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SPRING 2018

A publication of the Conference Of Minority Transportation Officials

IN THIS ISSUE

Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Highlights Focus on National Conference Chair Meshelle Howard Meet COMTO Rising Star India Birdsong Helen Dale is a COMTO Legend CITY Program gets New Co-Chair Colean Bembry SoCal Chapter is On the Move

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TABLE OF CONTENTS COMTO BOARD OF DIRECTORS

National Chair Warren Montague 1st Vice Chair Freddie Fuller, II

3 Message from the Chairman 3 Message from the President

Secretary/Treasurer Loretta Kirk

4 CWWMN Highlights

At-Large Members Tanya Adams

6 2018 Conference News

Sharmyn Elliott Clinton Forbes

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Meet Colean Bembry

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Membership Focus

Mark Gale Emille Williams Council of Presidents Representatives Meshelle Howard Frank Mesa Council of Presidents Alternate Gwendolen Gray Immediate Past Chair Roosevelt Bradley

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Meet a COMTO Rising Star Meet a COMTO Legend

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Chapters on the Move

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Members on the Move

Board Advisors Adelee LeGrand, AICP Christian Kent Deborah Underwood

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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. 100 M Street, SE Suite 917 Washington, DC 20003 202.506.2917 info@comto.org | www.comto.org Articles may not be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission. Publisher: A. Bradley Mims Editor: McMillon Communications Design: Gloria Marconi Illustration & Design ©2018 All Rights Reserved

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COMTO | MOVING THE NATION

Railroad track switch. Photo from Ogiyoshisan via Wikipedia


FROM THE CHAIRMAN DEAR COMTO FAMILY:

transportation decision-makers are working together to enhance diversity in the industry. Our Chapters continuously give the national team purpose and strength while we provide the direction and wherewithal to achieve our goals. That direction has been particularly inspirational managed by our President and CEO A. Bradley Mims, who, with the support and counsel of an engaged Board of Directors, has held the organization’s financial and goal-oriented helm steady and strong. Our stability is the direct result of their vision and smart decision-making. We are now preparing for our 47th National Meeting and Training Conference on July 28 August 1 in Baltimore, Maryland and look forward to another energizing and fruitful event! We encourage you to make your reservations now. As always, let’s revere our history, celebrate our present and plan our future.

Warren Montague

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Our Chapters continuously give the national team purpose and strength.

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his spring I would like to highlight the dedication, teamwork and energy of the leaders and members of COMTO’s 32 Chapters across the nation. The input from our Chapter leaders and the work of our excellent national staff led to an extremely successful Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation ceremony which drew more than 500 attendees in March. (See a recap of the event on pages 4-5). From California to Connecticut, Florida to Washington and Arizona to Michigan, COMTO Chapters are a solid network of multimodal transportation professionals and stakeholders who work to help achieve our mission regionally and locally. In this issue of Accelerate we again feature Chapters on the Move (see Page 13-15) with special focus on the Southern California Regional Chapter. Under Chapter President Gwendolen Gray’s tireless leadership, this extraordinary grid of local groups held numerous high-profile events and initiatives along the Southern Pacific coast to illuminate how elected officials and public

Warren Montague National Board Chairman

FROM THE PRESIDENT DEAR COMTO MEMBERS AND FRIENDS:

“In this issue of Accelerate, we profile our 2018 Conference Chair Meshelle M.V. Howard, MCA Director of Statutory Programs Compliance for the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA). On page 6 she shares her hopes and plans for the conference. Many thanks to Meshelle, the Maryland MDTA family, and our volunteers and sponsors for their efforts in planning what will be yet another stellar conference. Additionally, thank you to our distinguished members including Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn, Maryland Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary R. Earl Lewis, Jr., Director of the Baltimore City Department of Transportation, Michelle Pourciau and CEO of BWI Marshall Airport Ricky Smith. We are also grateful for the support of our industry partners WSP, HNTB, Jacobs and AECOM.”I look forward to seeing you all in July! Yours in Solidarity,

A. Bradley Mims, President & CEO

A. Bradley Mims

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This premier gathering of transportation industry professionals unites leaders across all modes of transportation for four days of learning, training, and networking.

