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FALL 2019

A PUBLICATION OF THE CONFERENCE OF MINORITY TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS

IN THIS ISSUE: BrainTrust Panel Tackles Workforce Development COMTO Remembers Congressman Elijah E. Cummings A View From the Hill Impacts Over 30 Legislators COMTO Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month Kudos for the COMTO National Conference Meet Emerging Leader Oluseyi A. Olugbenle


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COMTO BOARD OF DIRECTORS National Chair

Freddie Fuller II

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1st Vice Chair

Tanya Adams 2nd Vice Chair

Sharmyn Elliott Secretary/Treasurer

Loretta Kirk At-Large Members

Carmen Garcia Gwendolen Gray Carla Williams Adelee LeGrand Mark Gale Council of Presidents Representatives

Ruben Landa Beverly Greene Council of Presidents Alternate

Michelle Hiett Immediate Past Chair

Warren Montague Board Advisors

Christian Kent India Birdsong

ACCELERATE  is a publication of the Conference Of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) COMTO MISSION STATEMENT COMTO provides opportunities in the transportation industry for minority participation and advancement, through advocacy, training, and professional development. 1330 Braddock Place Suite 203 Alexandria, VA 22314 202.506.2917 info@comto.org www.comtonational.org Articles may not be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission. Publisher: A. Bradley Mims Editor: McMillon Communications Design: Gloria Marconi Illustration & Design ©2019 All Rights Reserved

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MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT & CEO

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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: COMTO CBCF TRANSPORTATION BRAINTRUST

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COMTO REMEMBERS CONGRESSMAN ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS

8-9 A VIEW FROM THE HILL

12-13 HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

14-15 KUDOS FROM COMTO ANNUAL CONFERENCE ATTENDEES

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ANNUAL CONFERENCE PLENARY SESSION HIGHLIGHTS

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COMTO FACES OF THE FUTURE

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COLUMBUS CHAPTER WINS TWO IN A ROW

23 INDUSTRY & CHAPTER AWARD WINNERS

24 OPPORTUNITY MDOT

28 WELCOME NEW CHAPTERS NEW CHAPTER CHECKLIST


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ver the past six months, the COMTO national team and our chapters have been hard at work accomplishing significant successes on a number of fronts. For example, 35 appointments were held by COMTO members with House and Senate legislators during our recent A View from the Hill. Key members of Congress, including DC Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and PA Rep. Dwight Evans, joined us at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center for our morning meeting on Wednesday, September 11. Our Transportation BrainTrust session on Thursday, September 12 provided solution-oriented transportation workforce development dialog and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert stole the show by bringing more than a dozen teenagers to the discussion to learn more about the industry. This year, for the first time, COMTO participated with high visibility at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Leadership Conference, with a

exhibitor booth at the event. We continue to strengthen our relationship with that organization and look forward to a speaking role at next year’s conference. At our Fall Board Meeting, COMTO had the pleasure of welcoming a new chapter to the fold. Congratulations to COMTO Louisville! And, finally, our July National Meeting and Training Conference made history by partnering with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to provide a panel of three of the four African-American Directors/Secretaries of State Departments of Transportation. Meanwhile, chapter history was made when COMTO Columbus received their second consecutive Chapter of the Year Award! I am looking forward to applauding continued accomplishments this year and in 2020. All the Best,

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT & CEO DEAR COMTO MEMBERS AND FRIENDS:

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ne of the most essential elements of COMTO’s mission is the ongoing development of a strong diverse workforce ready to meet the needs of an industry that is ever growing and advancing technologically. Our strategic plan for addressing this urgent need will be developed on a number of tracks. We will partner with synergistic organizations including the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). With these organizations we will tailor and coordinate specific programs to address our national program on a state and local level. This effort will touch all educational levels of our targeted audiences from Grade school through Ph.D with messages encouraging consideration of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers related to the industry. For example, each of our more than 30 chapters will liaise with NSBE’s six regional Transportation Special Interest Groups at the high school, collegiate and professional levels.

Also on that front, we are partnering with Opportunity MDOT, a recently announced initiative of the Maryland Department of Transportation. COMTO was invited to the announcement and cited for its success with the Missouri model, which was implemented by COMTO’s late President Julie Cunningham and Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn. This program will connect small, disadvantaged and minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses to economic inclusion programs and will create careers for, and economically empower, Marylanders over the next 10 to 15 years. COMTO is committed to remaining an integral part of this program and we look forward to its success. As this relationship is forged with Maryland, we will analyze results and encourage similar partnerships with this type of program in other states. You may look for a report and analysis of our workforce development activities in the Spring issue of Accelerate. Yours in Solidarity,

This year, for the first time, COMTO participated in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Leadership Conference.

…each of our more than 30 chapters will liaise with NSBE’s six regional Transportation Special Interest Groups at the high school, collegiate and professional levels.

DEAR COMTO FAMILY:

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR


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COMTO TRANSPORTATION BRAINTRUST Workforce Development in the Transportation Industry

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 12, 2019:

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Hon. Henry Cisneros, a former Secretary of HUD during the Clinton Administration, moderated the session.

