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May/June President's Message


We just got back from the big WTS Confernce in San Diego.  You might have seen us lighting up social media.  With more than 35 people in attendance, the Philadelphia Chapter was on FIRE!

Pennsylvania's Secretary of Transportation, Leslie Richards, received the Woman of the Year Award.  She has the distinct honor of also having won this award from all three stage chapters - Philadelphia, Central PA, and Pittsburgh.

One of our panels from the Changing Lanes transportation symposium was picked as a marquee session.  Board members, Orla Pease, PE, PTOE, of AECOM, and Laurie Matkowski, of Gannett Fleming, reprised their roles as game show hostesses for another round of "That's What She Said" with eight powerhouse women from around the country, including Suzanna Boda, of American Airlines, Denise Berger, of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Liz Smith, of SEPTA.

And then there was Mable Bakali.

A native of Malawi, Africa, Mable just graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering.  She won our local leadership scholarship at the end of 2017, and her application package was forwarded to WTS International where she was selected to receive the Molitoris Leadership Scholarship for Undergraduates.

WTS International awards six scholarships.  According to WTS' website, "the Molitoris Leadership Scholarship is to motivate and reward women who demonstrate leadership in the transportation industry, ensuring that the essential leadership, skills, and perspective of women are included in the planning and transportation systems of the future.  Leadership does not just happen.  Leaders personally invest and risk much.  They take on struggles that many would avoid and persevere to reach successful outcomes.  These qualities receive special attention."

Mable is Past President of our Student Chapter, the current Vice President, and is active in National Society of Black Engineers, as well as many other professional organizations.  She currently works with Jim Tyrell, and fellow board member, Robin Gibson, in property management at the Philadelphia International Airport.

She calls me one of her Work Moms.  I laugh, but it's true.

In fact...if I was the Grinch...and this was Christmas...we could show a graphic of how my heart exploded with pride and love the night of the Awards Banquet.  That night, Mable took the stage, commanded everyone's attention, and shared a bit of her story with all of us - how she struggled to finish classes, how she was connected to her little brothers, how she sought role models, how she knew she needed to ask for help.

Mable is an amazing young woman.  She offers fresh ideas on how to advance social justice, equal rights, and economic opportunities for girls and women of various ages.  Mable expresses her ideas with clarity and assurance, and yet she remains open to guidance and thrives on the exchange of a healthy debate.  Mable has only begun to dazzle.  As one of her mentors, I hope and pray she finds a career as big and bold as the stars that light her way.

This is why we went to San Diego.  She celebrated our Chapter and collaborated with other leaders equally committed to advancing women in transportation.  That was worth the journey.



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