Abstract: The viability of steady-state scenarios in ITER and future tokamak reactors relies on effective heating by energetic particles (EPs) to achieve high beta and bootstrap current. Experiments in the DIII-D tokamak show that a broadened fast-ion pressure profile and q-profile manipulation enables better control of performance-degrading Alfvén Eigenmodes (AEs), improves EP confinement, and allows access to new regimes with 15% higher normalized plasma beta than previously achieved in steady state scenarios with negative central shear and qmin>2. To clarify the impact of EP transport on thermal profiles, the TGLF-EP+Alpha critical-gradient model is used to calculate AE-induced EP transport. The model diffusion is used in TRANSP, reproduces the measured neutron rate within 5% in a wide range of evolving plasma conditions, and enables better thermal profile predictions. This has exciting applications in integrated modeling for scenario development and reactor scoping studies.