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Transportation YOU

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2018 Award Recipients

2018 Award Recipients

Member of the Year: Lisa Wall

Lisa’s passion for mentoring students and for advancing the next generation of women in transportation has been critical to the success and growth of the Transportation YOU (TYOU) program in WTS Minnesota. Lisa has been an invaluable member of the TYOU program since its inception. She has been a consistent presence in this new and fluid program, with varying roles and responsibilities over time. Lisa was instrumental at the beginning of the TYOU program, cold-calling schools, identifying partnership opportunities, and creating a structure to this new facet of WTS Minnesota. Lisa evolved to a leadership role (as TYOU Chair), where she was able to see the program grow to a sustainable and repeatable annual process through a continued partnership at Blaine High School. Knowing that growth would only be sustained if others took the reigns after her, Lisa recruited two new Chairs to follow her. Lisa has remained involved as a mentor (to both high school students and to the two new Chairs) and has continued to provide history perspective and give feedback on program improvement. Through her dedication to the TYOU program, Lisa has exposed and attracted dozens of young women to the transportation industry and engaged existing WTS members in different types of programming.
 
Employer of the Year: Minnesota Transportation Alliance

Originally organized back in 1893, the Minnesota Transportation Alliance is a statewide coalition of organizations advocating for a safe and effective transportation system that works for all Minnesotans. MTA includes local governments, businesses, labor, the transportation industry, transit systems, rail, waterways, and airports. In short, members are on the front lines, planning, designing, building and operating Minnesota’s transportation system every day.
MTA is a small but dedicated team is comprised completely of women who work hard to advocate for transportation issues at all levels of government while simultaneously providing excellent service for our members.
 
Rose Parks Diversity Leadership Award: Our Streets Minneapolis

Our Streets Minneapolis was founded in 2009 by a group of passionate, civic‐minded volunteers who called themselves the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. While in its early days it was predominantly run by white men, it did provide a platform and leadership training ground for women who have gone on to have a significant influence on transportation in the city, like City Councilmember Lisa Bender, who was a founding member of the group. Since the early days, it has also provided a space for women to become comfortable with transportation planning and engineering basics; many volunteers and board members have gone on to join the field as professionals, myself included. As Our Streets has grown, it has made an intentional commitment to diversifying the membership, staff, and leadership of the organization to better reflect the demographics of people who bike in the city.
 
Our Streets Minneapolis is committed to transforming active transportation advocacy from a predominantly white‐male centered movement to one that embraces, supports and centers diverse experiences. Our Streets has taken purposeful, difficult steps to change its internal culture while pushing the active transportation movement locally and nationally to change. These steps range from small changes like respecting preferred gender pronouns to large changes like changing the organization’s name and mission to better serve our diverse community.
 
 
Innovative Transportation Solutions Award: Kathleen Mayell, City of Minneapolis 20-year Streets Plan

In April 2016, the City of Minneapolis increased the budget available for street paving and reconstruction by $21.2 million per year annually for 20 years via the Neighborhood Park and Street Infrastructure Ordinance. While the main purpose of the additional funding is to maintain the pavement condition of city streets, the ordinance specifically states that the use of a criteria-based system with a focus on racial and economic equity is to be used to annually select projects. This criteria-based system and the results it produced in its initial year is called the 20 Year Streets Funding Plan.
 
Following the passage of the ordinance, Kathleen Mayell, along with her team and partners in Transportation Planning was tasked with creating the 20 Year Streets Funding Plan so that an amended CIP could be presented later that year (i.e. generate a repeatable, data-driven project evaluation and prioritization process that has a focus on racial and economic equity). With assistance from a female-dominated cast from the consultant team and supervised by a female manager, Kathleen was able to have recommendations prepared for the female mayor approximately six months later.
 
It is estimated that at least 32 females were involved on this project from the consultant team and from the City of Minneapolis. Many more women were involved but uncounted from the Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Bicycle Advisory Committee, and those that participated in the online public engagement process.
 
Under Kathleen’s direction, the 20 Year Streets Funding Plan increased planned street reconstruction, planned transportation activity in areas of high concentrations of poverty and race, and bikeway and pedestrian realm opportunities in the City of Minneapolis. The city plans to update the data and re-run the results on a nearly annual basis to ensure that CIP funding for street paving is distributed equitably.
 
