Showing all posts by Danielle Dai
President’s Letter

Darlene CroppedOh, the lazy days of summer!

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 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 and join us today!

Enjoy summertime!

Darlene K. Gee

President, WTS San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

2016 Annual Scholarships and Awards Event

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)

Scholarship winners included:Annual 1

  • 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.Annual 2

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:

Dana Weissman ( and Doris Lee (

Glass Ceiling 2.0: Innovation Programs that Close the Gender Gap

Glass CeilingThe 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:

“Women in the San Francisco Bay Area Transportation Industry: A Longitudinal Study Benchmarking Women in Leadership Roles – Report 3.”

Transportation YOU DC Youth Summit 2016

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.

“The girls’ challenge project was a great way to immerse them into the reality of transportation in the DC Metro area,” said Danielle.TYOU

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 to find out more about how to participate in our Chapter’s Transportation YOU mentoring program.

Members on the Move

Adriene Brooks TaylorWe 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.

2016 Mentorship Program – Mentee Spotlight

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 Menteemy 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.

Scholarship Fundraiser and Wine Tasting Reception for Susan Bransen

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.Bransen

WTS Monterey Bay Transportation Happy Hour: The Future of the Way We Move, Part 1: Electric Vehicles

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 Montereyauto 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.

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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