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.
The Chapter kicked off its year of programs in full force with Jill Flynn, one of the authors from the New York Times Best Selling book Break Your Own Rules. Over 50 members took part in a two-hour seminar at the Seaport Conference Center in Redwood City followed by an hour of networking and lively discussions about the takeaways from the training. We were also very pleased to have WTS Executive Director Marcia Ferranto join us at the seminar. She provided an update on the organization’s initiatives and got members excited about the upcoming annual conference in Austin, Texas this year.
As part of the program, each attendee received a signed copy of the book – the first in a series of events that have taken place this winter featuring published works and experts in the field of women in leadership roles.
Break Your Own Rules distills the six faulty assumptions (or rules) most women follow that get in the way of achieving their full potential. The book then delivers the correlating new rules that promise to clear that path all the way to the executive boardroom. Keep breaking those rules!
On January 29, 2016 the Chapter’s Transportation YOU program organized a tour of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Warm Springs Station for a group of six girls from Girls Inc. of Alameda County. The girls were joined by WTS volunteers Shirley Douglas, Katie Magee, and Leisa Nalls. This field trip gave the group a behind-the-scenes look at the BART Warm Springs Station before it opens to the public later this year.
The girls were greeted out front by BART project staff, including Resident Engineer Nicole Tocchini, Public Relations Lead Dianne Castleberry, and Electrical Engineer Daniel Nhon. Starting with an explanation of the bio swales installed throughout the parking lot, the tour moved through the station concourse where the girls saw the installation of ticket machines, the future employee-only backrooms, and the platforms.
The station tour concluded with a look at the on-site testing center, where the train control system was in the process of being tested. Daniel explained the complex and extensive testing that must be done of the train control system before the station may open to the public. Following the station tour, the group had lunch in the project office, where additional members from the project team, including BART project managers, an environmental scientist and contractor team members, provided a great presentation of the station project history, construction photos, and other project details.
“The girls had a great time at the field trip. They were really engaged and learned a lot,” said Danielle Stanton, who runs the Eureka! Program at Girls Inc. This program provides hands-on achievement opportunities in science, technology, engineering, math, and college and career preparation to approximately 180 underserved girls in Alameda County.
“Exposing our girls to different STEM careers that they would either know little to nothing about, or not have a clear interest in is one of our main objectives for the Eureka! Program,” said Stanton. She said the girls who attended the field trip were surprised when learning about the different types of engineering jobs that are available.
“Something that surprised me was that there were a lot of females in the engineering field,” said eighth-grader Briauna Berry.
The presenters discussed their personal backgrounds and how they choose the transportation field, giving the girls great information on the diverse career opportunities in transportation. The visit concluded with a vigorous Q&A session.
“Our partnership with WTS has afforded us the opportunity to introduce our girls to many different careers in transportation with an emphasis on women in those careers,” Stanton said. “Our girls always walk away from the experiences in awe, and feeling empowered to pursue majors and careers that they initially hadn’t considered.”
The Chapter held its third annual Transportation Executives Regional Forum (TERF) event on the waterfront at Scott’s Seafood in Oakland’s Jack London Square on February 4, 2016. The goal of this event was to hear current topics from transportation industry leaders around the Bay Area, including how on-demand transportation might work with transportation agencies to create a seamless point-to-point service for riders.
This year’s panel consisted of: Emily Castor, Director of Transportation Policy with Lyft; Grace Crunican, General Manager of BART; Michael Hursh, General Manager of AC Transit; Tess Lengyel, Deputy Director of Planning at ACTC; and Tom Maguire, Director of the Sustainable Streets Division at SFMTA. The informative discussion was moderated by Dina Potter, Vice President, Northern California District Sales at HNTB.
Topics included planning for Super Bowl 50 and other large events in the Bay Area, connectivity, funding priorities, impacts of on-demand technology, upcoming projects, as well as regional coordination and shared goals amongst agencies and private sector transportation.
The exclusive, yearly event is one of the many benefits included for our Chapter’s corporate and agency partners. WTS would like to thank the participants for their time and for bringing such a candid and informative discussion to our partners.
In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2016, the WTS Glass Ceiling Committee released its report Women in the San Francisco Bay Area Transportation Industry: A Longitudinal Study Benchmarking Women in Leadership Roles – Report 3. This report is an update of two prior studies conducted in 2011 and 2013, each evaluating the status of women in the Bay Area transportation industry and recommending current best practices for the development of women in the workplace. We also had an event at San Francisco’s City Club on the same day where we learned of this year’s survey results and heard from Alison Dahl Crossley, Associate Director of Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research.
The most remarkable finding from the 2015 survey is the overall trend in companies reporting a higher percentage of female employees in managerial positions. In previous years, the mode (the most frequent value reported by the companies) for percentage of female employees in managerial positions was less than 10%. In 2014, mode was 20-29%, indicating a healthy advancement of women to managerial positions. This is perhaps an outcome from the uptick in part-time, work from home, and mentoring programs reported from 2010 to 2012, all of which have been attributed to women’s success in the workplace. The 2014 data showed a decrease in these areas, which may be an outcome of the greater in-office and hourly demands placed on workers during the robust economic times in the Bay Area from 2012 to 2014. The impact of these reductions may be reflected in the next report.
To further promote the WTS mission in the advancement, recruitment, and retention of women in the industry, the Task Force offers the following lessons learned and steps for moving forward: continue to track progress every two years; learn from the Bay Area’s technology sector and other innovative industries to see what policies and programs they have in place to support the advancement and retention of women; encourage organizations to institute and promote programs and educational tools to eliminate second generation bias; and support internal capacity building of other WTS chapters who wish to conduct similar studies. Please contact Lauren Isaac (email@example.com) if you’re interested in participating in future Glass Ceiling Committee activities.
On March 29, 2016, the Monterey Bay Area Programs Committee for the Chapter hosted an event in Watsonville. Approximately 30 attendees heard from an expert panel about local transportation improvement ballot measures on the ballot in 2016 in the three-county Monterey Bay Area and in Santa Clara County.
Eileen Goodwin, President, Apex Strategies, moderated the panel discussion among directors of the transportation agencies for the four counties. Ms. Goodwin led an engaging discussion about developing investment plans, building coalitions, and the challenges of getting 66.7% of the votes. These four counties’ combined measures, if successful, could generate almost $8 billion over 30 years for transportation projects in the region. The measures range from little San Benito County, where a ½-cent sales tax over 30 years is expected to generate $240 million, to huge Santa Clara County, the booming economic engine of the state, where the same tax would bring in $6.5 billion.
All of the plans are about improving quality of life and people’s commutes. All four plans set aside a large amount for filling local potholes but also have some funds for safe routes to schools and walkable communities. The bigger ticket projects that will be built if all four measures succeed include a Highway 25 widening project in San Benito County; Highway 1 improvements, rail-trail and rail corridor investment in Santa Cruz County; Highway 68 improvements and a Fort Ord Recreational Trail and Greenway in Monterey County; and extending BART into San Jose in Santa Clara County.
The high 66.7% vote threshold for local transportation sales tax measures drives a hard bargain in the development of expenditure plans for these measures. There is wide agreement that something must be done to fix the region’s crumbling infrastructure, but every city and county have their own thoughts on what projects should (or should not) be included in the expenditure plan, and the negotiations can get heated. The key point these Executive Directors drove home this evening is that the measures would result in local funds with local accountability, and that the matching potential from state and federal sources could double the money.