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Post Conference 2017

A publication of the Conference Of Minority Transportation Officials

In this issue

Revisit COMTO’s 46th Annual Conference Get an Update on Our Legislative Activities Meet Our CITY Interns Celebrate Our Industry Award Winners



table of Contents comto Board of Directors

National Chair Warren Montague 1st Vice Chair Freddie Fuller, II 2nd Vice Chair Dianne T. Mendoza, Ph.D. Secretary/Treasurer Loretta Kirk At-Large Members Tanya Adams Sharmyn Elliott Clinton Forbes Mark Gale Emille Williams Council of Presidents Representatives Meshelle Howard Frank Mesa Council of Presidents Alternate

3 Message from the Chairman 3 Message from the President 4 N  ational Meeting & Training Conference Recap 8 Legislative Committee Report 10 Industry Awards 12 Meet COMTO’s CITY Interns 14 Save These Dates 15 Convention Sponsors 16 Join COMTO now!

Gwendolen Gray Immediate Past Chair Roosevelt Bradley Board Advisor Adelee LeGrand, AICP Christian Kent Deborah Underwood


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.

The car of the future. Computer technology will turn the information sucked up by sensors mounted all around a car into self-awareness. Sensors will be able to identify everything from cyclists on the sidewalk to absent-minded pedestrians. ( blog/2015/02/24/deep-learningdrive/)

100 M Street, SE Suite 917 Washington, DC 20003 202.506.2917 | Articles may not be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission. Publisher: A. Bradley Mims Editor: McMillon Communications Design: Gloria Marconi Illustration & Design © 2017 All Rights Reserved


COMTO | Moving the Nation

On the cover: The Rosa Parks Transit Center Detroit, Michigan

From the Chairman

Dear COMTO Family:

were critical in making Smart Transportation memorable. I’d like to say a special thank you to Toyota and Wayne State University for their hosting of our youth members and interns. This year has been one filled with many victories for COMTO. We thank the businesses and organizations who support us and provide the wherewithal to address the variety of needs and the concerns of those who share COMTO’s mission of promoting diverse leadership and inclusion in transportation contracting and employment. I look forward to continuing to work with you in 2017 and 2018 and value your partnership and commitment to COMTO. Be sure to check out event photos. See you next summer! As always, let’s revere our history, celebrate our present, and plan our future.

Warren Montague

The success of this conference was due in large part to our sponsors who are presented on page 15.


n this issue of our Accelerate Newsletter we recap and celebrate COMTO’s 46th National Meeting and Training Conference. The exceptionally productive and wellrun event, titled Smart Transportation: The Next Frontier, was hosted by the COMTO Michigan Chapter. It drew more than 800 transportation and mobility leaders, professionals, government officials, and business stakeholders. We united to network and to share information and insights on policy issues and innovation impacting the entire transportation industry. Our heartfelt kudos go out to COMTO Michigan, our Chapter of the Year, and to the entire COMTO staff for their efficient and creative event management! The Chapter extended warm hospitality and showcased the city of Detroit, drawing attention to job opportunities and enormous potential for its future. The success of this conference was due in large part to our sponsors who are presented on page 15. Their generous contributions


Warren Montague National Board Chairman

From the President Dear COMTO Friends and Colleagues:

a high bar for safety. Safety is the North Star, our number one priority. Meanwhile, we are waiting, with great anticipation, for details from the federal government on enhancing and expanding our transportation infrastructure. We are eager to learn how the promised improvements will be financed and what the federal role will be in that area. COMTO’s Legislative Committee leaders are keeping an eagle eye on that issue and have included a report on page 8. Also, please take a look at page 14 where we list our upcoming events. We encourage your support and attendance. Mark your calendars! In Solidarity,

A. Bradley Mims

President and CEO

A. Bradley Mims

COMTO takes great pride in offering support for advocacy, information sharing, & professional development to our members, aspiring youth & partners. —A. BRADLEY MIMS



n these unpredictable times, COMTO continues to affirm a straight and steady path toward our mission. At our recent conference we renewed our zeal for ensuring opportunities and maximum participation in the transportation industry for diverse businesses, individuals and communities. The conference provided in-depth discussions, enlightening panels, and edifying training sessions. COMTO takes great pride in offering support for advocacy, information sharing, and professional development to our members, aspiring youth and partners. Conference attendees were given a comprehensive introduction to mobility technology of the future. What is envisioned was both inspirational and startling. Vehicles that drive themselves are the coming wave and COMTO professionals will be a part of gauging public reaction and acceptance as well as setting



Achievers Ladies Ensemble from the Detroit School of Arts share a Motown inspired selection during the Opening Plenary.

