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Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation

March 20, 2019 @ 8:00 am - 11:00 am

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Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation

2019 Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Honorees

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20, 2019 8:00 – 11:00 AM


COMTO’s Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation (CWWMN) awards recognizes 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 celebrates women from all modes of transportation representing all sectors of the industry.

COMTO inaugurated the Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation awards in 2012, starting a new tradition of recognizing the accomplishments and influence of today’s outstanding women in transportation. COMTO has honored over 75 women with this award to date.


Bartley, Trudy, Associate Vice President, Community Relations, Ohio State University, Office of Government Affairs

Trudy Bartley, an executive at The Ohio State University, is chairing the Franklin County Commissioners’ poverty assessment and strategic plan. She is Associate Vice President for Community Relations within the university’s Office of Government Affairs, where she heads economic and community development projects and special initiatives.

Bartley has a long record of community service and government leadership. Before joining OSU, Bartley served as the executive director of Partners Achieving Community Transformation (PACT), an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to the comprehensive redevelopment of the Near East Side neighborhood of Columbus. In her capacity at PACT, Trudy was responsible for spearheading the strategic implementation of the Blueprint for Community Investment, a detailed master plan focused on revitalizing the Near East Side. 

Bartley also previously worked in the Ohio Department of Development. Throughout her tenure with the department, she served in three positions: Chief Operating Officer, Interim Director of the Minority Business Enterprise Division, and Federal Stimulus

Coordinator. Prior to that, she was President of Diversified Development Group, a minority real estate development company and worked as deputy director for the City of Columbus for 11 years. 

In addition to her work with Franklin County, Bartley also serves currently as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Central Ohio Transit Authority, and is on the boards of the United Way, Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County and the Mid- Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

Beatty, Honorable Joyce, Congresswoman (D) – Ohio

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty is a native Ohioan with a strong history of connecting people, policy and politics to make a difference. Since 2013, Beatty has proudly represented Ohio’s Third Congressional District.

She sits on the exclusive House Committee on Financial Services and serves on three Subcommittees: Diversity and Inclusion (Chair), Housing, Community Development and Insurance, and Oversight and Investigations. The Financial Services Committee oversees the entire financial services industry, including the nation’s banking, securities, insurance, and housing industries. As Chair of the newly created Financial Services Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, Beatty will lead efforts to ensure the financial services industry works better for all Americans.

A committed public servant, Beatty also serves as vice-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and is an influential member of the Bipartisan Congressional Bus Caucus and Democratic Women’s Working Group. Beatty has dedicated her life to making an impact in Central Ohio and in the lives of all Americans, including leading the charge to secure the $40 million Smart City Challenge to transform Central Ohio’s transportation network and $37 million to help launch the Central Ohio Transit Authority’s (COTA) CMAX Bus Rapid Transit line that will connect more than 331,000 residents and 170,000 workers to their jobs, healthcare, schools, and communities.
Prior to her service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Beatty was Senior Vice President of Outreach and Engagement at The Ohio State University and a member in the Ohio House of Representatives for five terms. During her tenure in the Ohio House, she rose to become the first female Democratic House Leader in Ohio’s history.

A sought after public speaker and the recipient of numerous awards, Beatty was previously named one of Ebony Magazine’s 150 most powerful African-Americans in the United States.
Congresswoman Beatty is active in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Links, Inc., National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Columbus Urban League, The American Heart Association, and Sophisticates.

Howard, Meshelle, Director Of Civil Rights & Fair Practices, Maryland Transportation Authority

Meshelle M.V. Howard, MCA, the Director of Civil Rights and Fair Practices with the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) is truly a “Woman Who Moves the Nation”. As the Director, Meshelle provides managerial oversight for the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Small Business Reserve (SBR), Veteran Small Business Enterprise (VSBE), Title VI Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII Civil Right and EO Contract Compliance.

Meshelle began her career in the transportation industry over twenty years ago at the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), the headquarters for five transportation modals (MTA, MVA, MAA, SHA and the Port) and the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA).

