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Lynn Peterson, WTS Scholarship Recipient


When Lynn Peterson received a WTS scholarship in 1994, she was a student at Portland State University working toward a degree in urban and regional planning. Since then, her career path has taken her all the way to leader of transportation for the state of Washington. WTS sat down with Lynn to find out more details about where her WTS scholarship has led her, and what she sees in her future.

WTS: What scholarship did you receive and when?

WTS Portland awarded me a graduate scholarship in 1994, and in 1997 I was recognized by the chapter with their New Voice Award.

WTS: What were you studying at the time you received your scholarship?

I was studying Urban and Regional Planning at Portland State University.

WTS: Where has your journey taken you since receiving that scholarship?

Since I won the WTS scholarship, I’ve spent time working in the field of transport from different perspectives—travel demand forecasting, land use/transportation advocacy, strategic transit planning, consulting and as an elected official.

WTS: Give us some details about your current role.

As the Secretary of Transportation for the State of Washington, I’ve spent my time focusing on 10 major reforms, the most significant of these being the addition of a Quality Assurance manager, reporting to the Secretary, to ensure quality decision-making from stem to stern of the organization. The purpose of this position is to ensure all the right perspectives are brought to bear to reduce risk. Other major reforms include implementation of least cost planning, practical design, improved ferry operations and a more robust Federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program.

WTS: What is it about the transportation industry that keeps you excited?

This is the most exciting time to be part of transportation—ever!  We have completed the majority of our road system, are completing a hierarchy of transit systems, improving our understanding of what a robust freight system looks like, and are now spending much more time integrating the modes and maximizing the use of our existing capacity.  And—more importantly—we’re applying high-tech ideas to achieve the integration and maximization of capacity. All ideas are on the table to help solve these complex issues.

WTS: How did your WTS scholarship help get you to where you are today?

The financial support was certainly helpful, but the network building was even more important. The scholarship brought me into the organization and I ended up on the board after graduation.  I had the opportunity to sit and talk to a variety of people about a wide range of perspectives.  I want to thank WTS, from the bottom of my heart, for all the support in my career development.

WTS: Do you feel that WTS is a worthwhile organization for others to be a part of?

WTS is extremely important and necessary to support and recognize women in the industry and the organizations and private entities that raise the bar as well.  The day-to-day mentoring opportunities are also an important role of WTS.

WTS: Where do you see yourself going next?

I will continue to dedicate myself to changing the way we deliver projects on behalf of our customers. We must be cost-effective, multi-modal, and innovative to serve different travel demand markets; for example, applying the Highway Safety Manual for all users to make sure road design standards are much more flexible.  And to bring down the barriers that exist between the planning-design-financing-construction silos that we have artificially created over time.


WTS profiles a past WTS Foundation scholarship recipient several times each year. To submit a recommendation for a Where Are They Now profile, please email mpetto@wtsinternational.org.




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