WTS Chapters










November 2017

Silence Is Beholden...

Pakistani female-education activist Malala Yousafzai said, “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” She would know. When she spoke up for her right to an education she paid an extremely dear price. She was shot in an attempt to quell her activism, to silence her. Of course, it didn’t work. And her voice was heard around the world. But what she knew and what we all must also know and support is that there is an even greater price to silence. It’s a price that many of us have already paid through action and inaction, on a small and sometimes grand scale, and individually and collectively, but we have all paid that price in one way or another. And I would love to say that we should all just stop, send back the bill, and bring justice to the world through our collective listening! Well, that would be great, but the world ain’t like that. So, what do we do?

Society is like an ocean liner. It doesn’t change course quickly. So, I never expect people to transform overnight. But recent events in society have brought these thoughts to light and seem to be propelling change at quicker rate. We are at a unique moment in time. From politics to entertainment to transportation, we are undergoing a profound period of self-examination. And that’s a great thing. So, again, while it is very easy to say, “Speak up, always, ever, and fight any and every injustice!” Well, life is never that simple. And I don’t expect it to be. So, what I’d like to talk to you about is not the extremely courageous lone voice that found extraordinary courage in a challenging situation. Fortunately, that voice sometimes gets the recognition it deserves. I want to talk to you about the silence.

Silence may be golden in some situations. Early each weekend morning it’s worth more than gold. But I’m talking about a different kind of silence, a much more self-aware silence, one that also generates a feeling of unease or discomfort during an event or a situation. A silence when you know that something around you is not right, but you don’t feel safe to speak up. It’s hard. The strength in numbers can also be prohibitive. And when the crowd is silent, it’s much easier to keep your head down and avoid conflict. I totally understand. We’ve all done it. But maybe recent events are a wake-up call giving us a new opportunity, an opportunity to look to each other for even greater support. Because, after all, isn’t that why we joined WTS-LA?

Eleven bold women founded WTS because they got tired of being silent, tired of the silence around them. They were tired of seeing others advance ahead of them whether they were more qualified or not. They were tired of being thought of as lesser. So, they found a very unique way to speak up. And it worked. Though, obviously, workplace equality has not been “solved,” I think every one of those 11 women are damn proud of the effect WTS has had on the transportation industry and beyond. They should be. We owe them all a debt of gratitude for speaking up. But more importantly, to truly honor their effort, we need to use WTS-LA to even greater effect in terms of providing a safe place for even the quietest voice to be heard.

When one voice is raised and another joins it, power becomes action. WTS-LA is that action in transportation. It has changed the transportation industry forever and for better. WTS-LA is that supportive community that adds voices to lone dissent. The chapter empowers women and men to make the industry fairer and more equitable. And one important way we do that is through listening, by finding that one voice that’s speaking up about something of import and giving it support and a safe platform for airing. WTS-LA is your sounding board. It’s your group. It’s your strength in numbers. Use it. And if you see that silence around you in a different context, use WTS-LA as a model to help end that silence and create another equally sensitive and supportive group. Make WTS-LA a model for ending the silence.

When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. Malala, we hear you. And through WTS-LA, we promise to help others learn to hear as well. 

Kathy Simons 

Photo by John Livzey


Photo © John Livzey. For permission to use, please contact John at

2017 Annual Awards & Scholarship Dinner

On November 9, 2017 WTS-LA awarded $71,000 in scholarships to the next generation of transportation professionals. With over 400 attendees and through the generous support of our corporate partners, this event was a huge success!

Photo © John Livzey

SB-1 Funding Discussion

On October 5, Hilary Norton, Executive Director at FAST, facilitated a discussion with various public sector transportation leaders from Caltrans, Metro and LA County.

Photos by Melanie Nelson

WTS-LA Mixes it Up with a Happy Hour

On August 30, 2017, WTS-LA held a happy hour at Harbor House in Downtown Los Angeles.

