2014 Recognition Award Recipients
Woman of the Year
Beverly A. Scott, PhD
Chief Executive Officer/Rail & Transit Administrator
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
As a Carnegie Houston Foundation Fellowship recipient, Dr. Beverly Scott’s first career assignment was with the City of Houston’s Office of Public Transportation where in just two years she was named Director of Affirmative Action. Her career in the public transportation industry since then spans more than three decades and includes leading four public transit systems as General Manager: MBTA, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Sacramento Regional Transit District, and Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. In her current role as General Manager of the MBTA, Dr. Scott serves as the MassDOT Administrator overseeing the state’s 15 Regional Transit Authorities along with the freight and passenger rail program. As the first female General Manager and only the second African American in the 115 year history of the MBTA, she recognizes the challenges facing women and minorities and is committed to fairness and equality.
Dr. Scott is renowned throughout the U.S. and North American transit industry for her visionary leadership, results-driven management style, and progressive approach to labor-management relations. Among her most notable industry contributions is her pivotal leadership role in the critical areas of strategic human resources planning, workforce development and employee training. Most recently, Scott was named a “Transportation Innovator of Change” by President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Transportation for her long record of exemplary leadership and service in the transit industry.
Dr. Scott’s unwavering commitment to the advancement of women in the field of transportation has been acknowledged with the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation, commending Dr. Scott on her attention to diversity, fairness, and equity and for her tireless efforts to improve the lives of those who depend on public transit for their livelihood. For her outstanding leadership and service in the field of public transportation, she has received awards from the USDOT, APTA, the American Society of Public Administrators, the National Business League, the Sierra Club, COMTO, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, the Urban League, and others.
In each of her professional roles, Dr. Scott has advanced women. As a leader, role model, and mentor she has inspired a diverse workforce and given them opportunity; at the MBTA she has already made a positive impact on the work environment. Her efforts at WTS have been critical in developing the leadership of women. She chaired the program committee for the WTS Executive Women’s Roundtable. At the MBTA she is a champion of the MassDOT University that encourages all MassDOT and MBTA employees to seek learning and training opportunities. Dr. Scott makes a difference wherever she embarks.
Member of the Year
Orange County Transportation Authority
Jeannie Lee began her WTS experience in 2007 when she was selected by WTS Orange County to receive the highest scholarship award for a Graduate-level student. Chapter members felt Ms. Lee stood out as an incredibly bright young professional. Now, more than six years later, Ms. Lee gives back to WTS ten-fold with her volunteer efforts and service to the transportation community.
Ms. Lee joined WTS International as a member of WTS Orange Country in 2006. By 2010, she began serving as the chapter’s Hospitality Chair, and in 2012 she became Scholarship Chair—the very role that first awarded her when she was a Graduate student and scholarship recipient.
As Scholarship Chair, Ms. Lee continues to exceed expectations in her commitment to the chapter as she cultivates the scholarship program. She works with teachers and students in the community to bring in eligible scholarship recipients, assists candidates through the scholarship awards process and after selection is complete, she still continues her efforts with each individual, mentoring and nurturing them as they grow from students to young professionals. Ms. Lee also runs the day-to-day volunteer activities of WTS Orange County’s scholarship program, including leading a committee of volunteers, creating and implementing a schedule and program, screening and reviewing applications, making recommendations to the Board, scheduling and coordinating awardees’ bios and videos, coordinating awardees’ and their families’ attendance at the annual awards gala, board reports, luncheon participation, evening events, and much more.
Ms. Lee’s dedication and commitment to fostering the future of the industry extended even further in 2013 when she took personal time to attend the intensive WTS International Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit to mentor and chaperone 2012 High School Scholarship winner, Denise Arriaga.
Professionally, Ms. Lee has more than 13 years of experience supporting major transportation infrastructure projects in bridge design and project management. She currently manages major transportation projects along the Interstate 5 and Interstate 405 corridors as a Project Manager in the Capital Highway Programs at the Orange County Transportation Authority. Ms. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in structural engineering from University of California, San Diego, and a master’s degree in civil engineering from California State University, Long Beach.
Employer of the Year
Federal Transit Administration
FTA is an organization of more than 500 diverse, talented, enthusiastic people working to strengthen American communities, promote economic vitality, and maintain personal freedom through the development and support of public transportation. The Federal Transit Administrationis committed to excellence and quality in its service.
Currently, 50% of FTA’s leadership team is comprised of women. The FTA has been a driving force in enabling small and disadvantaged businesses, as its leadership has been instrumental in making changes beneficial to small business and is taking an active role in providing opportunities and encouraging women to pursue transportation as a career path.
The FTA has always been a committed supporter of WTS. FTA's senior leadership actively participates in WTS International conferences and symposiums and is committed to creating learning opportunities for women and young professionals as well as opportunities for professional recognition and achievement. FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan was a speaker for the 2012 WTS Washington, D.C. Chapter mentoring program, where she encouraged young professionals to go beyond formal training programs to request the assistance of mentors or supporters. She also candidly shared her experience and generated an honest and valuable discussion that encouraged WTS DC mentees to actively seek growth opportunities.
