Advancing Women in Transportation

Each year, WTS Minnesota recognizes members of the local community for their achievements in the transportation field. Members will celebrate with our winners at the Scholarships & Recognitions Luncheon on April 10. WTS Minnesota is pleased to introduce this year’s recipients.

Member of the Year: Stephanie Malinoff

Stephanie’s steadfast commitment to the Minnesota Chapter's efforts and service as a committee volunteer strongly impacted the chapter’s major initiatives in 2012. Over the past twelve years, Steph has taken numerous leadership positions in the chapter, serving five different roles on the board. She also served on the programs committee to plan the WTS International conference in Minneapolis in 2002.

In 2012, Steph committed her time and expertise to help promote two major chapter initiatives. As a committee member planning the 30th Anniversary Gala, Steph offered her event planning experience to coordinate on-site logistics at the event venue.  She performed this with grace and aplomb, helping ensure that the raffle, silent auction, fundraising efforts, multimedia presentations, and event hospitality were coordinated throughout the evening. In addition, Steph led efforts to plan a year-long curriculum for WTS Minnesota's new Transportation YOU program. Steph thought big-picture to provide students an introduction to the breadth of opportunities within the transportation field, and then delved into the details organizing lessons plans and incorporating meaningful discussion topics for teenagers. Her thoughtfulness and dedication have shaped this into a successful program; WTS Minnesota's curriculum has received rave reviews from teachers at the chapter's partnering school.

Woman of the Year: Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman

Commissioner Dorfman has illustrated her leadership for transportation as Mayor of the City of St. Louis Park and through her 14 years on the Hennepin County Board. She has become known as a strong and effective advocate for transit, especially on Southwest LRT, and as someone who can build bridges on divisive community issues, work effectively with local, state, and federal government leaders, and articulate a big picture enhancing the linkage between transit and development.

Throughout her career in public service, Commissioner Dorfman has not shied away from difficult issues or complex challenges. She has made substantial contributions to affordable housing, ending homelessness and improving access to mental health treatment and services. Commissioner Dorfman articulates a vision of “healthy communities” and believes that transportation and transit planning play a critical role in providing people access to housing and job opportunities. She has shown a great willingness to stick with a project from the early planning stages through to opening day. She is also committed to bringing under-represented groups to the table to participate in transportation planning and always seeks to make room at the table for new voices, especially encouraging participation by women and minorities.

Employer of the Year: Zan Associates

Zan was formed in 2001 and is certified in Minnesota as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Central Certification Program (CERT), and Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE). The firm provides expertise in strategic planning, public affairs, and training related to community, environmental, and transportation policies and projects.  Zan’s excellent reputation and commitment to transportation planning and engagement has continually led to a large increase in project retention over the past few years. The majority of their employees are women and multiple are also minorities. Zan president Charleen Zimmer has been an active member with WTS at both the national and local level. She continually contributes both time and resources to multiple WTS Minnesota events and always encourages her employees to be active in WTS. Multiple Zan employees have served on the WTS Minnesota Board.

Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award: Jill Hentges, Metro Transit and Karyssa Jackson, District Councils Collaborative of St. Paul and Minneapolis

The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are preparing for the launch of the greater Twin Cities metropolitan region’s second light rail transit (LRT) line, the Central Corridor—or Green Line. In order to effectively engage a representative body of the regional transit system’s key stakeholders—its users—to gain input on this update, the District Councils Collaborative (DCC) of Saint Paul and Minneapolis combined forces with Metro Transit to implement the Trusted Advocates Program as a part of the Green Line connecting bus service restructuring study. To gain substantive, meaningful feedback on transit service plans, leaders were hired on as Trusted Advocates to represent and engage their friends, families, neighborhoods, and communities. Nine advocates were selected: on behalf of Somali, Southeast Asian, Somali, African-American, low-income, youth, disabled, and heavily transit-dependent communities.

On behalf of Metro Transit and the DCC, Jill and Karyssa led the advocates through educational workshops and empowered them to work within the communities. Because of their leadership, the result was not only beneficial for this particular transit service study, but also for future transit planning engagement efforts. By establishing community connections within this important transit planning effort, Metro Transit and the DCC also established trust and an open door within these important stakeholder communities for future engagement efforts.

Innovative Transportation Solutions Award: Highway 61 Hastings Bridge

MnDOT is committed to developing and deploying innovative solutions that minimize construction impacts to citizens while improving their quality of life. This commitment was put to the test when a project began to replace a Mississippi River bridge crossing on Trunk Highway 61 in Hastings (a southeastern suburb of St. Paul). MnDOT used many innovative solutions to work within the difficult construction realities, create additional bike and pedestrian access to the river and regional park systems, and integrate the design into the historical context of the community.

The bridge will have a 545-foot main span and will be the longest free-standing tied-arch bridge in North America. In order to maintain the river crossing throughout the entire construction period, MnDOT constructed the bridge one half mile up the Mississippi and used barges to ‘float’ it to its location. The construction of the main span up river and the 'float' down river to the site, the aesthetics of the bridge tying into the downtown Hastings cityscape, and the ability to maintain the river crossing throughout construction have all contributed to the success and innovative spirit of this project.

A time lapse video was created of the 'float' process.

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