Women's History Month 2023: Member Voices
Throughout the month of March, WTS International honored our members' personal and professional journeys with the Member Voices Campaign, commemorating the 2023 Women's History Month WTS theme, "Celebrating Our Talents; Celebrating Our Stories."
We shared many of these stories on WTS International social media platforms, but had a wonderful (and overwhelming!) number of responses. We are dedicating this space to share and honor all submissions.
The stories of our members show tenacity, resilience, and personal advocacy efforts, changing the future of transportation to become more equitable an inclusive. Our members are an inspiration to not only others in our industry, but also for women in the workforce worldwide.
We hope you enjoy this small peek into the stories of WTS; and we hope that they inspire confidence, innovation, and a stronger belief in yourself.
Regional Environmental Lead & Shareholder, Felsburg Holt & Ullevig
Vice President, WTS Iowa
"One of the hardest years in my career was the 2009-2010 school year, I had just had my first child, was working full-time, and started my final year of my master’s program…It didn’t feel so crazy at the time, but when I look back, I don’t know what I was thinking! But really, I attribute my survival that year to my co-workers at Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, my thesis advisor, Christina Dando, herself a professor in a male-dominated discipline, and my husband for tag-teaming life with me."
National Business Development & Marketing Leader, Construction Management, RS&H
Vice President, WTS Central Virginia
"One major lesson I learned from a female leader a long time ago is that it is ok to fail, as long as you use your failure as a steppingstone to do better. I use perseverance and determination daily in order to be a solid woman, mother, and professional in transportation. I am constantly learning how best to think on my feet and try to plan for all the alternatives. If I shared my career story, I'd make sure to tell everyone it is best not to worry about anyone else's path but your own — carve it out, make it unique, and no matter what, do it on your own terms."
National Transportation Economics Practice Leader, STV, Inc.
WTS Washington DC
"'Women can have it all; just not at the same time.' – Very powerful statement. I live by this concept managing my goals and expectations. Now I am going through an exciting chapter in my life while I transition to a leadership position. This gives me the opportunity to merge my people skills and my abstract thinking, and to keep advancing as a Latin woman in the transportation industry."
Joan Crockett Lyons, AICP
Transportation Planner, Stewart
Events Committee Member, WTS North Carolina Triangle
"In a male-dominated field, all women in the transportation industry have always stood out to me. I wouldn't say there is one specific individual who has made me succeed as a woman in transportation, but the collaborative and collective network of women in my field create waves of innumerous change. From policy, to design, and construction, every woman I interact with inspires me to be better, do better, and make an impact. Regardless of who you are, you are inspiring to me."
Principal Owner, Transcend Engineers & Planners
Vice President, WTS Houston
"As a woman engineer, I learned from my mentors that grit and ingenuity are essential for success. They dared me to dream, and I would pass on the same high-achiever goals to future generations. I am inspired with the visionary women leaders we have today and am loving the learning that WTSI is facilitating to better serve our multimodal transportation industry."
Senior Planner/Project Manager, AECOM
President, WTS Middle Tennessee
"I believe I have succeeded in transportation by having strong women supervisors who pushed me to want better and backed me when I pursued my dreams. Now that I am a supervisor, I am trying to lift up young women in my company in the same way. I joke that I am training someone to take my job when I retire. I hope I inspire the folks I mentor to take up my mantle when they are supervisors and lift others up during their careers."
Senior Planner, City of Eustis, FL
"Important women in my life who are role models and mentors have taught me to have greater belief in myself and be true to myself even when it's not easy. They have helped me learn the value of making myself a priority and having the courage I need even when it's difficult so I can speak up on things and be heard even if I know it's not the popular opinion. My talents and skills that help me in my career are such as people skills, communication, and empathy. These are crucial when working with the public and various types of people. I would like to share with the world the challenges and discouragements that I have defeated throughout my career, and that it is worth it to keep pressing onward when things are especially difficult and it's hard to believe the hard work and determination can pay off."
Guest Experience Testing, CH2M
"Ask. It is totally worth asking even if no one has had the opportunity before. Can I take soccer and lacrosse with the boys instead of soccer and field hockey with the girls at university? Yes: for the first time, girls were allowed to take lacrosse. Can I have a master's internship at a pro football team? Yes: for the first time, a woman was allowed to do an internship in the office. Is it worth asking even if all the previous answers were 'no?' You might be the first person to get 'yes' for the answer."
Deputy Chief Operations Officer, District Department of Transportation (DDOT)
WTS Washington, DC
"I realized that doing work that aligned with my strengths made me very content and happy. Being in a place that saw potential in a brown woman was also incredibly important to me. Once I realized that, I searched for an organization and role that checks these boxes relentlessly and I found it! I am very proud of taking charge of my career and not accepting the status quo."
