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Inspiring Everyday: Alicia Stephens

Passionate about improving work and community

It's a Tuesday afternoon in Texas, and Alicia Stephens is trying to juggle her schedule around the showing of a prized pig.  

“I’ve volunteered with rodeos for 16 years, and this is my bonus daughter's third year to show a pig,” she says with a laugh.

In a state known for oversizing just about everything, Alicia is clearly a native. Along with the pig logistics, she rattles off her rodeo committee leader duties and a long list of other volunteer projects for community organizations she has led at work.  

All this before she even begins to discuss her career managing schedules and cost controls for major projects at Ascend’s Chocolate Bayou site. Spend just a few minutes around Alicia and you’ll quickly realize – her commitment to her community, her colleagues and her work is as big as Texas. 

A passion for excellence

A cost control specialist for Ascend since 2016, Alicia has nearly 20 years of experience managing projects and costs for oil, gas and chemical industry manufacturers. She thrives on driving efficiency and performance in large projects while keeping a busy personal and volunteer schedule.  

“I've always considered myself really good at multitasking,” Alicia says. “I like to stay busy, it’s just my personality.” 

That drive to perform has yielded great results for Ascend. Alicia doesn’t just monitor project costs – she seeks out ways to be better.  

“Alicia proactively solves problems and actively looks for opportunities to add increased value to Ascend,” says her manager, process engineering director David Prior. “She not only provides cost control for most projects at our site but is also deepening her skillset to include detailed schedule development." 

Alicia will be handling schedules for the Chocolate Bayou site's acrylonitrile expansion, a project exceeding $100 million. She took initiative to update the site’s document controls procedures and volunteered to support the launch of new data management software to control costs and provide greater accountability with regards to contracted labor. 

One of her proudest recent achievements was acquiring her project management professional certification, which has only strengthened her ability to lead and engage others.  

“Alicia excels at keeping channels of communication open within the project engineering team as well as across our site functions,” says senior site director Greg Blanchard. “She improves every team she engages.” 

A commitment to community

Yet somehow, amid all the costs and scheduling and project controls, she finds time to have one of the most impressive volunteer resumes found anywhere. From sensory gardens and holiday parties for organizations that care for sick children to building hundreds of bikes for underprivileged kids and cooking BBQ to feed hungry crowds at events, she has a passion for leading projects to serve the community.  

“Alicia is a role model for our Ascend we care value,” David says. “She leads multiple Ascend Cares programs and is always inspiring her team to be number one in financial participation for the site.” 
Safety is another important cause for Alicia. A workplace injury that greatly impacted her father’s life and career made a deep impression on her at a young age, and she channels that into watching out for others every day. She is site leader of the Safety Employee Engagement Team and is passionate about fall prevention and proper safety protocols.  

With so many irons in the fire, how does this Texan find the energy to keep up with it all? 

“I've just always been ambitious,” she says. “Part of my life philosophy is that every day I want to be at least one percent better than yesterday.” 

It’s a philosophy that makes Alicia Stephens inspiring everyday in her work and her community.