WTS names FRA official ‘Woman of the Year’

Posted on May 23, 2011

Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Karen Rae was named Woman of the Year by the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), an international organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women in the transportation field.

With 35 years of knowledge and expertise, Rae was selected to receive this top honor by her peers in transportation for her decades of leadership building transit and passenger rail systems across the country.
Appointed by President Obama in March 2009, Rae serves as the second highest-ranking official of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), where she leads day-to-day agency operations, overseeing the nation’s rail network. With a focus on leveraging state DOT partnerships, she plays a leading role in FRA’s efforts to successfully implement the President’s vision for high-speed intercity passenger rail that will connect 80 percent of Americans to fast and efficient rail service in the next 25 years.

Speaking at the WTS annual meeting in San Francisco, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “We are extremely proud of Karen. Thanks to her leadership and enthusiasm, we are moving forward, building the nation's first innovative, high-speed rail network. She is a trailblazer among women in transportation and her passion for giving Americans a choice in how they travel speaks to her dedication, perseverance and hard work." 

Deputy Administrator Rae is dedicated to the advancement of women in transportation-related fields. Over the years, Karen has mentored a variety of young professionals, most recently, serving as a mentor for the Washington, D.C. chapter of WTS. She was an early advisor in the development the U.S. Department of Transportation’s pilot program to engage more girls and women in the transportation field. 

Rae began her career in transportation at the age of 18, working as a monorail operator in Hershey, Pa. From there, her focus on moving people and goods continued and she became a seasoned industry expert with a diverse background in transit, rail and public transportation.

Prior to joining FRA, Rae served in several senior transportation policy and management positions in state and municipal government, including appointments as deputy commissioner of policy and planning at the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT); deputy secretary for local and area transportation at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT); and director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. Earlier in her career, she worked for 18 years as director and GM of transit systems in Austin, Texas; Glens Falls, N.Y.; and Buffalo, N.Y.

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