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Spotlighting Abbey Gancz, PE in Honor of Jewish-American Heritage Month
Publication Date
May 29th 2024, 1:00 pm

The Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS) Philadelphia Chapter strives to create a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable transportation industry by advancing women and minorities through dynamic programs, professional development training, networking events, leadership development, student outreach, and much more.


In honor of WTS Philadelphia's 45th anniversary, the chapter will highlight 45 female transportation pioneers, leaders, and rising stars throughout the year. These 45 women have made an impact in transportation and continuously demonstrate the inextricable link between women and the industry's success. One of the 45 women spotlighted is Urban's own Abbey Gancz, PE. Read Abbey's article below.


May marks Jewish American Heritage Month, a time to honor the significant contributions Jewish Americans have made to our nation. This month, WTS Philadelphia is proud to spotlight our President-Elect, Abbey Gancz, PE. We are grateful to Abbey for sharing her story with us and for being one of the 45 women we are spotlighting during WTS Philadelphia’s 45th anniversary year.


The fact that I’m Jewish doesn’t always come up professionally, but it’s a big part of my identity and my life, and I’m not shy about sharing it. Naturally, my profession is also a big part of my life. I am a civil engineer and work as a project manager at Urban Engineers, leading safety, and multimodal projects.


I am a third generation Jewish American and very much rooted in the Philadelphia area. My great-grandparents were all immigrants from the Pale of Settlement, an area of the Russian Empire that includes countries like modern-day Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. Russia prohibited Jews from living outside the Pale, and Jewish communities within the Pale were subject to restrictive May Laws and violent pogroms. My ancestors emigrated to the US around the early 1900s and most arrived directly in Philadelphia and settled there.


My grandparents all grew up in North Philadelphia and their Jewish identities were very important to them as the children of immigrants who had been persecuted for their backgrounds. Both of my grandfathers served in World War II, and my paternal grandfather, who was in the Battle of the Bulge, was sent with a delegation of Jewish soldiers to bear witness to the liberation of concentration camps.


My parents, who met in Atlantic City as casino employees, continued their parents’ traditions and instilled a strong Jewish identity in my brother and me. We grew up in Ventnor, NJ, with a small year-round population and only a handful of Jewish kids in school with us. I decorated many Christmas trees and searched for many Easter eggs, and have even attended Mass a few times, but always felt secure in my identity. At Drexel University, I continued being engaged in the Jewish community by participating in a social club for Jewish women, Hillel, and taking Jewish studies electives. I later visited Israel on the Birthright program, and now am very active in my synagogue on various boards and committees.


Since I attend Shabbat services regularly and my children attend Jewish schools, my family was incredibly shocked and shaken when the shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue Tree of Life occurred in 2018. I had always felt our Jewish community spaces, like schools and synagogues, were safe, but after the shooting, which was the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history, I felt uneasy. It touched me immensely when a colleague asked how I was doing considering the tragedy. That simple act of reaching out, which people sometimes refrain from when they are afraid to say the wrong thing, meant so much and caused me to reflect on how I am showing up and supporting my colleagues during difficult times.


I am very proud of my background as a Jewish American and my deep ties to this region, and love that I get to work every day on improving transportation here. When it comes to being Jewish at work, like anyone else, I would like to be seen and recognized for my unique background and perspective.