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President’s Message

December 22, 2014 09:06 AM

President’s Message

The following article contains excerpts from WTS-Boston President Alison Plant Lima, P.E.’s remarks delivered at the December Luncheon and Annual Meeting on December 18, 2014:

WTS-Boston’s leadership, consisting of our Board of Directors, our Committee chairs and our Advisory Board, includes approximately 50 people in total.  What an honor it has been to serve as the President among such a talented group of women leaders.  As a leader, you never quite know how it is going to be – are you going to be the engine, constantly pushing … or are you going to be more of an orchestra conductor who has a front row seat to witness the strengths of others blossom?  Let me say, it has been a real blessing to have been a Conductor. 

Two years ago my main goals as incoming President was to advance the following within my two-year term:

  1. Increase public sector participation
  2. Be strategic with our communication
  3. Increase Membership engagement
  4. Have a seat at the table for Appointments

I told the leadership I was open to change and new ideas, and what a joy it has been for me to have our leadership raise their hands one after another with their ideas of ways to elevate and strengthen the organization, saying:

  • I want to completely transform our communication.
  • I want to start a book club to bring together women at all levels to share their experiences.
  • I want the Board to give our committee more space, so we have more ownership about what we do.
  • I want us to partner with COMTO.
  • I want to amplify our voice on social media.
  • I want to formalize our investment policy and work toward endowing our scholarships.
  • I want WTS-Boston to give more benefits to our corporate sponsors and defray our ticket costs to support public sector participation.
  • I want to develop programming to support our executive women.
  • I want to see more women selected for government appointments.

We have made significant progress in so many completely different areas, and it is entirely thanks to our amazing volunteers who were the ones to raise their hands with great ideas knowing full well that meant they were volunteering to champion the idea. 

Some members of the 2014 Leadership will continue in the same role in 2015.  The following women will move on to a new role, or will be taking a step back to create an opportunity for someone new. 

Board of Directors    
Rachael Sack USDOT / Volpe Center Vice President
Lisa Schletzbaum MassDOT Past President
Sarah Dennechuk Massport         Secretary
Becky Williamson GPI Treasurer
Lee Filipe Massport         Director
Kristine Gorman STV Director
Carrie Rocha             Michael Baker Jr. Director
Irene Shea             MBTA Director


Committee Co-Chairs

Catherine Chen MassDOT – Highway Div Diversity
Selma Mandzo VHB     Diversity
Alison Felix MAPC Finance
Lori Chicoyne  Kennedy Jenks Fundraising
Pam Greco GPI Membership
Allison Sweeney MBTA Membership
Meghan Houdlette VHB     Mentoring
Heather Ostertog FST Newsletter
Colleen Moore City Point Partners Programs
Susan Nichols VHB Special Projects
Jess Kenney MassDOT – Highway Div. Special Projects


Advisory Board  
Barbara Boylan Drucker Company
Pam Stephenson MA Division Administrator FHWA


2014 Emerging Professional

Erica Simmons USDOT / Volpe  Center       


To these outgoing members of the WTS-Boston Leadership, and to those returning in 2015 – thank you for all you have done for WTS-Boston.

Let me offer a special thank you to our Vice President, Rachael Sack.  Time after time, she offered to help in any and every way I needed.  For those of you who know me well, you know that I am a very good delegator.  So Rachael Sack and I were a match made in heaven.  In fact, I am pretty sure that Rachael is the best Vice President in the history of WTS-Boston, and will probably be the best President in the history of WTS-Boston.

For those of you who don’t know Rachael Sack, she is amazing.  As a planner, she is a big thinker – always considering strategy and the plan to get from point A to point B.  She is one to collect data to use as a basis of choosing which direction to proceed.  She is warm and engaging, and someone who I am lucky to have not only as a colleague, but also a friend and confidant. 

Rachael works for the USDOT / Volpe Center, where she is the Program Director for the Small Business Innovation Research Program.  Rachael’s work focuses on strategic outreach, organizational development and research management for Federal agencies including Federal Highway and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  At Volpe, she is the former Federal Women’s Program Manager and was honored by Secretary Ray LaHood in 2011, receiving the Secretary’s EEO/Affirmative Action Award. Rachael holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Energy and Environmental Analysis and a Master’s Degree in Energy and Environmental Policy, both from Boston University.

As WTS-Boston’s outgoing President, let me say that being an active member of WTS-Boston has had a profound impact on my career trajectory and my life.  About 15 years ago, I was a happy structural engineer, sitting in my cubicle running calculations with my blinders on, with frankly no perspective of the transportation industry as a whole.

Since then I have had endless opportunities to learn and grow because of WTS.  I have learned how to participate and run meetings,  negotiate, deal with difficult people, mentor others, ask for help, prioritize andI have learned that my voice is important.  I should note that all the skills I learned in WTS, I have been able to reinforce on a daily basis at home, as our three children in elementary school keep my husband and I on our toes.  For any of you with young children, I am sure your negotiation skills are also paramount.

In life, opportunities come and go, and sometimes we miss them.  I am so glad I did not miss this one, to have been talked into WTS by Loretta Girard Doughty, to have found a kindred spirit to start my WTS journey with Susanne Woods, now my boss, to have people like Luisa Paiewonsky and Lisa Schletzbaum encouraging me with every step, and to work for Tetra Tech who has supported me along this journey.  There has been a real synergy between my work life, my WTS life and my home life, and it has been such a blessing.  I am ever reminded of how fortunate I am to be doing the work I do and what a privilege it is to do work that changes the lives of others in such a tangible, meaningful way. 

That is a true gift.




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