2017 Recognition Award Winners

Sen._Collins_Head_ShotWTS Woman of the Year

The Honorable Susan M. Collins
United States Senator for Maine

Senator Susan Collins has a reputation as a highly-motivated leader who has accomplished important goals that have moved the transportation system forward in the United States. She is known for her ability to work with her fellow members of Congress, regardless of their political affiliations, to effect positive change. In 2011, Senator Collins scored a major legislative victory when Congress passed legislation allowing trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to operate on her state’s modern interstate highways, rather than forcing them onto secondary roads and downtown streets. She fought hard for this legislation over many years, listening to her constituents’ concerns about safety and the higher transportation and road maintenance costs caused when Maine was forced to keep big trucks off the state’s interstate highway system. She used the information she gathered to make a compelling case, convincing her colleagues in both the House and Senate to support higher truck weights on federal highways in Maine and Vermont, accomplishing something that had eluded Maine policymakers for 30 years. As a result, Maine’s streets are safer, the air is cleaner, and businesses are more competitive.

As the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins has worked tirelessly to secure federal funding for a number of critical transportation projects in Maine, such as the replacement of the Memorial and Sarah Mildred Long Bridges.  During a tour of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge last year, then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx called Senator Collins "one of the best people to work with.” (Source:  Seacoast Online, October 3, 2016.)

Susan Collins was first elected to the Senate in 1996, and has earned a national reputation for moderation, civility, and bipartisanship.  Among her achievements are coauthoring legislation overhauling America’s intelligence community after 9/11, spearheading the repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and leading a bipartisan coalition to end the 2013 government shutdown.  Known for her Maine work ethic, Senator Collins has never missed a roll call vote, casting more than 6,300 consecutive votes.  For the last four years, she has ranked as the most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate, and she recently received the inaugural Jacob Javits Prize for Bipartisan Leadership.

A native of Caribou, Maine, Senator Collins graduated Phi Beta Kappa from St. Lawrence University.


Philip_Schaffner_1600x1065_(002)WTS Honorable Ray LaHood Award

Philip Schaffner
Policy Planning Director, Minnesota Department of Transportation

Philip Schaffner has made significant contributions to the advancement of women and minorities in transportation by creating opportunities for and contributing to the reputation and credibility of women in the industry. Philip has a solid reputation of being a consistent and persistent supporter of women in all aspects of his work – hiring and supporting his own staff, amplifying the voices of women in decision-making, modeling behavior and attitudes for other managers and ensuring diverse representation in programs and products.

Philip established himself as an industry leader early in his 10-year career in Minnesota’s transportation community. In 2011, he led the Minnesota GO 50-Year visioning process. The resulting vision directs Minnesota’s transportation community to better align the transportation system with the expectations of Minnesotans – to maximize the health of people, the environment and our economy. As the Policy Planning Director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Philip provides leadership to the transportation industry though his work on multimodal planning, climate change, flood mitigation, complete streets, sustainability and many other areas.

Philip’s work and leadership in support of women in the industry has contributed greatly to the advancement of the reputation and credibility of women in transportation. Philip was a key leader and vocal proponent in identifying low participation of women and minorities in the agency’s workforce as both an issue and a priority goal area to address in the statewide transportation plan. As one of the founders of MnDOT’s planning internship program, Philip pushed to include the goal to “develop a diverse pool of professionals with experience in state-level transportation planning” as one of the five core program objectives. Within the overall program, two thirds have been women and one third have been individuals of color. As part of broader agency efforts related to customer engagement and equity, Philip is leading a team focused on increasing diversity within MnDOT’s workforce, specifically looking at participation of women and minorities in planning positions. The group seeks to identify structural barriers to increasing diversity in hiring and implement strategies to combat them.


Simer_HeadshotWTS Member of the Year
Fay Simer
Pedestrian Safety Coordinator
City of Saint Paul

The record growth of the WTS Minnesota Chapter can be traced back to Fay Simer and her efforts, hard work, and leadership while serving on the board. She began making her mark on the chapter while serving as the Vice President by overseeing the chapter’s 30th anniversary gala and serving on the first Transportation YOU committee in 2012. The gala revived the chapter by exposing the mission to new members of the transportation industry and raised $6,000, which sponsored the first Transportation YOU DC Summit pair in 2013. The anniversary gala was the beginning of the chapter’s journey of record growth WTS Minnesota continues to experience today.

As the 2013 Chapter President, Fay instilled the importance of strategic local outreach by leveraging the honorary membership program to target professionals who held profound influence in their organizations. By doing so, key members of the industry were promoting within their organizations to increase involvement and membership to WTS. One of Fay’s key objectives during her presidency was to develop a strategic plan that highlighted and defined the chapter’s vision and future initiatives. This has been a key tool for the chapter presidents each year when deciding which new programs and initiatives to implement. This strategic approach was highlighted as a model for chapter focus and growth at the 2016 WTS Chapter Leadership Training in St Louis, MO.

The profound impact Fay’s leadership has had on WTS Minnesota will last for years to come. Thanks to her hard work and dedication, WTS Minnesota has experienced an increase in membership and an increase in corporate partnership dollars, which lead to the addition of two more scholarships awarded by the chapter in 2016, as well as increased networking opportunities to help connect and advance women in the industry and improve women’s careers into the future.


Alvarado-Catalina-MTC_croppedWTS Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award
Catalina Alvarado
Senior Public Information Officer, Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Catalina Alvarado, a senior public information officer with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), has dedicated her 30-plus-year career to making the transportation policymaking arena more accessible to the public, especially for those who traditionally do not have a say in decisions that affect them.

