WTS Chapters









January 2019

Transportation Change Management: The Future Is Here

Seneca said, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.” With that in mind, I would like to take a moment to thank our outgoing WTS-LA president Kathy Simons for her dedicated and compassionate work to advance the chapter and our mission over the last two years. I am grateful for her support and look forward to her counsel. I also want to applaud her board for their diligent and effective work in helping to make her tenure remarkable during that period as well. In many ways, theirs is thankless, unsung work. But they carried it out with great energy and dedication. And I am grateful to them as well. With their help, now we turn to the future and our new beginning.

We are living in very interesting times. In many instances, it feels like science fiction has become fact in our society right before our eyes. From autonomous vehicles to hyperloops to satellite air-traffic control to smart roads, innovation in transportation—and at home and work—seems to happen on almost a weekly basis. So, we all must learn to accept and adapt to change at a very new, fast rate. But technology is not the only area where things are changing.

Last October, Governor Jerry Brown signed California Senate Bill 826, which requires publicly held companies based in California to have a minimum of one woman on their board of directors by the end of this year. By the end of 2021, publicly held companies must have two women on boards of five people and three on boards of six or more. While the law may face a legal challenge, it is calling attention to the fact that women deserve a place at the highest levels of decision making. And it is helping to foster change.

Here in Southern California, we have many examples of women leaders excelling and advancing. Just recently, our own Stephanie Wiggins became the first female CEO of Metrolink. And Metro CEO Phil Washington recently appointed Nadine Lee as Metro’s first Interim Chief of Staff. Of course, these are just the two most recent high-profile, highly accomplished women to further their leadership positions in Southern California transportation. We have many more in WTS-LA. And that brings me perfectly to my next point. What’s next for us all?

Yes, we must learn to respond and adapt to an ever-changing personal and professional world. To address this, I look to expand on the wonderful foundation established by Kathy Simons for workforce development. I want to create and further programs and resources to help our chapter members assimilate and elevate technology, while promoting social equity and advancement. WTS-LA is in a very unique position. We have many leaders, many mid-career professionals, and many entry-level women and men. Together, we can change the landscape to further WTS-LA’s mission and provide a level playing field for us all. As technology advances, it seems that the dream of true equity in the workplace inches closer to reality. So, let’s give it a shove and make it happen even sooner.

Finally, while change is a wonderful thing to prepare for and adapt to, I also think we should ensure that we have a hand in driving it when it comes to transportation. To do that, I’d like to gain input from you about how we, as a chapter, can better do that. Without question, change is afoot at a very rapid pace. So, how can WTS-LA get out in front of some of those changes and help foster and lead them? Are there programs we should focus on? Like Metro, should we create a committee that focuses on “Extraordinary Innovation?” Who should we bring to the chapter to learn from? Should we invite Jane Poynter to speak? Elon Musk? Mary Barra? What other ways can we harness change to better the Southern California transportation landscape collectively and our members individually? In short, there are no limits. And I value your input. I want to hear from you on this and any other topic that you feel benefits the chapter and our mission.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.” Together, we are all starting a new beginning. So, congratulations to Kathy and her board, Happy New Year to you all, and I look forward to working together to help all of us take WTS-LA to even greater heights.


Lisa Karwoski, PE

Mott MacDonald

Photo by John Livzey


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

Photo © John Livzey

College Outreach - Bring Your Own Résumé

On March 14, 2018, the College Outreach Committee held a résumé workshop, where students received guidance on their résumés.

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

Reception for Caltrans Director Laurie Berman

On May 8, 2018, WTS-LA welcomed Caltrans Director Laurie Berman at a reception in downtown Los Angeles.

Photo © John Livzey

Reception for CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly

On May 1, 2018, WTS-LA hosted a reception to welcome Brian Kelly, CEO of California High-Speed Rail Authority.


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

Breakfast with Metro's Therese McMillan

On April 11, WTS-LA hosted breakfast with guest speaker, Metro's Chief Planning Officer Therese McMillan




On December 4th, WTS-LA hosted a lunch program featuring Richard Clarke, Chief Program Management Officer for Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. See more on his presentation here
Pictured at left are guest speaker Richard Clarke wth local undergraduate and graduate students. Student attendance is sponsored by corporate partners and other firms. Please email us at if you are interested in sponsoring students to attend WTS-LA programs. More photos from the December 4th program are here.  




Yvette_e1801WTS-LA welcomes new WTS-LA Director at Large, Metro Deputy Executive Officer for Community Relations Yvette Rapose.

Preparation is often cited as a key to success. But what happens when you prepare for one challenge and find yourself facing something completely different? That’s exactly what happened to Metro Deputy Executive Officer for Community Relations Yvette Rapose. 

Click here to read more. 




On July 27, WTS-LA hosted a very special program called, "Bridging the Gap-A Workforce Initiative Program." Featuring three exceptional sessions on workforce development, expert panelists and uest speakers enlightened participants about exactly where workforce development is going in Southern California. For more photos, click here

Photos © John Livzey.


Upcoming Events



Jan 25: Lunch Program with Caltrans District 7 Director John Bulinski

Read More

View All Events

Featured News

Stephanie Wiggins Keeps It Rail as Metrolink’s New CEO!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019 - WTS-LA 2014 Woman of the Year Stephanie Wiggins was just named CEO of Metrolink! And with her departure from Metro (where she served as Deputy CEO), CEO Phil Washington elevated WTS-LA 2018 Woman of the Year and Metro Office of Extraordinary Innovation Deputy Chief Innovation Officer Nadine Lee to Interim Chief of Staff, a newly created position. Congratulations to both!
Read More »

2018 WTS-LA Mentorship Program: Helping transportation professionals advance to every level…

Thursday, December 13, 2018 - On November 1, the Mentorship Program held the last event of the year with an inspiring panel discussion.
Read More »

WTS-LA Member of the Year Todd Nguyen: Revolutionizing Outreach One Student at a Time

Thursday, December 6, 2018 - Being named WTS-LA Member of the Year means different things to different people. In fact, it’s as individual as the people who earn it. But one thread runs throughout every winner—an unyielding commitment to the betterment of the chapter and to WTS-LA’s mission. This year’s winner, Todd Nguyen, is no exception.
Read More »

Transportation YOU’s Empowerment Day Electrifies Students with Lessons Earned

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - Held on October 12th, at Caltrans District 7 Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, Empowerment Day was designed to “expose student-participants to multiple routes of professional development for women in the transportation sector” and to “provide participants with key insights for successful access to the field” as well as “skills for navigating the workplace and academia as a woman and how to overcome commonly encountered obstacles.”
Read More »

Succeeding by Degree: WTS-LA Directors Choice Tina Backstrom

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 - Strategic planning manager for the Project Development and Coordination and Environmental Programs Group at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), Ms. Backstrom always wants to accomplish more. She is a candidate for a master’s degree in public administration from Grand Canyon University. "This degree is one more step in my leadership process."
Read More »

WTS International's Leading Corporate Partners:

WTS International 1701 K Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20006 (p) +1 202-955-5085 (f) +1 202-955-5088
| ©2011 WTS. All rights reserved. | Website design and development by