COMTO President and CEO Brad Mims introduced the moderator and panel for the BrainTrust.

and the Hon. Oliver Gilbert, Mayor, Miami Gardens, Florida and Chair of the Dade County TPO.

t was standing room only at the stirring 2019 Transportation BrainTrust held during As he acknowledged the LaTonya J. Pegues, CEO BOAZ the September Congressional Enterprises (at left) and Shanetta $2 trillion gap in spending Griffin, P.E., Chief Commercial Officer, necessary to bring the Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Columbus Regional Airport Authority Legislative Conference. The country’s infrastructure to an (one of the panelists, at right). BrainTrust, sponsored by A rating, Mr. Cisneros, in his Rep. Elijah Cummings (Dopening remarks discussed MD) and hosted jointly with COMTO, featured a transportation equity and reasonable access to jobs six-speaker panel which focused on Workforce and business opportunities. He and the panel also Development in the Transportation Industry. grappled with the issues of affordable mobility The session was moderated by the Hon. Henry and housing and opportunities for economic Cisneros, a former Secretary of HUD during the development within the context of changing Clinton Administration and currently Principal and community demographics and social mores. Vice Chairman of the investment banking firm Panelists took the mic enthusiastically to share Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC named #3 in perspectives on how to reconcile emerging the country among financing companies in the technologies with shortages in available workers transportation field. Of note is that Mr. Cisneros is and applicable skillsets. Each panelist addressed also a partner in American Triple “I” (Infrastructure how they, as individuals, have confronted these Innovation Investment), a subsidiary that matches challenges and how their respective agencies or private capital with public infrastructure projects. firms view the changing social and generational The panel was made of experts in their field and landscape. Each shared how they have adapted consisted of Mr. Christian Dunbar, Treasurer, City workforce development strategies accordingly of Philadelphia; Ms. Shannetta Griffin, P.E., Chief to attract and motivate potential candidates for Commercial Officer, Columbus Regional Airport transportation careers and each was encouraged Authority; Mr. Joe Reed, Vice President, Alternative to provide examples of state-of-the-art ideas for Delivery, Balfour Beatty US; Mr. Charles C. Glass, teaching and training. PhD, P.E., Assistant Secretary for Transportation The engaged crowd represented all elements of Policy Analysis and Planning, Transportation; the transportation and proved the persistent point


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THE ENGAGED CROWD REPRESENTED ALL ELEMENTS OF THE TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY AND PROVED THE PERSISTENT POINT THAT THE INDUSTRY ENCOMPASSES ALL MODES AND EVERY IMAGINABLE RANGE OF HARD AND SOFT SKILLSETS AND PROFESSIONS.

and innovative ways to find best value on infrastructure investment, including funding and contract vehicles, and what that investment should look like, in light of the rapid evolution in millennial and Gen Y&Z lifestyles. In fact, a high point of the session was the introduction by Mayor Gilbert of the Miami Gardens Junior City Council, a group of high school students who act as advisors to the City. These very enlightened young people asked thoughtful questions of the panel regarding the future of transportation and pursuing careers in the industry.

that the transportation industry encompasses all modes and every imaginable range of hard and soft skillsets and professions. In their feedback and questions, participants revealed they were from both public sector agencies and private sector firms. They ran the gamut from human resources professionals to procurement officers; from information technology experts to logisticians; from construction contractors to union officials; from financial advisors to urban planners; from real estate specialists to community activists; and from university educators to high school students. Vigorous discussion involved alternative delivery

The 2019 CBCF/COMTO BrainTrust was truly a productive exchange of information and ideas. It followed a busy week of COMTO activities that included the annual legislative briefing, View From the Hill on Wednesday, September 11, where the membership was apprised of recent congressional activities before meeting with their respective Members of Congress. On Monday, September 10, COMTO sponsored a panel at Rail-Volution in Vancouver, BC, on Rebuilding for a Fair and Equitable Future: Rethinking Planning and Contracting. In addition, on Tuesday and Wednesday of that week, COMTO sponsored a booth at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Legislative Conference as part of membership activities and partnership efforts.

WRITTEN BY:

Renee Banks Co-Chair, Legislative Council COMTO National President & Chief Communications Officer G.W. Peoples (GWP)

Members of the Miami Gardens Junior City Council attend the BrainTrust.


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The best way to get there is together. Find a career in motion. www.transdevna.com/careers Transdev is proud to support the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.


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COMTO REMEMBERS CONGRESSMAN ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS

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n behalf of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) and its 32 Chapters across the country, members and advocates for people of color in the transportation industry, we express our deepest sadness about the loss of Congressman Elijah E. Cummings. Congressman Cummings was a true statesman, warrior for justice and believer in democratic process. As Chair of the House Government Oversight Committee, he served a higher moral calling – one that gave strength and dignity to those often overlooked by society. He dedicated his life as a public servant to making the world better for future generations. I had the distinct honor and privilege of working on transportation issues with Congressman Cummings since he was a Freshman Member of Congress. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I marveled at the power and energy he demonstrated as he served his constituents along with the entire transportation community. Having represented Maryland’s seventh Congressional District for 23 years, Congressman Cummings’ track record of progressive leadership on behalf of his constituents and the

citizens of the United States will be heralded for years to come. As a “Son of Baltimore,” Congressman Cummings was passionate and committed to serving the place that he called home for most of his life. In addition to serving the constituents of Baltimore in the seventh Congressional District of Maryland, Congressman Cummings was a long-time champion for minorities in the transportation industry. For more than 20 years, he served as COMTO’s CBC sponsor for our annual Transportation BrainTrust held during the CBCF’s Annual Legislative Conference. As a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Congressman Cummings advocated to ensure that the issues that are important to our members and partners are heard by key transportation decision makers across the country. His commitment to transportation and infrastructure were just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the causes he championed throughout his life; even until his very last days. No words can convey the magnitude of the loss of Chairman Cummings. He was truly a friend to COMTO and for that, we will be eternally grateful. We extend our deepest condolences to his family during this time.