 
Honorable Ray LaHood Award: Charles Carlson, Metro Transit

Charles Carlson has spent the past five years leading Metro Transit’s Bus Rapid Transit/Small Starts (BRT) Project Office, created to advance an ambitious vision that will bring enhanced bus service to the Twin Cities busiest urban transitways and two major interstates. The office has also helped advance planning for future transit investments by completing several studies. Together, Metro Transit’s network of rapid bus and Bus Rapid Transit lines represent over $1 billion in capital investments and will attract over 25 million rides annually. The BRT Project Office’s first rapid bus line, the A Line, opened in June 2016 and has been immediately successful, boosting ridership in the corridor by nearly a third.
 
Charles has been a strong advocate for the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in the transportation field. Charles leads a majority-female team of project managers, planners, and engineers. Beyond his hiring practices, Charles challenges our industry’s traditional leadership structures and inequalities by acknowledging sexism in the male-dominated transportation field and fostering a horizontal, inclusive work space. Charles frequently uses humor to maintain informality in his office, treats staff from all levels with equal respect, and regularly looks for opportunities to amplify the voices of even his junior-most staff. He also isn’t afraid to use humor to bring attention to inequality and discrimination.
 
Charles’ family is a big part of his life, and the perspective he brings on work-life balance benefits those on his immediate team and ripples throughout the agency. He is a steadfast supporter of new mothers in navigating the stressful and bureaucratically taxing maternity leave process. Charles’ support extends to the return to work, including advocating for flexible schedules and facilities that support new mothers’ needs.
 
 
Woman of the year: Pat Bursaw, MnDOT

Pat served for over ten years as the Director of the MnDOT‐Metro District Office of Planning, Program Management & Transit—a role encompassing work as diverse as light and commuter rail projects (Northstar, Central, SW LRT, and Bottineau) and the Rethinking I‐94 initiative. In May, Pat officially retired from fulltime work at MnDOT and has since transitioned to a part‐time, project‐based position, working on special projects for regional planning coordination with the Metropolitan Council and the Rethinking I‐94 Project Office.
 
Pat has been a leader in multimodal transportation planning and technology since the beginning of her career. Pat started with the Minnesota Highway Department (now MnDOT) in 1975, as a summer student intern, working on one of the first transportation information systems, transferring data from hard copy maps. After completing her bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the University of Minnesota, she left Minnesota for the Wisconsin DOT as a planner in Madison. She re‐joined MnDOT in 1979 as a senior planner and worked on the state’s first bicycle transportation system plan.
Pat’s experience at MnDOT is far reaching and honestly unparalleled by anyone else. As a planner, Pat has practiced state‐wide and district‐level planning at MnDOT’s Central Office and Metro District. She has worked in Environmental Services, and also as MnDOT‘s liaison to the Minnesota Legislature. As MnDOT’s planning function became less centralized in the early 1990s, she moved to Waters Edge in Roseville, working as a planning program coordinator, managing federal planning funds and coordinating planning activities with the Metropolitan Council. Pat’s work with the Metropolitan Council includes coordination with and staffing the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) and TAB’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for over 27 years.  Pat has also managed MnDOT’s role in planning and construction of the regional transit system. She has responded to emergencies and challenges, such as the 35W Mississippi River Bridge collapse and the ensuing response to manage the transportation system during the bridge’s reconstruction. She has led MnDOT and Metro District’s response to nearly half‐dozen federal transportation acts, including championing requirements promoting better coordination for DOTs with local agencies and stakeholders.
 
Pat’s commitment to creating an inclusive workplace is evident in her work advancing diversity and equity at MnDOT and with the State of Minnesota. Pat was a founding member and Committee Champion of the Metro District’s Diversity Committee (almost 15 years operating), earning awards from the department and governor for advancing equity for state employees. She has served on management‐level committees that promote diversity and equity day‐to‐day work. She has supported flexible workplace practices like flex schedules and telework solutions. She has hired, trained, and mentored hundreds women and men in the workplace for over 40 years.

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