Yet, WTS isn’t slowing down. In May, we held our popular and meaningful Annual Event at the Scottish Rite Temple in Oakland. Over 350 people enjoyed an evening where we awarded $19,000 in scholarships to deserving young women in both undergraduate and graduate school programs that are pursuing careers in transportation. We also celebrated our annual awards that included Grace Crunican, General Manager of BART as our Woman of the Year and SFMTA as our Employer of the Year. Our other honors included awards to Laurel Poeton and Christina Watson – Co-Members of the Year; April Chan, Diversity; Jim Bourgart, the Ray LaHood Man of the Year; and Caltrain Electrification as our Innovative Project award. It was a memorable and enjoyable evening that also helped celebrate the San Francisco Chapter’s 35th anniversary.
Our Chapter continues to work toward having “something for everyone” and keeping up our geographic reach—in the past couple of months we’ve held a biking event in Oakland; a professional development seminar; an electric vehicle program in Monterey; a glass ceiling discussion in San Jose; another meeting of the WTS book club and a wine tasting scholarship fundraiser to help celebrate Susan Bransen’s new role as the Executive Director of CTC.
We are gearing up for quite a busy second half of 2016 as well. We have a wide variety of upcoming monthly programs and another session of our exceptionally well received Women’s Leadership Training starting again in September. Be sure you are on our email lists—you don’t want to miss the chance to sign up and attend any of our great events and network with the Bay Area transportation community. If you aren’t getting our emails, contact Laurel Poeton at email@example.com and ask to be added.
Better yet, become a member of the best transportation organization in the Bay Area and connect with many other professionals in informative, fun and career building activities. Just go to www.wtsinternational.org and join us today!
Darlene K. Gee
President, WTS San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
On May 4th, 2016, hundreds of WTS members and guests from across the Bay Area gathered at the Scottish Rite in Oakland to honor this year’s scholarship and award winners.
This year’s award winners included:
- The Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (Innovation Transportation Solutions)
- April Chan, San Mateo County Transit District (Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership)
- The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Employer of the Year)
- Laurel Poeton, Alameda County Transportation Commission and Christina Watson, Transportation Agency for Monterey County (Members of the Year)
- James Bourgart (Honorable Ray LaHood Award [Man of the Year])
- Grace Crunican, Bay Area Rapid Transit (Woman of the Year)
- Maria Ruiz (Transportation YOU High School Scholarship)
- Nabila Farah Franco, Santa Clara University (Molitoris Leadership Undergraduate Scholarship)
- Marie Pichay, UC Berkeley (Sharon D. Banks Undergraduate Scholarship)
- Fern Uennatornwaranggoon, UC Berkeley (Leadership Legacy Graduate Scholarship)
- Maitagorri Schade, UC Berkeley (Helene M. Overly Graduate Scholarship).
Dr. Beverly Scott, Chief Executive Officer of Beverly Scott Associates, LLC, gave this year’s keynote speech. Dr. Scott spoke about the importance of achieving equity in the transportation sector and empowering women to make a difference in the industry.
Throughout the evening, attendees bid on exclusive silent auction items. Some lucky guests took home coveted prizes, including a tour of a new BART car and lunch with the BART General Manager, a Central Subway tour, and Giants tickets.
The Annual Event is the Chapter’s biggest event of the year, and proceeds go towards the Chapter’s scholarship fund. This year’s Annual Event raised over $30,000. The night would not have been possible without the support of the Chapter’s Board, corporate and agency partners, table and event sponsors, dedicated volunteers, and all of the attendees who came out to join us!
Interested in volunteering for the 2017 Annual Event? Please contact the Annual Event co-chairs:
The South Bay programs committee hosted an engaging event to discuss innovative programs in the transportation industry that close the gender gap and create opportunities that help women succeed in a predominately male sector. Participants left with actionable items that have successfully worked at organizations, which have promoted women to senior and executive level positions.
The event was held on June 21, 2016, in San Jose and was moderated by Denise Rabius who is highly regarded for her expertise in developing strong women leaders. She co-created “Women Leaders: Mastering Influence, Authenticity, and Power.” Denise also facilitates the Women in Management Program at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and is a co-facilitator for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter’s Women’s Leadership Program. Denise received her MBA from Stanford.