Congressman Cummings was a true statesman, warrior for justice

The following statement was issued by A. Bradley Mims, President and CEO of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) regarding the passing of Congressman Elijah E. Cummings:

and believer

in democratic process.

The late Rep. Elijah E. Cummings with COMTO Board Chair Freddie Fuller, President and CEO Brad Mims and Immediate Past Chair Warren Montague.


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COMTO MEMBERS TAKE THEIR VIEWS TO THE HILL

M COMTO believes that a comprehensive national infrastructure program is a top priority and that it is imperative that equity, fairness and accountability be integral components to any future legislative proposals

embers from COMTO’s more than 30 chapters shared their views, issues and concerns during appointments at the offices of more than 30 key House Representatives and Senators during our A View from the Hill legislative advocacy initiative.

DC Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and PA Rep. Dwight Evans joined COMTO at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center for our morning meeting on Wednesday, September 11. The issues and COMTO positions that were brought to the attention of the legislators, included the following:

The annual event, held during the Congressional US Representative Dwight Evans speaks Black Caucus Foundation’s LOCAL HIRING to COMTO members at A View from the Hill event. PREFERENCES conference, September 11 and 12, brings together COMTO is troubled by the legislative and industry experts to discuss current Administration’s decision to terminate the relevant issues facing the transportation industry. Local Hiring Preference that enabled recipients of The program begins with a panel discussion FTA and FHWA grants, including states and local and concludes with COMTO members visiting agencies, to utilize local labor hiring preferences their respective Congressional officials and and economic-based labor hiring practices (i.e., representatives. low-income, underserved communities) to evaluate competitive bid submissions. This promoted This year COMTO visited the offices of Senators economic development and empowerment both for Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Debbie Stabenow, local governments and the neighborhoods where Ted Cruz, Tammy Duckworth, Mark Warner, public transportation projects are located. COMTO Tim Kaine, John Cornyn, Rob Portman, Bob strongly urges Congress to act to restore the Local Menendez, Sherrod Brown and Senate Minority Hiring Preference which accounted for jobs and Whip Dick Durbin. business opportunities for the minority community. Their foray to the House was equally impressive, with interactions with representatives at the offices of House Representatives Brenda Lawrence, Donald Norcross, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Madeleine Dean, Gary Connolly, Danny Davis and Linda T. Sanchez, among others.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES/BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE

COMTO strongly supports efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workforce as well as continued authorization and expansion of programs like the Workforce COMTO Board Member Carmen Garcia and DC Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton.


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COMTO STRONGLY URGES CONGRESS TO ACT TO RESTORE THE LOCAL HIRING PREFERENCE WHICH ACCOUNTED FOR JOBS AND BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE MINORITY COMMUNITY.

Innovative programs. We are encouraged by new legislation in the U.S. Congress — including the bicameral Build Local, Hire Local Act — that proposes infrastructure policy inclusive of local hiring, high quality jobs through training, wealth creation through improved small, minority and historically under-utilized (HUB) businesses opportunities, and enhanced quality of life through better working conditions, conscientiously planned transportation connectivity, and mobility and accessibility for all. COMTO believes that a comprehensive national infrastructure program is a top priority and that it is imperative that equity, fairness and accountability be integral components to

any future legislative proposals in order to preserve, enhance and reinforce policies that support the growing transportation needs of the entire country.

COMTO members traveled to Washington, DC to support our A View from the Hill legislative panel and congressional visits.

FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION (FRA) DISADVANTAGED BUSINESS ENTERPRISE (DBE) PROGRAM

COMTO strongly endorses an FRA program to allow DBEs to competitively participate in contracts for heavy railroad projects, and related industries, awarded by state and local agencies that receive federal FRA funds. We urge Congress to require the U.S. DOT to expedite the requisite disparity study and institute a DBE participation plan for that agency.

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COMTO CELEBRATES HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH COMTO is proud to acknowledge the Hispanic-Americans who have featured prominently in the transportation industry now and in the past.

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ach year, our country observes National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th. We celebrate the history, culture and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America.

prominently in the transportation industry now and in the past.

COMTO is proud to acknowledge the HispanicAmericans who have featured

The transportation industry heritage is rich with the contributions of Hispanic-Americans. On these pages, we feature just a handful.

Ellen Ochoa

Manuel Gonzales

rican In 1993, Ame en Ochoa astronaut Ell as the first ry to is h e d a m man Hispanic wo to travel into outer space.