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ur 47th National Meeting and Training Conference on July 28 - August 1, in Baltimore, Maryland is quickly approaching. This premier gathering of transportation industry professionals unites leaders across all modes of transportation for four days of learning, training, and networking. I encourage you to review the current sponsorship, registration, exhibit hall and advertising opportunities here. Conference highlights include: • High-level roundtables & panel discussions; • CEU courses on industry trends; • Keynote speakers from federal & state transportation agencies; • Multimodal symposia & workshops; • Technical tours of Maryland transportation agencies & projects; • Industry Awards banquet & closing ceremony; • Career & professional development workshops for youth; • Professional development & networking opportunities for HUBs; • Transportation Industry Exhibit Hall

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CELEBRATING WOMEN WHO MOVE THE NATION

CWWMN Highlights

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2018 CWWMN Honorees

he Seventh Annual Awards Breakfast Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation was held before a soldout crowd of more than 500 on March 22. The event highlights the achievements and power of women in the transportation industry by honoring

those who are leading and advancing the industry. The annual ceremony continues to address COMTO’s vision to serve as an advocate for the inclusion of minorities and women in all aspects of transportation.

Your career is enhanced when you listen to the people that mentor you.

—COMTO HONOREE K. JANE WILLIAMS

COMTO Chairman Warren Montague, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s (MARTA) Rhonda Briggins, COMTO President Brad Mims Jannet Walker Ford, Chair of the Celebrating Women Who Move The Nation Committee 4

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CELEBRATING WOMEN WHO MOVE THE NATION

Public transportation is a quality of life matter; it means mobility and accessibility.

Colorado’s Maxine Pryor, CWWMN Honoree Kim Day, COMTO President Brad Mims

—COMTO HONOREE RYLAND MCCLENDON

Team Jacobs (From left) Damian Carey, Freddie Fuller, Sharon JeanBaptiste, Dalen Harris, Gabriele Mack, Susan Martinovich and Susannah Adler

Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Carmen Garcia and Former USDOT Secretary Norm Mineta

COMTO’s JaLissa D. Coffee and her mom, Charlene Coffee

The COMTO network is powerful and paramount. It’s wide and it works!

COMTO Southern California Chapter President Gwendolen Gray and CWWMN Honoree Stephanie Wiggins

WSP’s Tanya Adams and CWWMN Honoree Michelle Pourciau

—COMTO HONOREE MICHELLE POURCIAU

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2018 CONFERENCE NEWS

Conference Chair Meshelle Howard Invites you to Baltimore

...be wowed by Maryland’s transportation resources and inspired by COMTO’s vision and mission.

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OMTO’s 2018 Conference Chair Meshelle M.V. Howard wants attendees at the upcoming annual event to light up with enthusiasm, seize networking and business opportunities, be wowed by Maryland’s transportation resources and inspired by COMTO’s vision and mission. “When I see these active responses, I will know that we’ve achieved the goals I’ve set for this conference,” she said with a smile. Howard, who is president of the Maryland COMTO chapter, is the ideal shepherd for the 47th National Meeting and Training Conference on July 28 - August 1 in Baltimore. The winner of multiple awards and accolades for her community service, she is described by friends and colleagues as “efficient, prepared and dynamic.” With more than 29 years of experience in the transportation industry, she has demonstrated results-oriented leadership and management skills. Currently she works for the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) as Director of Civil Rights and Fair Practices. In this position she provides oversight for the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program, Small Business Reserve (SBR) Program, Veteran Owned Small Business (VSB) Program, the Title VI Program (Civil Rights Act of 1964) and EEO Title VII Civil Rights.

COMTO | MOVING THE NATION

“I have a passion to help small businesses owners and entrepreneurs succeed,” she said. “I want to provide information, training and insight that they may not easily find themselves.” Her passion is synergistic with COMTO’s mission. “As always, the Conference will offer a robust agenda to help achieve our goals,” she notes. She said proudly that “Maryland is a ‘Multi-Modal Transportation State’ with the infrastructure to support the title.” “We are eager to show off. I want attendees see how the state’s various transportation agencies work as a team to develop and improve ease of travel and access to meet the changing needs of our population.” She also invites attendees to sample Maryland as a historic, diverse, dynamic, progressive setting where opportunities abound in all areas of employment, culture and education. “We want people to explore historic sites such as Fort McHenry and the first capital of the country - Annapolis; to visit museums such as the Reginald Lewis Museum and the Great Blacks in Wax and to tour our premier educational facilities like Morgan State University,” she said. More information and registration for the conference is available here.


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COMTO CITY INTERNS

Meet Colean Bembry, New Co-Chair of COMTO’s Youth CITY Program

I’m eager to help enhance and grow the CITY program, so greater professional opportunities are available to more students looking to work in the industry.

