Empowering Women Author Series: Break Your Own Rules

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.BYOR

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!

Transportation YOU Field Trip to BART Warm Springs

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.

TYOU“I loved the way they told us a lot of information,” said ninth-grader Melissa Ruvalcaba. “One of my dreams is to learn about construction management.”

“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.”

Third Annual Transportation Executives Regional Forum

TERF 2The 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.TERF 3

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.TERF 1

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.


The Glass Ceiling and Creating Inclusive Workplaces Program

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 Glass Ceiling 2Longitudinal 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 theGlass Ceiling 1 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 (isaac@pbworld.com) if you’re interested in participating in future Glass Ceiling Committee activities.

Monterey Bay Happy Hour: Helping Ourselves – To a Better Transportation Network

Monterey 1On 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.

Monterey 2All 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.

Get Involved with the 2016 WTS Annual Event!

Want to volunteer to help plan the event?
Think your company might be interested in a corporate donation?
Have a great auction item that you could share?

If so, please contact the Annual Event Chairs:
Dana Weissman, d.weissman@fehrandpeers.com
Doris Lee, leed1@pbworld.com

President’s Letter
Darlene Cropped

WTS San Francisco Bay Area Chapter President Darlene Gee

Happy 2016!  The holidays and all the fun and hectic rush have wound down and we are starting another year of WTS in the San Francisco Bay Area. We celebrated a successful 2015 year with our annual holiday event at the beautiful Omni Hotel in San Francisco. It was a sold out party with a lot of merriment and some beneficial fundraising for our WTS Foundation. We were also able to provide a special WTS welcome to AC Transit’s new General Manager, Michael Hursch. We are pleased to have his support. Thank you to all the members of our great WTS Board that made our holiday event happen and to all those who attended.

And now for those New Year’s resolutions!  As I said at the holiday event, committing to being a member and active participant in WTS is a lot easier than losing twenty pounds so—don’t delay—make sure that your membership is renewed and that you are joining in all the wonderful professional transportation connections that WTS has to offer. Visit www.wtsinternational.com for more information.

And if you have been or would like to be one of our Chapter Corporate Partners, please be sure that your organization renews or signs up. We have great benefits at levels that fit everyone’s budgets and we would love to have your support!  Our Corporate Partners provide us with the funding needed for our Chapter to maintain a margin of excellence in all of our events and professional development opportunities as well as support for our scholarships that benefit deserving women seeking careers in transportation. Contact Linda DeBolt or Kathy Mayo, Co-Chairs, Corporate Relations at linda.debolt@redwood-ca.com and mayomom@comcast.net for more information.

2016 is shaping up to be another good year for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. We have many months of informative programs and networking planned; all of our key major events such as the Transportation Executives Regional Forum for our Corporate Partners; our Annual Awards and Scholarship Event and our CTC Reception will be back. We are also hopeful that our first Bay Area Fashion Show fundraiser will be on your calendar this year.

We are planning the next session of our extremely successful Leadership Training this spring, so if you are interested stay tuned for that key opportunity. During 2015, our Chapter provided this very well-received training to over 40 of our members and we expect a strong demand this year as well. Just remember, WTS membership is a prerequisite so once again check those New Year’s resolutions to make sure you have that in hand.

As I enter my second year of leadership for this very special Chapter, I am looking forward to many great activities and possibilities for all of us in transportation, and particularly for those in WTS. We are a special group that is making a difference for so many people. I hope you will be part of this great upcoming year!

Darlene K. Gee

WTS-SF Bay Area Chapter President


Another Successful Holiday Party

Holiday 01 Holiday 05  

Holiday 01 Holiday 05  

On December 10, 2015, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter hosted its annual holiday party at the historic Omni Hotel in Downtown San Francisco. The sold-out event provided Bay Area transportation professionals a chance to network, toast the season, and raise money for the WTS Foundation. For the second year in a row, the Chapter held a silent auction to help raise money for the Foundation, which provides substantial scholarships to numerous students in the Bay Area, as well as contributes to Transportation YOU and the youth mentoring summit held in Washington DC each year. In total, WTS raised almost $2,000 for the Foundation thanks to the generous gift donations from our sponsors and members.