Richard Elwood

We are particularly gratified to recognize COMTO members Nuria Fernandez, Terry Solís and Theresa “Terry” Garcia Crews among many others.

During the Civil W ar, he regularly transpor ted needed supplies to the Union Army troop s stationed at a fed eral garrison now know n as Fort Myers, Florid a.

“Pete” Q uesada

Richard Elwood “Pete” Quesad a was t he first ever Fe deral A viation Adminis trator— serving from 19 58-1961 .


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ña e P o c i r e d Fe

Secretary n r o b o d Lare ortation of Transp ña served e P o ic r e Fed l sident Bil under Pre . 1993-1997 m o r f n o t Clin

Terry Solís Terry Solis, Cha ir & Secretary of the Board of the The Solis Group, a project manage ment & support service s company.

Félix Rigau Carrera An aviation pioneer, he was both the first Puerto Rican to operate a fixedwing aircraft and the first Hispanic-American fighter pilot in the 1st Marine Aviation Force.

dez Nuria Fernan z is General

de Ms. Fernan Santa Clara , O E C r/ e g Mana sportation Valley Tran Chair of Authority & an Public the Americ tion Transporta (APTA). Association

César Pelli An archit ect, his considera ble body of work in cludes th e terminal he design ed for Ronald Reagan Washing ton Natio nal Airport.

Theresa “Terry” Garcia Crews Theresa “Terry” Garcia Crews is the Region 3 Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.


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KUDOS FROM COMTO CONFERENCE ATTENDEES

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  he 48th National Meeting and Training Conference is in the rear-view mirror, but those who attended have taken with them a wealth of fresh ideas and learnings, new friends and renewed fellowship, strong mentor relationships and heightened motivation for the road ahead. From corporate CEOs and sponsors, volunteer event coordinators, to first-time attendees and young scholarship winners, we heard praise and satisfaction with the conference experience and all it had to offer. Here are a few of their quotes:

“Talent knows no zipcode but opportunity does. The work that COMTO is doing across the country is exposing some of the country’s most talented professionals to the opportunity for success in the transit industry.” — Robbie Makinen CEO of KCATA

Volunteers from the COMTO Central Florida helped make the conference a success.

“I was so grateful to participate in the CEO Summit because of all I learn from the rich discussion. When we welcome diverse people and ideas to the table, we can generate breakthrough thinking that improves project results, engages community stakeholders and builds the foundation for future collaboration. COMTO allows us to share this message and affect this valuable change.” — Doug Mann, President of Corporate Development for HTNB


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“I WAS EAGER TO DIVE IN TO THE CONFERENCE EXPERIENCE. BEING NEW TO THE CONFERENCE AS AN ATTENDEE, EVERYTHING WAS EXCITING. THERE WAS MUCH TO ABSORB. I HAD A LOT OF FUN MEETING NEW PEOPLE AND OLD ACQUAINTANCES. I LEARNED ABOUT NEW TECHNOLOGIES OF MOBILITY COMING TO THE FOREFRONT OF THIS INDUSTRY.” — Alexis Peña, Bus Operator at Broward County Transit

“Jacobs was proud to be an Industry Partner for COMTO. The engagement and dialogue with our industry clients, CEOs, and partners was extremely beneficial. Look forward to next year.” — Greg McIntyre, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Buildings and Infrastructure Americas

“Though it was my first time attending a COMTO conference, I felt a warm sense of community and belonging immediately. It was easily evidenced through everyone’s words and actions that they had such deep passion in their mission to bring each other up. Volunteering at the event allowed me to meet and network with great people from all over the country, in all aspects of transportation, and at all different levels of position.” — Donny Murphy, Community Engagement Associate with HART (Hillsborough Area Regional Transit)

KATE KO CONFERENCE VOLUNTEER HELPED ENHANCE ATTENDEE’S EXPERIENCE

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 or Kate Ko, Ph.D., Senior Economist at engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services firm HDR, membership in a non-profit professional organization has many facets.

“There’s the opportunity to network and learn, there’s the synergy and camaraderie with people who have the same goals you have, and there’s also the chance to contribute,” she says. “I like to go where I am needed,” Ko added. This past summer at COMTO’s 48th National Meeting and Training Conference, Ko’s expertise in the latest software was needed and appreciated. With her volunteer assistance, COMTO was able to get the very valuable app “Attendify” up and running to help enhance the attendee experience at the conference. “The app is very intuitive and useful,” she said. “Having it available on phones during the conference helped direct attendees to seminars, panels, activities and shuttle services,” Ko noted. “It also allowed us to update at will and make last minute changes throughout the event.” As a member of HDR’s Inclusion and Diversity Council, Ko enjoys being active with COMTO. “They are an amazing group,” she said. “There was a lot of positive energy from the team behind the scenes that made the Conference a success.” Ko, who is on the planning committee for the TRB Research Board 2021 Conference on Advancing Transportation Equity, noted that she “may reach out to the COMTO community for our invited speakers sessions.”


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LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP SHARED AT THE CONFERENCE LEGISLATIVE PLENARY SESSION Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater moderates the Session Panel.

Our DBE’s need to be looking at business needs for today and tomorrow. Needs that are resilient and sustainable. For example, consider offering service in cybersecurity and on autonomous vehicles.