She works tirelessly to strengthen the participation and knowledge of small and minority businesses for certification and participation on state contracts. In recognition of her efforts, she has received several awards. Most recently, she was a recipient of the 2018 Black Wall Street Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with Small Businesses, Vital Magazine’s 2018 Humanitarian Award for Small Business Education and Outreach, 2017 WTS Rosa Parks Diversity leadership Award, and 2016 Maryland Live Black History Hero Award for Tireless work with and in the Small, Minority and Women Owned Business Communities.

Prior to joining state service Meshelle, served in the United States Army in the Panama Invasion, Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and the Somalia Invasion.

Meshelle is a member of and volunteers in several organizations, which serve the community and the State of Maryland such as Catholic Charities, Maryland Public Purchasing Association, Women in Transportation (WTS) and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), where she was the President of the Maryland Chapter (2015-2018), member of the COMTO National Strategic Planning Committee (2014-Present) and a COMTO National Council of Presidents representative (2015-2018). In 2018, she chaired the very successful and largest attended COMTO conference.

Meshelle holds a degree in Business Administration, and other certifications and certificates in areas of Contract Compliance, Procurement, Minority and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Programs (MBE/DBE), the Minority Business Enterprise Advisory Council Certification Board (MBEAC), Leadership and Management.

Johnson, Debra, Deputy CEO, Long Beach Transit

Debra Johnson is a public transit executive with over 25 years of diversified, progressively responsible leadership experience. She is a transformative leader who has coached, motivated and developed teams; established business systems, processes and organizational structures; increased agency efficiency, strengthened financial results; and enhanced system safety and service quality.

Ms. Johnson has worked for transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, D.C., as well as in Southern California, where she currently is the Deputy CEO at Long Beach Transit in Long Beach.

Ms. Johnson holds a Master’s in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s in International Relations. She is an alumna of civic leadership programs in San Francisco and Long Beach, and the Eno Center for Transit Leadership’s Executive Development Program.

Community service is paramount to Ms. Johnson, as exemplified through her work with communities through initiatives and progressive programs relating to education, family, health and business as a lifetime member of Alpha Kappa Sorority, Incorporated. She has also tutored and served as a role model for inner city youth through programs such as Big Brother/Big Sister, Junior Achievement and Project COOL in Oakland, CA.

She has mentored young professionals through WTS San Francisco, APTA’s Early Career Program, COMTO’s Emerging Leaders Program and served on the Boards for Workforce Investment San Francisco and Urban Habitat, which advances policies to create a just and connected Bay Area for low-income communities of color.

Ms. Johnson is an active member of industry-based associations including COMTO Southern California, WTS-LA and the California Transit Association. She is a charter member of the Zero-Emission Bus Resource Alliance, and serves on the Downtown Long Beach Business Alliance Board of Directors.

In 2014, she was appointed by former Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx as a member of the US DOT Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Advisory Committee.

Mack, Gabriele, Vice President, Economic Inclusion and Supplier Diversity, Jacobs

Gabriele M. Mack, Vice President, Economic Inclusion and Supplier Diversity, Jacobs

As Vice President for Economic Inclusion and Supplier Diversity, Gabriele provides leadership, strategic direction and expertise in carrying out JACOBS’ corporate vision for economic inclusion and supplier diversity.

In this role, Gabriele develops relationships with Small and Diverse Business Enterprises, clients, industry partners, and small business advocates to achieve customer socio-economic objectives. Gabriele works with internal and external teams to promote and integrate best practices for local economic inclusion, diverse business utilization, workforce diversity, capacity building programs, and community engagement on large capital infrastructure projects. Prior to joining Jacobs 25 years ago, Gabriele served in the public sector; developing and managing municipal programs to support diverse businesses development.

