2014 Recognition Award Recipients
2014 WTS Awards Banquet Video
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, and more than 40% of its leadership team members are of African American, Hispanic, or Asian-Pacific Islander descent. 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.
Secretary LaHood has stood behind WTS International's mission and created new opportunities for a diverse and inclusive workforce. As WTS has developed a reputation in the transportation industry for its many efforts to advance women in the business at all career stages, in both public and private sectors, across all modes and within all related professions, the relationship that WTS has developed with Secretary LaHood and the U.S. DOT is a sacred one that has set the gender diversity issue on an accelerating path—and has caught the attention of corporations, engineering firms, and other businesses seeking opportunities to partner with associations that resonate with their own value statements, such as CH2M HILL, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and AECOM.
While WTS has made great strides in advancing women since it was founded 35 years ago, when Secretary LaHood got behind WTS and began to partner with it and other organizations like it, the industry really caught on to the importance of attracting, retaining, and advancing a diverse workforce.
Secretary LaHood talks about the importance of the mission frequently when at the podium, and regularly in his blog. A specific effort that Secretary LaHood’s passion came through on is WTS International’s Transportation YOU program. This was a joint effort of WTS and the DOT that kicked off with the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2010 to create programs that encourage 13 – 17 year-old girls to set out on an academic path that leads to a career in transportation. The effort has already reached 30 different WTS chapters around the U.S. who offer mentorship, internship opportunities, tours, and hands-on engineering challenges.
Woman of the Year
Beverley K. Swaim-Staley
President and CEO, Union Station Redevelopment Project
Before her current role as president of the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, Beverley Swaim-Staley was the first woman to be appointed Maryland’s Transportation Secretary, a department with 10,000 employees and a $3.6B annual budget. Ms. Swaim-Staley was appointed Secretary by Governor Martin O’Malley in September 2009. Prior to taking the position she had served as Deputy Transportation Secretary from 2007-2009. She had previously served as Deputy Secretary from 1999 through 2003, during which time she also directed all operations at BWI Marshall Airport following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the subsequent revolution in airport security.
Throughout her tenure at MDOT, she solidified her reputation as a skilled and forward thinking executive. With her strong background in both finance and transportation, Beverley guided Maryland’s transportation efforts that included the development of an award winning public-private partnership at the Port of Baltimore and the opening of the Intercounty Connector.
In addition to the milestones reached involving the Port of Baltimore and the ICC, during her tenure Ms. Swaim-Staley served as Maryland’s senior representative on the inter-jurisdictional effort to strengthen safety and improve the governance of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, she oversaw the application of state-of-the-art technology to modernize customer service at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, she improved reliability and on-time performance of the MARC commuter rail system, and she shepherded efforts required to maintain the fiscal health of both the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Maryland Transportation Authority that operates and maintains the State’s eight toll facilities.
As Secretary, Ms. Swaim-Staley directed initiatives to assure Maryland’s national prominence in the area of minority business development by enhancing the State’s Minority Business Enterprise Program. She also developed the first office within MDOT dedicated to comprehensively addressing equity and diversity issues. Ms. Swaim-Staley was recently named by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials as one of the nation’s most influential women in the transportation industry. In 2010, she was named by the Maryland Washington Minority Contractors’ Association as the Most Inclusive Government Leader of the Year for Minority Business Enterprise. She supported women at MDOT by organizing a group of women from the Secretary’s office and modal management ranks for regular networking events with female speakers of note from Maryland Government, encouraging the attendees to bring formal or informal mentees from their offices.
Member of the Year
Retired Senior Transportation Planner, Arizona Department of Transportation
As a member of WTS since 1998, Lupe Harriger has exhibited ongoing and steadfast support for the WTS Phoenix Metropolitan Chapter. Since becoming a member, Ms. Harriger has been very active in the organization, becoming a board member in 2001, when she took on the role of Treasurer. Since that time, she has held the position of Secretary, Vice President, President and Past President, and is currently serving the board and WTS members as interim Treasurer.
Ms. Harriger has helped shape the organization over the years through her tireless commitment to the mission of WTS, serving as a key contributor to the Metropolitan Phoenix chapter’s first WTS International Conference held at the Scottsdale Princess Resort in 2005. She continues to support the organization, volunteering at programs and functions year-in and year-out, to include the Scholarship Golf Tournament, Awards Ceremony and Silent Auction.
She has been an example to other women joining the organization, and has encouraged many people with her warmth and love of WTS to get more involved. As a new member in 2007, Ms. Harriger reached out to many at the WTS International Conference in San Diego, taking time to introduce members in the transportation industry from around the nation and to explain all the benefits of being an active member. It was her friendliness and support that was a contributing factor to many members getting more involved in the organization at the board level.
Ms. Harriger has shared her experience with other new members as a formal mentor in the 2011 WTS mentorship program, imparting the lessons of her many years of professional and chapter experience. Lupe has also served as an informal mentor to new board members over the years, providing training and sharing the benefits of her knowledge from the many board roles she has held.
Serving the transportation industry for 23 years at ADOT, Ms. Harriger has not only been a fixture of WTS, but has been an example of the professionalism of the transportation industry. Her upbeat and supportive style exemplifies the essence of WTS, and her passion for the mission to advance women in transportation has helped create the strong chapter we all benefit from today.
Employer of the Year
HDR Engineering, Inc.
HDR employs 7,793 people in more than 185 locations worldwide, of which 32% are women and 18% minorities. Of professional staff, women make up 46% nationally. Of HDR Corporate’s 38 professional-level staff directing recruiting programs, 21 are women or minorities (55%).
HDR conducts an annual internal audit that includes minorities and women to verify employees are classified and compensated correctly and that there are no issues of discrimination. HDR has enhanced its Flex Time and Part Time program to encourage recruitment and retention of women with children, and has shown amazing flexibility and support for special time requests from employees.