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ttendees at the 48th National Meeting and Training Conference’s Legislative Plenary Session were treated to lessons in strong leadership, tough decision making and remarkable courage by a trio of men who have to employ these assets every day. The session panel featured three of America’s four African-American heads of state transportation agencies. They included Paul Ajegba, Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation; Omer Osman, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation and Shawn Wilson, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. The fourth, Jack Marchbanks, Director of the Ohio State Department of Transportation, was unable to attend. The gentlemen were introduced by Jim Tymon, Executive Director at AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) and the panel was moderated by Rodney Slater, former United States Secretary of Transportation. Slater opened the session by acknowledging the historic diversity of America’s State Departments of Transportation which now are led by 14 women as well as the four African-American Directors/ Secretaries. He thanked AASHTO, the organization that represents these

officials, for helping to bring the leaders to the conference and noted that COMTO plans a solid and ongoing partnership with AASHTO. “Together we can build and strengthen both organizations,” he said. Each of the panel members addressed a series of questions from Slater about their paths to success, their personal views on leadership, and their approaches to enhancing diversity both in employment and contracting in their Transportation Departments. The most powerful remarks made in response to each of these elements are represented in the following quotes: ON THEIR PATHS TO SUCCESS:

“I did not get to this place by myself,” said Louisiana’s Wilson. “I had the help of those who prayed for me and lifted me up. I was given the knowledge and the strength to perform – as simple as that – but I also knew that I had to out-perform others in order to stand out. And, I have mentors – but more than that – I had sponsors who took me to places where I would be noticed. Who took the time to help me showcase my performance.” Illinois’ Osman joined Wilson in stressing the need for strong mentors. “My mentor gave me some excellent advice as I moved through the ranks: when you get to a spot with the authority to make changes, ‘stop and Illinois DOT Secretary Omer Osman speaks.


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“THE JOB OF A LEADER IS TO WORK TO RAISE ALL BOATS. NOT JUST YOUR OWN.” — Omer Osman Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation

listen carefully. Make no changes until you’ve heard what is really needed,’” he said. “Sometimes it’s being in the right place at the right time,” said Ajegba. “But,” Slater interjected with a smile, “if you’re in that place, at that time, you have to be taking that extra step, doing something to separate yourself from the pack.” ON THEIR VIEWS OF LEADERSHIP:

“Leadership is courage,” said Michigan’s Ajegba. “Courage to make tough decisions, to say ‘let’s forget about politics’ and only consider what is good for the economy of the state and the welfare of the citizens.” “The job of a leader is to work to raise all boats,” Osman added. “Not just your own.” “The first law of leadership is finding your replacement,” said Wilson. “You need to be continuously building a pipeline of leaders to follow.” ON ENHANCING DIVERSITY:

“In Illinois, we have been looking both inside the state and the industry and outside to increase the diversity of our 5,100 employees,” said Osman. “We have put in place a strong internship program that selects 60 young men and women from HBCUs each year to help us develop talent and build a bigger bench.” Ajegba noted that there is an urgent need for more support to help DBE’s build the capacity to do the jobs that are available. “We must help ensure that when we look to increase our percentages of minority businesses, we can find

the skills and talent that are required.”

Michigan DOT Director Paul Ajegba speaks.

Wilson agreed. “Our DBE’s need to be looking at business needs for today and tomorrow. Needs that are resilient and sustainable. For example, consider offering service in cybersecurity and on autonomous vehicles,” he said. “Too often,” he continued, “we go to places that are traditional like education and public safety. Disaster recovery is a business that is unquestionably in a growth mode and there are few DBE’s offering those services.” “Go where you are a unicorn, “ he said. Slater concluded the session by noting that the panel had offered an in-depth look at their “humanity.” “These are men who understand the need for levity, who have made a commitment to building diversity, and who have taken the time to acknowledge their mentors, their family and their higher power.”

African-American State DOT leaders are featured at the Legislative Plenary Session Panel.


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COMTO FACES OF THE FUTURE CITY INTERNS

This conference was probably the most influential event I have attended in my life (so far). I would like to be more involved in the organization. COMTO has done so much for me, and it would only be fair that I gave some of my own time to help.

­— MIBIN ANTHONY CITY INTERN

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ur youth took centerstage at the National Meeting and Training Conference as we recognized the 15th year of COMTO’s CITY Internship Program and announced this year’s COMTO National Scholarship winners. For many students, this was their first time attending the conference and their response was one of excitement and gratitude for the opportunity as demonstrated by CITY intern Mibin Anthony’s quote on the left. COMTO’s CITY internship program provides minority college students with an opportunity to gain professional and practical experience in the industry. Designed by industry professionals, the program offers a 10-week paid internship open to college juniors, seniors, and first year graduate students from all academic disciplines.