Denise led a powerful discussion on innovative ways that organizations can close the gender gap by advancing women in the workplace. At the conclusion of the program, participants divided into groups, discussed important takeaways, and presented at least one actionable item to the rest of the group. Distinguished panelists were Matt Henry, President/CEO of Fehr & Peers; Shayna van Hoften, Partner, Hanson Bridgett LLP; and Rachel Zack, Innovative Mobility Lead with WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff.
Matt Henry began the discussion with Fehr & Peers’ 2016 statistics. Women make up 38% of the executive leadership team compared to the A/E industry average of 11% for firms with revenues under $100 million in annual revenue. Forty-five percent of its managers are women whereas the A/E average is 16%; 48% of Fehr & Peers’ staff are women, and women make up 25% and 24% of its Board of Directors and shareholders, respectively. Matt noted that while Fehr & Peers is pleased with this progress, more work remains to move all of their metrics closer to an equal balance.
Organizations that have established values that focus on treating their employees with dignity and incorporating work/life balance into their overall organizational culture, also had very high percentages of women in executive leadership and management positions. In addition, human-centered values, flexible work schedules, robust IT infrastructure, policies that promote transparency and equity in compensation, and mentorship programs for women were found to be keys to success for women in the workplace.
Shayna van Hoften provided an overview of Hanson Bridgett’s relevant statistics and awards. Of the 157 total attorneys at the firm, 43% are women. Women also make up 33% of the firm’s 95 partners. In addition, 30% of the attorneys on the firm’s Management Committee are women, as is 43% of the entire Management Committee. In recognition of Hanson Bridgett’s commitment to attracting and maintaining this significant element of its workforce, borne out through a range of supportive policies complementing lawyers’ own efforts, Hanson Bridgett was named one of the “50 Best Law Firms for Women” by Working Mother magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers. Hanson Bridgett’s numeric success in this area was recognized by Law360, which recently named the firm one of the “100 Best U.S. Law Firms for Women” and one of 25 “Ceiling Smashers,” a moniker used for U.S. based law firms with the highest percentage of female partners.
Shayna then discussed the value of her firm’s consistently forward-thinking, visionary leadership, values, and culture. Shayna emphasized the importance of all employees establishing strong relationships with their managers and mentors. Starting early in her career, Shayna developed her work style taking what she liked best of the various models she saw around her, customized to fit her strengths and meet her needs as both a lawyer and a mother. She had very frank discussions with her mentors and supervisors about her goals, and benefited from their guidance. This resulted in Shayna being able to work on a schedule that fit her family’s needs while still meeting her obligations to the firm and its clients. Over the next ten years, Shayna established herself as a committed and invested member of the firm with specific areas of expertise, such as civil rights law compliance in public transit and government ethics, while still working on a reduced-time schedule. Despite her alternative work schedule—which was not apparent to most of her clients—Shayna was made a Partner at the firm. Shayna illustrated for the group how her firm’s results-oriented focus on attorney development helps ensure the success of both the employee as well as the employer.
Rachel Zack, the new Chair of the Bay Area’s Glass Ceiling Committee, discussed key findings from the most recent Glass Ceiling Task Force Report and related some of the findings from the Report’s literature review on second generation bias to her own experiences in the workplace. In Rachel’s own career she feels the most important thing is to find companies and managers who evaluate performance above all else. Rachel also stressed that while the findings of the longitudinal study show an increase of women in leadership positions, the industry is nowhere near 50/50 and there is a lot of work to be done. She is looking for volunteers to join the Glass Ceiling Committee which she says is an eye-opening and enriching experience.
The following is a list of items identified by the participants as important to advancing women in the workplace. While this event focused on programs and policies that close the gender gap for women, initiatives designed to benefit women also benefit all employees.
Actionable Takeaway Items:
- Create mentoring programs for women at various stages of their careers
Women need coaching and guidance throughout the span of their careers.
- Establish a pipeline for women early in their careers
As women enter the workplace, provide mechanisms to help them begin planning the direction of their careers.
