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September 2019

A New President's Letter

Lily Tomlin said, “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.” For virtually all of us in the transportation industry, that’s heresy. Slow down? We all have too much to do in too little time with only more piling up on the horizon. But it’s wise advice. And it’s also my somewhat cryptic way to explain why this is the first president’s letter in some time.

Yes, it’s been a while. Like many of you, I struggle with time management and balancing work, life, and the future. Adding my role as WTS-LA chapter president ratchets things up by an order of magnitude. Still, I made it a priority to keep our business plan moving through our board meetings, and to keep engaged with all WTS-LA members at programs and events and through social media and email. But with only so many hours in a day, something had to suffer. It was the president’s letters.

While I’d like to say I can “perfectly” accomplish all the tasks I set out to every given year, who’s kidding who? Too many of us struggle in silence, never asking for help or guidance, yet striving for perfection. And if we don’t achieve it, it is always our fault, no matter what. I once overheard someone say, “I beat myself up every day, without so much as a scratch,” in their quest for perfection. So, what are we to do?

I’m not a mental health professional, career coach, or mystic. But I do know that the first step in addressing any issue is realizing it exists. So, the next time you feel that pressure mounting inside, take a moment and notice it. Stop. Breathe. Think about it. Mark it in your memory for future review in a quieter moment. Then, determine, are you asking too much of yourself? There’s a fine line between positive drive and damaging self-coercion. Try to recognize that line. We all know that moment, that inner feeling when our blood pressure rises, our ears burn, and something just isn’t right. And that brings me perfectly to what I’d like to cover next.

Metro Chief of Staff Nadine Lee led a brilliant WTS-LA panel in July that has received outstanding feedback. In it, she discussed numerous strategies women and men found essential for the workplace. Though impossible to do it justice in this space, I do want to note some of its themes that resonated for me.

The first is recognizing your strength. Often, women fixate on their weaknesses instead of their strengths. Numerous studies have illustrated this. Take job applications, for example. If a man has three of ten qualifications, he applies. If a woman has seven out of ten, she often won’t, perceiving herself as unqualified. The same is true in asking for promotions. This is a really uncomfortable space for women in particular. It doesn’t have to be. But it will take practice. So, how do you focus on a strength? Talk about it. Analyze it. See how it’s helped you. When did you discover it? What other strengths does it feed? By simply raising your own awareness about your strengths, you can start to rely on them more autonomically and connect them to other qualities like stopping to review progress and analyzing various courses of action.

Next, Nadine spoke brilliantly about risk-taking and fear. We all know about fear and risk. Just ask anyone who has tried to merge on the 101 downtown during rush hour. But transpose that exact moment where you decide to hit the gas and gain freeway entry to raising your hand and speaking up at a meeting. They’re not that different. Both can be perilous. And both can feel like they have serious consequences, though one obviously has more immediate repercussions. The important thing here is to properly gauge outcomes. If you merge blindly onto the 101 at rush hour, the outcome will most likely involve physics and the LAPD. But in a meeting what is the worst that could happen? Is it really that bad? What about the potential upside? Just as you properly gauge openings in traffic, seek out openings in meetings and speak up. Factor out what the worst outcome could be, accept it, weigh it, and if it’s favorable, take the chance. Like many things, this becomes much easier with repetition.

Finally, we all—women and men—give quite a lot of themselves at work, especially in this industry. As I’ve noted, the pace can be unrelenting. That’s a given. But what do you do to take care of yourself, to recharge? If you have to think about it, you’re not doing enough. I cannot understate the value of taking time to take care of yourself. What brings you peace? Recharges your batteries? Makes you feel good about yourself and who you are? Remember the warning on every flight, “Put your oxygen mask on first, before you take care of anyone else.”

For fast-acting relief, try slowing down. Though it seems impossible, it’s great advice that we should all heed. Ultimately, the more we take care of ourselves, the more productive and effective we will be. 

Lisa Karwoski, PE

Mott MacDonald


Photo by John Livzey


Photo © John Livzey

WTS-LA Women's Bus Panel

On October 9th, WTS-LA hosted a lunchtime panel featuring women leading the way to maintain and improve bus service in the Los Angeles area. The panel was moderated by Michelle Caldwell and featured speakers from multiple LA County transit agencies.

