WTS Foundation Board of Directors
WTS Foundation 2022-2024 Board of Directors
Specialty Services Supervisor, City & County of Denver
Vice President, National Workforce Strategist, HNTB
Yvonne Lopez-Diaz is a vice president at HNTB Corporation, an employee-owned infrastructure solutions firm serving public and private owners and contractors. With HNTB for more than 20 years, she currently serves as the firm’s National Workforce Strategist where she collaborates with leadership in shaping workforce requirements on major projects and pursuits.
Prior to joining HNTB, Yvonne spent 16 years at Bayer Corporation, a world leader and innovator in the field of pharmaceutical and medical products, where she served in successive HR leadership roles that included Benefits and Compensation Analyst, Immigration and Foreign Service Personnel Specialist, and International HR Manager for the Caribbean region including Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Trinidad.
Yvonne holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from the University of Phoenix. She is also active in activities that benefit the community and the engineering industry. She has served as a board member of the Central Florida Zoological Society, the Central Florida Community Foundation, and the Walt Disney World Dreamers & Doers Organization. In addition, she has served as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, the Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Home Society, Adopt-a-Road, MathCounts, Seminole County Teach-In, and the Citrus Bowl Community Clean-up program.
For more than 15 years, Yvonne has been actively engaged with WTS International, where she currently serves as a Vice Chair on the WTS Foundation Board. She also serves as a member of the WTS Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Committee, and WTS Scholarship Committee. For more than a decade, Yvonne chaired the WTS Central Florida Scholarship Committee and in 2016 she was named Chair of the WTS Greater NY Chapter Glass Ceiling Committee where she led the research and development of a study that benchmarked the leadership roles of women in the metropolitan New York and New Jersey regions and identify whether the glass ceiling is a barrier to their growth and success. The results of this study identified potential policies or programs to support the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in transportation.
Yvonne was featured in the “Hispanic Executive” Magazine, a leading international print publication profiling Latino leaders around the world. In addition to focusing on growing women leaders, she has made it her priority to grow HNTB’s young professionals to assume future leadership positions within HNTB. She was also named an ENO Center for Transportation’s “Top 10 Women to Watch in Transportation” for implementing innovative ideas and having a positive impact on the transportation industry.
In recognition of her contributions at HNTB, Yvonne was nominated by her HNTB peers for the firm’s coveted “Living the Vision” award. Recipients of this award are employees who have elegantly woven into their daily work the values articulated in the firm’s doctrine, philosophy and culture.
Immediate Past Chair
Senior Vice President & Principal Director - National Transit & Rail Business Line Leader, WSP USA
Jannet Walker-Ford is a nationally recognized transportation industry executive with WSP USA, a leading engineering and professional services consultancy. Walker-Ford has more than two decades of diverse experience in technology, mobility and transportation systems. In her role with WSP, she serves as the senior vice president & national transit and rail leader and is responsible for leading and growing the firm’s business in the national transit and rail markets and establishing strategies that will position WSP for major advisory, planning, design, program management and construction management assignments.
Prior to this appointment, Walker-Ford served as a senior vice president for the Americas transit market sector at an international engineering services firm where she was responsible for the leadership and strategic direction of the transit market in North and South America, and previously as a vice president of government relations for a technology firm where she provided transportation focused, executive-level bi-partisan collaboration with elected officials at all levels of government, as well as trade industry associations and non-profit organizations. She has served in an executive leadership capacity on programs and projects for large transit and transportation agencies across the U.S., including a public-private partnership for the Massachusetts Bay Area Transportation Agency and a multi-billion-dollar capacity enhancement program for the Philadelphia International Airport. During her tenure with the public sector, Walker-Ford served as the Deputy General Manager/Deputy CEO as well as the Chief Information Officer at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, where she led the implementation of the regional smart card fare collection system, the first of its kind in north America.
Walker Ford is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems, Central Michigan University with a master’s degree in business administration. She has completed significant coursework towards her doctorate in information systems from Nova Southeastern University.
She serves on numerous diverse boards including as board chair of the American Public Transportation Foundation, is a board member of the American Public Transportation Association, chair of the WTS International Board, ENO Transportation Advisory Board, a member of the Jacksonville University Board of Trustees, and is chair of the Greater Jacksonville Cultural Council Board. Additionally, Walker-Ford serves as the Vice Chair of ITS America’s Sustainability & Resiliency Committee and is also a member of the IT Senior Management Forum and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials and is an Alumnus of Leadership APTA and the ENO Executive Leadership program.
Walker-Ford has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the 2019 Women of Color STEM Technology All-Star Award, the 2019 Miami Women Who Rock’s National Business Achievement Award, the 2019 Transportation Diversity Council/Massachusetts Institute of Technology honoree for Services to the Transportation Industry, and a 2019 Conference of Minority Transportation Officials’ Women Who Move the Nation honoree.
Atlanta Area Leader, RS&H
Daveitta Knight is Vice President, Atlanta Area Leader for RS&H, a national provider of architecture, engineering, and consulting services. In this role she supports the development and implementation of marketing, business development, and project delivery in support of market growth across the geography. She has 28 years of broad transportation experience. Prior to joining RS&H, Ms. Knight worked with other global consulting firms. She has served as Vice President/Georgia Transportation Operations Manager, Program Manager, Technology & Quality Manager and the Staffing Resource Manager for the United States, Canada, and Latin America, supporting Transportation Programs and Major Projects. She also served as the Georgia Area Manager responsible for branding and the integration of services in the geography.
