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Highlights from the WTS-Boston 2015 Annual Awards and Scholarships Dinner

July 6, 2015 09:01 AM

By: Susie Bailey, HDR & Marie J. Sullivan, Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, Scholarship & Awards Committee Co-Chairs

The 2015 Annual Awards and Scholarship Dinner was a tremendous success thanks to the hard work by the Special Projects Committee and Scholarship & Awards Committee.  The evening’s program began with Secretary Stephanie Pollack introducing Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito as the keynote speaker, who spoke about the Administrations goals and priorities and her own background and interest in transportation. That coupled with a series of honors to inspirational women and a new venue made for a successful and fun evening.

Becky Williamson, WTS-Boston Vice President, presented awards to several deserving scholarship recipients. She awarded the Ann M. Hershfang Graduate Scholarship to Radhameris Gomez who was present to accept her award. Radhameris is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst studying civil engineering. Rahameris's research studies have focused on highway-railroad grade crossings and she hopes to pursue a faculty position upon graduation to continue her research.  She is a current member and past treasurer of the UMass Amherst WTS student chapter.

The three other scholarship recipients were not able to attend the dinner event but they all included a note of thanks for Becky to read to the audience. These scholarship recipients were Lindsay Cullen of Lincoln High School in Lincoln, RI who received the Transportation YOU Undergraduate Scholarship that is awarded to a current high school senior; Laura Blumenfeld of Northeastern University who received the Jacquelyn R. Smith Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship; and Mahour Rahimi of the University of Massachusetts - Amherst who received the Claire Barrett Memorial Graduate Scholarship.

The presentation of the Boston Chapter Awards was given by WTS-Boston President Rachael Sack. Rachael kicked-off the awards presentation by presenting Janice Martin Bergeron of Kennedy/Jenks Consultants with the Woman of the Year award. Janice spoke about her work as Chair on the WTS Appointments Task Force and the hard work the committee put forth to lead the charge to advocate for female appointments in transportation. Janice also spoke fondly of her family and thanked them for their support. 

The Employer of the Year award was presented to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)/ Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack accepted the award on behalf of the two agencies. She spoke of the initiatives that MassDOT and the MBTA have introduced to recruit and retain a talented, diverse, and qualified workforce. She also acknowledged the leadership of MassDOT, and noted that many of them are women.

Rachael presented Lisa A. Schletzbaum from the MassDOT-Highway Division with the Claire Barrett Member of the Year award. Lisa, a longtime WTS member, is a WTS-Boston Past President, a mentor to many, and an advocate for WTS-Boston, especially to her public sector colleagues. Lisa has shared WTS-Boston’s best practices with other Chapters and has played a large role in making WTS-Boston one of the strongest Chapters.

The Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award was presented to Celia J. Blue, MassDOT. Rachael noted how Celia’s strong commitment for extraordinary customer service led to an improved customer experience. Celia discussed her work as Registrar and as President of COMTO’s Boston Chapter, which is hosting the upcoming COMTO National Meeting & Training Conference.

Finally, the Innovative Transportation Solutions award was presented to the Second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) Federal Highway Administration team.  Amy Lucero and Carin Michel were both present to accept the award. Carin, who spoke on their behalf, talked about the partnership that she and Amy had throughout the SHRP2 program. Carin stated that this honor made her reflect on the program’s successes and she acknowledged the many other women leaders who she and Amy worked with as a part of this program.

The Scholarship & Awards Committee is pleased to have been able to acknowledge these amazing and talented women. A big thank you to the Special Projects Committee co-chairs, Cynthia Carleo of Geocomp Corporation and Alison Felix of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, for planning such a successful event. Look for an announcement about the 2016 Scholarship program in early September and request for 2016 WTS-Boston award nominations  in December.

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