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COMTO FACES OF THE FUTURE SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS

Winston Livingston Taylor

Julie Cunningham Legacy Scholarship Brianna Lawton Doctoral Student Civil Engineering Iowa State University

LTK Engineering Scholarship Jade Bryant Senior, Aeronautical Engineering Technology Purdue University

LTK Transportation Planning Scholarship Sheida Khademi Graduate Student Civil Engineering University of Texas at Arlington

Thomas G. Neusom Scholarship Winston Taylor Sophomore Business Administration Lincoln University

Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Garrett Mobley Freshman Finance University of Delaware

Carmen E. Turner Scholarship Brandy Avery Junior Business Accounting Western Michigan University

Jacobs Transportation Scholarship Emmanuel Adjei Doctoral Student Civil Engineering Clemson University

Atkins North America Achievement Scholarship Tonya Vetter Doctoral Student Executive Educational Leadership Houston Baptist University

Jacobs Transportation Scholarship Alexander Campano Junior Civil Engineering University of Florida

WSP USA Engineering Scholarship Jaylen Parker Sophomore Electrical Engineering Lawrence Technological U.

WSP Golden Apple Scholarship David Ramos Freshman Engineering Florida A&M University

WSP Golden Apple Scholarship James Denson Freshman Engineering Texas A&M University

COMTO National’s Scholarship Program awards $100,000 annually in national academic scholarships to minority graduate and undergraduate students pursuing careers in the transportation industry. Additionally, COMTO Chapters collectively award close to $500,000 annually in academic scholarships to local applicants.


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COMTO FACES OF THE FUTURE SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS

I hope to integrate transportation planning projects with climate change to improve the environment. Thank you for your investment in me!

WSP USA Women in Leadership Stephany SimienCole 3-L, Law Student South Texas College of Law Houston

Trailblazer Scholarship Albert Culler Sophomore Public Affairs, SUNY Empire State College

Atkins North America Achievement Scholarship Frank Garcia Freshman Computer Science/ Cyber Security Texas A&M University

First Transit Scholarship Brandon Rogers Graduate Student Transportation Planning & Management Texas Southern University

HNTB Scholarship Owen Wilson Freshman Civil Engineering North Carolina A&T

Women Who Move the Nation Mahtot Gebresselassie Doctoral Student Transportation Planning Virginia Tech

— OFORIWAA PEE

AGYEI-BOAKYE SCHOLARSHIP WINNER

Jacobs Transportation Scholarship Oforiwaa Pee Agyei-Boakye Graduate Student Transportation Geography University of Minnesota


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OLUSEYI OLUGBENLE: COMTO’S EMERGING LEADER

After Olugbenle’s parents immigrated from Nigeria along with her four older sisters, Olugbenle was born and raised in the SE Washington, D.C. Barry Farms area. “I was brought up in a family of strong women who supported each other with their life plans,” she notes. “We were all determined to justify the sacrifices our parents made for us while pursuing the American Dream.” As a frequent transit rider growing up, Olugbenle learned that transportation was a social justice issue. She vowed to implement a new mindset and innovation in transportation to improve the lives of people, including the often-forgotten women of color she witnessed primarily riding the bus to work. She began by earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, in Architecture and Urban Design with a minor, African-American Studies and a Master’s Degree in Community Planning. Before joining MDOT MTA, Olugbenle led the analysis for the MDOT – State Highway Administration’s (SHA) first business focused Asset Management Plan. She was responsible

for analyzing the life cycle management plans of Maryland’s most valuable assets, including bridges, pavement, facilities, vehicles and IT management systems. She also provided technical expertise in transportation legislation, policy, and asset management oversight at MDOT. On the path to success, Olugbenle learned a set of skills from mentors and sponsors that helped her to move forward. “I think it’s important that you know how to think strategically and responsibly. Understand yourself and know how to prioritize resources in constrained situations.” She also credits an innate gift of positivity. “I have a restorative personality,” she notes, with a smile. “I know how to solve complex problems, bounce back quickly from mistakes and learn from them.” She shares a key understanding of the leadership role that she says she gleaned studying the styles of President Barack and First Lady Michele Obama. “I believe that being a leader is actually serving people, all people, including those who are different from you. You have to recognize that you are here to empower others.” A member of COMTO since 2014, she joined immediately after her first exposure to COMTO’s Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation event. “It was life-changing to see all these powerful women leaders who were shaping policy in the transportation industry.”

I believe that being a leader is actually serving people, all people, including those who are different from you. You have to recognize that you are here to empower others.

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luseyi Olugbenle, Deputy Director of the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Maryland Transit Administration, is this year’s winner of COMTO’s prestigious “Emerging Leader” award. She is described by her peers as a “passionate and determined individual” who is eager to leave her mark on the transportation industry.


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COLUMBUS CHAPTER WINS TWO IN A ROW Members of COMTO Columbus celebrate winning its 2nd Chapter of the Year award.

We realized that there was no group in Columbus dedicated to advocating in the industry for minority businesses and for a pipeline of minority transportation professionals. We wanted to become that group.

— QUINCY HOWARD CHAPTER BOARD PRESIDENT & MEMBERSHIP CO-CHAIR OF COMTO NATIONAL

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 n 2019, COMTO Columbus made organization history when they won COMTO’s Chapter of the Year Award for the second consecutive year!