Lunch with Jim de la Loza

Lunch with Jim de la Loza

On September 20th, 2019 WTS-LA hosted a lunch program to welcome Jim de la Loza, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's new Chief of Planning Officer, to learn about current and upcoming projects for LA Metro Planning.

Photo © John Livzey

2019 Celebration of Recent Industry Milestones for Women

On Thursday, July 18, 2019 WTS-LA hosted a Celebration of Recent Industry Milestones for Women featuring Elissa Konove, Michelle Boehm, Nadine Lee, Yvette Zoe-Robles Rapose, and Jonaura Wisdom.

2019 LAX Tour

WTS-LA Members Visit LAX

On August 23, 2019, WTS-LA members got an exclusive tour of the Midfield Satellite Concourse, currently under construction at Los Angeles International Airport.

Photo © Eric Shen

2019 WTS-LA Summer Happy Hour

On June 13th, 2019, WTS members and non-members joined WTS-LA for a networking happy hour at Harbor House in Downtown Los Angeles.

Photo © John Livzey

2019 WTS-LA Ports update

On May 22, 2019 WTS-LA hosted major players from Southern California ports who discussed current and upcoming projects, innovations, and improvements.

Photo © John Livzey

Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins

On February 22, 2019, WTS-LA hosted a lunch with Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins

Photo © John Livzey

Caltrans District 7 Director John Bulinksi

On January 25, 2019, WTS-LA hosted a lunch with guest speaker Caltrans District 7 Director John Bulinski


Transportation YOU High School Students Tour LAX

On May 29, 2018, a WTS-LA Transportation YOU group of high school students toured Los Angeles International Airport.

Photo © John Livzey

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Panel

On May 31, 2018, WTS-LA hosted a panel to discuss the future of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Photo © John Livzey

Mentorship-WTS-LA Directors at Large Panel

On May 10, 2018, Directors at Large Dina Aryan-Zahlan (POLA), Mark Pestrella (LACDPW), and Elissa Knove (Metrolink) spoke to the 2018 mentorship group.

Photo © John Livzey

Students at the LAWA Update Lunch on August 23rd

Photo © John Livzey

Lunch Program with LAWA's Samantha Bricker

On August 23, 2019, WTS-LA hosted a lunch at the Proud Bird featuring guest speaker Samantha Bricker, LAWA Chief Environmental and Sustainability Officer.

 Previous Photo Next Photo

2019 College Student-WTS-LA Corporate Partners Mixer

On April 25, 2019, WTS-LA Student Outreach committee hosted a networking mixer for students and young professionals to meet WTS-LA corporate partners.

Photo © John Livzey

Caltrans District 7 Update

On January 25, 2019, WTS-LA hosted a lunch with guest speaker Caltrans District 7 Director John Bulinski

Photo © John Livzey

College Outreach Resume Workshop

On May 6, 2019, the College Outreach Committee held a resume workshop - "Bring Your Own Resume" - for students and young professionals.



WTS-LA College Outreach committee members meeting with the UCLA WTS chapter

Photo © Eric Shen

March Happy Hour

WTS-LA hosted a Happy Hour In celebration of International Women's Day

Photo © Jungmin Jang

WTS-LA's 2019 Mentorship Program

On April 24, the WTS-LA Mentorship Committee convened the first meeting of the 2019 program.

Photo by Jungmin Jang

2019 Mentorship Meet-Up

In August 2019, Mentors and Mentees met up to discuss skills building for future success.

Photo by Jungmin Jang

2019 July Mentorship Meeting

The 2019 class of WTS-LA Mentors and Mentees met to discuss career opportunities and perspectives in the public and private sectors.

Transportation YOU Outreach

Transportation YOU Outreach

Transportation YOU committee presenting on careers in transportation to local high school students




At the Annual Scholarship and Awards dinner on November 7, 2019, WTS-LA plans to award more than $100,000 in scholarships to deserving young women in high school, community college, undergraduate, and graduate programs in transportation-related fields.  

REGISTER NOW to attend the annual scholarship and awards dinner. 

Articles about the 2019 scholarship and award recipients are in our NEWS section. 

See the list of this year's scholarship recipients and awardees

Photos by John Livzey.

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