Photo © John Livzey

Welcoming POLB Executive Director Mario Cordero July 26, 2017

WTS-LA welcomed newly appointed POLB executive director Mario Cordero in an evening reception on Wednesday, July 26 at the Westin Long Beach. Photo © John Livzey

Photo © John Livzey

Up-and-Coming Women Graduate from Pilot Mid-Career Mentoring Program. July 17, 2017

Participants in the WTS Los Angeles inaugural mid-career mentoring program meet at Chaya to celebrate the wrap-up of their year-long pairing with senior executives from the public and private sectors and academia. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo © John Livzey

Flowers Delivers for Mid-Career Mentorship Program. May 25, 2017

Former Federal Transit Authority Acting Administrator and current AECOM Americas Transit Practice Leader Carolyn Flowers brings more than three decades of experience to a meeting with mid-career protegées and their mentors. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo © John Livzey

Saving Your Assets: Why Maintenance and Repair are Good Business for Everyone. June 21, 2017

California Transportation Commission Vice Chair Fran Inman moderates an asset management discussion with Roderic Diaz (SCRRA), Gregory Kildare (Los Angeles Metro), and Kia Mortazavi (OCTA). Billions, possibly trillions, are at stake. Photo © John Livzey,

A Good Book Can Change Your Mind. A Great Book Can Change Your Life.

A Good Book Can Change Your Mind. A Great Book Can Change Your Life. May 24, 2017

The WTS Los Angeles professional development series welcomes author and advice columnist Michelle T. Johnson, known as "the Diversity Diva." Attendees each received a copy of Johnson's book "The Diversity Code." Photo © John Livzey.

Los Angeles Metro Changes the Way You Do Business, May 3, 2017

Los Angeles Metro Changes the Way You Do Business. May 3, 2017

Metro's Carolina Coppolo makes a point as moderator Lynda Bybee of LSA and Metro's Dr. Joshua Schank listen at this program featuring innovation in procurement, delivery methodologies, and best practices. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo © John Livzey

Transportation Résumé Book Mixer is a Winner for Students and Corporate Partners. April 27, 2017

This year's mixer introducing graduating students to WTS Los Angeles public and private corporate partners who received our exclusive Transportation Résumé Book was a hit. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo © John Livzey

WTS Gets the Scoop on LAWA's $14 Billion Capital Improvement Planning. April 5, 2017

Key LAWA execs Cynthia Guidry, Samantha Bricker, and Aura Moore, responding to questions from moderator Lydia Kennard of KDG Construction Consulting, brief an SRO audience on this landmark initiative. Photo © John Livzey.

Welcoming Supervisor Janice Hahn

Welcoming Supervisor Janice Hahn on February 22, 2017

WTS-LA welcomes Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board member Janice Hahn. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo © John Livzey

Welcoming Supervisor Kathryn Barger on January 27, 2017

WTS-LA welcomes newly elected Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board member Kathryn Barger. Photo © John Livzey.


Regional Rail Connects Communities. October 13, 2016

Jennifer Bergener (LOSSAN), Michelle Boehm (CAHSRA), Elissa Konove (Metrolink), and Bryan Pennington (Metro) discuss what's new in SoCal rail moderated by the Honorable Yvonne B. Burke (former LA County Supervisor, 2nd District). Photo © John Livzey.

Photo © John Livzey.

Southern California Port Leaders Discuss Future. August 18, 2016

Antonio Gioiello (POLA), Rick Cameron (POLB), and Kristin Decas (Port of Hueneme) discuss their plans to improve the Southern California ports on a panel moderated by Eric Shen (Maritime Administration of the USDOT). Photo © John Livzey.

Members Get Coached by an Expert, July 16

Member Benefit: Coaching by an Expert. July 16, 2016

Business coach Katie Carr, a principal with Fehr & Peers and Left Lane Advisors, leads a half-day professional development workshop for WTS Los Angeles members on the USC campus. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

Metro Planning Chief Therese McMillan Gets a Warm Reception. July 13, 2016

Therese McMillan, Los Angeles Metro's newly appointed Chief Planning Officer and a WTS Los Angeles member, is welcomed by a SRO audience. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

Mid-Career Members Get Extraordinary Mentoring. July 15, 2016

On July 15, WTS-LA launched its pilot mid-career mentoring program, pairing members with directors-at-large on its board - all senior executives in the public sector. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

High School Students Get the Inside Track on Transportation Careers. July 15, 2016

