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Board Spotlight: Diane Woodend Jones

Diane Woodend Jones, Vice Chair, WTS International

Each member of WTS International's board of directors is dedicated to the fulfillment of the WTS mission by serving for two years in their position. WTS is pleased to launch its new "Board Spotlight" column to help members and supporters get to know the Board and what drives them to move the mission forward. The Board Spotlight column kicks off with Vice Chair Diane Woodend Jones.  

WTS: Let’s start with your role at Lea+Elliott. Can you tell us a little about the firm, and what you do?

Diane Woodend Jones: As the Chairman and Principal of Lea+Elliott, Inc., an international transportation consulting firm specializing in comprehensive project delivery of automated transit systems, I focus on optimizing shareholder interest and the long-term prosperity and sustainability of the company, as well as the oversight of company operations. I also lead the firm’s strategic planning initiatives and the management of day-to-day operations of the firm’s U.S. central region. Additionally, I mentor the firm’s multi-disciplined project leaders in all aspects of program management and client relations. 

WTS: Where did you get your start in the industry?

DWJ: I began my career as an architect and airport planner for the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board—the fourth largest airport in the world in operations. I was responsible for planning and design of landside and airside facilities, planning of landside transportation systems, regulatory compliance, community outreach, capital program development and technical systems development. This public sector position provided me with a broad foundation pertaining to all facets of the development and operation of an international airport and ultimately, proved to further my interest beyond architecture to planning, public policy, community and civic responsibility, transportation, connectivity and land use, and development.

WTS: You are you passionate about advancing women in transportation. What drives that passion?

DWJ: I have found that the best solutions are revealed when diverse perspectives and approaches are represented at a leadership level. Therefore, I am a dedicated advocate of the benefits that women’s insight, perspectives, and contributions offer to the transportation industry at a leadership level.Given that women represent half of the population using all modes of our transportation systems, I believe that it is vitally important that women be integral in the development, delivery, and management of these systems. Female leadership in transportation is essential to the future of providing systems that optimally meet the needs of all users.

WTS: What has been your experience as it pertains to women in leadership roles? What have you witnessed during the course of your career?

DWJ: I have witnessed a modest increase in the percentage of women in leadership roles, which I attribute to mentorship from others and the support of organizations such as WTS. Successful careers for women leaders have been enhanced by developing trust in their own authentic leadership approach, and exhibiting traits such as honesty, the ability to delegate, the ability to build morale and empower others, competence, clear vision, commitment, effective communication skills, and confidence. These trailblazers have served as role models to other professional women, providing encouragement through their journey. That said, the percentage of women in top leadership positions is considerably below appropriate representation. It is my personal mission to remove barriers and to be an advocate for women to reach top leadership roles. Positive momentum toward greater equity and inclusion will result in leadership positions becoming increasingly more accessible to women.

WTS: What do you think is the best path forward to making change in the gender makeup of the transportation industry?

DWJ: Our collective dedication to support and carry out the core mission of WTS attracts, retains, and advances women in transportation. We continue to strengthen and expand our programs to raise awareness of the vast opportunities in the industry and the need for a balanced and equitable vision for the future of mobility. To support each other’s career development, we will push to retain more women in the industry by preparing women for advancement through professional development, networking, scholarships, and connections to opportunities. Through outreach, we will engage others to support our mission and to appreciate the value that equitable inclusion of women offers to solving complex transportation challenges. Also, a significant potential for change lies in the growing workforce demand in the industry. As baby boomers retire, there will be an increasing need for diverse talent that will create a significant opportunity for a cultural shift that welcomes women and provides many more opportunities for their career advancement. WTS International is well positioned to propel this change going forward given our long legacy of preparation and support to our membership and beyond.

WTS: Why did you feel it was important to join the Board of WTS?

DWJ:It is an honor to serve on the International Board because I want to assist future generations of women reach their career aspirations and find pathways for greater success. It is my personal commitment to:

·  Lead the organization to leverage greater opportunities for women to advance to key transportation industry positions.

·  Foster a transportation industry environment that provides more opportunities for women to advance professionally.

·  Promote an organizational culture that provides resources, support and encouragement to members at all stages of their career development in their pursuit of professional goals.

·  Expand the standard of excellence that is a signature quality of WTS and strengthening the organizational image as thought and talent leaders.

·  Promote WTS International to a wider network of professionals, both inside and outside the industry, to encourage greater awareness of the attributes that women’s leadership brings to transportation, and to equity and enhancing quality of life in communities.

WTS: Your Board experience at other organizations certainly has benefited WTS. Can you describe your leadership style?

I have had a long history of board leadership. As Chairman of Lea+Elliott, I have successfully led the Board by focusing on long-term visioning and creating policies relevant to our future success and sustainable prosperity. My leadership style is collaborative and inclusive while maintaining focus on our core mission and code of ethics.  Our employees are an integral part of the development of our vision and a vital voice in our strategic planning process. This inclusive approach significantly contributes to an engaged stakeholder team and our collective success.  

As WTS embarks on the development of our next Five-Year Strategic Plan, I believe this type of inclusive approach will serve the organization effectively. I look forward to navigating the changing industry landscape and to challenge ourselves in making a difference while adding value.

WTS: What strategies do you feel will help bring WTS closer to achieving its mission?

DWJ:As we look forward, I believe an expansive approach toward greater collaboration with other professional organizations and agencies will leverage our effectiveness in carrying out our mission to champion the role of women in the transportation industry. This focus creates more synergy toward accomplishing larger global transportation goals and enhancing our progress toward ensuring that women are appropriately represented in the leadership of our industry.




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