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Seattle City (spot)Light: Phil Ambrose, Senior Project Manager, Strategic Capital Programs

The Basics

Division: Project Delivery

How long have you been at City Light? I started as a term-limited Capital Projects Coordinator within Asset Management in January 2012, right after leaving active duty with the U.S. Army. In June 2012, I accepted a permanent position as a Capital Projects Coordinator Senior within Asset Management and Large Projects as part of the Denny Substation Program team.

Tell us about your role. As a project manager within Strategic Capital Programs, I’m responsible for delivering major capital investments to the utility’s infrastructure. These projects are often complex and publicly or politically sensitive in nature. I manage projects from concept to closeout, while overseeing scope, schedule, costs, and quality.

Simultaneously, I am a U.S. Army Reserves Lieutenant Colonel currently in command of the I Corps Main Command Post Operational Detachment (MCP-OD) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.


Hometown: Spokane, Wash.

Alma mater: Shadle Park High School, 2000; Eastern Washington University (EWU), 2004; and Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T), 2009

Discipline/Trade of study: Engineer Officer in the U.S. Army, later U.S. Army Reserves, 2004 to present; Project Management, 2012 to present; EWU: Bachelor of Arts in history; and MS&T: Master of Science in geological engineering

Tell us about your family/pets: My wife, Carman, and I have been together for over 20 years; our 20th wedding anniversary is in December this year. She hails from Clarkston, Wash. We met freshman year in our first college class (English 101 at 8 a.m.) at EWU, though we didn’t start dating until our senior year. She is a teacher, a planner, a maker, and a volunteer, doing amazing things for our community and our family and friends in the DuPont area. She is the rock of our family, weathering three deployments, raising and schooling our daughter, Nora, and putting up with me.

Nora is 16 and a sophomore at Steilacoom High School. While she no longer visits Seattle to sell Girl Scout Cookies, she is very busy as a trumpeter in Steilacoom High School’s Wind Ensemble Band and a coxswain for Commencement Bay Rowing Club. She recently traveled to Spain as a part of a school-sponsored trip in Spring 2023, mowing lawns to earn money. Nora completed driver’s ed and will be fully licensed and on the road later this summer.

We have one dog, Ivy, a French bulldog/Boston terrier mix, who turns 11 this fall. She loudly greets all visitors to Chateau Ambrose, friend and foe alike, with lots of licking and excitement despite her elderly status.

Just for fun

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

This question makes me think of the “mountains or ocean” question! And the great thing about the Pacific Northwest is that we have BOTH and MORE! While I’m not crazy about I-5 traffic, we live in a great part of our country and world where multiple ecosystems are readily accessible: snowy, glaciated, and forested mountains in the Cascade and Olympic ranges; high desert in Central Washington; and incredible scablands and agriculture in Eastern Washington. We have rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula and ponderosa pine in Eastern Washington, with lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and streams throughout. Rocky, cobbled, and sandy beaches offer variety along the Pacific coast and within the shores of Puget Sound. Vibrant urban communities celebrate their own unique cultures and histories, music, food, and art, from Seattle to Spokane and Vancouver to Colville. And that’s all in Washington, notwithstanding the amazing attractions in nearby British Columbia, Oregon, and Idaho. This is a great place to live, and while I want to visit EVERYWHERE, I don’t want to live anywhere else. 

What is one of your biggest accomplishments?

Marrying and sticking with (and her with me, somehow) my amazing wife Carman. Seriously, while I could list some professional and personal milestones, when I really think about it, I couldn’t have done any of those things without her support, high standards, sense of humor, integrity, and her love. She’s an awesome mom and an incredible person. I’m lucky to be with her. Maybe it’s cheesy, but it is true.  

What was your first concert?

Boyz II Men with Montell Jordan, Spokane Arena in Spokane, Wash., on September 25, 1995. I was more into alternative rock and grunge at the time, but my two girl cousins (and Boyz II Men fans) and I have relatively close summer birthdays; so, our parents bought tickets, batting two for three. Overall, Montell was an awesome entertainer, but the acoustics in the Spokane Arena were not great for screaming teenagers seeing Boyz II Men at their height.

What’s your favorite way to relax and unwind?

My favorite way to relax and unwind is walking outside, specifically hearing the crunch of an unpaved trail under my feet while hiking or backpacking in quiet wilderness. Short of that, I love noodling on the guitar, reading a book in a comfortable chair, or streaming a good show or movie with my family.

What’s your favorite family tradition or memory?

Since 2016, our family marks Veterans Day every year by heading to the coast, specifically Pacific Beach. For us, it is a quiet, restorative retreat to reflect and refresh before the start of the holiday season and the upcoming new year. This includes long, often wet (don’t forget wet weather gear), gray walks on the beach, fun family board games, and comfort food and snacks with the Pacific Ocean just outside our window.