COMTO National Conference Opens with a Flourish



OMTO officially opened its 46th National Meeting and Training Conference with a celebratory flourish. This was provided by the Detroit Color Guard crisply conducting the flag ceremony and the Achievers Ladies Ensemble from the Detroit School of Arts offering a set of Motown Music. The Opening Plenary ceremony included a welcome from Dr. Audrey Andrew of HNTB and greetings from Mark Van Port Fleet, COO and Deputy Director, Michigan Department of Transportation; Carolyn Brown, CEO of the Windsor Detroit Tunnel Corporation & CEO of Windsor International Airport; Doran Barnes, APTA National Chair; Neil Pederson, Executive Director, TRB; Brenda Jones, Detroit City Council President. Greetings were also shared from the Governor’s and Mayor’s offices.

COMTO | Moving the Nation

The opening plenary also featured a panel of transportation officials including: • Mark Van Port Fleet, Chief Operating Officer, Michigan Department of Transportation; • R. Earl Lewis, Deputy Secretary for Policy, Planning, & Enterprise Services, Maryland State Highway Administration, and; • Grindly Johnson, Deputy Secretary Virginia Department of Transportation This panel, moderated by Greg Johnson of WSP USA, discussed how many agencies and states are advancing innovation and encouraging our next frontier of smart transportation. Waste elimination, time production, and challenges with connected and autonomous vehicles were key points of the conversation.



nly open to members of good standing, the COMTO’s General Membership Meeting offered a look at a history of the organization and at upcoming developments which will add value to member services. National Board Chair, Warren Montague brought greetings to the membership body and gave a brief update on the status of the organization, emphasizing that COMTO has come a long way since 2016 and is continuing to flourish under the leadership of President and CEO Bradley Mims. Mr. Mims updated the membership on his plans for COMTO moving forward, including a COMTO Gold Initiative that he plans to unveil at our 50th year anniversary celebration in 2021. COMTO’s Strategic Planning Committee presented a Communications Plan that will serve as a guide for members to effectively increase national visibility for the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic plan.


ormer USDOT Secretaries James H. Burnley IV (1987-1989) and Rodney Slater (1997-2001) attended the conference and were featured during our Legislative Luncheon on a panel moderated by MDOT’s Director, Mr. Kirk Steudle. Their discussion included a description of advances and innovation in the industry over the years as well as a few anecdotes

COMTO’s Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) Sub-Committee announced the development of the COMTO Small and Minority Business Database. The HUB Sub-Committee with the support of National staff have been working hard to create a comprehensive, vetted list of our HUB member businesses for interested parties to access in order to solicit for work or deliver RFPs when contractual opportunities arise. This database will be launching at the start of January 2018.

General Membership Meeting Provides Look at Our History, A Glimpse of Our Future

about their service to appointments and service as transportation leaders. Both men are still very involved in the transportation industry; practicing law at prestigious firms. Chuck Gulash, Senior Executive Engineer at Toyota Motor North American Research & Development and Director of Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center brought greetings at this general session.

Former USDOT Secretaries Featured at the Legislative Luncheon

Former USDOT Secretaries of Transportation Rodney Slator and James Burnley share their leadership perspectives on a panel during the Legislative Luncheon. Slator, the first African American Secretary of Transportation, served under President Bill Clinton and James Burnley served under Ronald Reagan.




Smart Transportation Technology Brought to Life


ur Smart Transportation theme was truly brought to life during this panel discussion. Renee Prewitt, President of The Prewitt Group, moderated the panel. “Twenty years from now, the cars we drive today will be seem like the horses of yesterday,” Renee said of the dramatic innovation happening in the transportation industry. “Smart, autonomous, and connected vehicles are transforming transportation as we currently know it!”

Panelists for Tuesday’s Plenary included: • Mark de la Vergne Chief of Mobility Innovation City of Detroit • Collin Castle ITS Program Manager MDOT • Andrew Smart, Chief Technical Officer American Center for Mobility

Renee Prewitt leads the SMART Technology Panel during the Tuesday Plenary Session; featuring from left, Andrew Smart, Colin Castle and Mark De la Vergne.