Senior Civil Engineer, City of Tempe, AZ
Scholarship Committee Chair, WTS Metropolitan Phoenix
"I find that one of the main differences between myself and my male colleagues, is that society has trained them not to validate or acknowledge their emotional reactions, while it has taught me to question my own worth and skill. I spend a portion of my day everyday fighting with imposter syndrome and convincing myself that my reactions to engineering challenges are valid. Over the years, however, I've found that these reactions, even though they are sometimes emotional ones, are not only valid but also often appropriate. My empathy for the transportation challenges I experience by the public I serve just drives me to be creative in my solutions, passionate about my work, and an overall better engineer."
Project Manager, AECOM
Transportation YOU Chair, WTS Maine
"In May 2022, I became a first-time mom with no doubt in my mind that I would continue in my career while being the best mom possible to my son. My team at AECOM is filled with working moms who have been my sounding board and are so empathetic as I learn how to balance work life and mom life. As a woman in transportation, I get to help create the world I want my son and future generations to grow up in, a world where transportation isn’t a barrier to going after your goals."
Senior Structural Engineer, Stanley Consultants
Sponsorship Committee Chair, WTS Iowa
"One piece of advice I wish I'd had early on in my career is that failure should never be shied away from or hidden away, and it should be expected in our adventures through life. As an engineer I am trying to determine the right answer to a problem...but along the way I'm going to stumble and find just as many wrong answers on that path to the right one. We all try to fit into this perfect image of what we think it means to be a coworker, manager, mother, partner, daughter, friend...but what is really normal is failure. This isn't to say you can't succeed at reaching your goals. What matters is if you dust yourself off and keep going after you stumble a bit on the way to those goals...and maybe share your story so others can learn and feel supported in their own stumbling."
Vice President of Strategic Growth, Marine Tiger Technologies
"From an early age, I witnessed my mother’s struggle for financial independence and the less-than-ideal situations she would find herself in due to the lack of that independence. Those observations stuck with me and propelled me to identify and pursue a career in an industry and field that was stable, that enabled me to surround myself with intelligent, creative, and ambitious people, and that enabled me to serve communities in my own way. From Marketing Coordinator to Vice President and across companies sized both big and small, I have leveraged my intellect, ambition, tenacity, creativity, and strong abilities to read a room, communicate and connect with people to propel my career and work with some of the largest and oldest transit properties in the country."
Civil Associate, Highway, Michael Baker International
"Independence and Self-Sufficiency: Women have fought for their rights and independence, and they continue to inspire us to be self-sufficient and independent. They have shown us how to be financially stable, to pursue our dreams and to live our lives on our terms. This has helped me take charge of my career and make decisions that align with my goals and values. I can pursue opportunities for advancement and overcome barriers to success. Attention to detail: Transportation involves ensuring that every aspect of the process is handled correctly, from scheduling and routing to safety and security. A natural talent for attention to detail can help ensure that nothing is missed and that everything is done accurately. I moved to the US in 2018 and faced a number of challenges including cultural barriers, professional networking, work-life balance, and certification requirements. As an immigrant from Pakistan, I have had to navigate a new culture with different norms and expectations around work and education. This has sometimes made it difficult to integrate into the workplace culture and build professional networks, which are key factors in finding job opportunities and advancing in my career. Work-life balance has also been a challenge for me. As a woman from a Pakistani cultural background, I have familial obligations that require me to prioritize family commitments. This can create tension between work and home life and make it difficult to maintain a healthy balance between the two. Certification requirements have also presented a challenge for me. In order to practice as a civil engineer in my new country, I have had to complete additional education and certification requirements. This has been both time-consuming and expensive and has created additional financial and logistical barriers that make it harder to pursue a career in engineering. Despite these challenges, I have been able to make progress in my career as a civil engineer. I have found supportive mentors and professional networks that have helped me navigate the workplace culture and find job opportunities. I have also pursued additional education to meet certification requirements and enhance my skills in the field. It was overall a rewarding experience."
Founder and CEO, CENTRIC
WTS San Diego
"Believe in yourself and others. As a women-owned business, our agency’s vision is to inspire individuals and enrich communities by marketing to those who can benefit from our non-profit, government and for-profit organizations’ products, services, and events. Passion is what drives us to do good. Our team loves inspiring people, creating positive change, celebrating success, and having fun while driving results for our clients. Being a businesswoman, supporting the transportation industry has taught me to be present in the moment; opportunity arises sometimes when you least expect it. I actively look for ways to support other women in the industry – as well as men – to recognize these opportunities as they build our nation’s infrastructure and work to move people safely, not just throughout the day but as they navigate through life. I love helping people and seeing people thrive – and wanted to be able to do so through volunteerism, professional support in helping others along their journeys, and by providing a fun work atmosphere where talented people and the power of community make dreams come true for our team, clients, and community – striving to encourage these same passions in my team members. I told my mom that by the time I was 30, I would start my own business. She believed I could, and I did. You, too, can make a difference in your life and that of others by working hard, treating others with respect and kindness and being a part of great organizations such as WTS."