Gabriele is a strong advocate and voice for inclusive policies and practices in the engineering and construction industry and is a nationally respected leader in her field receiving numerous recognitions for utilization and development of diverse suppliers. Throughout her career, Gabriele has held leadership positions with organizations dedicated to diversity and inclusion including: serving as Board Member and past Chair of the National Corporate Council for the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), Corporate Board Advisor for the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials’ (COMTO), Board of Directors and member of the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC), Member of Women’s Transportation Society (WTS) and member and award recipient of the American Contract Compliance Association (ACCA).

Gabriele believes in the power of diversity and inclusion and the value it brings to our business, our clients and the communities we serve. As a leader in JACOBS Operational Centers of Excellence, Gabriele is focused on building a global initiative to align with JACOBS’ corporate vision and core values to create a business culture that respects inclusion and diversity and supports our corporate vision to build a more connected and sustainable world.

Ortiz, Elsa, Board President, AC Transit

Elsa Ortiz was elected in November 2006 and is serving her fourth term on the AC Transit Board of Directors, representing the City of Alameda and portions of Oakland and San Leandro. Until her retirement in December 2014, Ms. Ortiz worked as an attorney and policy consultant to former Presidents of the State Senate Don Perata and Darrell Steinberg on issues affecting Indian Nations, and previously was Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to former California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer during his tenures as State Senator and Attorney General. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree with honors and teaching credentials from the University of California at Berkeley and her Juris Doctor from John F. Kennedy College of Law. She has also served on the Transbay Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors and currently serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission. Ms. Ortiz served as President of the Board of Directors in 2011 and 2012 and during her tenure on Board spearheaded the development and adoption of the District’s Buy American Goods policy, advocated for fiscal reform and worked to make sure buses are a key element in the construction of a Bay Area transportation network for the 21st Century. She remains committed to providing the best service possible to riders.

Walker Ford, Jannet Vice President & General Manager, Eastern Region, Americas, Cubic Transportation Systems

Jannet Walker Ford serves as the vice president and general manager, Eastern Region, Americas for Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), a leading global integrator of payment and information technology and services to create intelligent travel solutions for transportation authorities and operators.

Walker Ford is responsible for the delivery and operations of CTS programs including the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s AFC 2.0, Atlanta’s Breeze Card system and Miami’s EASY Card systems. She also oversees programs such as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Maryland Transit Administration as well as Autoridad de Transporte Intregrado and Metropolitan Bus Authority in Puerto Rico.

Walker Ford currently serves on the Board of Directors for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), American Public Transportation Foundation-Vice Chair, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville-Vice Chair, Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) International and WTS Foundation-Vice Chair. She is a member of Leadership Florida, the Bold City Chapter (FL) of the Links Incorporated, the IT Senior Management Forum and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials. She is also a graduate of Leadership APTA and the ENO Executive Leadership Program.

With two decades of leadership experience in the transportation industry, specifically in aviation, tolling, and public transport, Walker Ford strives to inspire women and minority professionals to pursue roles in transportation as well as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
Walker Ford has received recognitions from the Professional Achievement Technology Award for Industry from the National Women of Color’s STEM Conference, Philadelphia’s Women of Substance and Style, Technology Association of Georgia – Women in Technology’s Woman of the Year, and Outstanding MBA of the Year by the NBMBAA. She has been named one of the “50 Most Powerful African Americans in Business” by the Atlanta Business Journal, “Atlanta’s Most Influential Business Leaders” by Who’s Who and a “Top 100 Women of Influence” by the Atlanta Business League

Wise, Carol, Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, DART

Carol E. Wise is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended the University of Pittsburgh receiving her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Carol was mentored early in her career by Jenny Laster 1st black female Vice President of Human Resources at the American Public Transportation Association and Carmen E. Turner, 1st black female General Manager at Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and in the nation. Both, women were very active members of COMTO in the 80’s. Jenny recruited Carol to work at a transit consultant company right out of college. It was at that transit company where she met a cadre of young, gifted and highly educated black men and woman from across the country. They had a passion for public transit and wanted to make a difference to the community. She never forgot those lessons of friendship, professionalism, social consciousness, and mentoring. In her transit journey, she has intentionally incorporated those lessons in her work where ever she has gone in transit. She has been building and designing programs of excellence and mentoring employees.

