Shown left to right: WTS President & CEO Marcia Ferranto, Transportation YOU student Sabrina Gantt, Ray LaHood, Deputy Transportation Secretary for the NYS Governor's Office Karen Rae, WTS Chair, Dana Hook, P.E.)
Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood accepted the 2013 WTS Navigator Award — the first ever awarded by WTS International.
The Navigator Award was created by WTS, the association for building the future of transportation through the global advancement of women, to recognize the achievements of an individual or organization for extraordinary efforts to attract, retain and advance women in the transportation industry.
“WTS was honored to have Mr. LaHood accept this award, as he has stood behind our mission and created new opportunities for a diverse and inclusive workforce,” said WTS International’s President/CEO, Marcia Ferranto.
LaHood has supported WTS International’s mission, and his efforts have set the gender diversity issue in the transportation industry on an accelerated path, according to WTS. His efforts and passion have raised awareness, helping WTS further along on the journey to achieving its mission.
One of these efforts is WTS International’s Transportation YOU program. The program is joint effort of WTS and the Department of Transportation that led to LaHood’s signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2010 to create programs that encourage girls aged 13 to 17 to pursue an academic path that leads to a career in transportation. The effort has already reached 30 different WTS chapters across the U.S. that offer mentorship, internship opportunities, tours and hands-on engineering challenges.
Sabrina Gantt, Transportation YOU Student and recent participant in the Transportation YOU DC Summit, presented LaHood with the Navigator Award at a dinner reception in his honor.
In LaHood’s acceptance speech, he spoke about the importance of inspiring young women to pursue transportation careers as well as helping retain and advance women currently working in the industry with mentoring. The former secretary of transportation also said that it’s a disgrace that over the years of meetings he’s had with CEOs in freight rail, the airlines and gas industry, he’s found that not one CEO is a woman.
“Women have a vital role to play in revitalizing our country’s transportation infrastructure,” LaHood said. “I am honored to receive this award from WTS, and even more importantly, I am grateful for their work with the Department of Transportation to encourage more young women to pursue studies that can lead to careers in transportation.”