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Past WTS Scholarship Recipient Kim Kinnison

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Kim Kinnison is a past WTS Scholarship winner, active member, and leader for WTS. Kim’s journey with WTS began 4 years ago on the advice of her internship supervisor. Following the advice of her supervisor, she applied for a scholarship offered by WTS. Kim was selected to receive the scholarship which provided financial assistance towards her undergraduate and graduate degree at the University of Colorado in Denver and ultimately, paved a road to a career in transportation. Today, Kim is the Senior Rail Service Planner/Scheduler for the Denver Regional Transportation District.  She is a member of WTS Colorado and is the 2019 DC Summit Committee Co-Chair. Kim shared her unique experiences and memories with WTS in a candid interview. Her story is truly inspirational and motivating.

Kim, thank you for sharing your experiences with us today. Can you tell us, which WTS scholarship did you receive?

I received the Susan D. Banks Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship in 2015, for a total of $7500 (between the local chapter and international awards) towards my undergraduate/graduate degree at the University of Colorado in Denver.

At the time I received my scholarship, I was wrapping up my BA in Geography where I focused on Urban Studies and Planning.

Can you tell us where has your career path led you since the award?

Following graduation, I began my career in transportation Planning consulting, working primarily on parking consulting as well as Transportation Management Center Standard Operating Procedures for Variable Speed Limits and Managed Lanes. I was afforded an opportunity to transition to Rail Operations Service Planning and scheduling for the Denver Regional Transportation District as a Level 1 Service Planner/Scheduler. During this time, I worked to revise event service offerings and standards and focused on the operational implementation of Commuter Rail in Denver.  Since then I have been promoted to Senior Rail Service Planner/Scheduler and oversee a small team. 

Kim, can you tell us more about what do you do in your current role?

Currently, as RTD Senior Rail Service Planner/Scheduler, most of my role is focused on planning for rail service delivery.  This means that I monitor passenger trends, municipal and county land use decisions, vehicle capacity and demand for service as well as events that may impact demand.  I plan the overall service levels and strategy and then follow that through with train schedules and vehicle size requirements.  This is an exciting role for me because I oversee how public rail resources are distributed and the impact, both positive and negative, that decisions I make can have is not something I take lightly. 

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

Transportation is never short on challenges to overcome.  It excites the problem solver in me because as soon as I have solved one problem, the next problem is ready and waiting for a solution to think through.  Beyond this, these problems do not get solved by one person acting in a vacuum.  They require collaboration and consensus building and public participation and creativity.  Having the opportunity to work collaboratively to solve problems for my community is incredibly fulfilling.

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

It came at a time when I felt very unsure that I truly had anything to offer the industry (being a new graduate is a scary time) and it helped validate that I had made the right decision to choose a transportation career.  The scholarship validation impacted my confidence in some tremendously valuable ways.  And whenever I find myself anxious over a presentation, I remember that I stood up and spoke in front of the Secretary of Transportation and it was successful, I can handle speaking in front of anyone else. 

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

Absolutely. I try to encourage new membership as often as possible.  The personal and professional growth opportunities are endless and belonging to a group of women (and men) who are interested in giving a hand up to the next group of women transportation professionals is inspiring. I have had the opportunity to mentor at two of the Transportation YOU DC Youth Summits and find this extremely rewarding. I find this program to be impactful and feel it truly encourages the next generation of female leaders to pursue careers in transportation. I am so passionate about this program that I have decided to be Co-Chair for the 2019 DC Summit Planning Committee. It is an honor to have the opportunity to provide guidance to young women on the cusp of making very large decisions about what they want their future to look like.

Last question, Kim, where do you see yourself going next?

I don't know that I have a great answer for this question. Ultimately, my goal is to move into positions of leadership and influence; especially around policy.  But at this moment, I have a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow in a challenging environment and I am quite sure that the skills I am learning now will take me to great places.

 

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