- Create Women’s Affinity Groups
These groups provide opportunities for women to have peer-to-peer interactions to discuss issues that are unique to women and send a strong message about the organization’s commitment to promoting women.
- Create human-centered organizational values
Promote work/life balance and treat employees with dignity and respect.
- Create flexible work environments
Allow employees to work non-traditional work hours or schedules; focus on results and contributions rather than on hours worked or time physically spent in the office.
The Women’s Transportation Seminar San Francisco Bay Area Chapter’s third longitudinal study:
Mentor/Protégé pair Danielle Stanton and Ashley Taylor represented the Chapter at this year’s WTS Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit held from June 22-26 in Washington, D.C. The event brought together 22 high school girls and their mentors from all across the country for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet top officials in the U.S. Department of Transportation, take exclusive project tours, and work on exciting team challenges.
“The DC summit was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had,” said Ashley, who attended the DC Summit as a protégé in our chapter’s Transportation YOU mentoring program. In the fall, Ashley will be entering 11th grade at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland. She is also a participant in Girls Inc.’s Eureka! STEM education program. The DC Summit was Ashley’s first trip to Washington D.C.
“I enjoyed all of the monuments we got to see and the different women we got to talk to that are in the different fields of transportation,” she said.
For Danielle, who coordinates the Eureka! Program at Girls Inc., a major highlight of the trip was the girls’ challenge project. The girls were given scenarios and had to determine the best way for the subject to get to and from work. They had to consider CO2 emissions, cost, and time. They were given equations to determine the outcomes of the given factors and presented their findings to the group with a PowerPoint presentation. The girls also interviewed local professionals and received insight as to how they commute to work, and included this information in their presentations.
During the summit, the pairs used various modes of transportation to travel to monuments all over the city. They also participated in a scavenger hunt throughout their trip. They located several transportation-related items and took pictures that they later included in their PowerPoint presentations.
“Being able to experience the different modes of transportation throughout the trip was a nice way of tying the purpose of the trip together with the importance of how we all utilize transportation,” said Danielle.
“I encourage all women to take advantage of the opportunity,” Ashley said. “I have a strong feeling that they will not regret this experience.”
The DC Summit occurs annually in June and is attended by Transportation YOU mentor/protégé pairs. If you’d like to attend next year, please contact Charmine Solla at Charmine.Solla@sfmta.com to find out more about how to participate in our Chapter’s Transportation YOU mentoring program.
We congratulate Adrienne Taylor on her new position at Marin County Transit District as Capital Projects Manager. In her new position, Adrienne provides management of complex infrastructure and capital projects, lead the procurement of construction services, vehicles and ancillary equipment, and assists management of the District’s capital program.
Adrienne brings over 30 years of expertise in transportation with her, having gotten her start in Southern California at Orange County Transportation Authority where she served as Director of Rail Programs. She continued her career for Southern California Regional Rail Authority, then onto Amtrak where she served as Senior Director. Her background also includes leading strategic development and business development efforts for private sector firms. Her enthusiasm, goal oriented professionalism, along with demonstrated ability to drive projects and lead cross-functional teams to consistently meet key deliverables brings a unique perspective as both an owner and as a consultant.
Adrienne currently serves and will continue her commitment on the WTS SF Bay Area Chapter Board of Directors as Co-Chair of Programs. She has served in this capacity for the past 3 years.
Saying goodbye is always hard, especially when it involves people who’ve inspired and pushed you to be better as a professional and as a person. It’s even harder when you know that you’re leaving a workplace where the emphasis on “family” permeates through every task and strategy. This past spring, after two years at TransForm, a non-profit focused on transportation and housing solutions to resolve our social equity and climate crises, I was presented with an opportunity to join the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), where I was a former intern.
I knew that someday I wanted to work directly on how to make transit more reliable and safer for all. Making the decision to leave my current position, however, was not something I could do lightly. To fully weigh out all considerations, I sought advice from my mentors. Over the course of my young career, I’ve been fortunate to have met amazing women who have become exemplary models of how to manage a team with respect and thoughtfulness.