“For the past two years we have had a powerful story to tell about our chapter’s community outreach, our partnership building, our impact on the youth in the Columbus area and our innovative and successful support for minority business as advocates,” said recently elected Chapter President Quincy Howard. Howard had served as Membership Chair for the local chapter since its reemergence and the Membership CoChair of COMTO National for the past two years. “We are pleased that COMTO National has taken notice of our work and favored us with their award both years,” he added. Howard tells the chapter’s compelling story with great pride and modest humor, “We started at the bottom, but now we’re here.” The Columbus chapter had once faded from the ranks of COMTO National’s chapter list. It was reinvigorated by new leadership in 2014. These leaders included veteran transportation agency principal Clinton Forbes who, at that time, was working as Vice President of Operations for the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), business owner Richard Crockett and Howard, who led COTA’s supplier diversity program. “We realized that there was no group in Columbus dedicated to advocating in the industry for minority businesses and for a pipeline of minority transportation professionals,” Howard said. “We wanted to become that group.” “We carefully analyzed what had caused the old organization to falter and began structuring a new plan,” he said. The small group began to assemble a board that went outside the close corridors of transportation agencies to include other stakeholders in the community and the industry. “For example, Howard said, “we built

relationships with the City of Columbus, the Columbus Airport, the Columbus City schools, the local chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, and many minority businesses interested in breaking into the transportation industry. They put in place a succession plan that would ensure that if the existing leadership had to move on there was a strong pool of potential new leaders. They also developed and deftly executed a plan to build credibility and visibility in the city. In the first nine months of the chapter’s reorganization in 2014, they grew their membership from four members to more than 45 members. This outstanding accomplishment positioned the Columbus chapter for its first of many national recognitions. In that same year attending the national conference the Columbus chapter won the Emerging Chapter of the Year and the Best Recruitment and Retention awards. Since then, they’ve grown their membership to close to 90 members with a goal of 125 by 2020. “We’ve become known in Central Ohio for our educational and inspirational events with schools, churches and businesses. Politicians from all levels of government have taken note of our work. We have had our last two Columbus Mayors, the City Council President, and even Congresswoman Joyce Beatty speak at our scholarship luncheons. For Howard, the chapter work has been a labor of love. He notes that being elected to serve as President of the board of the award-winning Columbus Chapter in 2019 is one of the proudest moments of his life. “I will tell you that winning these awards has been very gratifying,” he said with a smile. “Our Past President Richard Crockett, built a solid foundation for winning and now under my leadership we will work towards a three-peat!” Members of COMTO Columbus at this year’s Industry Awards.


A PUBLICATION OF THE CONFERENCE OF MINORITY TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS | 23

2019 INDUSTRY AWARD WINNERS

2019 CHAPTER AWARD WINNERS

CORPORATE EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

BEST COMTO COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Diana Mendes, HNTB

COMTO Palm Beach County

CORPORATION OF THE YEAR

BEST MEMBERSHIP RECRUITMENT/ RETENTION ACTIVITIES

WSP EMERGING LEADER

COMTO Washington State

Oluseyi Olugbenle MDOT’s Maryland Transit Administration

HAROLD B. WILLIAMS GAME CHANGER AWARD

GERALD ANDERSON SERVICE AWARD

CHAPTER OF THE YEAR

Ken Middleton Jacksonville Transportation Authority

COMTO Columbus

HUB FIRM OF THE YEAR

Systems Consulting, LLC INDUSTRY INNOVATION/SAFETY

Ivan Mote Jacksonville Transportation Authority PUBLIC AGENCY OF THE YEAR

MARTA REVEREND JERRY MOORE PRESIDENT’S LEADERSHIP AWARD

Carla Williams President, COMTO Central Florida THOMAS G. NEUSOM FOUNDERS’ LEADERSHIP AWARD

Dorval Carter President, Chicago Transit Authority PRESIDENT & CEO’S AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE

Paul C. Ajegba, P.E. Michigan Department of Transportation Jack Marchbanks, Ph.D. Ohio Department of Transportation Omer Osman Illinois Department of Transportation Shawn Wilson, Ph.D. Louisiana Department of Transportation

COMTO Miami


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OPPORTUNITY MDOT

OPENING DOORS FOR SMALL, MINORITY, WOMEN, VETERAN AND DISADVANTAGED BUSINESSES

COMTO is committed to being an integral part of the Opportunity MDOT program and we look forward to its success.

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  he Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently launched Opportunity MDOT, an innovative initiative that connects small, disadvantaged and minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses to economic inclusion programs as part of the I-495 and I-270 PublicPrivate Partnership (P3) Program. Opportunity MDOT will provide access to training and advisory services and networking opportunities for minority and disadvantaged businesses. It’s a component of Maryland’s I-495 and I-270 P3 Program, which has an estimated investment of $9 billion to $11 billion to improve transportation capacity and reduce congestion around the National Capital Region. “The focus of Opportunity MDOT is not to just bolster business for minority and disadvantaged companies, but to create careers for and economically empower Marylanders,” said MDOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn, who addressed hundreds of attendees at the Opportunity MDOT kickoff event on August 1 at the University of Maryland College Park. Secretary Rahn noted that Opportunity MDOT is designed to help strengthen and grow Maryland businesses, the workforce and the economy by conducting outreach to a diverse field. He

