Monthly Archives: August 2015
President’s Letter – Summer 2015
Darlene Cropped

WTS San Francisco Bay Area Chapter President Darlene Gee

The warm, lazy days of summer haven’t slowed WTS down one bit! We are busy, engaged and making a difference in the transportation community. In May, we held our Annual Event where we provided scholarships to deserving young women pursuing transportation careers and recognized outstanding contributions from local professionals through our awards program. This year’s Annual Scholarship and Awards Event was our most successful ever with both record attendance and fundraising. Over 350 people gathered to enjoy a spectacular WTS evening at Oakland’s historic Scottish Rite Temple near Lake Merritt with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf as the keynote speaker. We awarded $20,000 in scholarships and toasted Tess Lengyel from Alameda County Transportation Commission as our Woman of the Year, along with our other deserving award recipients.

At the end of May, we concluded our first Bay Area Leadership Training course, which was a superb success! Twenty-one women from public and private sector organizations throughout the Bay Area worked through a 12-week set of multi-faceted activities that helped give them insight into their leadership qualities and potential. Dikla Carmel-Hurwitz and Denise Rabius, Leadership and Executive Coaches who provide courses at Stanford, served as the leaders and facilitators of the program. Participant reviews were excellent and enthusiasm was so high that our Chapter will be conducting this same training this fall instead of waiting until next spring. We plan to make this an ongoing Chapter opportunity for our members each year.

The WTS International annual conference was held in Chicago from May 20-22 with over 600 participants from around the country. It was a record-setting event for WTS, and the San Francisco Chapter was well-represented as speakers, moderators and participants in a lively and informational atmosphere. Next year, it will be cowboy hats and music as the conference hits Austin, Texas. Think about joining in if you haven’t attended the International conference — it’s a great experience and lots of fun.

In July, we held a congratulatory reception for Nick Josefowitz, BART Director, and Jim Hartnett, the General Manager/CEO of SamTrans, Caltrain and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, to celebrate their new roles in Bay Area transportation.

Our year is only half over and the upcoming months will have some excellent programs, celebrations and further professional development opportunities, so stay tuned into WTS through our website, emails and publications. And most of all, make sure you are a member of the most influential transportation organization in the Bay Area – WTS. A few simple clicks through and you’re there!

Happy vacation season,
Darlene K. Gee
WTS-SF Bay Area Chapter President

The San Francisco / Bay Area Chapter would like to congratulate Ms. Gee on being appointed to the Orinda City Council on July 15, 2015!

WTS-SF’s Women’s Leadership Program – Applications due August 31, 2015

The inaugural session of the WTS San Francisco Chapter’s Women’s Leadership Program (WLP) was an enormous success. Because of the participants’ overwhelmingly positive feedback, the program is being offered again this fall.

The WLP will provide a unique opportunity for women in transportation to step into their power, own their strengths, and develop their leadership presence and signature style. Participants will develop strategic thinking about their career paths (values, goals, and mindsets); identify and create the essential ingredients for high-functioning teams; and establish skills for ongoing success, including self-coaching, peer support, and action plans. The program is designed to be a catalyst for leadership training that will be highly regarded within the transportation industry. At the end of the three-month program, participants will receive certificates of accomplishment.

The WLP is highly interactive. It involves a robust structure of role-playing, coaching techniques, experiential exercises, and lectures that will provide the practice necessary to create new leadership behaviors and step into empowering mindsets. The design draws upon content from cutting-edge female leadership models.

Expected Outcomes

  • Develop strategic thinking about your career path: values, goals, clarity.
  • Challenge your assumptions, negotiate with your mindset, and develop resilience to overcome challenges in the workplace
  • Increase your influence by enhancing your interpersonal communication tools, become aware of your impact on others and how to achieve the desired impact
  • Step into your power, own your strengths, and develop your leadership presence and signature style
  • Identify and create the essential ingredients for high-functioning teams
  • Establish the skills for ongoing success: self-coaching, peer support, and action plans
  • Create a robust learning community for WTS professional women

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Annual Scholarship and Awards Event

The WTS San Francisco Bay Area Chapter’s Annual Scholarship and Awards Event took place on the evening of Thursday, May 14, 2015. The event was located along Lake Merritt in the Oakland Scottish Rite Center and drew a record-breaking 357 attendees. The evening began with a cocktail reception where guests mingled and networked over drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Dinner and the main program commenced with a welcome from Darlene K. Gee, Chapter President, and presentation of a video of the Chapter’s Transportation YOU activities created by Tatianna Ettienne Mercurio. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf delivered the keynote address, discussing the importance of transportation in making cities great and expanding on her recently approved proposal for the first-ever Department of Transportation for the City of Oakland.

