2016 Recognition Award Recipients
WTS Woman of the Year
Therese W. McMillan
Chief Planning Officer
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Therese McMillan is a continuous advocate for the personal and professional advancement of young girls and women in transportation. She is a strong role model for women in our industry, dedicating her career to promoting women in transportation and the needs of the American public.
Her accomplishments include 25 years with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) for the San Francisco Bay Area region, including Deputy Executive Director for Policy. In that capacity she led planning, funding, legislative and public outreach efforts for public transit, highways and local street and roads. She has served as Chair of the California Coalition of Regional Transportation Planning Agencies for fiscal years 1998 and 1999, vice-chair in 1997 and 1998, and received a Resolution of Commendation from the California Transportation Commission for that service in 1999. She assisted in developing climate change legislation at the state level and oversaw the region’s first comprehensive freight plan. With an extensive knowledge of federal, state, and regional transportation funding, Therese shared that expertise as an instructor for the graduate transportation studies program at the Mineta Transportation Institute at California State University, San Jose, for six years.
As Acting Administrator at the Federal Transit Administration, Therese led a team of over 500 staff in delivering transit projects and programs under MAP-21 and the recently reacted FAST Act. She lead major initiatives in transit safety, emergency response after Hurricane Sandy, significant revisions to New Starts/Small Starts investment evaluation, program oversight and civil rights programs, and the management of the $10 billion-per-year annual budget in formula and discretionary grant assistance to over 900 grantees throughout the US. In her new position at LACMTA, Therese will lead the division of strategic planning, funding, and real estate for multiple modes serving over 10 million people in Los Angeles County.
Therese has been a member of WTS Washington, DC, since 2009 and was also the President of WTS San Francisco 1989 - 1990. She has been a constant, active voice in advancing women in transportation. Advancing the careers and personal development opportunities for young women, she has dedicated her time to roundtable discussions with students and young professionals, she’s presented at the WTS Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit, and last year Therese met with teenagers as part of a program that encourages at-risk girls to explore male-dominated fields, and spoke to them concerning the challenges and rewards of being a female in transportation. Therese has mentored students and young professionals throughout her career, and views this as one of the most important responsibilities as a transportation leader.
WTS Honorable Ray LaHood Award
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation
Fred Salvucci is a giant in the field of transportation, not only for his many accomplishments, but also for the extraordinary people whom he nurtured along the way.
Fred served as Secretary of Transportation for Massachusetts in the three administrations of Governor Michael Dukakis (1974-1978 and 1983-1991), and since 1991 he has been a Senior Lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Fred learned early about the benefits and costs of large transportation projects when the state took his grandmother’s home in order to build the Mass Turnpike. This affected his approach to transportation projects — he was especially attentive to the impacts on the people directly affected.
Fred brought about major investments in the public transportation infrastructure in Massachusetts. These included extensions of the MBTA’s Red Line; and a relocated Orange Line which replaced an elevated railway, buried it underground, and provided a lovely linear park along the corridor. He bought up rail rights-of-way and furthered commuter rail around the state. One of Fred’s most impactful and best known project is the Big Dig, the $14.6 billion highway project in Boston that buried an above-ground expressway, built a third Harbor Tunnel to improve access to the airport, and remade downtown Boston into an even more special city for human beings to live, walk, and work. Fred’s role was crucial at both the state and national levels, creating the vision, persuading politicians and getting the funds.
Throughout his career, Fred has had a knack for listening to and appointing women who shared his concern about the human impacts of transportation projects and the need to build coalitions. The women he appointed to prominent positions included Ann Hershfang and Claire Barrett, for whom two WTS Boston awards are named. Another was Jane Garvey who became Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. He hired Kay Gibbs and Sandra Warren, talented advocates who implemented programs to increase diversity at the modal agencies and at private contractors in public construction. Because of those initiatives, thousands of women now earn decent pay working in non-traditional roles in construction and vehicle operations. Fred also recruited head personnel and administration,Mary Lou Batt, who initiated the first workplace daycare center in a state building, providing access to affordable daycare at work for hundreds of working parents.
The City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are still benefitting from Fred’s visionary leadership that preserved rail corridors, expanded rail services, and built highways that work without destroying neighborhoods. And the country has benefitted from the expertise and leadership of many of the women that Fred helped along the way.
WTS Member of the Year
National Practice Lead for Highway Design
Michael Baker International
Kirsten Bowen’s commitment to WTS International is unparalleled. Kirsten learned about WTS in 2007 from a coworker and leader in the organization. She immediately determined it was important for Northeast Ohio to have a chapter of its own for the many professionals living and working in that part of the state. Determined to get this new chapter ratified, she worked with the Columbus chapter and a coworker to recruit the required number of members to join and volunteered to serve in the role of President. Kirsten was the president for five years while the chapter established itself and began to expand. She subsequently served as Past President for two years and then moved into a role of Programs Committee Chair.
Kirsten promotes the importance of the organization and encourages membership and attendance at events. Within her own company, Michael Baker International, she has recruited a significant amount of members who not only joined WTS, but have become actively engaged, participating on the Board and volunteering for various activities.
In addition to her strong commitment to the local chapter, Kirsten also supports WTS at both the regional and national levels. When WTS rolled out the pilot program for a regional structure, WTS Northeast Ohio happily nominated Kirsten to serve as its representative to the Central Region Board. She now serves as the Region Chair and, through that role, has the opportunity to sit on the WTS International Advisory Board.