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OMTO is pleased to introduce Colean Bembry, a Transit Quality Manager for Mass Electric Construction Co., a Kiewit Company, who has recently been named as co-chair of COMTO’s Careers In Transportation for Youth (CITY) Internship Program. Colean will serve with co-chair Charles Cave of Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas. They will help provide minority college students with opportunities to gain professional and practical experience in the transportation industry. Designed by industry professionals, the CITY Internship Program prepares the best and brightest youth to become leaders, decision makers, and change agents in the industry. Colean, 36, is uniquely suited for this new task. Committed to community service, she teaches young men and women at her local congregation about the Bible, and about personal and spiritual growth. At COMTO, she has been involved in leadership roles with youth scholarship and internship events and programs mentoring students about professional development and educational advancement since joining in 2012. At her job at Kiewit Company, she is one of the youngest and most sought-after Quality Managers within her firm. She has participated in some of the company’s most high profile projects in Denver, Seattle and now Atlanta. While others cite her leadership skills, focus and smart decision-making as the

COMTO | MOVING THE NATION

catalyst for her success, Colean credits COMTO for helping her get a start in the industry. “I came to know COMTO as an intern in COMTO’s Young Kids Need Jobs Program. At the time, I was a fulltime college student pursuing an engineering degree,” Colean recalls. The program, she says, gave her hands-on experience with Colorado’s famed $1.28 billion T-REX Transportation Expansion Project and also introduced her to MEC/Kiewit where she has worked for the past 12 years. “I come from a family of engineers who were also energetic and involved members of COMTO,” she said. Her parents taught her that if you love what you do, “you’ll get up every day and be glad to go to work.” She looks forward to exposing young minds to all aspects of the transportation industry and sharing her enthusiasm for it. “I’m eager to help enhance and grow the CITY program, so greater professional opportunities are available to more students looking to work in the industry,” she said. At the local level, Colean wants to see significant participation from both large and small businesses and agencies supporting students who have the same desires she once had as an up and coming COMTO intern.


MEMBERSHIP FOCUS

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oin COMTO and enjoy all of the benefits of membership. View membership levels for individuals, students, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs), private sector businesses and transportation agencies on our website www.comto.org/membership. l Network with multi-modal transportation leaders, decision makers and professionals l Access up-to-date industry issues and information, contracting and career opportunities

l Participate in professional and leadership development and continuing education training l Gain mentors who will provide support and guidance for your career or business goals l Advocate on behalf of diverse involvement in the industry with key legislators and government officials l S upport youth programs to create a pipeline of minority professionals and leaders Fill out your membership application at www.comto.org

COMTO is your voice for diversity in the multibillon dollar transportation industry... Join COMTO today!

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COMTO RISING STAR

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er passion is integrating the

connectivity and accessibility of transportation into every element of city planning and expansion.

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in Nashville. “It is an exciting time for this city,” she said. “The growth is phenomenal. I realized I could be a part of starting from the ground up to build and grow an effective and efficient transportation system here.” For her that means using her experience to overcome challenges; being creative in finding needed resources and respecting the topography and history of the city as it grows. The timing is also ideal for creating a new COMTO chapter in the city, she noted. “We need to bring the community outreach effort in line with the transportation growth effort,” she said. “We want to tap into the bank of knowledge that is available throughout this community and make sure that we are all in this together,” she said.

It is an exciting time for Nashville. The growth is phenomenal. I realized I could be a part of starting from the ground up to build and grow an effective and efficient transportation system here.

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COMTO’s India Birdsong is a Rising Star

OMTO’s Rising Star, India Birdsong is a young woman whose passion is integrating the connectivity and accessibility of transportation into every element of city planning and expansion. She shares COMTO’s goals and mission to provide a level playing field for the involvement of women and minorities in all aspects of the industry. As Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Regional Transportation Authority she ensures that transport advocates are always at the urban development table to help plan for growth. Currently she is involved in pitching the establishment of a COMTO Nashville chapter in order to help assure that opportunities in the industry are linked to the entire community. Early in her career, Birdsong said she had planned to go to law school after receiving her degree in English with a minor in Spanish from Temple University in Philadelphia. Prior to her law school plan, Birdsong used her degree to land editorial work at publications in the Philadelphia area. It was during this period that she became concerned with the noticeable disparities of the metropolis’s urban design. “Despite scores of different cultures and services at every turn, the placement of buildings and neighborhood amenities seemed awkward at times, and narrow traffic corridors could be challenging to maneuver,” Birdsong recalls. “I thought there has got to be a better way to design a cityscape — and I wanted to learn how.” This led her to earn a Master’s degree in urban planning and community development at the University of Illinois at Chicago and ultimately to a job as the Senior Manager of Bus Supervision & Instruction, Central Region for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). In 2015, she was offered the position