COMTO | Moving the Nation



he National Scholarship Luncheon was held at the Conference. This prestigious awards ceremony was sponsored by HNTB. Following warm welcomes, best-selling author and speaker Shawn T. Blanchard shared his life experiences. Shawn, who is the CEO of Lions Dream Publishing & Productions, encouraged the young attendees to “live life to the fullest with a winning perspective” during his keynote address. COMTO awards more than $100,000 annually in national scholarships to minority graduate and undergraduate students pursuing careers in the transportation industry.

Providing scholarships is just one of the ways COMTO supports the communities it serves while advancing a key component of the organization’s stated mission. Our scholarships, internships and mentoring programs help ensure that there is a pipeline of diverse, energetic young professionals trained and ready for meaningful jobs in the industry. Scholarships are funded through COMTO corporate partners as well as local chapters. This program is overseen by the National Scholars Committee who play a pivotal role in making sure that COMTO’s legacy continues. For a list and bios of 2017 COMTO Scholars, click here.

Meet the Awardees Honored at COMTO’s National Scholarship Luncheon

Shawn Blanchard, National Scholars Luncheon Keynote Speaker, takes the stage.

COMTO Members pause for a photo before finding their seats at the National Scholars Luncheon

Warren Montague, Scholarship Awardee Brittany Houlder and her mother Yvette Janniere Houlder and Brad Mims.



news from the hill

The COMTO Legislative Advisory Council Report By Renee Y. Banks and Karen Campblin COMTO Legislative Committee C0-Chairs


he role of the COMTO Legislative Advisory Council is to monitor and advise the National organization and its chapters on federal legislative and regulatory actions. We also assist the Board in formulating and implementing legislative policy that will impact its membership and fulfill the COMTO mission. We are pleased to announce that the ranks of the council have grown significantly since the Annual Conference in Detroit, and we look forward to a productive coming year. So far, this year has been like a roller coaster ride here in the federal city. By all appearances, business goes on as usual; however, accepting that would be both naïve and disingenuous, no matter which side of the aisle you are on. The Trump Administration is continuing to fill key positions at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Yet many remain vacant or are interim appointments. The White House has failed to deliver on its promised $1 billion Infrastructure program and reports are that Congress has shelved the plan until 2018. However, we can glean a clear understanding of the intent and direction of future policy trends given the White House budget proposals that would decimate current public transportation funding programs. Proposal recommendations Those same proposals also recommend defunding the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce and would effectively emasculate the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by combining it with Office of Federal Contract Compliance. Most of these proposals, while of concern, remain just that. However, on July 27th, the Senate Committee on Transportation and HUD Appropriations managed to report out an FY 2018 funding bill that provided federal investment for


COMTO | Moving the Nation

transportation programs slightly higher than FY2017, and would restore monies for TIGER grants, a program eliminated by the House Transportation Appropriations Committee in its July 17th bill. In late June, Senate Commerce advanced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2017. The bi-partisan legislation reauthorized full federal control of that agency through FY 2021, unlike its House counterpart, the 21st Century Aviation, Innovation, Reauthorization and Reform (AIRR Act) of 2016 which called for privatization of the air traffic control system. Senate bill provision In addition, the Senate bill included a provision sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) to conform FTA’s U.S. DOT small business size standards to match the standards defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration, a modification supported by COMTO and our strategic partners, including the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) and the National Association of Black Women in Construction (NABWIC), among many others. In the midst of this activity, it is notable that the U.S. DOT quietly issued a Notice of Policy, Guidance and Regulation which “as part of this review, the Department invites affected stakeholders and the public to identify non-statutory requirements that the Department imposes and that should be removed or revised.” The purpose is to “identify unnecessary obstacles to transportation infrastructure projects”. Unfortunately, we found that many of those “stakeholders” are recommending elimination of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, labeling it as rampant with fraud and too costly to the American taxpayer. It important that COMTO and its partners remain vigilant to efforts to undermine the important strides the minority community has made over

news from the hill

infrastructure was the theme The timing was important since the theme of the VFH was Infrastructure, and the BrainTrust event was focused on “Infrastructure Alternative Financing and Inclusive Procurement for Business/ Economic Development & Wealth Creation”. This will included discussions to 1) explore the feasibility and applicability of various innovative financing alternatives and their impact on the minority community; 2) bring to light concerns and potential barriers that could hinder full participation in these projects and in the processes; 3) discuss avenues to begin construction of a framework for full inclusion by minority-owned underutilized business; 4) consider options for supporting recruitment and training a skilled inner-city workforce for these projects; 5) address minority business and community economic development as they relate to innovative financing solutions; and 6) have a successful conclusion to these events by distilling

a COMTO-centric policy position and a platform for a successful launch of a COMTO/CBC strategic partnership to spearhead action for implementation of that policy. In the next issue of COMTO’s Accelerate Newsletter we will provide a full report on this event! Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)