In addition to her commitment to the association, Kirsten epitomizes the WTS mission in her professional life. Throughout her career, she has hired and managed countless women, she has provided flexibility when family needs take precedence, and also allows for opportunities to learn and grow into roles with increased responsibility. Additionally, as a respected leader in the industry, she has personally provided recommendations for WTS members as they sought to advance their careers. Kirsten is known as a great resource for honest and proven career advice and goes the extra mile for women she believes in.
Kirsten is on a career path that will allow her to deepen her commitment to WTS and the mission even further; she was recently named Associate Vice President and is part of the National Practice - Highway and Bridge at Michael Baker International, a role that will allow her to promote WTS on a national scale while influencing and recruiting many more potential members.
WTS Employer of the Year
Multnomah County, Oregon
Multnomah County strives to be an inclusive organization for recruiting and retaining its employees. Some of the ways that the county demonstrates this inclusivity are having flexible work schedules, providing work out-of-class opportunities, apprenticeship opportunities to attract non-traditional employees, and assessing the minimum qualifications for positions that emphasize transferable skills such as life skills gained through household management or volunteer opportunities. This assessment encourages candidates to apply that might traditionally believe they lack the skills.
Multnomah County is a strong advocate for training employees to grow in their position and prepare them for future advancement within the county. The County Chair’s Office provides a quarterly Executive Leadership Series for all executive management at the county, including department and division directors. Topics such as succession planning, mindfulness in the workplace, equity and empowerment, sustainability in management, and creativity and collaboration are some of the topics addressed in the past.
The county participates in two internship programs: College to County and the Summer Youth Program. Both of these programs provide opportunities to introduce high school and college students to careers in the public sector. Positions are carefully chosen to meet the skills and interests of students providing a 6-8 week internship. The purpose of the College to County program is to expose urban college students to county careers; candidates may come from underrepresented and low-income programs who may not normally consider the county as a career option due to lack of exposure. The Department of Community Services has participated in both of these programs.
Multnomah County has long been a strong supporter of WTS, encouraging participation in the local WTS Portland Chapter board as well as the International board. The county has paid for employees to attend the Annual WTS Conference for the last 15 years and it pays for one WTS membership per employee. The county also encourages attendance at lunch events, allowing employees extended time for the program, and has been a frequent purchaser of tables at WTS Portland events and was a sponsor of the 2014 conference held in Portland.
WTS Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award
Chair, Senate Committee on Ways and Means
Massachusetts State Senator Karen Spilka is a trailblazer for promoting equality and opportunity for women. As the Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Senator Spilka is a leader in her own right, and she uses her position to advance leadership opportunities for other women. Last year, Senator Spilka led the charge to advance more women in leadership roles in Massachusetts companies. Her legislation, S.1007, the Women on Boards Resolution, was unanimously passed by the Massachusetts Senate by a vote of 38 to 0. Senator Spilka persuaded the House to act on the Resolution, too. In October 2015 it passed the House 156 to 0. Due to her leadership, advocacy, determination, and commitment to women, Massachusetts companies are now encouraged to adopt policies and practices to increase gender diversity in their boards of directors and senior management groups. The resolution sets goals for Massachusetts companies to have a minimum of three women directors on boards of nine or more and a minimum of two women directors on boards of fewer than nine by December 31, 2018, and to annually measure their progress toward a goal of equal representation of men and women in leadership.
Senator Spilka is also a co-sponsor this session of the Equal Pay bill, passed by the Senate earlier this year, which seeks to bridge the gender wage gap by ensuring equal pay for comparable work, establish pay transparency, and require fairness in hiring. Last session, Senator Spilka was the lead sponsor of legislation which was successfully signed into law to create the MetroWest Commission on the Status on Women. This is a 9-member commission charged with examining all issues concerning women and girls in the area and identifying ways to advance equality.
Throughout her legislative career, which she began in the House of Representatives in 2001 before her election to the Senate in 2005, Senator Spilka has also been a strong advocate for improving transportation options in MetroWest and across the state, including roads, bridges, public transportation and other investments. In addition, advocacy for STEM education has been a priority for Senator Spilka. She has served as a member of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and served on the Goddard Council for STEM Education. She is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about STEM and the need for a well-trained, educated and competitive workforce.
WTS Innovative Transportation Solutions Award
Indego Bike Share
Launched in April 2015 by the City of Philadelphia, Indego Bike Share offers round-the-clock access to public transportation with over 700 bikes located at 70 stations. Indego was planned, implemented, and is now managed by several women, including co-manager Cara Ferrentino and Better Bike Share Grant Manager Carniesha Kwashie. Philadelphia’s bike share initiative has prioritized social inclusivity and equity from its inception. Indego has been widely heralded as an exceptional example of best practices in this new industry.
The City of Philadelphia has sought to maximize bike share’s value to communities and to cultivate community ownership of station sites through a comprehensive engagement process that has included surveys (including text-message surveys), community ambassadors, community site visits and events, and approximately 100 meetings with representatives of Philadelphia neighborhoods and business associations. Prior to launch, a series of focus groups made up of low-income Philadelphians helped determine hard and soft barriers to potential bike share use in those households. This work is unique among US cities in that it relied on pre-implementation research in the local market. The results helped develop a pricing model for bike share that was simple, transparent, and appealing to users.
Indego is the first bike share system in the country to place social equity at the core of its program. A grant was pursued through the JPB Foundation which aimed at making Philadelphia’s bike share program the most socially equitable and financially accessible program in the country. This formed the basis of a national initiative, the Better Bike Share Partnership, managed by Carniesha. This partnership is the first of its kind and provides funding and technical support for bike share systems across the country who seek to provide a socially equitable and replicable model of bike share.