During her tenure at MTC, Catalina served as the staff liaison to MTC’s Minority Citizens’ Advisory Committee and helped build this advisory group into a prestigious sounding-board. She shepherded a high-profile process by this committee to develop pioneering Environmental Justice Principles that ultimately were adopted by MTC. This advisory group is now part of a multi-interest MTC Advisory Council, which includes representatives from low-income communities, business, and environmental interests as well as communities of color. In addition, Catalina launched MTC’s High School Internship Program which encouraged recruitment and selection of high-school-age students to work during the summer in paid internships with transportation agencies throughout the nine Bay Area counties.

Catalina also led MTC’s efforts to ensure participation by minority and low-income communities in the development of the Commission’s long-range regional transportation plan. Under this groundbreaking program, MTC does a competitive procurement seeking assistance from nonprofit groups who are active in low-income communities and communities of color. This program has been used in the last five planning cycles and has involved some 40 organizations who partner with MTC to reach out to and hear from residents in communities that might not otherwise have a voice. She was also instrumental in writing MTC’s first plan for meeting federal requirements to ensure the needs of Bay Area residents who are not proficient in the English language are addressed. In addition, Catalina helped to make MTC’s consultations with Tribal governments more meaningful. Rather than a pro-forma exercise, Catalina implemented a check-in process between MTC Commissioners and leaders of Indian nations in partnership with a nonprofit group, the National Indian Justice Center, which uses its connections to make sure the right tribal leaders attend.


LAWA_Logo_2BlueWTS Employer of the Year
Los Angeles World Airports

Los Angeles World Airports is the City of Los Angeles department that owns and operates Los Angeles International (LAX) and Van Nuys general aviation (VNY) airports. It is committed to hiring a diverse and thriving workforce that delivers gold-standard airports and exceptional guest experiences to millions of travelers.

Women currently serve in over 50 percent of LAWA leadership positions, from departmental managerial roles to the executive level.  LAWA also provides a variety of programs that encourage women to pursue careers in transportation, including its Gender Equity Program, which strives to foster a work environment that promotes equal participation of women in leadership positions at all levels, especially in historically under-represented STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas. College and high school students can also find opportunities with LAWA through its Gateways Internship Program and HIRE LA’s Youth Program, respectively.

LAWA is committed to continuously reviewing and monitoring its recruitment efforts in hiring women to maintain equity in non-traditional roles, such as within the Airport Police Division. Staff is currently focusing on efforts to encourage the participation of women in the examination process and to identify hurdles that women encounter in the hiring process. LAWA’s overall goal is to see an increase in the next year of female Airport Police Officers and Sergeants, and will continue to monitor equity as they promote into higher leadership roles in all non-traditional categories.

LAWA is a strong supporter of WTS.  Its continued support of the WTS Los Angeles Chapter includes annual sponsorship of the WTS LA Annual Scholarship and Awards Dinner as well as encouragement of its employees to actively participate in WTS events. In addition, LAWA executive leadership participate in chapter programs. Recently, LAWA CEO Deborah Flint spoke at the chapter’s "Advancing Women in Transportation" event.  Deputy Executive Director Cynthia Guidry and Terminal Planning Director Ellen Wright, both members of WTS, provided a WTS LA luncheon crowd an overview of the $14 billion Capital Improvement Program which is modernizing and transforming LAX into a world-class gateway to the world.

baltimore_bikeshare_blue WTS Innovative Transportation Solutions Award
Baltimore Bike Share

On October 28, 2016, Baltimore City launched the largest electric bike share fleet in the Western Hemisphere, with women leaders at the helm of the effort. Bike share has become an effective mode of transportation in every major city for short point-to-point trips. Implementing this innovative system was a boost to Baltimore’s transportation network, economic development, and has further advanced the city’s position as a city of choice.

The Baltimore Bike Share system is powered by industry-leading IT solutions. The mobile app can be used to manage your account, view a live network map, and also wirelessly unlock a bike. The bikes are equipped with real-time GPS which allows the user to track their rides and mileage, as well as, provide the Baltimore Department of Transportation with aggregate route data for targeted bike infrastructure improvements. The biggest distinction however is that nearly half of the bikes are “pedelec” or electric pedal assist. These bikes have an electric motor that assists in moving the bike as you pedal. This reduces the effort to climb hills and lowers the barriers to biking for those who may be less mobile.

Users are able to purchase a Single-Trip Pass or an unlimited ride Monthly Pass making Baltimore Bike Share one of the most affordable modes of public transportation in the city. In addition to the traditional credit card payment method, the program also offers a cash payment option making the service available to Baltimore’s large unbanked population. The combination of innovative technology and broad availability resulted in 1,000 miles ridden and 987 people signing up with the first four days.

The program has also partnered with Baltimore Station to serve as a workforce development tool for recovering veterans in the City. The assembly, installation, maintenance and operations of the system is completed by veterans who were previously homeless or recovering from substance abuse just a few months prior. The program is expected to bring 80 jobs to Baltimore when it reaches full maturity in a few years.

It is very rare that a new form of public transportation is launched in a city, especially one as cutting edge as the Baltimore Bike Share program. With the invaluable support of the City’s Bike Share Coordinator, Jay Decker, the following women led the launch of the program: Veronica P. McBeth, Transit Bureau Chief, Baltimore City DOT; Caitlin Doolin, Former Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner, Baltimore City DOT; as well as Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Bikemore Executive Director, Liz Cornish and now current, Mayor Catherine E. Pugh as they move into their spring expansion to 50 stations and 456 bikes.