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Anne Aylward Honored at 20th Annual Leadership Forum

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Article by Alexandra Kleyman, AICP, Boston Region MPO
Photo by http://frankmonkiewicz.com/

April 26th, 2016 marked WTS-Boston’s 20th Annual Leadership Forum. More than 150 dedicated WTS-Boston sponsors, chapter leaders, and public officials make their way to the Omni Parker House in downtown Boston by 7:30 in the morning to be greeted by strong coffee, close colleagues, and good conversation. This year’s invitation-only annual leadership breakfast honored Anne Aylward for her outstanding leadership and powerful advocacy for women in the transportation field.

Ms. Aylward currently serves as the Deputy Director for Research and Technology at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center (Volpe). In this role, she has made substantial contributions to U.S. DOT priorities as a leader for Volpe’s research and technology staff of 490 analysts, economists, engineers, planners, scientists, and system developers. Before joining Volpe, Ms. Aylward worked for the Massachusetts Port Authority from 1976 to 1993, including 10 years as Director of the Port of Boston. She was also the first woman elected to chair the American Association of Port Authorities. As the Executive Director of the National Commission on Intermodal Transportation, Ms. Aylward was the primary author of the Commission’s 1994 report to Congress.

Introducing Ms. Aylward was Luisa Paiewonsky, Director of the Center for Infrastructure Systems and Technology at Volpe. A past president of the WTS-Boston Chapter, Luisa herself is a trailblazer in the field, having served as the Commonwealth’s first Highway Division Administrator for MassDOT under Governor Deval Patrick. Luisa described that “to know Anne is to be ready for laughter at any time.”  Ms. Paiewonsky credited Ms. Aylward with such notable accomplishments as increasing the percentage of female employees at Volpe during her leadership from 32 to 57 percent.

Ms. Aylward described her own life and accomplishments starting with her diverse childhood growing up taking trains around Southeast Asia when her parents were in the U.S. Foreign Service. She spoke about the critical role that WTS plays in providing a space for members to make important connections by mixing the professional and the personal. This type of interaction allows for greater collaboration in the transportation field and for professional and personal exploration of our goals and priorities.

While the inspiring words of Ms. Paiewonsky and WTS Boston’s honoree illustrate the gains made by women in the transportation field during the past 40 years, Ms. Aylward urged those present never to take this progress for granted. She cautioned that without consistently strong leadership and support, organizations can be dismantled and progress can slip away. This reminder highlights the importance of this Leadership Forum event as a way to continually seek out and honor strong female leadership in transportation and to take the opportunity to sincerely thank all of our chapter sponsors, public officials, and chapter leaders for their support in advancing women in transportation and making WTS-Boston a model chapter.

 

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