Karen Rae, the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, is one of DOT's brightest stars. But, you don't have to take my word for it.
Earlier this month, Karen was named "Woman of the Year" by the DC chapter of the Women's Transportation Seminar. Each year, WTS honors female role models in the transportation industry.
And even though Karen told me she was surprised to be singled out for the award, it's not hard to see why she was selected. In her leadership role at the FRA, Karen helps manage our rail safety and regulatory programs.
She is also playing a crucial role in the development of President Obama's visionary high-speed rail initiative, which will help revolutionize America's transportation networks, create jobs, and spur economic development.
But, her work doesn't stop there. Karen is a mentor for other women here at DOT and works with WTS to encourage other young women to choose a career in transportation.
You see, even though women are an essential part of our national work force, they are still extremely underrepresented in the transportation industry. WTS is addressing this through mentoring and scholarship programs that help young women pursue technical degrees and connect with successful women working in transportation.
We're also doing our part here at DOT. In May, I signed a cooperative agreement with WTS to encourage young women to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
And in July, I announced the expansion of our successful women's internship program--started at Spelman College in 2009--that encourages young women to pursue careers in transportation by matching them with relevant job opportunities in their areas.
All of these programs help ensure that we'll continue to have successful and talented women like Karen Rae working at DOT now and in the future. So, in addition to congratulating Karen on her award, I’d like to thank her and the other impressive women at the DOT for leading by example. We couldn't be successful without their hard work, diversity of experience, and willingness to mentor the next generation of transportation specialists.