The event also provided an opportunity to recognize honoree Michael Hursh for his recent appointment as the General Manager of AC Transit. Michael provided some insight into his plans for AC Transit and his future vision for transit in the Bay Area.

Special thanks to all who donated their time and contributed to making the event a success:  Sheena Patel (HDR), Hildegard Dodd (Wilson Ihrig), Laurel Poeton (ACTC), Amy Cook (HNTB), Olga Mendez (BART), Claudia Burgos (AC Transit), Jean Banker (Port of Oakland), and Arash Monsefan (Moffatt & Nichol). We were also lucky to have two photographers on site to capture some great photos from the event: Shannon Louie (FMG Architects) and Jeremy Wong (CBRE).

The Chapter’s 2015 Inaugural Leadership Program

By: Chava Kronenberg

I owe all my thanks to my colleague Miriam, who forwarded me an invite late last year to the inaugural class of the Chapter’s Leadership Program. I was pretty skeptical. Five full work days doing “leadership” activities? I am happy to report that the seminar not only exceeded my expectations, but has become a springboard for myself and much of my cohort to new levels of professional achievement. From our seminar leaders, to the out-of-class activities, to our post-seminar reunions, the Leadership Program has been an exemplary way to build new women managers and leaders in transportation.

Organized by the Chapter’s Leadership Academy Chair Camille Williams, the Program differentiated itself from other professional development opportunities by having two extraordinary leaders. Denise Rabius and Dikla Carmel-Hurwitz have years of teaching and coaching experience, a passion for building women’s leadership capabilities, and a knack for knowing exactly how to keep a classroom engaged. They have designed and led executive development programs for Silicon Valley’s high-tech companies and facilitated women’s leadership programs at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Creating a warm, inviting, trusting, and confidential space enabled participants  to discuss moments or feelings in our day to day work environment that are challenges to our own success.

Dikla and Denise over five days deconstructed our worst fears about ourselves and replaced them with positive energy and new tools to take on barriers. Both fearlessly helped us tackle our personal saboteurs, discomfort with networking in a strange environment, or inability to confidently ask for a more ambitious job or a raise. For many of us, the cornerstone of the leadership seminar was Denise and Dikla. I am ecstatic that they are continuing to work with WTS for future leadership seminars.

Just as important to our in-class lessons were our out-of-class peer coaching assignments, which provided an opportunity to meet and work with WTS members. I was fortunate to be partnered with three fantastic members: Judy and Edna from Valley Transportation Authority and Lydia who works as a rail consultant to BART. This turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the Program, partnering with women who were at different career points in different types of work environments but who face many of my own professional challenges. Working and sharing with them, and hearing about their fascinating careers in transportation, was eye-opening. We now continue to email and celebrate our successes! The value of these small groups to me was the chance to build new WTS relationships that make me excited to attend future WTS events, if just to catch up with my new friends.

Many of the 25 participants have had career advancement since completing the Seminar. We already have reunions on a regular schedule, and celebrating our successes together is great. Some words from my peers and friends on their experiences:

Tracy writes: “From the program I learned how to be more confident and become a better advocate for myself. Even if I’m relatively new to the working world, I am still an asset to our agency. Since the program ended I’ve received a promotion and raise.”

Shannon shares that “I found the Women’s Leadership class to be truly transformative. It came at a time when I had taken on a new job with an expanded role, and I was feeling somewhat uncertain about it all. Through the information presented in the seminar, the hands-on practice, and the overwhelming support from all the participants, I felt empowered by the new job, not intimidated. I encourage everyone to sign up!”

Shruti has a similar sentiment: “The leadership program came at a point in my career when I was looking to step up and embrace the challenges of leading in order to make a difference and achieve the vision I truly believe in. This course is designed to help leaders-to-be get ready for new challenges and responsibilities. I learnt many valuable leadership skills and developed my own unique leadership brand. Mainly, I do not shy away from self-promotion anymore and this has significantly helped me in my career. I recently received a promotion at work!”