About the Authors


enee Y. Banks, President and Chief Communications Officer for G. W. Peoples (GWP), is a rail transportation expert. She coordinates the company’s marketing and internal/ external communications. She is also manages the firm’s federal, state and local government relations, including DBE/ MBE/SBE certifications, business licenses, annual reports, contractors’ licenses, and tax filings. GWP is the only national African-American owned firm that specializes in heavy and light, railroad and transit construction, maintenance and repair.


aren Campblin, AICP, is Principal Planner for ktcPlan, LLC, a woman-owned architecture and planning firm. She has more than fourteen years of experience as a Community Development Planner specializing in transportation planning, corridor studies, environmental justice, transit development, and scenic highway studies. She has been responsible for the design and implementation of a wide range of public involvement and community coordination programs in support of these transportation studies.

It is important that COMTO and its partners remain vigilant to efforts to undermine the important strides the minority community has made over the past 35+ years…

the past 35+ years since the Surface Transportation Act of 1982 established the U.S. DOT disadvantaged business program and set goals of 10% participation on federally funded transportation projects. Indeed, we have also been made aware that agencies throughout the country, catching the drift of the White House positions, have petitioned to decrease, waive, or even eliminate DBE participation goals and program requirements. With a view of these attempts to “turn back the clock” and the need for attention to alternative options to fill funding gaps vacated by the federal government, COMTO held its annual View from the Hill briefing to coincide with the 2017 COMTO/CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) BrainTrust, sponsored by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), on September 21, 2017 at 9 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. respectively.



industry awards

COMTO Honors the Transportation Industry’s Finest

You all are doing great, fantastic things in your cities for the transportation industry, and that is what this night is all about.

­­— Adrienne Barnes, Industry Awards Committee Chair


or more than 30 years, COMTO has recognized individuals, organizations and COMTO chapters who have exhibited excellence in the transportation industry. The Annual Industry Awards Ceremony takes place on the final evening of the National Meeting and Training Conference. Industry Awards nominees are nominated by COMTO members and vetted by the Industry Awards Committee. “We received some magnificent, awesome submissions. It was very challenging for me and my team to select the final winner in each category. You all are doing great, fantastic things in your cities for the transportation industry, and that is what this night is all about,” said Adrienne Barnes, Industry Awards Committee Chair. This year there were 13 award winners including two new awards designated by COMTO’s President and CEO, Mr. Brad Mims: the President’s Award for Resilience and the Industry Excellence Award.

Historically Underutilized Business Firm of the Year PACO Technologies

Award Winners:

President’s Award for Resilience COMTO North Texas

Gerald Anderson Service Award Charles Cave Industry Innovation Safety Award MARTA Army


COMTO | Moving the Nation

Corporate Executive of the Year Jack Stephens Emerging Leader of the Year Christopher Macklin Reverend Jerry Moore President’s Leadership AwardLoraine Cargill Thomas G. Neusome Founders’ Leadership Award Nathaniel Ford Harold B. Williams “Game Changer” Award COMTO Southern California Chapter COMTO Best Community Engagement Award COMTO Fort Lauderdale Chapter Best Membership Recruitment/Retention Award COMTO Jacksonville Chapter Chapter of the Year Award COMTO Michigan Chapter

Industry Excellence Award Ed Welburn, Jr. – General Motors

COMTO Michigan received the 2017 Chapter of the Year Award. Great job, team Michigan!

industry awards

As always, the conference ended with a great DJ and some fun on the dance floor.

Carmen Garcia accepted the CEOs Award for Resiliency on behalf of COMTO Dallas, of which she is the President.

The Supremes (or their wax replicas) made an appearance at the Industry Awards!

Ed Welburn, Jr. (third from left) received the Industry Excellence award for his contributions as the former Vice President of Global Design at General Motors. He is pictured with Brad Mims, Warren Montague and Sharmyn Elliott.



focus on CITY interns

Jeevun Vethanayagam

We see many “failures” in the streets every day in big cities. What strikes me is that everyone has a failure mode; personally, I felt I could not speak clearly and introduce myself on the first day. But my presentation went well thanks to the help of both mentors and peers at the conference. Yared Shella

COMTO is such a big organization that helps minorities to be involved in the transportation industry. I am grateful to be a part of it. I was impressed by the great speakers who had such advanced professional backgrounds. The speakers shared their path so we can learn from their setbacks.