Formally, FTA partners with higher education institutions to develop and conduct training and educational programs for federal, state, and local transportation employees and others engaged in public transportation work. Beyond FTA's employee training, this training is available to transit agencies' employees and contractors. The FTA also provides multiple internship positions and employment opportunities for recent graduates, such as the FTA Presidential Management Fellowship program. In addition, the FTA is an active participant in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Women and Girls in Transportation Initiative (WITI).
Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award
Claudia Folska, Ph.D
RTD Board of Directors, District E
Claudia Folska has made extraordinary efforts to ensure that all people are represented and considered in the design of transportation systems. Ms. Folska is blind, and when she realized that there were not many people like her in transportation leadership, she ran—and was elected—for the Regional Transportation District (RTD) Board of Directors. She has leveraged her role on the RTD Board to increase awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities in public transit, and by serving on the RTD Board she has shown other women and those in the disabled community that they, too, can make a difference by getting involved in transportation leadership. Ms. Folska has also published articles and has been a guest on NPR discussing the need to make cities navigable for all users.
The WTS Colorado’s Transportation YOU committee worked with Ms. Folska at a Girl Scout/Transportation YOU “Street Smarts” day to support her American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) activity, in which the fourth- and fifth-grade girls learned what it’s like to walk in her shoes. The students paired up and one of the pair was blindfolded while their partner led them around the Union Station light rail platform and on the 16th Street Free MallRide bus. Ms. Folska provided tips to the girls to give their buddies on how best to navigate getting on and off of transit vehicles and around the stations, including pointing out things like ADA curb cut ramps. The Girl Scouts were able to learn, in an impactful way, the importance of considering all types of people and disabilities in the design of transportation systems.
Ms. Folska received the WTS Colorado Diversity Leadership for her work as a transit leader in the community, but her commitment to educating future transit riders, community advocates, engineers, and planners through her involvement in Transportation YOU activities is what truly sets her apart as the WTS Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award recipient.
Ms. Folska received dual doctorates from the College of Architecture and Planning at the University of Colorado, Denver, and the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She’s received an MBA from the University of Southern California and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Santa Monica City College. Ms. Folska also has her own cooking show, “Cooking in the Dark.”
Innovative Transportation Solutions Award
I-5 Skagit River Bridge Replacement Team
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) faced a high-profile emergency on May 23, 2013, when a semi-truck carrying an oversized load struck a steel truss of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge, causing a 160-foot-long section of the bridge to collapse into the river. This accident forced the immediate closure of I-5, creating significant traffic delays. As the main north-south interstate highway for the west coast, I-5 links cities from the U.S.-Mexico border to Canada. It is an essential corridor for international trade and commerce. In the state of Washington, I-5 is the only north-south interstate and the primary travel artery between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. The longer the bridge remained unrepaired, the greater the potential negative economic impact.
WSDOT hired contractors to install two prefabricated bridges under an emergency contract as a short-term fix to allow traffic to begin moving again, but a permanent solution was needed quickly. On June 19, 2013, the same day that the temporary bridges were opened to traffic, the design-build team of Max J. Kuney Company with Parsons Brinckerhoff as designer was selected by WSDOT and given notice to proceed on the $6.87 million replacement span for the I-5 Skagit River Bridge.
Utilizing accelerated bridge technologies and Parsons Brinckerhoff’s virtual design and construction capabilities, the design-build team worked closely to prepare a design and construction scheme that met the WSDOT maximum dead load requirements (915 tons), minimized construction impacts to I-5 traffic, was constructible within the fast-tracked 90-day schedule, and represented the best value to WSDOT. The team proposed to construct the new span immediately downstream from the existing bridge on temporary falsework. After the new span was constructed, a single I-5 closure of less than 24 hours would be used to remove the temporary span and slide the new span into position.
Beginning on the evening of Sept. 14, 2013, the temporary bridges were moved out of the way and the new span successfully slid into place during a 19-hour closure of I-5. The new, permanent I-5 Skagit River Bridge span opened to traffic on Sept. 15, 2013, 115 days after the initial accident and 88 days after the design-build team’s notice to proceed. In addition to restoring a vital transportation and trade corridor, the project resulted in three successful and significant first achievements for WSDOT: the first emergency design-build contract using federal funds, the first decked bulb tee girder bridge design on an interstate highway in Washington, the first use of an innovative full strength closure between girders and the first use of lightweight aggregate by WSDOT for a concrete girder bridge of this type.
2013 Recognition Award Recipients
Ray LaHood, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
The Navigator Award was created by WTS International to recognize the achievements of an individual or organization for extraordinary efforts to attract, retain, and advance women in the transportation industry. 2013 is the first year that WTS is presenting the award.
Woman of the Year
Beverley K. Swaim-Staley
President and CEO, Union Station Redevelopment Project
Member of the Year
Retired Senior Transportation Planner, Arizona Department of Transportation
Employer of the Year
HDR Engineering, Inc.
Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award
Ann Richards Schools for Young Women Leaders
Innovative Transportation Solutions Award
The Presidio Parkway Project