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WTS International creates Secretary Ray LaHood Award

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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WTS International, the association for the advancement of women in transportation, has announced that they are adding a sixth award to its roster of annual award opportunities that are recognized throughout the transportation industry: The WTS Secretary Ray LaHood Award, which will be awarded to a man each year.

The new award, essentially a “man of the year” award, has been created to recognize the men that have been key to WTS International’s efforts to attract, retain and advance women in transportation, the association said. WTS has long called for men to take an active role in bringing more women to the industry and to help women achieve the highest levels of leadership.

“Who better to help us achieve the WTS mission—to build the future of transportation through the global advancement of women—than men?” said Marcia Ferranto, WTS International’s President and CEO. “When men make up 50% if WTS International’s membership we will move the needle.” Male membership at WTS is currently just over 15%.

The new recognition will be awarded across all 54 professional chapters, in addition to the premier award presented at the WTS Annual Awards Banquet each year. The decision to name it the WTS Secretary LaHood Award was an easy one, according to Ferranto. “The impact that men have on the advancement of women was clearly illustrated during Former Secretary LaHood’s term. All over the U.S., Canada, and the UK, we will be carrying on his legacy. We are honored that he has accepted that this recognition bare his name,” Ferranto said.

Ray LaHood served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation from 2009 to 2013. During his term, he supported WTS International’s mission, and his efforts have accelerated the gender diversity issue toward more opportunities. One of these efforts is WTS International’s Transportation YOU program. The program is the joint effort of WTS and the Department of Transportation (DOT) that led to LaHood’s signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2010 to create programs that encourage girls aged 13 to 17 to pursue an academic path that leads to a career in transportation. The effort has already reached more than 1,000 students through WTS chapters across the U.S. that offer mentorship, internship opportunities, tours, and hands-on engineering challenges.

WTS has been an active voice in the transportation industry since 1977, when its founders realized that professional development and recognition were needed to create industry and government advancement of women in the transportation field. In the 38 years since that time, the association has grown to an international member network of more than 6,000 transportation professionals, including both women and men, who take part in networking, professional development, and industry collaboration. WTS Foundation, the charitable arm of WTS also led by Ferranto, has provided more than $1 million in scholarships to women throughout the transportation industry and has created educational and awareness programs such as Transportation YOU.

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