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Meet Our 2015 Award Recipients

Each year, WTS Minnesota recognizes members of the local community for their achievements in the transportation field. WTS Minnesota is pleased to introduce this year’s recipients.

Member of the Year: Kristin Thompson

For most of the past decade, Kristin Thompson has played a key leadership role in making the WTS Minnesota chapter the strong and high-quality organization it is today. She has been a cornerstone of WTS Minnesota's programming and regional presence since 2008. Kristin served the chapter on the WTS Minnesota board of directors for five years, as Scholarship & Recognitions Director (2008-2009), Vice President (2010), President (2011), and Past President in 2012. Her unending commitment to the organization has continued long past her departure from the board. Since leaving WTS Minnesota's formal leadership, Kristin has continued to be a strong member leader, raising the profile of WTS wherever she goes and continuing to give her time and talents to advance women in the Twin Cities transportation industry.

During the same years in which she served WTS tirelessly, Kristin has tenaciously climbed the ranks of her traditionally male-dominated organization. Promoted in 2014 to Assistant Director of Service Analysis at Metro Transit, Kristin joined the growing ranks of women serving in the top levels of management of the region's largest employer of transportation professionals. Her leadership by example, both in and out of the office, serves as a strong example for younger women coming up in the agency.   

 

Women of the Year: Tracy Hatch and Sue Mulvhill, MnDOT

  • In MnDOT’s history, there have been women appointed as Assistant Commissioners, but never as a Deputy Commissioner. In July, 2013, Commissioner Charlie Zelle appointed two women to the Deputy Commissioner role – Susan Mulvihill as Deputy Commissioner/Chief Engineer and Tracy Hatch as Deputy Commissioner/Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer.

Roles at MnDOT:

  • Tracy: Became the first woman in the CFO/COO role as a Deputy Commissioner. Responsible for agency financial operations, administration, state aid and radio communications.
  • Sue: First woman Chief Engineer at MnDOT. Responsible for delivery of $1B annual construction program, agency maintenance and operations, modal planning and program management.

Accomplishments since being in new role:

  • Tracy: Under Tracy’s direction, the Department launched its Wildly Important Goal (WIG) – Enhancing Financial Effectiveness. This effort, now well under way, is aimed at making MnDOT more financially effective through sound financial management systems and practices that earn and reinforce the trust of our stakeholders. Tracy is revising Department budgeting to reflect its core Products and Services and establishing strong internal financial control systems.
  • Sue: Under Sue’s direction, the Department has completed its 4th straight near-$1B construction season. Major projects currently in design or construction include Hwy 53 in northeast MN, the St. Croix River Crossing, the Dresbach Bridge, Corridors of Commerce Projects statewide, I-35E MnPASS in St. Paul and many others. The last winter maintenance season was the most severe and costly in Department history. Sue leads the Department’s Other WIG Supporting Activities to also enhance financial effectiveness as budgets are tighter and infrastructure ages.

Employer of the Year: Metropolitian Council

Metropolitan Council and its two operating divisions focused on transportation issues, Metro Transit and Metropolitan Transportation Services (MTS), have worked diligently to create programs to support and encourage a diverse workforce including the advancement of women in transportation. Diversity is critical to ensure our policies and priorities reflect the changing needs of our communities.

These efforts that support women in transportation are described in more detail below.

  • Internship programs are creating excitement about the work that the Council does and increasing awareness of opportunities for those that are historically underrepresented in transportation
  • Hiring programs are setting the stage for continued success and increase in workplace diversity –Human Resources has  partnered with Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) to increase outreach to workforce centers and community groups to ensure the diversity of hiring pools
  • Established education and training programs are having measureable impacts and results
  • Provision of supportive facilities, policies, and services for parents. These include dedicated nursing rooms in our major administrative buildings, flexible schedules, parental leave, and effective employee assistance services (mental health, legal, family care service advice).

The nomination highlights the positive trend in women moving into leadership positions at Metro Transit, Metropolitan Transportation Services (MTS) and the resources and environment the Metropolitan Council has provided to support this change in a historically male-dominated industry.

  

Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award: Pat Calder

Rosa Parks had a challenge and she met it.  Back in 1995 the then Manager of the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity said we need to build our DBE program.  Pat Calder took that on as a personal challenge.  Creating change in government is not always easy and surely changing peoples’ mind about a system that was around for years seemed daunting.  But she did it.  It took years of research, training, meetings, learning technology, building of systems, rule changes, audits, meetings, presentations, working with community, accomplishments and setbacks; did I mention meetings.  And today because of Pat the Council has an award winning DBE program meeting women and minority goals that have only been met by the Council.  She will tell you she didn’t do it by herself but it was her dedication that drew the rest of us to work alongside of her.  She built the mold for the professional, dedicated, knowledgeable DBE professional.  She has trained nearly all DBE professionals in the region and some of her mentees have moved across the country.   Today the DBE program at the Council has grown so much that we needed a Manager of Small Business Programs and of course Pat Calder was the natural.  The bottom line is her leadership in promoting the transportation field is outstanding and she is a tireless advocate for promoting and assisting women and minority small businesses.

Innovative Transportation Solutions Award: Christine Beckwith for the METRO Green Line

Christine Beckwith held key leadership roles throughout project development of the METRO Green Line (formerly Central Corridor LRT) that resulted in the project opening on June 14, 2014, on time and on budget.  She has risen in the ranks to the present day where she now oversees two projects (each over $1 billion).   

Her educational background of a Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering, Transportation and Project Management from the University of Minnesota and Master of Business degree from St. Thomas and the professional experience she gained over 10 years at MnDOT gives Christine a unique perspective to see projects from both the technical and business sides.  She applied these skills in her various roles on the project to make good business decisions in the management of the project schedule, contracts and budget. 

Christine started working on the project in 2008 as Project Controls Manager.  In this role she was responsible for managing the schedule, contracts and the $957M budget as well as setting of the procedures and policies to ensure the project was delivered on time and on budget.  In November 2011, she was promoted to Deputy Project Director for Central Corridor LRT.  With the first year of heavy construction underway and a second year ahead, this was a critical time for the project to ensure the project could meet key financial and schedule milestones.  In December of 2013, she was promoted again to acting Project Director where she was responsible for overseeing the completion of construction in addition to overseeing the staff that were managing project controls, environmental work, agreements and right of way acquisition.   

On June 14, 2014, Christine was the Project Director when the state’s largest one-time public infrastructure project began serving customers.  In October 2014, Christine was promoted to Deputy Director, New Start Program where she applies her leadership and strategic management skills to oversee the METRO Blue Line Extension (Bottineau LRT Project) and the METRO Green Line Extension (Southwest) LRT project directors and manage the Council’s delivery of rail transit development projects. 

Christine deserves to win the Innovative Transportation Solutions Award because she serves as a leadership role model to other women in the delivery of the innovative and largest single public works project in the State of Minnesota.

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