Management & Operations

2014 Women In Transportation: Vicki Woolridge

Posted on October 16, 2014 by Brittni Rubin

Wooldridge’s biggest responsibility at SFRTA is ensuring the future of the agency through her legislative consulting team at the federal, state and local levels.
Wooldridge’s biggest responsibility at SFRTA is ensuring the future of the agency through her legislative consulting team at the federal, state and local levels.
Working in governmental affairs was an unexpected career path for Vicki Wooldridge, a natural-born artist and art school attendee. However, soon after deeming commercial art a field too fickle to pursue professionally, she began looking for a job that could put food on the table and support what she calls a “bad shoe habit.” Impressively, high heels are a staple of Wooldridge’s wardrobe.

She found an administrative job for a university in central Florida. But government work still wasn’t on her radar until a close friend, who worked for Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), made a suggestion.

“She told me ‘you’re such a people person, you’d do great in my line of work,’” Wooldridge recounts. “On the job, I’m an extrovert — I’m very passionate about what I do.”

Two days later, she saw an opening at the local state senator’s office and applied. Wooldridge didn’t get the job, but the office suggested she call Rep. Harry Goode, in Melbourne, Fla., who was in need of a house aide. “Goode said to me, ‘I hear you know someone in Bill Nelson’s office…if you’re good enough for him, you’re good enough for me,’ and that was all it took,” Wooldridge says.

She went on to spend nine years as a house aide before transitioning to a lobbying firm to work as a contract lobbyist. Everything she knew, she learned from experience.

“When it comes to lobbying, I’m a firm believer there’s no better education of the legislative process than your first session,” Wooldridge says.

It was in this position that Wooldridge was first exposed to the transportation industry. Tri-Rail, of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA), was a client of her firm.

“I developed a good idea of what state transportation looked like because I was placed as liaison between the train agency and the firm,” she says. “I attended all their board meetings.”

Her intimate knowledge of the organization continued to grow, and in 2008, she received a phone call from Tri-Rail’s executive director asking if she’d be interested in coming on as staff. Historically, Tri-Rail had two separate state and federal affairs managers, but the decision was made to combine the roles, making Wooldridge the official government affairs manager of SFRTA.

“At that point, I had about 14 years of state experience, but Washington was a welcomed challenge,” Wooldridge said. “Executive Director Joe Giulietti, with over 40 years of experience at the federal level, taught me everything he knew.”

Wooldridge’s biggest responsibility is ensuring the future of the agency through her legislative consulting team at the federal, state and local levels. This includes not only substantive changes, but appropriations and the funding process as well. The smaller picture, according to Wooldridge, involves relationship building and educating those, including elected officials, who can really make a difference for SFRTA’s mission.

“When a legislative session comes along, you only get a two-minute sound bite,” Wooldridge says. “So, when elected officials are home in their district offices, that is the time to talk. When they think trains, I want them to think SFRTA.”

One of Wooldridge’s proudest accomplishments to date is changing SFRTA from a regional organization to a transportation authority through legislation.

“That was a big push, and now we oversee not just trains, but shuttle buses and more, ensuring the mobility of people,” she says. “It’s an ongoing challenge to ensure that everybody understands what we’re capable of doing.”

SFRTA is celebrating its 25th year in business with many new developments on the horizon. Projects include installing Wi-Fi on the trains within the next year, launching an upgraded website and mobile app with real-time information, and completing a $2 billion ground transportation hub at Miami International Airport.

“Where the agency’s heading is really exciting,” says Wooldridge. “To me, it’s a no-brainer to have good transportation available to folks who not only need it but want it.”

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Seattle Mayor announces free transit passes for high school students

The program will cost the city $3.8 million from the Transportation Benefit District, with $1 million from King County Metro. Officials plan for the program to launch in Fall 2018.

TriMet’s Board of Directors appoints interim GM

Shelley Devine will temporarily lead TriMet while the Board finalizes its decision on a permanent GM.

NYC, S.F., Boston ranked 'Best Cities for Public Transit'

Transit Score, a tool by Redfin company Walk Score®, rates locations based on how convenient they are to public transportation.

New Flyer's Abraman named to NEPTA Hall of Fame

According to the NEPTA bylaws, the association recognizes members who have made outstanding contribution to the transit industry.

NJ Transit to ease overcrowded trains, confirms Corbett as exec. director

Twenty railcars will be put back in service that had been waiting to have Positive Train Control equipment installed, with the agency also planning to lease another 20 railcars from the Marlyand Transit Administration.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Luxury Coach & Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close