believes inclusion will foster innovative ideas that help to deliver transportation projects in new and better ways. The kick-off event attracted 220 attendees representing 134 disadvantaged and minorityand women-owned businesses. MDOT is planning another round of information and outreach later this year. “I think that there’s a lot of work and there’s a lot of parts for large and small companies to work together and independently,” said Meenatchi Jagasivamani, founder of Digirati LLC, a Potomac-based research and product development firm. “I hope to be a part of this really great work.” Based on a similar initiative launched by Secretary Rahn during his tenure leading Missouri’s transportation agency, Opportunity MDOT will follow some of that program’s best practices. In addition to an advisory council comprised of representatives from local economic development agencies and business leadership groups, Opportunity MDOT features an online virtual hub for businesses and job seekers: the Center of Excellence. The hub provides tools and updates on training, self-assessments, information sessions and new opportunities. “This event begins our journey with a focus on small businesses seeking contracts,” said Joe Lewis, program adviser for Opportunity MDOT, “but stay tuned as we gear up similar support for individuals who are seeking jobs across the program. We’re just getting started.” In addition to its application for the I-495 and I-270 P3 program, Opportunity MDOT will ultimately become a tool for business and workforce training for MDOT projects across the state. To stay informed about the Opportunity MDOT initiative, visit

495-270-p3.com/opportunity-mdot.


A PUBLICATION OF THE CONFERENCE OF MINORITY TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS | 25

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COMTO ANNOUNCES NEW CHAPTERS

CHECKLIST FOR ESTABLISHING A NEW COMTO CHAPTER n ✓ R equest information from the National office on the purpose, vision and programs of COMTO.

✓ Delineate the geographic area to be served n by the chapter.

n ✓ Discuss benefits of starting a chapter with an existing chapter. (Work with a Council of Presidents representative.)

n Host one or more informal gatherings of potential ✓ members to introduce them to COMTO and the possibilities of forming a local chapter, including all modes of transportation and professionals from all

Board Chair Freddie Fuller, Secretary/Treasurer Loretta Kirk, Vice President of COMTO Louisville Janna Woodfork, President of COMTO Louisville Ferdinand Risco and President and CEO Brad Mims celebrate Louisville being voted in as a new chapter.

n ✓ Confirm at least 10 individuals, including at least

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n Elect Chapter Officers and develop local chapter ✓ by-laws that are in accordance with and do not

OMTO is proud to announce the addition of two newly active chapters to the family of 33 across the United States. COMTO Louisville, was voted in by the National Board of Directors at their September 12 meeting. COMTO Pittsburgh is a revitalized chapter which was also recently chartered. The Louisville chapter will be led by president Ferdinand Risco, Executive Director of the Transit Authority of River City (TARC). COMTO Pittsburgh is headed by Eric Wells, Director, Employee Relations/OEO Port Authority of Allegheny County. “Our chapter represents a group of diverse people who always strive for the highest level of excellence, as our founders intended. Shared goals and interests in areas of service, academics and building solid relationships hold our chapter together and define who we are,” said Wells. Eric Wells, Director, Employee Relations/ OEO Port Authority of Allegheny County

one organizational member (See Membership Application or visit https://comtonational.org/ membership/)

contradict COMTO’s National By-laws.

n Submit Letter of Application to COMTO National ✓ outlining the intent to establish a chapter. Bylaws and election templates and a sample Letter of Application are available from COMTO National. COMTO’s Board of Directors will review the prospective chapter’s completed application package. The Board may then charter the chapter by issuing approval and resolution to approve the chapter signed by the National Chair and President and CEO. For more information and to get started, contact Gatwiri Muthara, Membership and Communications Manager at gmuthara@comto.org.


Diversity leads to thinking without limits Our different backgrounds and experiences spark innovation and allow us to bring the best of AECOM to our clients and to our communities. aecom.com/without-limits


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FDOT I-275 Reconstruction from West Shore to the Hillsborough River Design-Build Tampa, Florida WSP’s Role: Lead Designer

WSP’s commitment to minority businesses builds capacity, creates partners, and strengthens the communities we call home. Find out what we can do for you.

wsp.com/usa

Join our team!


A P U B L I C A T I O N O F T H E C O N F E R E N C E OAD-ST-HR-WhatDirvesYou-COMPTO-ACCLRTE-Half-V-3x10-092519.pdf F M I N O R I T Y T R A N S P O R T A T I O N O F F I C I A L S 1| 39/25/19 1

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What drives you?

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A shared mission? Growth opportunities?

l NEW OPPORTUNITIES

A place where differences are celebrated?

Connections with Potential New Clients

l VISIBILITY

National Visibility to Corporations, Municipalities and Large Contractors

l MARKETING

Marketing Support to Win Contracts and Develop Partnerships

Sound Transit is building a diverse workforce of professionals across all departments. Find out more:

soundtransit.org/jobs

#DrivenByTransit


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BECOME A MEMBER TODAY! COMTO provides opportunities in the transportation industry for minority participation and advancement, through advocacy, training and professional development.

GET INVOLVED! • Renew your membership • Join a committee • Sponsor a small business or individual membership

VISIT COMTONATIONAL.ORG

Profile for COMTO

Accelerate Fall 2019  

Accelerate Fall 2019  

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