On July 15, WTS-LA Adopt-A-School chair Amy Shimshon-Santos, ITEP's Christiana Faulkner, and POLA's Mahsa Pan moderated a workshop for high school students at the Port of Los Angeles. Photo © John Livzey

LA and Orange County are Serious about Streetcars, June 16

LA and Orange County are Serious About Streetcars. June 16, 2016

OCTA Rail Program Manager Mary Shavalier briefs our audience on their streetcar program as LA Streetcar Program Manager Shane Phillips and Bringing Back Broadway Executive Director Jessica Wethington McLean listen in. Photo by John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

Our Prez Welcomes Elena Studier and Stevie. June 7, 2016

Elena Studier, a National Association of Railroad Passengers intern, and her bike "Stevie" are traveling the US on Amtrak this summer, and were welcomed to Los Angeles by chapter president Amanda Heinke. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

WTS Los Angeles Board Member Champions Students

Longtime WTS-LA board member Emilie Gino, retired LAUSD administrator, has sponsored student attendance at programs and underwritten student memberships for two decades. Here she is with USC's Kaitlyn Zhang and CSUN's Raiwan Alijamal. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

LAWA Capital Program Briefing. May 26, 2016

Cynthia Guidry, Deputy Executive Director, Planning and Development Group, briefs a SRO audience on projects coming up at LAWA. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

LAWA Capital Program Briefing. May 26, 2016

Ellen Wright, Director of Terminal Planning and Design, Planning and Development Group, briefs a SRO audience on projects coming up at LAWA. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

Expo Phase 2 Pre-Opening Tour. May 13, 2016

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, instrumental in development of the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority, led a windshield tour to the new destination in Santa Monica for WTS-LA members. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

METRANS "Meet the Practitioner" Series. March 23, 2016

Grace Crunican, general manager of BART, welcomes at SRO audience to this WTS-LA co-sponsored "Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom" event for USC and CSULB students and industry practitioners. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

METRANS "Meet the Practitioner" Series. March 23, 2016

Prof. James Moore II (USC), Mengzhao Hu (KOA Corporation), Dana Hook (CDM Smith), and LaVerne Francis Reid (formerly with the FAA) are "Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom" panelists. Photo © John Livzey,

Photo by John Livzey

Metro Exec Joshua Schank Talks Innovation and Careers. March 18, 2016

WTS Los Angeles members welcomed Metro Chief Innovation Officer Joshua Schank on March 18 for a professional development program discussing career strategies. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

Metro Exec Joshua Schank Talks Innovation and Careers. March 18, 2016

Foothill Transit exec Michelle Caldwell participates in the Q&A during our March 18 program. Photo © John Livzey.

Photo by John Livzey

Metro Exec Joshua Schank Talks Innovation and Careers. March 18, 2016

USC Price School of Public Policy student Ariana Seymore poses a question during the Q&A portion of Joshua Schank's March 18 meeting with our members. Photo © John Livzey.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican Moderates a Panel of Women Leaders, September 30

BART General Manager Grace Crunican Moderates a Panel of Women Leaders. September 30, 2015

Grace Crunican, who co-authored the new book "Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom: Transportation Women Tell Their Stories" with industry leader Liz Levin, makes a point in our September 30 panel discussion. Photo by Koop Films.

Photo by John Livzey

WTS Welcomes LAWA's Deborah Flint as She Takes the Reins. September 21, 2015

A "members only" audience welcomed new Executive Director Deborah Flint, who now leads the largest public sector capital program in Los Angeles and one of the largest airport systems in the world. Photo © John Livzey.




Forget your diet. At least that’s what attendees at the 2017 WTS-LA Annual Scholarship and Awards Dinner did. But they also threw more than gustatory caution to the wind in celebrating and honoring WTS-LA award and scholarship winners. From truly moving stories from students looking to enter the transportation industry to equally affecting narratives from seasoned transportation professionals about life, equality, WTS-LA, and their careers, the 2017 WTS-LA Scholarship and Awards Dinner was truly an astounding event. And WTS-LA bestowed more than $70,000 in scholarships, a WTS-LA record! To find out more about this exceptional event, please click here.

Photos © John Livzey.


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