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December 2019

A New Year’s Recollection…

Author E. Joseph Cossman said, “If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.” Think about that. What can matter to us most urgently and sincerely can be instantly forgotten through time and context. But it’s equally easy to forget your accomplishments, as well. So, I would like to take a moment and reflect on the past year, as this was truly an exceptional year for WTS-LA.

First, thank you all for making this past year the success it was. Through your tireless and generous contributions of time, energy, thought, heart, and yes, sometimes funds, we made a real difference in the transportation industry in Southern California. Congratulations to you all for that and please take a moment to celebrate your wonderful selves. Now, onto what we did.

Women made tremendous advances in the transportation industry. And this can best be seen through some of the enthralling programs we hosted this year. Last February, more than 200 transportation professionals helped us celebrate the appointment of Stephanie Wiggins as the new CEO of Metrolink! In July, we hosted a panel of five outstanding women—Nadine Lee, Elissa Konove, Yvette Zoe-Rapose, Jonaura Wisdom, and Michelle Boehm—all of whom had recently been promoted and are pioneering in their roles.

Three months later in October, WTS-LA presented a bus panel, featuring five more pioneering women—Debra Johnson, Dana Pynn, LaShawn King Gillespie, Diane Corral-Lopez, and Michelle Caldwell—who are also leading in a field that is traditionally thought of as a man’s realm. And we hosted a professional development program led by female senior executives from Metro—Lucy Delgadillo, Tham Nguyen, Ayda Safaei, Jenny Cristales-Cevallos, Nancy Saravia, and Kate Amissah. And that’s just a sample from the year. We also hosted several programs introducing women and men transportation leaders to our chapter and the industry. So, a special congratulations to the Programs Committee for leading on this vital subject.

Our programs also went beyond the lovely environs of the downtown hotel conference and ballrooms. WTS-LA members enjoyed a unique tour of LAWA’s Midfield Satellite Concourse, preceded by lunch with LAWA Chief Environmental and Sustainability Officer Samantha Bricker. And our College Outreach Committee led a tour for transportation students from USC, CSUN, UCLA, and UCI of Metro’s Regional Connector project. The Transportation YOU Committee also hosted an awesome event bringing together 70 female high school STEAM students. And that’s just a very short list of such endeavors that doesn’t even include events with the Ports, Caltrans, and other Metro programs. But that leads me to the next area where the chapter excelled.

Through Transportation YOU, the College Outreach Committee, the Scholarship Committee, and several other committees, WTS-LA actively reached out to students from the high school level up through graduate school. Providing mentoring, guidance, support, and vision, our members have partnered with youth in Los Angeles to help them learn about opportunities in the transportation industry that many of them never knew about before. For graduate students, we helped them make their research come alive. Oh, and there is one more area where WTS-LA made a significant difference. In 2019, at our Annual Scholarship and Awards Dinner we awarded $100,000 in scholarships! That’s a record and it’s one I’m particularly proud of. In fact, I don’t know of any other WTS chapter that achieved that. So, again, please pat yourselves on the back. Heck, that’s so extraordinary, take yourself out to lunch for doing such a phenomenal job!

Of course, other examples of our chapter’s success abound. From Communications to Membership to Small Business to Corporate Partners, WTS-LA members continue to innovate, enlighten, and inspire. Again, many thanks to you all for your brilliant energy, drive, and smarts. 

“If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.” Mr. Cossman is right. It’s easy to forget what you were worrying about a year ago. But it’s also easy to forget what you were celebrating a year ago. So, I thought I’d remind you of the wonderful work you’ve done this past year. And I thank you all. It has been my honor to be president of such a dynamic and effective chapter. And I can’t wait to see what we accomplish next year.

Happy Holidays and New Year to you all!

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

Photo © John LIvzey

Annual Scholarship & Awards Dinner

Representatives from scholarship sponsor Fehr & Peers and scholarship recipients Ma'ayan Dembo and Guadalupe Huerta from UCLA

Photo © John Livzey

WTS-LA Woman of the Year

Cynthia Guidry, Director of Long Beach Airport and WTS-LA Director at Large, is the recipient of the 2019 WTS-LA Woman of the Year award.

Photo © John Livzey

WTS-LA Honorable Ray LaHood Award Recipient

WTS-LA Honorable Ray LaHood Award Recipient Gary Lee Moore (City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering) with dinner emcees Kome Ajise (SCAG) and Nadine Lee (Metro).

Photo John Livzey

WTS-LA Annual Scholarship and Awards Dinner

WTS-LA Board of Directors scholarship recipient Annaleigh Yahata Ekman (UCLA) with Jenelle Saunders (Berg & Associates) and Heather Anderson (HNTB)


College Outreach Regional Connector Tour

The College Outreach Committee organized a tour of the Regional Connector subway construction project in Downtown Los Angeles. Students from USC, CSUN, UCLA, and UCI attended.




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

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

This year's scholarship recipients and awardees

See photos from the 2019 Annual Scholarship and Awards Dinner. 

2017-18_Rpt_CoverIn 2017-2018, WTS-LA made some significant changes to committees, increased the scholarship fund, and focused on workforce development. Read our report summarizing our accomplishements. 

Read WTS-LA's white paper about Workforce Development, called “Bridging LA County’s Transportation Industry Workforce Gap: Where have all of the qualified people gone…and how do we get them back?  Read here.  




Photos © John Livzey.

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