WTS International chose U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood as its first-ever recipient of the Navigator Award.

The Navigator Award was created by WTS International to recognize the achievements of an individual or organization for extraordinary efforts to attract, retain and advance women in the transportation industry. This is the first time that WTS, the association for the advancement of women in transportation, is presenting the award.

“Women have a vital role to play in revitalizing our country’s transportation infrastructure,” Secretary 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.”

The association has developed a reputation in the transportation industry for its many efforts to advance women in the business at all career stages, in both public and private sectors, across all modes and within all related professions.

The relationship that WTS has developed with Secretary LaHood and the U.S. DOT is a sacred one that has set the gender diversity issue on an accelerating path — and has caught the attention of corporations, engineering firms and other businesses seeking opportunities to partner with associations that resonate with their own value statements, such as CH2M HILL, Parsons Brinckerhoff and AECOM.

One specific effort that Secretary LaHood’s passion came through on is WTS International’s “Transportation YOU” program. This was a joint effort of WTS and the DOT that kicked off with the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2010 to create programs that encourage 13- to 17-year-old girls to set out on an academic path that leads to a career in transportation.

The effort has already reached 30 different WTS chapters around the U.S. who offer mentorship, internship opportunities, tours and hands-on engineering challenges.

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