Ms. Knight began her career with the Georgia Department of Transportation, where she worked in the Office of Road Design as a Design Engineer. She later worked as Assistant Design Group Manager in the Office of Urban Design. Ms. Knight is involved with several professional and community organizations. She has served on the Georgia Tech Alumni Association Board of Trustees, the Georgia Tech Minority Affairs Committee (currently known as the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization), and the Georgia Tech Women Alumnae Network.
Ms. Knight received her Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Georgia. She and her husband live in Cobb County and are the proud parents of three adult daughters. Their oldest daughter and husband have blessed them with two granddaughters.
Senior Vice President and Transportation Client Development Director, HDR
Christi Skinner is a Senior Vice President and the Transportation Client Development Director for HDR, an ENR Top 5 design firm specializing in engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services.
Based out of Bellevue, WA, she has 30 years of experience in the A/E/C industry in all phases of project work, from project identification and pursuit through execution. Christi helps set the vision for the transportation practice, creates and applies programs and processes across all geographies and provides tactical leadership of the team of individuals focused on securing the firm’s most complex, game-changing projects across all modes of transportation.
Christi is a long-time member of WTS and this is her second term on the WTS Foundation board where she serves as the WTSF Treasurer.
Deputy Secretary for Transportation Planning, California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA)
Avital Barnea is Deputy Secretary for Transportation Planning at the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), a position to which she was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Avital serves in a key advisory role to the CalSTA Secretary on transportation planning including sustainability, mass transit, rail, ports, and freight. She also serves as CalSTA's Equity Manager, providing leadership on equity issues to CalSTA's eight departments, boards, commissions, and staff of 40,000 employees.
Prior to her appointment at CalSTA, Avital worked in Washington, DC at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Office of the Secretary at the US Department of Transportation, the Federal Transit Administration, and the US Senate Committee on Finance. She began her career in transportation working for Metro Transit in Minneapolis.
Avital has been a WTS member since 2010 and has held a variety of roles in the WTS Minnesota, Washington, DC, and Sacramento chapters, including President of WTS Washington, DC from 2016-2017. She is currently an advisor to the board of the Sacramento and Washington, DC chapters and previously served on the WTS Northeast Region Council, the Transportation YOU DC Summit Steering Committee, the WTS Chapter Operations Task Force, the WTS Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and the Chapter Circle of Excellence Planning Committee. In addition to her involvement in WTS, Avital has been active in a variety of transportation industry associations throughout her career.
Avital holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography, both from the University of Minnesota.
Marketing Director and Associate Vice President, AZTEC Engineering Group, Inc.
Kelly Kaysonepheth is the Marketing Director and Associate Vice President at AZTEC Engineering Group, Inc., a subsidiary of TYPSA Group. She brings 15 years of experience leading marketing and proposal pursuits through client outreach and creative capture planning and has secured more than $350M in design work for the transportation industry to date.
A dedicated community volunteer, Kelly has served on the boards for several nonprofit organizations, including chapter president of WTS Metropolitan Phoenix (2018/19). The core of her community service has been concentrated on advancing women’s leadership development opportunities, STEM programming and mentoring first-generation and low-income students to reach their fullest potential. Kelly is recognized within the industry and the community. She has been nominated for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s ATHENA Award, recognized as 40 Under 40 by the Phoenix Business-Journal and named to Engineering News-Record in its 2019 Top 20 Under 40 Outstanding Young Professionals in the Southwest Region.
Kelly is a graduate of Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, where she graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. degree in English.
President and CEO, Assedo Consulting, LLC
Odessa L. Phillip, PE, President and CEO of Assedo Consulting, is a structural engineer, transportation planner, and public engagement professional with over 20 years of experience working with local, state, and federal public and private organizations. She has provided design, engineering, environmental management and public outreach and education services to clients in the on a wide range of infrastructure projects. Her work guides and educates stakeholders, appointed and elected government officials, and communities on the impacts of engineering, transportation, and construction projects.
Odessa secured a BSCE from Howard University (Structures/Transportation) and a Master of Engineering degree from the University of Maryland, College Park (Construction Project Management).
In 2012, Ms. Phillip founded Assedo Consulting, LLC, a certified African-American, woman-owned business enterprise (MBE/WBE). Assedo Consulting provides planning and public outreach services for projects in the planning, design, and construction phases of development. A longtime supporter of her alma mater, Howard University, Ms. Phillip has worked as an adjunct professor in the Civil Engineering Department and sits on the Advisory Board for the Department. Her goal is to work diligently to introduce more women and minorities to the engineering field.
Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer, SEPTA
Emmanuella is the Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer · Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), and the former Diversity Division Director for HNTB's Southeast Division. In this role, she worked to engage, empower and elevate historically underutilized businesses seeking to do business with local and state government partners.
She utilizes creative and engaging strategies to impact inclusion of minority businesses and diversify small business participation in transportation projects throughout the Southeast. She creates connections with clients and stakeholders across cultural differences to address community and business needs.
Emmanuella began her transportation career more than 15 years ago with Georgia Department of Transportation where she worked as a Public Relations/Communications Specialist, a NEPA specialist and a Program Manager at the Transportation Management Center.
Today Emmanuella works to change business as usual practices to remove barriers and expand access for minority businesses. She leverages both internal and external resources to ensure creative business solutions that achieve multiple advantages for all involved.
She is the Chair of ACEC Georgia’s Inclusion & Diversity Task Force and has facilitated dynamic learning experiences for ACEC GA's Future Leaders' Program.
Emmanuella holds a degree in Journalism from the State University of New York at New Paltz and is a two-time author and workshop creator of Journey of the Journal.
Acting Secretary, Massachusetts Department of Transportation