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Board Spotlight: Rina Cutler, Treasurer, WTS International Board of Directors

Rina_March_2016

Each member of WTS International's board of directors is dedicated to the fulfillment of the WTS mission by serving for two-year terms. This month, the Board Spotlight column features Rina Cutler, WTS International Board Treasurer, who has been an active member of WTS for many years.

WTS: Let’s start with your role at Amtrak. Can you tell us a little about the firm, and what you do?
RC: Just about a year ago, I joined Amtrak as a Senior Director for Major Stations Planning and Development. As you know, Amtrak is America’s National Railroad, and as such is a steward of a nationwide portfolio of assets that include stations, maintenance facilities, rail infrastructure, right of way, and air rights.  I am focused on the planning and development for the major stations in the Northeast Corridor and Chicago’s Union Station.

WTS: Where did you get your start in the industry?
RC: I began my transportation career in the City of Boston as the Deputy Commissioner of Transportation. This covered both the administration and the operations side of the business. I eventually became the Transportation Commissioner in Boston, but took a detour to San Francisco for almost three years before that happened.

WTS: You are you passionate about advancing women in transportation. What drives that passion?
RC: A number of things. When I first got into the Transportation business, there were very few people who looked like me. I wondered at the time where all the women were! Women bring such a different perspective to the table and mostly that perspective was missing in the discussion. As most people have heard me say, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” And I’m a big believer in that statement; it is very true. There is also the issue of pay equity.  It took much too long in my career to get paid on par with men doing the same level of work as me.  I have to admit I made some noise about it before it became an issue that people talked about.

WTS: What has been your experience as it pertains to women in leadership roles? What have you witnessed during the course of your career?
RC: It was, and still is, hard to break into “the club.”  While it the status of women in leadership is significantly better than it was, it is still not the norm. When I am no longer hearing that a woman is the first to do something, I will know that parity exists. We should have gone through all of the firsts by now.

WTS: What do you think is the best path forward to making change in the gender makeup of the transportation industry?
RC: Women who are in top leadership positions—and have some influence over contracts—need to make sure the industry knows that we want to see teams that are diverse and represent the wide range of talent that is available. That is a very powerful way to send a message because it affects the bottom line. It is also important that young people know what a career in transportation looks like and all of the options that are available.

WTS: Why did you feel it was important to join the Board of WTS?
RC: I have been a member and strong supporter of WTS for many years. It felt like a great opportunity to give back to a community that has supported me for a long time. The real strength of WTS, though, is in its chapters and the leadership that the staff of WTS provides to support them; together we can really make a difference and accomplish great things!

WTS: What is your outlook for the transportation workforce? Where are the opportunities for the next generation of leaders in this industry?
RC:  I am very positive about the industry. It continues to be an exciting and interesting career and I expect all types of infrastructure will become more important as people and politicians understand that a state of good repair is not only a safety issue but is also an economic development issue. Those two things must drive the funding discussion.

WTS: What strategies do you feel will help bring WTS closer to achieving its mission?
RC:  I think diversifying into all of the modes and types of projects that we need to represent (transit, airports, ports, highways, railroads, walking and biking, designing great public spaces) is crucial to the continued success of WTS.  We need to connect more to the next generation coming up in the industry and make them ambassadors for this mission. We need to think more strategically and continue to have a vision about the future of transportation. We need to be brave!
 

 

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