My participation in the 2016 WTS Mentorship Program added another name to my roster of contacts. The mentorship program had just started and we talked about career goals over lunch. It was a timely occasion because of my recent offer to come back to SFMTA. My mentor’s reasonable line of questioning helped me articulate the pros and cons of such a career move, including my vision, motivations, and potential challenges.
After my conversations with my mentor and other colleagues who shared some objective advice, I ultimately decided to return to the SFMTA. Leaving a workplace like TransForm, where we joked about being a “work family” because of how fond we are of each other, was not easy. I am eternally grateful to TransForm for opening my eyes and deepening my commitment to social equity as an urban planner.
A few weeks later when I walked through the doors of SFMTA, I fell into a natural routine of greeting familiar faces in the hallway and cubicles. My heart was elated to see my friends, who are now all my coworkers, become the new “work family” we all need to get through the toughest, frustrating, yet visionary projects together.
The WTS Mentorship Program so far has been a fantastic forum for me to ask the tough questions about career and life. It is invaluable to have a mentor with whom I can talk to and fully express my aspirations and fears without judgment. Thank you to WTS for supporting us mentees and providing avenues for engaging discourse on the most pressing issues facing women (and men!) in transportation.
*Jean Long is a transportation planner in Transit Planning at the SFMTA.
On July 20, the Chapter hosted a special reception for Susan Bransen, the newly appointed Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission (CTC) with a wine tasting event.
The celebration was held in Oakland at the Downtown Wine Merchants in Frank Ogawa Plaza. Guests celebrated with Susan as they tasted a sampling of six wines made by women winemakers. The event also featured sponsorship opportunities and a wine-themed raffle to benefit the WTS Scholarship Foundation. The firm sponsors for this event were Wilson Ihrig, WSP | Parson Brinckerhoff, and HDR. The sold-out evening was a great success, and the Chapter was able to raise additional scholarship funds to support young women pursuing degrees in the transportation industry.
WTS-SF takes pride in honoring the achievements of both men and women in the transportation industry when they receive a promotion, appointment, or new, high-level opportunity. For this reception, we were honored to toast Susan and congratulate her on her achievements to date.
On July 19, 2016, the Monterey Bay Area Programs Committee for the Chapter hosted an event at the Tesla Motors shop in Seaside. An intimate gathering of 14 attendees got an exciting glimpse into the future of transportation, including a presentation and demo of the Tesla cars available today and what the future holds, as well as a presentation from the Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance.
The evening’s moderator, Veronica Lezama, is a Transportation Planner with the Council of San Benito County Governments. Veronica has 13 years of professional transportation experience working with a variety of stakeholders to address community needs related to building healthier and sustainable communities through better policy, design and implementation of projects and programs. Veronica is an honoree of the 2013 Jefferson Awards for her volunteer work with farm worker families and students.
Sharon Sarris, founder and former co-chair of the Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance Electric Vehicles, kicked off the evening with a presentation on the past and future of auto transportation, especially electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance (MBEVA), founded in 2009, is a California grassroots public-private partnership, whose overall mission is to promote rapid adoption of plug-in electric vehicles. Sharon presented the big picture about plug-in electric vehicles as well as details about electric models, how they work, the benefits, charging station infrastructure and government incentives.
Sean LaFond, Sales Manager at Tesla Monterey, revealed the Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan, which includes eventual world domination via the manufacturing of electric vehicle battery systems in their new plant in Sparks, Nevada. Tesla’s mission is accelerating the shift toward sustainable transport and energy consumption by producing the world’s best electric cars and energy storage systems. The night was capped off with rides in the latest Tesla Models S (sedan) and X (SUV). The Model S can go from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds, which feels like the initial descent from the top of a roller coaster.
And WTS in the Bay Area is off to a great start in 2016. As a thank you to our Corporate Partners, we held our Transportation Executives Regional Forum in February and had a great evening with senior leaders from BART, SFMTA, ACTC, AC Transit and this year’s new addition Lyft. It was an informative and interesting discussion that once again highlighted the dynamic issues in Bay Area transportation. If you aren’t a Corporate Partner, become one and enjoy some exclusive benefits. There are levels to match all organizational sizes and types.