Lastly, Edna adds that “the Women’s Leadership Training Program is beneficial to all women in transportation, whether you are beginning your career, mid-career, or reaching for that final promotion later in your career. The program experience becomes unique to each woman as she explores her personal power and leadership style. The textbook, “How Remarkable Women Lead” and the women who participated in the 2015 inaugural leadership class exemplify that uniqueness. Although most of the class concepts and information were not new to me, I was challenged to re-explore my values and mental models that were holding me in place. By stepping into my personal power and taking action I received a promotion and raise within 4 months of the first day of class. Thank you for making the Women’s Leadership Training a reality. It changed my life.”

The effusive nature of these comments speaks loudly, and I am proud to be a member of the WTS inaugural class. I look forward to seeing how this program grows and evolves, and would love for the effort to be duplicated across our national WTS chapters. Thank you again to the WTS Board, and especially Camille, who made this life-changing opportunity available to us all.

Longtime East Bay Political Leader Mary V. King Dies

Mary V. King, a lifelong Oakland resident and former Alameda County supervisor and AC Transit Interim General Manager who sought to improve community life and became a transportation expert, died in November 2015. Ms. King was a true trailblazer and used her considerable expertise in government to develop and advocate for efficient transportation systems and services to help people move around the Bay Area.

In 1988, Mary V. King became the first African American woman to be elected an Alameda County Supervisor. She was re-elected twice and served as Board President for two years. During her tenure, she authored many policies with lasting impact on the Bay Area including:

  • The King Plan, which was a major land-use amendment to the County General Plan to protect open space while maintaining sustainable development in unincorporated areas. This Plan is now considered a model for smart growth.
  • The Values Based Budgeting Process, which is an innovative approach to county budget reform that received statewide recognition and continues to be used by the County.

Prior to being elected to public office, Ms. King led the drive for a successful county tax initiative campaign (Measure B) that created new sources of funding for public transit and other transportation projects and made Alameda County one of the first “self help” counties in the State.

She worked tirelessly to improve economic conditions and social services for lower income residents, promoting health and education, and youth violence prevention programs. The Mary V. King Health Education Center is named in her honor as part of the Eastmont Wellness Center in Oakland.

Mary chaired several community-based and regional committees, including the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bay Bridge Design Task Force. She was Chief of Staff to California State Legislator, Bill Lockyer; Chief of Staff to Oakland Mayor, Lionel J. Wilson; and later an assistant to Oakland City Manager, Henry Gardner.

Upon leaving office in 2001, Ms. King became a private consultant specializing in government affairs, regional housing, land-use, and transportation issues. In 2004, she was recruited to become the Assistant General Manager for Communications and External Affairs at the Alameda Contra Costa Transit District, and, in 2009, she was appointed to head AC Transit district as the General Manager. She retired from the agency in early 2012 and was later appointed to fill a vacancy on the BART Board of Directors in August 2012.

King was given the 2014 Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Grand Award in recognition of her leadership as Chair of the Bay Bridge Design Task Force that oversaw the public involvement process and selection of the unique self-anchored suspension element (SAS) for the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Among other honors, Mary has been given the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Conference Of Minority Transportation Officials; the “Allen E. Broussard Memorial Award for Outstanding Humanitarianism” by the Alameda County Bar Association; the “George Moscone Memorial Award” by the American Society of Public Administration; the Community Leaders Recognition Award by the Black Elected Officials and Faith Based Leaders of the East Bay and was named the “Legislator of the Year” in 1992 by the Association of Retarded Citizens. Most notably, she is a founder of the Alameda County “Women’s Hall of Fame Awards,” which has grown to be a signature countywide event and is now comprised of 200 honorees.

Ms. King, a lifelong resident of Oakland, is survived by her mother Victoria King, two daughters Kimberly and Vikki King and two grandchildren.

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