Nationally, HDR maintains several programs to ensure that the company continues to meet its goals of including women and minorities in significant positions in the company. HDR created the HDR Howard University Fellowship Program to support minority graduate students in its Department of Civil Engineering. In 2002, HDR enhanced its minority recruitment strategy through its relationships with historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s); in 2005 and 2006, HDR was ranked among the top corporate supporters of the HBCU and by 2006 rose to 4th Place. For 12 years, HDR has been greatly involved in INROADS, a national organization that recruits and places talented minority students with businesses and helps prepare them for corporate and community leadership.
Locally, HDR’s offices in Salem and Portland, OR, have developed programs to increase opportunities for women and minorities. As an integral part of the Oregon Bridge Delivery Partners project in HDR-Salem, a Diversity Manager from an MBE subconsultant is on-site to manage and track the utilization of MBE, DBE, and WBE firms. HDR also regularly contracts with Women and Minority Business Enterprise (W/MBE), Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Small Minority Business Enterprise (SMBE) for supplies and services.
‘HDR University’ is a high-caliber, internal training program that offers classes to employees. Offerings range from “People Styles at Work” to technical webinars on new software releases. HDR requires a number of classes for every employee, including Diversity Awareness, Ethics and Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention. Many optional course offerings prepare staff for career advancement. Staff at all levels are encouraged to attend training to help them understand the expectations of increasing levels of responsibility at HDR. Classes that focus on successful client interaction, employee supervision and retention, interviewing, leadership, negotiations, and project management skills groom employees for the next steps in their careers at HDR.
HDR staff are given the opportunity to be involved in the transportation and engineering communities through professional organizations. In addition to HDR's support of WTS International, HDR is a member and on-going sponsor of Women of Color, National Society of Black Engineers, Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference, National Organization of Minority Architects, Society of Women Engineers, Conference on Black Student Government, Multicultural Women’s Council, National Association of Women in Construction, Women in Architecture, and Society of Hispanic Women Engineers.
Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award
Ann Richards Schools for Young Women Leaders
Opened in August 2007, the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders is a unique all-girls school founded to educate young women and give them the confidence and skills necessary to succeed in college, in their careers, and in their communities. The Ann Richards School is a public school in the Austin Independent School District (AISD) serving over 700 girls in 6th through 11th grades, and will add the 12th grade next year. The demographics of the student body mirror that of the local community: during the 2011 – 2012 school year, 61% percent of students were Hispanic, 22% were Caucasian, 13% were African-American, 3% were Asian-American and 1% were American Indian/Alaskan Native; approximately 60% of the students qualify for free and reduced meals.
The Ann Richards School's academic curriculum is challenging with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), encouraging students to pursue higher education and careers where females have been traditionally under-represented. Results show the school’s girls are achieving, regardless of their socio-economic status. Students consistently achieve high marks on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), making the Ann Richards School the only middle school in AISD to receive an Exemplary rating from the Texas Education Agency in 2008, 2010 and 2011. The Texas Business and Education Coalition selected the Ann Richards School as an Honor Roll school in 2010 and 2011, based on their three-year record of commended TAKS test scores.
The Ann Richards School was a partner in the WTS Heart of Texas Chapter's highly successful Transportation YOU program this year. Among several activities, the program paired six professional women, members of WTS, with six students from the Ann Richards School in a mentorship program that, as attested to by the students and the mentors, proved to be a phenomenal and rewarding experience for all involved. The mentorship program (which will continue next year) included a kickoff meeting with the mentees and mentors; monthly mentoring at the Ann Richards School; a half-day field trip visiting the local Austin offices of two transportation firms and talks from Capital Metro and FRA representatives along a fun MetroRail trip to Downtown.
Innovative Transportation Solutions Award
The Presidio Parkway Project
The Presidio Parkway project is a multi-year effort to replace Doyle Drive, the 1.5 mile segment of Highway 101 that carried traffic between the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from 1936 until the historic traffic shift onto a seismically-safe temporary bypass in April 2012. Doyle Drive was structurally and seismically deficient at the start of construction and is being replaced by a world-class design that will improve the seismic, structural and traffic safety of the roadway. The project supports community accessibility, environmental goals, and employment opportunities through enhanced pedestrian connections, improved natural environments, and a Small Business Program.
The project applied innovative techniques to overcome obstacles. The design was born from an extensive environmental process, resulting in consensus among community and agency stakeholders. It was uniquely crafted to fit the sensitive project site, a freeway traversing one of the largest urban national parks and a designated national historic landmark district. Final design attained unanimous approval. The roadway’s regional importance presented another set of challenges, as construction could not impede traffic flow. Thus, the project was designed in phases to keep traffic moving while new structures were constructed adjacent to the historic roadway. Traffic was successfully transferred from the historic structures onto the seismically safe bypass with only a single weekend closure of the roadway.
The project demonstrates innovation in several areas. Demolition of Doyle Drive was accomplished in a single 57-hour period using large hydraulic hammers, believed to be the largest ever concentration of these demolition machines. Phase II of Presidio Parkway is also the first major public-private partnership (P3) transportation project to proceed in California under the SBX4 legislation of February 2009.
Presidio Parkway has made a difference in the lives of its users. The final roadway design will provide tremendous aesthetic, seismic and traffic safety improvements. The project also increases safety for motorists through implementation of a movable median barrier to prevent head-on collisions. The signature tunnel design will open up new view of the San Francisco Bay and support key connections from the Main Post area of the Presidio to the waterfront. Pedestrian and bicyclist safety will also be improved, with well-defined pedestrian routes, pedestrian safety zones and well-delineated bicycle lanes.