The Boston Chapter was formed in 1980 by a group of twenty women working in the transportation industry. Recognizing the need for women to communicate and establish networks in order to gain respect within the field, they established the Greater Boston Women's Transportation Group. Their goals included creating a presence, meeting with other women professionals, networking for jobs, holding workshops, giving mutual support, and exchanging information. The dues were set at $5 to cover the costs of mailings and other expenses. An eight-member steering committee, a treasurer, and two publicity chairs led the group.
After just a year, membership in the Greater Boston Women's Transportation Group (GBWTG) had grown to 138, reflecting a wide range of transportation professions. Presidents, associates, and partners of private companies as well as state and federal government managers and administrators formed the group's core. Systems and operations analysts, engineers, technicians, planners, public relations specialists, and students all added depth and various points of view to the organization.
By 1981, the Steering Committee had been impressed with the national organization Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS) and concluded that the goals of GBWTG and WTS were the same. In April of that year the Steering Committee unanimously recommended to the members that GBWTG join the national organization WTS. The early leaders were optimistic about its future. The 1981 Annual Report predicted that the group would continue to provide the stimulating and entertaining speakers and presentations for which we have become known.
By 1985, WTS Boston had expanded rapidly and had grown from a loosely organized group to a fully established chapter that was ready to take on the challenge of hosting the National Conference. Its theme, From History to High-Tech , reflected the dual nature of its host city, signifying Boston's rich history and its modern, technology-based economy. The conference presented a substantive program, highlighted by the presentation made by the late teacher and space pioneer Christa McAuliffe.
In 1992, Massachusetts was only beginning to emerge from the economic slowdown that hampered most of the nation. Undeterred by the slump, WTS Boston confidently began planning to host, for the second time, the WTS National Conference. Mindful of the economic climate, conference planners chose Transportation for Economic Growth as their theme. Attendees noted that, although the professional sessions were exceptional, they were most impressed at the many women and people of color who were featured in the program. Over 75% of the speakers, moderators and presenters were women, and many of these were minorities. This successful national conference resulted in a significantly motivated chapter and our membership grew to 500.
In 2000, the Boston Chapter celebrated its 20th anniversary in grand style at a reception that drew more than 200 guests. Among the guests were founding members, past Chapter Presidents, and past National Presidents. Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Kevin J. Sullivan gave a warm tribute to WTS Boston and called it the most influential transportation organization in Boston.
In 2003, the Boston Chapter once again hosted a very well attended National Conference, the theme of which was "Redefining Community Connections". Like our previous conferences, the professional sessions were exceptional. In 2005, the Boston Chapter celebrated its 25th anniversary. The theme of the multi-event Anniversary celebration was "Looking Back. Moving Forward." Notable elements of the 25th Anniversary were a Gala Celebration at the Prudential Skywalk and the kickoff of a Public Art Fundraising campaign to raise money for a permanent piece of art for the renovated Green Line Government Station. The art piece will commemorate women's contributions to the transportation industry. In 2006, the affilated Rhode Island Chapter established independence from the Boston group that once formed it.
From 2007 to 2012 WTS-Boston continued to grow in size and leadership becoming one of the most impressive WTS Chapters of the WTS International organization. We point with pride to providing a forum for our members that raises awareness of the major transportation issues such as transportation budgets and safety, as well as the significant transportation changes within our own Commonwealth. Some major milestones during this period include:
2008 - A $3 billion, 8-year accelerated bridge bond bill program was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick
2009 - Legislation consolidating all of Massachusetts' transportation agencies into one organization, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), was signed into law on June 26, 2009.
2009 - WTS-Boston celebrates long-time Chapter Member Liz Levin's appointment to the new MassDOT Board.
2010 - Past WTS-Boston President Luisa Paiewonsky appointed as first MassDOT Highway Administrator.
2011 - WTS members help usher in new techniques on the FAST14 project including shortening the duration of bridge construction from several years to just weeks.