WTS Chapters









April 2018

Edgar Allen Poe wrote, “The best place to hide is in plain sight.” Well, women would know. For much of our lives many of us have been hiding in plain sight, whether by choice, circumstance, or society. But something has changed. Whether it’s the #metoo movement, the #timesup movement, the current political situation, or just the alignment of the stars, something has shifted tectonically. And women are no longer hiding or being hidden in plain sight. Something has most definitely changed. Not convinced? Here’s what I’ve observed.
In the past few months I have attended four events that have either highlighted women, bestowed awards on women, or had them as speakers for major transportation programs. To say it is the year of the woman is an understatement. We are moving mountains in politics, providing leadership in major growth markets, advancing technology, and of course reinventing transportation—pick a discipline or sector and women are making their mark more publicly than ever before. And my anecdotal experience is bolstered by the numbers.
According to Catalyst, a global nonprofit advocating for women in business, nearly 15% of boards of director seats around the world were held by women in 2015, a 55% rise from 2010. Today, women comprise 50.8% of the population in the US, yet they earn almost 60% of all bachelor’s and master’s degrees here, as well as 47% of all law degrees and 48% of all medical degrees. Women also hold almost 52% of all professional-level jobs. Sounds great, right? We’re there! We made it! Well, not exactly…
Of those female professionals that comprise 52% of the workforce, only 25% are executive- and senior-level officials and managers, while only 20% hold board seats and only 6% are CEOs. Drilling deeper, from finance to law to academia to technology, the numbers reveal a very similar story. Without doubt, we have made significant gains. Women CEOs and executives grace the covers of numerous magazines—and not just women’s magazines. Women lead global companies. And women set policy around the globe. But, we are not there yet. And we have quite a way to go before we can truly and finally proclaim victory. So, how do we finally get there?
In truth, we were always there. WTS-LA knows this. And the chapter makes a point to regularly recognize pioneering women that fought the good fight from the start. But organizations like WTS-LA do so much more to advance women. And as a result, we have become more important than ever. More and more, as women demand credit where credit is due, organizations like WTS-LA are proving to be invaluable in helping them rise and gain recognition and acknowledgement. So, there has never been a better time to join the movement through an organization like ours. WTS-LA is one of the cornerstones of this movement. If you’re not convinced, consider the number and level of women leaders in our industry. Of course, as president of WTS-LA, I want you to join our chapter. But simply joining an organization is not enough.
It would be easy to continue on as we have. Why not? It’s working, right? It would be even easier to ease off the gas and relax a little bit. Take a breath. Celebrate our advancement. After all, we have made gains, right? Can’t happen. Worse thing we could do. Now more than ever, we must fight even harder and more publicly to make it clear that merit should be the sole driver for all access, advancement, and accomplishment. We must build on the gains we’ve made and institutionalize them. Make equality the norm, so that we never have to raise the specter of inequality again. We are not there yet. We have not arrived. This is no time for a victory lap. So, yes, join WTS-LA and other organizations like it. But also get involved.  
Action speaks louder than words. And simply carrying the card of an organization does not mean you are contributing. So, step up. If you’re already a member, join a committee. If you are on a committee already, lead it. Volunteer for an event. Spearhead an initiative. Start something new. We women got where we got by taking action, together. Now is the time to continue that fight and pour it on. The late, great, pioneering Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm said, “You don’t make progress standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” She would know. Her number of firsts is truly astounding. And it was never easy. So, honor her legacy. Take action. Join our chapter or another organization with a similar mission and make a difference. Let’s relegate equality to the historical dustbin by working that much harder for the next generation.

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.



Phil_WashingtonWTS-LA proudly congratulates Metro CEO Phil Washington on being named the WTS International 2018 Honorable Ray LaHood Award winner! His accomplishments are legendary. And by every indication, he is only expanding on his oeuvre. From championing the passage of Measure M to creating Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation to ensuring that Metro continues to advance and support women and minorities, Phil Washington is redefining how a transportation authority should be run. Click here to read more. 