— iNDIA BIRDSONG


COMTO LEGEND

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Helen Dale is a COMTO Legend

for full inclusion of women in all ranks of the industry. Dale is the recipient of numerous awards, including: 2015 Celebratomg Women Who Move The Nation, for her role in increasing the level of women-owned businesses in procurement and executive level positions. She has also been honored locally by The Baltimore County NAACP, The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, The Congressional Record of the U.S. Congress, Baltimore Mayors Sheila Dixon and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Congressman Kweisi Mfume, The Harlow Fullwood Annual Scholarship Committee, The Baltimore Association of Black Journalist, Baltimore’s Radio One WOLB News Radio, and other civic and religious organizations. In 2012, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings appointed Dale to the Maryland Electoral College for the historic 2012 Presidential Election of Barack Obama. “My life’s goals have always been to be a good person, an effective professional and a contributing member of society,” she said. “I’ve been blessed with health, energy, a supportive husband and a loving network of friends.”

I have been fortunate to be in places and times when history was being made.

— HELEN DALE

OMTO Legend Helen Dale has spent a lifetime in professional and political advocacy with accomplishments that span nearly seven decades. “I have been fortunate to be in places and times when history was being made,” she said. In 1965, she marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Selma to Montgomery March. During this time she also organized Sunday “Letter Writing Tea Parties,” to draft letters to then President Lyndon B. Johnson regarding civil rights and the Voting Rights Act. In 1976, she sponsored two busloads of rural, poor blacks from Benton Harbor, Michigan to travel to Washington, DC during the United States Bicentennial to confront the United States Congress about their low quality living conditions. She made history herself early in her career in Chicago by becoming the first black woman to work in Sears’ advertising department as a copywriter. She was also one of the few blacks who worked in Illinois Bell Telephone Company’s Public Relations department. In addition to service on behalf of minorities and women in Chicago, Illinois and Benton Harbor, Michigan, she has established credentials which include founding the Maryland Coalition of Women for Responsive Government in 1994, which advocates for increased presence, authority, and appointment of women in state and local government. Her advocacy in transportation began after she moved to Maryland in the 1980s. She was drawn to the industry and held various roles within Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and several of its business units including Maryland Transit Administration, Motor Vehicle Administration, and Maryland Transportation Authority. From 1992 to 2000, Dale served as President of the Maryland Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) in which she advocated

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COMTO CHAPTERS ON THE MOVE

COMTO T Chapters from Shore to Shore

COMTO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA REGIONAL CHAPTER NEWS

he leaders and members of COMTO’s Southern California Regional Chapter have been hard at work broadening their participation, visibility and positive impact on all levels in the transportation industry. “We have held a number of successful, high profile and well attended events that included many local and national COMTO dignitaries,” said Chapter President Gwendolen Gray. “Our ultimate goal is to help achieve the COMTO mission of inclusion, education and opportunity.”

Our ultimate goal is to help achieve the COMTO mission of inclusion, education and opportunity.

—SOCAL CHAPTER PRESIDENT GWENDOLEN GRAY

l November 14, 2017 – COMTO SoCal Regional Chapter hosted the “Improving and Reshaping Transportation in Southern California” event. Esteemed keynote speaker Hon. Al Austin II, Councilmember, City of Long Beach, joined guest panelists Ms. Stephanie Wiggins of LA Metro, Ms. Debra Johnson of Long Beach Transit, Mr. Ken Phipps of OCTA, Dr. Allison Yoh of Port of Long Beach, and master of ceremony Mr. Ray Sosa of AECOM. This multi-modal transportation panel shared information on how elected officials and public transportation decision-makers are working together to improve and create transportation solutions for communities through-out Southern California. They also offered insight into our region’s transportation

Hon. Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., California State Assemblyman, at left, is pictured here with COMTO President and CEO Bradley Mims.

initiatives, including new technology and innovation, and how SBE’s and DBE’s can do business with the transportation agencies. l December 5, 2017 – The Chapter held its 1st Annual Scholarship and Recognition Awards which was attended by COMTO National President and CEO, Mr. Bradley Mims. Our keynote speaker was Hon. Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., CA State Assemblyman, and guest speakers included Mr. Robert (Bob) Gilbert of

Pictured here at the Women Leaders in Southern California Transportation Award are (from left) Phil Washington, LA Metro CEO, Gwendolen Gray and City of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. Guest panelists at the “Improving and Reshaping Transportation in Southern California” are pictured here. 12

COMTO | MOVING THE NATION


CHAPTERS ON THE MOVE

Scholarship and Recognition Award honorees are pictured here along with COMTO leaders and event speakers.