Annual 1 Annual 2

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Interview with Nuria Fernandez, General Manager and CEO of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

VTA’s General Manager and CEO Nuria Fernandez accepts the 2015 Employer of the Year Award

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) was awarded the WTS San Francisco Bay Area Chapter’s 2015 Employer of the Year at the WTS Annual Scholarship and Awards Event in May 2015. VTA’s General Manager and CEO Nuria Fernandez was at the event to receive the award.

The VTA Board of Directors appointed Nuria Fernandez general manager and CEO of the agency in December 2013, following a nationwide search and a 10-month recruitment process. She ensures all divisions of VTA implement key programs, including bus and rail service, construction of major transportation facilities and highway projects, transportation planning, and the delivery of mega-projects like the extension of the regional BART system to San Jose. She is also responsible for monitoring and influencing transit legislation and policy development, and serves as a government liaison.

Before joining VTA, Mrs. Fernandez served as chief operating officer for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where she was responsible for the overall security of the MTA system, development of its capital and environmental sustainability programs, federal and state government affairs, and management oversight of the five operating agencies and its capital construction.

Mrs. Fernandez has more than 30 years of experience in the transportation field and a professional career that includes planning, design, and construction of public transit systems, airport operations, and policy development of federal transportation programs.

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WTS San Francisco Chapter Mentorship Program – Honoring Our 2015 Mentors

As the 2015 Mentorship Program reaches its halfway point through this year’s program, we would like to recognize our outstanding mentors that volunteer their time. These mentors are experts in their field, represent a diverse group of professionals, and regularly travel from around the Bay, including North, South, and East Bays, to participate in our program events. We welcomed new mentors to the program this year and are thrilled to have several whom are serving in their second, third, and fourth years. Without these mentors, the Chapter would not be able to host its annual Mentorship program, which is a valuable element in achieving the WTS mission of advancing women in transportation.

We are completing our 7th year with the largest group yet— 9 mentoring pairs! The WTS Mentorship Committee is incredibly grateful for the mentors’ commitment to WTS and the depth of wisdom they provide to our apprentices.

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Our Fabulous Transportation YOU Program is Staying Busy

California Railroad Museum Field Trip

In late spring, approximately 30 girls from Girls Incorporated of Alameda County traveled from Richmond to Sacramento on the Amtrak train and visited the California Railroad Museum. Alexander Khalfin of Amtrak spoke to the girls about the history of Amtrak in California on the journey to the museum. WTS members Shirley Douglas (retired), Katie McGee of HNTB, and Jen Mayer of Ernst and Young Infrastructure Advisors accompanied the girls on the trip. WTS provided travel costs, lunch, snacks, and museum admission.

TYOU RR Trip 1 TYOU RR Trip 2

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Professional Development Event: Accelerating Career Growth – The Advice You Probably Didn’t Get

On June 11, 2015 the Chapter held a professional development event to discuss career growth. The event was hosted at Arup’s office in San Francisco and included a TED Talk video viewing during dinner, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

The TED talk was by Susan Colantuono and focused on women who find themselves “stuck” in middle management, despite excellent 360 feedback, terrific performance reviews, and significant training investments. She suggests the key missing piece is a failure to focus on or to possess business acumen: understanding how the business works, its strategies, and financial targets; where the business is headed, and their role in taking the business there.

Our panelists discussed ways that they and others in their organizations have refined their business acumen and the role that has played in moving from middle management to executive leadership. The panel members for this program were:
• Carmen Clark, Carmen Clark Consulting
• John Eddy, Arup
• Kathleen Kelly, AC Transit

APTA Transportation Day Events

On April 9, WTS, as representatives from both the public and private sectors of the transportation industry, supported APTA’s National Transportation Infrastructure Day. On this day, Bay Area’s transportation leadership joined colleagues across the nation in keeping a steady drumbeat of activities intended to emphasize the need for Congress to pass a long-term surface transportation bill that provides a predictable, dedicated funding mechanism for our nation’s transportation infrastructure before the MAP-21 extension expires.

In keeping the spotlight on the need for federally funded transportation projects, WTS helped coordinate and participated in a tour of the new five-story Transbay Transit Center – a project that could not have made it off the ground without federal support. This modern regional transit hub will connect eight Bay Area counties and the State of California through 11 transit systems: AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, Greyhound, Muni, SamTrans, WestCAT Lynx, Amtrak, paratransit and the future High Speed Rail. The first phase creates a new five-story Transit Center with one above-grade bus level, ground-floor, concourse, and two below-grade rail levels. This tour was a sell-out.

After the tour, Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) Director, Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan welcomed the group at the TJPA conference room. TJPA’s Community Outreach Manager, Scott Boule, presented a mesmerizing video of the Transbay Center project. The group was then treated to a reception sponsored by and held at the Nossaman LLP office. Ms. Ayerdi-Kaplan gave an inspiring and unforgettable speech at the reception, urging us all to stand up for transportation.