From the Leadership: What We Achieved... Together
As the WTS International community wraps up one of our busiest years in recent memory, two simple words from the heart to our members and stakeholders: thank you.
Thank you for your commitment, thank you for your energy, thank you for your patience, thank you for your integrity, and thank you for setting a high bar for excellence in the transportation industry. There is still work to do as we move forward into the new year as #OneWTS, but the pride I have in our members and partners is an understatement of epic proportions. At 45 years old, WTS continues to be an exceptional and respected institution.
I am excited about what is in store for WTS International in 2023. However, in the spirit of the season, I am also reflecting on our many achievements of 2022.
2022 By the Numbers
2,518 new members
2 new chapters for a total of 67 WTS chapters
2 new Memorandums of Understanding
1,019 attendees at the 2022 Annual Conference in Seattle
93 new Signature Leadership Training graduates
6 new staff members
WTS International representation at multiple transportation events in over 15 cities
Close to $700,000 dollars in scholarships provided by the WTS Foundation
Historic Investments in the Industry
Celebrating a recent birthday, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Acts (IIJA) provides a never-before-seen funding promise for our industry, authorizing $1.2 trillion for transportation and infrastructure spending, with $550 billion of that figure going toward “new” investments and programs — groundbreaking technologies, project launches to better our communities, and building a workforce that will turn these ideas into realities. Historic investments in the industry can mean historic investments in women, if we continue to advocate for ourselves and the under-represented in our sector.
2022 WTS International Annual Conference
This past May, we were welcomed to host city Seattle, Washington for the 2022 WTS International Annual Conference. A record-breaking number of attendees experienced local tours, technical sessions, leadership development, personal and professional networking, and the opportunity to hear from the current administration — all fundamentals of convening our community in person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We honored the work of our 2020-2022 Board of Directors Chair, Paula Hammond, welcomed our new Chair, Jannet Walker-Ford; recognized our Woman of the Year, Inez Evans; and awarded nine students with annual scholarships. We had an amazing keynote speaker, Susan O’Malley, who kept us laughing and made us think about our roles as women in business and in positions of power. Our CEO panel highlighted women from large organizations, woman-owned businesses, and innovative tech companies. We heard from WTS Women of Year awardees on their career journeys and words of advice for the next generation, moderated by Nuria Fernandez, 2020 WTS International Woman of the Year. Our closing keynote, Anna Zivarts, made us contemplate equity and accessibility for all in the systems we build.
Supporting DBEs and Women Business Owners
Also in Seattle, WTS International’s Women Business Owners Roundtable gathered to discuss pressing issues for DBEs, and welcomed Shelby M. Scales, Director of the USDOT’s Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). This roundtable paved the way for WTS International’s comment submissions later in the Fall, and USDOT requested input of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding DBE rule modifications.
New Members, New Chapters, and Staying Connected
In 2022, WTS International ratified two new chapters, Central California and SW Ontario, expanding our international membership. We also welcomed 2,518 new members as of December 1, working toward a goal of “Destination 10k” – 10,000 members by our 50th anniversary.
In October, we hosted a New Member webinar, welcoming new members and first-time attendees to our conference during a virtual meet-and-greet opportunity. Thanks to our quarterly chapter leader calls, our Region Councils, and annual Chapter calls with our new Director of Membership and Chapter Relations, Kia Davis, we are more connected and aligned than ever. Thank you to our chapter leaders and members who continue to work to implement our 2021-2016 #OneWTS Strategic Plan.
Signature Leadership Training
In November, two cohorts met in Washington, D.C. for our Mid-Career and Executive Level Signature Leadership programs. With the guidance of specialized facilitators, participants prepared to become leaders of the transportation industry by learning how to manage others effectively, bolstering skills like innovative and creative thinking; the ability to measure risk and compassionate management; and making new and strengthening existing professional bonds.
Standing Committee Launch
Multiple Standing Committees and Taskforces at the International and Foundation levels were launched in recent months, including seven with member seats. In 2023, these groups will focus on topics crucial to our membership and our industry:
- The continuation of the WTS International ED&I Committee, chaired by Helen Tift McSwain, and the DBE/Small Business Subcommittee, chaired by Bridgette Beato and Odessa Phillip
- WTS International Chapter Operations Task Force, chaired by Alexa Gangemi
- WTS International Legislative Committee, chaired by MJ Maynard
- WTS International Workforce Development Task Force, chaired by Inez Evans and Karen Philbrick
- WTS Foundation Educational Programming Committee, chaired by Yvonne Lopez-Diaz
- WTS Foundation Scholarship and Scholar Engagement Committee, chaired by Daveitta Knight
- WTS Foundation Student Engagement Committee, chaired by Odessa Phillip
WTS International was proud to continue our equity, diversity, and inclusion journey. This year, we piloted our first LGBTQIA+ virtual meetup, with plans to continue and expand virtual member meetups in 2023. Additionally, WTS International continued to re-evaluate our membership application demographics, provide options for including pronouns on event name badges, and reconsider award naming conventions and scholarship application requirements to be more inclusive.
Our Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee has outlined four priorities of approving an organizational ED&I policy, formalizing inclusive activities and processes at WTS events to make all participants feel like they belong, developing chapter best practices in EDI, and working to diversify WTS membership across many identifying demographics.
This year, the Foundation welcomed chair Karen Good, a new Board of Directors, and a refreshed outlook on organizational priorities — eager to get to work making significant progress on both new and long-term goals. This year, the WTS Foundation celebrates providing $694,600 in scholarships in 2021, raising the bar by almost $60,000, and on track to surpass $700,000 this year. The Foundation has been hard at work planning a revamped 2023 Capital Summit, to be held at University of Maryland in June 2023.
Chapter Leadership Development
In November, almost 100 WTS Chapter Leaders met in Kansas City, Missouri for two days of training: learning more about their roles and responsibilities in chapter operations, finance, event logistics and communications and building their national WTS networks; forming personal relationships; and revitalizing and renewing their commitment to #OneWTS. I am always energized by the true champions of the WTS mission and invigorated by Chapter leaders’ devotion and talents.
Planning for a Growing Future
Also, during Chapter Leadership Development, WTS International was thrilled to reveal the next five years of WTS Annual Conferences; announcing host cities that include, for the very first time, an international location: Toronto, Canada in May 2025. A priority of WTS International Chair, Jannet Walker-Ford, is to embrace the “International” part of our name, and I am so looking forward to seeing this event come to fruition.
Along with The Great Intersection next May in Atlanta (submit your 2023 abstract and poster ideas ASAP!), we have commenced planning for future annual events in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.
Looking Forward to 2023
It has been a truly remarkable year. I encourage our members across North America to undertake a similar moment of contemplation and take a moment to celebrate your work- your accomplishments this year are commendable. I want to take a moment to thank both the WTS International Board of Directors and WTS Foundation Board of Directors, under the leadership of Jannet and Karen, for their tremendous vision for the future of WTS. This year has been full of growth and reinvigoration, as both boards have been willing to challenge the status quo, hold difficult conversations, and work together to attract, connect, sustain, and advance women in transportation. I also want to take a moment to thank the tremendous WTS International Staff — Alma, Carolyn, Kia, Lindsay, Renita, Kim, MeKayla, Tiffany, and Varsha — you continue to raise the bar of excellence and deliver first-class benefits and service to our members.
Each of our WTS members is living proof of our mission and vision, and I am proud of what we have achieved together.
Have a safe and relaxing holiday season, and a very happy New Year!
President and CEO, WTS International