CHSRA Earns WTS Employer of the Year AwardWritten by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) on May 12 reported receiving the 2023 WTS Recognition Award–Employer of the Year from the international chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) for “exemplary efforts to encourage advancement of women’s careers.”
Beverly Kenworthy, CHSRA Southern California Deputy Regional Director, accepted the award at the 2023 WTS International Annual Conference, which was held May 10-12 in Atlanta, Ga. WTS has more than 8,000-plus members with chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada. The award caps a series of regional “Employer of the Year” honors that CHSRA has received over the past 18 months from the Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area WTS chapters.
Women comprise more than half of CHSRA’s total workforce, as well as most of its executive team, and they lead such major initiatives and programs as strategic delivery; legal counsel; strategic communications; legislative affairs; information technology; planning and sustainability; administration and human resources; diversity, equity and inclusion; engineering; and regional leadership, according to the Authority.
In 2019, a Mineta Transportation Institute report found that women make up less than 15% of all transportation workers, and U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports indicated that women make up 7% of the rail industry.
“As a woman and leader in transportation, I am thrilled to witness the recognition of the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s continued efforts to empower women and others who have been historically left behind in our industry,” said Karen Philbrick, Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute and Board Member of WTS International. “The Authority mirrors the values that have continually made California a global leader: innovation, diversity and hard work. The Authority is leading our industry in the way forward and this award is very well deserved.”
“Our hard-working, diverse staff is key to our continued success in advancing the largest, greenest public infrastructure project in the nation,” CHSRA CEO Brian Kelly. “To be recognized by WTS International is a great honor and validation of the industry-leading women within this organization who are paving the way for future generations in our industry.”
“California deserves a workforce that’s representative of all its residents,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “We recognize that our incredible diversity is the foundation for our state’s strength, growth and success—and that confronting inequality is not just a moral imperative, but an economic one. I commend the California High-Speed Rail Authority for promoting the advancement of women in the transportation industry, which sets a standard for all infrastructure projects across the nation.”
In a related development, Railway Age will hold its first in-person Women in Rail conference on Nov. 2 in Chicago, covering the freight, passenger, and transit rail sectors.