LAWA, Ms. Stephanie Wiggins of LA Metro, master of ceremony Mr. Tom Kim of HDR, and mistress of ceremony Ms. Joni Goheen of LA Metro. We honored those that have achieved academic success as well as those who have demonstrated leadership and exemplary commitment to diversity and inclusion in the transportation industry. l March 28, 2018 – COMTO SoCal Regional Chapter held its 3rd Annual Women Leaders of Southern California

Transportation Awards, featuring keynote speaker Honorable Mayor Robert Garcia, City of Long Beach, guest speaker Mr. Mario Cordeno, Executive Director, Port of Long Beach, and master of ceremony Mr. Tom Kim of HDR. We paid tribute to talented, passionate and powerful women leaders in Southern California whose work on the front lines and behind the scenes are elevating the transportation industry developments were shared.

Honorees at the 3rd Annual Women Leaders of Southern California Transportation Awards Ceremony are pictured here with COMTO officers SPRING 2018 | ACCELERATE

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CHAPTERS ON THE MOVE

upcoming business and professional opportunities and introduced a new Quarterly Member Newsletter, which will keep members up-to-date on our progress. The meeting ended with several nominees for the 2018-2020 Board outlining their platforms in rousing campaign speeches for the upcoming Chapter elections.

At the recent COMTO Fort Lauderdale Quarterly Membership Meeting and Networking Event, Chapter President Loraine Cargill provides the group with a National update

COMTO FORT LAUDERDALE QUARTERLY MEMBERSHIP MEETING HELD

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OMTO Fort Lauderdale held a well-attended Quarterly Membership Meeting and Networking Event on April 4, where many of the Chapter’s latest developments were shared. Among the highlights were details on two successful Garret A. Morgan Shadow Day events held in February; updates on membership growth including the addition of the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) as a Transportation Agency Member; as well as information on the Chapter’s stable budget. The Chapter leadership also shared

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, (D-Dearborn)

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COMTO MICHIGAN CHAPTER ON THE CUTTING EDGE WITH SMART TRANSPORTATION

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t a recent Transportation Summit with the COMTO Michigan Chapter, the main topic of discussion was “Smart Transportation” with an emphasis on autonomous and connected vehicles. Pictured below at the gathering, which was also attended by U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, (D-Dearborn), are Eastern Michigan University President James Smith, Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation Rodney Slater, COMTO President & CEO A. Bradley Mims and Eastern Michigan University College of Technology Dean Mohamad Qatu.


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NORTH TEXAS COMTO SCHOLARSHIP GOLF TOURNAMENT IS A HIT!

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he COMTO North Texas Chapter held its 12th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament at the Dallas Cowboys Golf Course. Over 120 players took part in the very special event. Because of the generosity of many of our local partners, this year we will be awarding $6,000 in scholarship to local college students who are committed to a career in transportation. In the 12 years we have held this annual tournament, we have awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships to students from the North Texas region.

Golfers prepare to hit the links

Attendees at the COMTO golf tournament give a big ”thumbs up”

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MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

COMTO Members Making a Difference

TANYA ADAMS

MICHAEL FORD

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OMTO’s Michael Ford has been hired by the Denver Regional Transportation District to be its new chief operating officer. Ford is stepping into a new position to oversee all of the agency’s rail and bus operations in the growing Denver metro region.

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OMTO’S Tanya Adams, Vice President, Community Relations & Diversity Manager and Co-Chair of the Diversity Council for WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff USA, has been named 2018 Woman of the Year by the Greater Chicago Chapter of WTS International, an organization dedicated to advancing women in transportation. CARLA WILLIAMS

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OMTO’s Central Florida Chapter President Carla Williams has been profiled in the Jan/Feb. Onyx Magazine issue. Williams is manager of Community Relations for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) in Tampa. She has coordinated community relations, marketing and business outreach programs to promote HART’s services to the Hillsborough County community for more than 18 years.

ACCELERATE Wants to Congratulate and Celebrate our Members and Chapters

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ubmit a photo and announcement for our COMTO Members On the Move feature if you have: • Accepted a new job • Received a promotion • Earned an award • Earned a fellowship • Received a scholarship Submit photos/captions and a description for our Chapters on the Move feature if your Chapter has: • Held a successful event • Awarded scholarships • Been recognized by your community • Announced new sponsors, board members or leaders Send your information to JaLissa Coffee via email jcoffee@comto.org

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Accelerate Spring 2018  
Accelerate Spring 2018  
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