WTS_e2444It’s 116 years young. The “shortest railway in the world,” Angels Flight is a beloved, iconic fixture of Los Angeles culture. Connecting downtown’s Bunker Hill neighborhood to the Grand Central Market, Angels Flight is a small-gauge funicular railway on a very steep 33% grade track. But for years, it lay dormant. Now, thanks to a pioneering public-private partnership between ACS Infrastructure and Sener Engineering, and represented by WTS-LA Gold Corporate Partner Nossaman, Angels Flight is running again, bringing back old memories and creating new ones. The very first transit P3 in Los Angeles, Angels Flight’s story is both compelling and heartwarming. And you can read it here.   Photo © John Livzey.



IMG_4293-X3Travel changes you. From small, daily differences to large-scale societal distinctions, travel affords the opportunity to view everything through different eyes. Last September, several WTS-LA members did exactly that. They journeyed to Europe to examine different transportation projects and systems. And they ended up gaining much more than just an education on European transportation.

“The trip’s purpose was to gather best practices in three European countries, exchange ideas, then bring back what could work for us in the US,” explains WTS-LA Director at Large Eric Shen. “This kind of technical study tour is invaluable because it gives us an opportunity to recharge and reflect. It helps rekindle the passion and enthusiasm we have for what we do.” Some of the WTS-LA members that joined Mr. Shen included Mott MacDonald senior project engineer and WTS-LA Programs and Professional Development vice president Lisa Karwoski, Fehr & Peers transportation planner/engineer and former WTS-LA president Amanda Heinke, and WSP transportation and environmental planner and WTS-LA Transportation Resume Book chair Todd Nguyen. To find out exactly how this trip changed members of the WTS-LA delegation, please click here

Photos by Eric Shen




Upcoming Events



Members Only Reception to Welcome Brian Kelly, New CEO of California High-Speed Rail Authority

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Members Only Welcome Reception for New Caltrans Director Laurie Berman

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2018 WTS Annual Conference in San Diego, CA

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Featured News

Metro Central Maintenance: The Bus Starts Here

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - For the Metro Bus Engine Repower Project, Metro’s Bus Central Maintenance division machinists, engineers, mechanics, and supervisors applied innovative ideas and advanced abilities to save an estimated $33 million, reduce air emissions, avoid bus service interruptions, and develop new bus engines.
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Tina Backstrom and Sharlane Bailey: Leading the Charge with Transportation YOU

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - The Transportation YOU co-chairs have a slate of eight initiatives. But given their energy, ambition, and sense of purpose, there is always a chance more will develop. Right now, their focus is on teaching soft skills to girls in underserved neighborhoods. “Join us,” adds Ms. Backstrom. “Participate in Adopt-A-School or any program we’re doing. We would love to have you work with us and the girls."
Read More »

Noopur Jain is riding history in on a rail for California and WTS

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - “I believe in paying it forward. And the best way to do that is to make a difference with the next generation of the workforce, the students. That really speaks to my heart. If we want to make a change in the transportation industry, we must engage, train, and motivate the young people, particularly girls. That’s why we’re working so diligently to advance programs like Transportation YOU and the Scholarship program at WTS."
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SENER USA CEO Mercedes Sierra: Engineering the Ingenious

Monday, March 12, 2018 - Few people truly excel at the nexus between innovation and practicality. It’s a most difficult space. For Mercedes Sierra, newly appointed CEO of SENER, USA, that nexus is where she finds the greatest comfort, opportunity, and inspiration.
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When the Student Is Ready, Victoria Deguzman Has Already Pioneered…

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - METRANS Associate Director Dr. Victoria Deguzman is breaking new ground at the University of Southern California’s METRANS Transportation Center, an institution “dedicated to solving metropolitan transportation problems through research, education and outreach.”
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