Former Presidents Share Insights, Experiences
To commemorate WTS-OC's 30th anniversary, former chapter presidents share how WTS has benefited their careers and what they love most about working in the transportation industry.
WTS invested in my career growth and helped me to develop meaningful relationship with industry leaders and peers. More importantly are the friendships I built through WTS. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without WTS.
My favorite thing about working in the transportation industry is when projects get built.
WTS has benefitted me professionally by providing opportunities for networking, skill development, and mentoring. Like many, my first introduction to WTS-OC was by attending a lunch meeting. I met many wonderful women who were more established in their careers and willing to share their knowledge. After a couple years, the Chapter President at the time, Kathy Ryder, called me to see if I would help her with nominations. Kathy had become a mentor to me and was so friendly and nice to me that I readily agreed. She and the other Board members encouraged me to become involved with the Chapter as a committee member. Clearly, it didn’t stop there. I went on to serve on several committees, and a few years later when the Treasurer accepted a new position out of the area, I was asked to assist to complete her term. Through that experience, I developed long forgotten accounting skills, which allowed me to advance my career into corporate operations. So, the lesson learned is that by taking the opportunities available through WTS, you will meet many leaders in the transportation industry who will help you advance your career and enrich your life.
My favorite thing about working in the transportation industry is seeing the difference we make improving people’s lives. Coming from Tennessee where there is no traffic, I was astounded at the time people in California spend in their cars. I enjoy working with teams to develop innovative mobility solutions because of the freedom and opportunities they provide. People need choices in modes of transportation for the various stages and activities of their lives. From a child with a bicycle to visit friends, to a teenager with a driver’s license going to a first job, to working professionals taking transit to employment centers, to the elderly using ride sharing technology to get to medical appointments; and almost any combination that improves the quality of our lives.
WTS has been instrumental in the development of my career and my personal growth as a leader, mentor, trainer, and volunteer. The access to industry leaders, existing clients, potential clients, project news, and more is invaluable. From Day 1 at Diaz·Yourman & Associates, I have immersed in the WTS network and introduced to new colleagues, clients and friends. The principals at DYA always encouraged me to get involved, and I have been given so many opportunities to serve our wonderful community in different capacities on the WTS-OC Board, where I learned better speaking, listening, and leadership skills and developed lifetime friends. I also found a way to channel my passion for students – when I was a little girl, I wanted so badly to be a teacher, and today, I get to help educate students about the need for them in transportation and how important they are to our future.
My favorite thing about working in transportation is that it is constantly evolving; therefore, I am constantly learning and being challenged. Actually, there are so many components to transportation that I don’t think one can ever understand it all. Since becoming involved with WTS, and most especially getting to help develop programs to reach out to younger women and get them interested in transportation careers, I have become more excited about this industry every year. Who doesn’t want to work in a job that changes the world?
Through WTS I developed leadership skills, learned patience and grace, and the most important skill of all for a chronic overachiever: knowing when to say no.
I love being part of something bigger than myself. Mobility is the foundation of our society. Our transportation system connects people to jobs, family, healthcare, education and opportunity. Being a part of an industry that is dedicated to helping people have better lives is very rewarding.
Through my attendance at the monthly meetings and my 12 years of service as a board member, WTS has provided a means to grow my industry network as well as enhancing leadership skills. WTS members across the country often reach out to one another when seeking professional input. WTS attracts motivated people that work together in benefitting the transportation industry.
My favorite thing about working in the transportation industry is working with results-oriented people to actively participate in the development of projects from birth to construction completion.
30 years ago, as MBI began our journey in the railroad industry providing community relations and safety training, WTS was a perfect fit for us as we expanded into the transportation and infrastructure industry. As a pioneer in the broadcasting industry, I found other pioneering women in the engineering and design fields, creating deep and abiding long-lasting relationships that still exist today.
We have found that working in the transportation industry, these many years, has positioned us to be on the cutting edge of critical, societal projects that impact the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of citizens. We take that responsibility very seriously and are honored to have had an impact on transportation projects throughout the state of California.
WTS gave me with the opportunity to meet experienced transportation professionals across the nation – both women and men. It broadened my knowledge of transportation beyond transportation demand management. It provided a channel for mid-career support, building mutual trust and friendship with other transportation colleagues (women and men), while showcasing women leaders as role models. This support and camaraderie have continued over the years and I believe those elements helped give me confidence to take “the plunge” to advance my career.
My favorite thing about working in the transportation industry is its linkage not only to mobility but also to environmental and land use issues. It is not a stand-alone profession. Transportation policy makes a difference across the globe.
Catherine (Wasinkowski) Showalter
As one of the founding members, participating in WTS has meant something different to me over the years. Initially, it was a way to develop management and leadership skills as we had to do everything for the first time to get the chapter started. I got to wear a lot of hats in the early years in addition to being an officer (VP or Pres), like program chair, membership chair, newsletter chair, scholarship chair, nominating chair, awards chair - I learned so much about setting up processes and working with volunteers in a non-profit. It also provided me with networking opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. When I started work on a Masters, I was also a single mom, so I had to give up some of my WTS activities, but I still attended meetings when I could and I was so very proud to be the recipient of a WTS graduate scholarship for each of the two years I was in the program. It was a huge help. For the past several years, I have been amazed and so proud of the growth of the chapter and the many ways that the mission has remained the same, to help young professionals continue to develop and make the connections that turn into career opportunities. For many years, I have participated on the Scholarship Cmte and I’m happy to be able to keep giving back to this amazing organization in that way every year.
My favorite things about working in the transportation industry are the people and the satisfaction of working on something that helps people.