S. Davidson project manager works with municipal leaders, she isn’t just researching the next grant opportunity. She’s looking for a deeper story.

Pennsylvania’s 67 counties comprise of hundreds of municipalities. York, Lancaster, and Adams counties alone pulse with the life of over 100 cities, townships, and boroughs. Many have a Main Street or Memory Lane to patch, stormwater issues to mitigate, and public spaces to beautify.

C.S. Davidson Project Manager Jessica Fieldhouse, AICP, has made it her mission to draw those projects into the realm of possibility for even Pennsylvania’s smallest communities. She doesn’t take her job lightly. In just four years with C.S. Davidson, she has secured over $3.4 million in grant funding and over $650,000 in disaster relief funds for 12 municipal and municipal authority clients.

From creek bank restoration to sidewalk renovation, strategic plans to collection systems, Jessica is bettering communities across Pennsylvania. Her passion lies not just in planning but in weaving compelling narratives that bring about positive change.

“I’m looking for a great story,” she says. “That’s what I like about the grant work so much is that you’re building a narrative around an amazing story.”
– Jessica Fieldhouse, AICP, C.S. Davidson

What do you do with a geography degree?

Jessica’s journey into municipal planning began with a degree in geography, a discipline she found intriguing. This background proved to be a crucial asset as she began working in the world of municipal planning, first as an assistant planner drafting comprehensive plans, then as a community development director for a Township before coming to C.S. Davidson.

While Jessica is not an engineer by training, her role as a planner and project manager melds tightly with C.S. Davidson’s civil engineering focus.

“Planning has a symbiotic relationship with engineering,” she says. “The work that I do will lead to engineering projects through the coordination of municipal priorities, the identification of funding opportunities, and the development of the political will necessary to move a project toward implementation.”

Her approach involves conducting stakeholder interviews to identify capital improvement priorities and analyzing projects to identify urgency. The corresponding information can then be used to strategically pursue project funding, whether it relates to recreation, roadway development, or clean water infrastructure.

Discovering impactful narratives

“I’m looking for a great story,” she says. “That’s what I like about the grant work so much is that you’re building a narrative around an amazing story.”

That narrative doesn’t usually involve projects of epic bravado. Instead, her strategy focuses on small to medium-sized projects with a quantifiable benefit and a strategic financial ask that allows a potential funder to further the geographic reach of their dollars. With every proposal, she aims to get inside the funder’s mind and tailor a project to its perspective.

“I like writing grants for our area’s small boroughs because they’re kind of a vanishing species,” she says.

‘Making government transparent’

Jessica urges local leaders to engage in routine planning efforts that identify priorities and projects and create well-thought-out action plans that align with community needs. The key, she says, is collaborating with the community, involving the public in the decision-making process, and building a broad spectrum of support for projects.

“Planning is about making government transparent. We’re helping government leaders to create transparency in their decision-making,” she says.

Jessica hopes for a future with more community involvement in municipal governance.

“I think it is reasonable that a municipality should have a future leader-training program, and I don’t mean for kids,” she says. We need to deliberately connect residents with a passion for servant leadership to the volunteer opportunities in municipal governance.”

Jessica aims to be right alongside those leaders, integrating new methods and data to help municipalities continue to plan strategically and innovatively and get the funds they need to make those plans a reality.

In municipal planning, Jessica strongly advocates for transparent and community-centric development. Her work at C.S. Davidson secures funding for essential projects and shapes the future of municipalities with a focus on sustainability and community well-being.