COMTO | Moving the Nation

As a young Latina from a low-income, single-parent household, COMTO’s National Conference was an invaluable experience. I was immediately immersed in a wealth of knowledge about professionalism and career development.



Marie Pichay

CITY Intern Class of 2017 Filled with Excitement at COMTO National Conference

eading up to the first day of the National Conference we shared a nervous excitement. For many of us, it was our first conference of this magnitude, so we were not sure what to expect. The full-day schedules were daunting and the fear that we might somehow embarrass ourselves during the CITY Intern Project experience seemed to increase some anxiety levels. But to our surprise, the days seemed to fly by. The workshops were productive, the meals were bountiful and delicious, and most importantly, our relationships with the professionals we met, and with our fellow interns, grew warmer by the day. This made our time in Detroit fun, dynamic, and constructive. We are the youth who will become the future of the transportation industry. The relationships we built and events we experienced over the conference will help give us a head start to begin our careers. In the quotes shared throughout these two pages we highlight some excerpts from our individual responses.

focus on CITY interns

What I have learned during my internship is that I actually have a place in transportation. As a mass communications major, I felt I was studying in an area outside of the industry. What I found is that communication is a key and valuable part.

the field of transportation, especially since no two pathways for any representative were the same. As a young aerospace science engineering major and private pilot, it was a goal of mine to hear more about the innovations in the newest mode of transportation. I was not disappointed.

Maalik Howard

Chloe Bowen

As an extension to their mission, COMTO continuously seeks to prepare the best and the brightest youth to become leaders, decision makers, and change agents within the transportation industry. Within my short time at the Conference my expectations were immensely surpassed. It was a true inspiration to me to be surrounded by so many minority professionals working within this industry.

Amira Collier

It was truly empowering to listen to and be surrounded by so many officials in

Lydia Carter


As a future mechanical engineer, I wondered where my place was in the transportation industry. Prior to the conference my view of the transportation industry was very narrow and uninformed. However, that all changed after the first day. It was eye-opening to see numerous mechanical engineers (many of them women!) present in the industry and it was an amazing opportunity to be able to engage and interact with them.

Dymond Estep

I am proud to say that because of this conference, the person who flew to Detroit, Michigan and the person who flew back home to Stockbridge, Georgia are two completely different individuals. I learned that I need to drop-kick myself out of my comfort zone and understand that it is okay to stand out. It is okay to believe in yourself and challenge what you think you can accomplish. Don’t let opportunities pass you by just because they seem unattainable, but grab hold of them and make them attainable.

The Conference is an opportunity to display your knowledge, worth and keenness to people that can change your life.

When one of the keynote speakers at the Conference last year used the phrase ‘Your network is your networth’ it resonated in my mind like lyrics to a song. I used it as a personal tagline for what I wanted to accomplish this year. The Conference is an opportunity to display your knowledge, worth and keenness to people that can change your life.

Roderica Grant



upcoming events

National Meeting & Training Conference

Save the Dates E for COMTO’s 2018 Events

July 28-August 1, 2018

Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation MARCH 22, 2018


OMTO’s Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation (CWWMN) awards recognize the outstanding contributions of women who are leading and advancing America’s transportation industry. Hosted annually in Washington, DC during the month of March, in observance of Women’s History Month, this signature COMTO event honors women from all sectors of the industry. CWWMN will be held March 22, 2018 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington,DC. 14

ach year, COMTO hosts its annual National Meeting &Training Conference (NMTC) — the nation’s premier gathering of professionals in the transportation industry. COMTO’s conference brings together industry leaders across all modes of transportation for four days of learning, training, and networking. COMTO’s National Meeting &Training Conference is open to transportation professionals at all career levels, government employees, manufacturers and suppliers, and all interested stakeholders. The 47th NMTC will be held Saturday, July 28 through Wednesday August 1, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland.

COMTO | Moving the Nation


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industry sponsors



Thank You Sponsors for Making When Good Ide Great Things Ca COMTO’s 46th Annual Conference Such a Success.



membership focus

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



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 lN  etwork with multi-modal transportation leaders, decision makers and professionals lA  ccess up-to-date industry issues and information, contracting and career opportunities

COMTO | Moving the Nation

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

Accelerate - Post Conference 2017