Spring is here! And the WTS San Francisco Bay Chapter is in full swing. We’ve had a busy and productive first quarter of 2015 and are getting ready for our biggest event of the year on May 14 when we gather to give our annual scholarships and industry awards in a festive evening celebration. This year we will be in Oakland at the Scottish Rite Temple and it will be an exceptional event, with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf as our keynote speaker. So make sure the WTS Annual Event is on your calendar for May 14th and sign up early. All attendees must be pre-registered.
WTS has our new local Leadership Program underway with our inaugural class of 21 women working on their professional development with our expert facilitators Dikla Carmel-Hurwitz and Denise Rabius from Stanford. Our March kick-off was initiated with an inspiring keynote by Tess Lengyel, Deputy Director of the Alameda County Transportation Commission and our 2015 Woman of the Year. Tess discussed the importance of women’s leadership in transportation and shared some of her personal career experiences with the group. We hope this will be a rewarding professional development journey for our first class and an on-going, annual opportunity for members of our WTS Chapter.
On April 15, 2015, the Student and Younger Members Committee hosted an Interview Workshop at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The event began with a panel discussion of various interview tips and tricks, including what to wear to an interview, what questions to avoid asking, and whether to send thank you notes.
On February 5, 20 professionals gathered in Salinas to discuss public outreach and to hear from the experts about insider tips and tricks of the trade. Public agencies often end up doing “damage control” and facing hostile groups when implementing major public works projects. The panelists described their experiences working with difficult situations and presented some strategies for doing proactive public outreach and ideas for developing positive relationships with the public.
Wendy Brickman, President of Brickman Marketing, talked about the importance of building positive relationships with the media and public over the long term. She reminded the audience that the media has a very limited staff that is shrinking all the time, and that it helps if you have a “news hook” to get the media’s attention. She also emphasized keeping the jargon out of your communications, and ensuring that news releases are concise and clear.
A dinner event on February 10, at Scott’s Restaurant in Oakland provided almost 60 attendees with an understanding of how last fall’s elections and the state budget gifted new money sources to finance Bay Area public transportation systems. Mark Green – former Mayor of Union City, former Chairman of the Alameda County Transportation Commission, and a Past President of the Association of Bay Area Governments – moderated a detailed discussion of how Alameda County’s Measure BB, San Francisco’s Proposition A, and California’s Cap and Trade monies are being rolled out to fund capital projects and operating costs. His panelists included Ben Tripousis – Northern California Regional Director for the California High Speed Rail Authority, Anne Richman – Director, Programming & Allocations for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Tess Lengyel – Deputy Director of Planning and Policy for the Alameda County Transportation Commission, and Alicia John-Baptiste – Chief of Staff for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
On March 11, the ASCE San Jose Section and WTS joined together for an informative lunch program in San Jose about sustainability for infrastructure projects. The Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) was founded by ACEC, ASCE, and APWA to develop and maintain a sustainability rating system for all types of civil infrastructure projects. ISI produced EnvisionTM, a sustainable infrastructure rating system that lets engineers and owners provide higher performing solutions by using a holistic, lifecycle approach to rating infrastructure projects. More than 40 attendees learned about the new Envision rating system and how to become credentialed as an Envision Sustainability Professional from Rachael Keish, environmental engineer and CEO of Keish Environmental, PC. Rachael is an ISI credentialed ENV SP and Verifier and a valued member of WTS.
Mirroring the successful program put on by the Monterey Programs chapter in February, insider tips and tricks of the public relations trade were the focus of the March 31 program held at Arup Offices in San Francisco. The lunch time forum drew close to 40 people to hear from experts in the field about implementing major public works projects while working with unreceptive groups and dealing with bad press. Mary Currie, former Spokesperson and Public Affairs Director for the Golden Gate Bridge, was brought out of retirement to moderate the panel of ex-reporters turned public agency spokespeople. They shared stories about being “in the hot seat” and their strategies for developing positive relationships with the public. The panel consisted of: Brandi Childress, WTS South Bay Programs Chair and Public Information Officer for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority; Robert Lyles, Deputy Spokesperson for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (former KPIX reporter); and Eric Young, Senior Communications Officer for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (former reporter for San Francisco Business Times).
On April 8, over 150 people attended the Third Annual Joint Transportation Happy Hour at Lost and Found in Oakland. Folks enjoyed brews, bites, and gentle evening breezes while mingling with the members of various organizations in attendance: APA, APBP, ITE, WTS, and YPT. We are already looking forward to the next one!