Last night was a big one for the Department of Transportation at the annual Women's Transportation Seminar awards dinner. Not only did we launch an important new national educational initiative aimed at girls and young women. It was also my distinct pleasure to watch Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator Karen Rae take home the WTS "Woman of the Year" award and the Volpe Center get the "Employer of the Year" nod.
"Transportation YOU" is a joint initiative of the DOT and the Women's Transportation Seminar to promote education in the important areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Through hands-on activities, mentoring, field experience, and a national virtual community, the program will also introduce teenage girls to the wide variety of transportation careers.
To make our vision for a cutting-edge transportation network a reality, we need to tap the best and brightest minds of this generation. And if we truly want the best and brightest, we must ensure that young women have all the tools and opportunities they need to succeed in transportation careers.
When women do better, families and communities do better. So, by investing in America’s women, we’re making a sound, smart investment in America’s future. That is why I am so pleased to partner with the Women’s Transportation Seminar on this initiative.
One woman who has mentored a variety of young professionals throughout her decades of leadership in rail and transit growth is Karen Rae.
Karen is a real trailblazer among women in transportation. Since she was an 18-year-old monorail operator in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Karen has been at work moving Americans where they need to go. And I admire her passion for giving Americans a choice in how they travel.
Before joining FRA, Karen served in several senior transportation positions including appointments as Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Planning at the New York State Department of Transportation; Deputy Secretary for Local and Area Transportation at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; and Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. Earlier in her career, she worked for 18 years as director and general manager of transit systems in Austin, Texas, and Glens Falls and Buffalo, New York.
At DOT we are extremely proud of Karen, and happy that our partners in the Women's Transportation Seminar have selected her for this honor. Congratulations to Karen Rae, the Volpe Center, and the WTS for a terrific year of transportation excellence.