We have had our first “literary program series” in the first three months of the year, hosting three wonderful programs showcasing empowering women authors and books related to the mission of WTS. In January, we enjoyed Jill Flynn discussing her book Break Your Own Rules and her thoughts on women’s career building. In February, we were treated to Grace Crunican (our own BART General Manager) and Liz Levin hosting a panel discussion with key women from their wonderful book Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom, which contains a collection of real stories of transportation women, including many WTS leaders. We were honored to have Nuria Fernandez (General Manager and CEO, VTA), Dr. Beverly Scott (retired MBTA General Manager) and Dana Hook (CDM and former WTS International Chair) join us with Grace and Liz as moderators to discuss career experiences and answer questions. It was an exciting turnout of many of our Chapter members and we enjoyed spending this special evening at Girls, Inc., our partner organization for Transportation YOU. We were inspired on many levels. In March, we enjoyed an evening with Janette Sadik-Khan at SPUR in Oakland listening to thoughts from her career in New York City and her new book Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution. Congrats to our wonderful Programs Committee for lining up these winning and popular events to start 2016.
We selected our 2016 Scholarship and Award winners from our annual nominations and will be honoring these deserving students and award winners at our Annual Event on May 4th. Don’t miss what is always the most exciting evening in Bay Area transportation. Sign up now to join us in Oakland at the Scottish Rite Temple on May 4.
We also started our third session of our extremely successful and popular Women’s Leadership Training Program with 24 new WTS member participants. It is off to a great start and I am already hearing enthusiasm and feedback about how much this training is appreciated by our WTS members.
As you can tell, our Chapter has so many great reasons for you to participate and join us! If you aren’t a member, become one at www.wtsinternational.org. I hope to see you at the May 4 Annual Event in Oakland and possibly at the annual WTS International Conference in Austin, Texas on May 18-20. Happy Spring!
Darlene K. Gee
WTS-SF Bay Area Chapter President
Ewa Z. Bauer‐Furbush, P.E., is the Chief Engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District. Her career as a civil engineer spans 30 years. She joined the District in January 1995 as the Deputy District Engineer. Prior to that, she worked for the California Department of Transportation. In her capacity as Deputy District Engineer, Bauer has successfully managed numerous engineering design and construction projects ranging from the massive Seismic Retrofit Project to the Toll Plaza Paving Project. Bauer hails from Poland where she earned a Master of Science in Civil Engineering, cum laude, from Swietokrzyska Polytechnical University and a postgraduate diploma in residential architecture from the Warsaw Polytechnical University.
How did you get involved in transportation?
My parents, especially my father, encouraged me to study advanced math and physics in high school. He told me when I was very young that the belief that boys are better at math than girls was simply not true and that such notions should not stop me from doing what I believed was right for me. In college, I studied civil engineering including subjects related to transportation planning and design and construction of bridges, highways, streets, and airports. This led to some amazing career opportunities in the transportation industry.
What do you think is the most critical issue facing the SF Bay Area transportation industry today?
The state of disrepair of our roads and bridges. Most streets and highways resemble obstacle courses because of potholes and cracked and subsiding pavement. We need to make consistent, year‐by‐year investments, at every governmental level, in rebuilding and maintaining streets, roads, highways, and bridges. We cannot continue with an “act only when there is a crisis” approach. While drama associated with crisis is great for the front page news, a good, practical approach of routinely taking care of transportation infrastructure before crisis happens is a much more cost-efficient approach.
What would you like young women interested in a career in transportation to know?
Until we learn to teleport matter, transportation will remain essential to commerce, leisure, and many other aspects of human activities. This is why transportation will continue to offer great career opportunities.
Who do you get inspiration from?
Positive, critical thinkers. I am against blind conformism that very often breeds obstructionism. Critical and out‐of‐the‐box thinking when used to solve problems was, is and will be the engine of human progress in its best sense.
What books are you reading right now?
Mr. Putin by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy. I am very interested in the psychology of what makes people become who and what they are, and what makes some people crave power more than anything.