Carol has had opportunities to participate in the 1st Leadership APTA program, Eno Executive Leadership, TRCP – Transit Missions to Asia and Australia. Carol worked at New Jersey Transit, Central Ohio Transit Authority, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, South Jersey Transit Authority, Aegir Systems Incorporated, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and ATE Management Company. In her current position at Dallas Area Rapid Transit she serves at the Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer. When, Carol is not managing day to day activities at DART she is engaged in the Human Trafficking program, establishing job opportunities at DART for the homeless and advancing DART’s “5 Star Service Program: A Journey to Excellence” a program created by her and being modeled by other transit properties across the nation.

Dupont-Walker, Jacquelyn, Board Member, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Jacquelyn Dupont Walker the youngest of 5 children born to Rev. King Solomon Dupont and Eleanor Jiles Dupont in Tallahassee, Florida. Early in life she was impacted by the models an entrepreneurial and visionary father (an AME Itinerant Elder, civil rights leader and logging truck company owner) and a maternal grandfather (a local AME church leader, shoemaker and farmer) who taught her self- determination and self- reliance. Her mother (public school teacher) and maternal grandmother (seamstress and homemaker) modeled educational excellence, nurturing a family, and volunteering in under-supported causes. All instilled in “Jackie” the importance of knowledge, skills, and human values needed in the context of a strong faith and a commitment to community service.

A pioneering Black graduate of Florida State University, earned a Bachelor of Science degree, holds the Master of Social Work degree from Atlanta University, has done post-graduate studies (credentialing) as a developer at USC (U.S.C. Commercial Dev. program), substance abuse advisor (Washington University in Maryland). Licensed clinician (LCSW) in California, holds national certification (ACSW).

Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, founding president of the Ward Economic Development Corporation, Los Angeles which has built/remodeled/managed low income housing in the city (120 apartments for seniors at Ward Villas, 91 units of family and singles housing at Tuelyn Terrace, 6 scattered sites and 60 senior apartments at Rosa Parks Villas which is Phase I of Crenshaw Gateway – a mixed use community). Currently, WEDC has two projects in pre-development – Rosa Parks II, a multi-family community and Casa De Rosas, a campus for formerly homeless single-parent veterans.

Civic/ Volunteer involvements: Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed her to the LA County METRO board in 2013, the only non-elected official member. Gov Jerry Brown appointed her to Baldwin Hills Conservancy where she continues to serve. Other service: California Housing Partnership Corporation Board, LA City Council Re-Districting Commission (1999), Charter Commission for City of Los Angeles (2000), Housing Authority of Los Angeles, Service on LISC National Board of Directors.

After over 40 years in various professional responsibilities, she is one of most highly respected and influential lay persons in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a lifelong member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, has been an active member of Ward A.M.E Church in Los Angles for 39 years.

She is married to Buford “Sonny” Walker, they have raised and nurtured 8 children and 24 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren.

Shindler, J. Somer, Managing Director, Planning And Development, Corporate Real Estate (CREE), United Airlines

Somer Shindler is the Managing Director of United Airlines, Corporate Real Estate Planning + Development teams where she leads over 50 planning and project management professionals. Having joined the United team in 2016, Somer has oversight of the project portfolio for Hub and Line station facility and construction related projects. Additionally, the Planning and PMO Controls teams are part of Somer’s organization and work to establish and maintain standards, processes and tools for consistent execution of United’s portfolio of facility and construction related projects and develops long term master plans for United’s airport growth strategies.

Somer is an aviation professional with 20 years of planning, design and construction experience. Prior to United, Somer held the acting role as Senior Vice President of Airport Infrastructure Management at Denver International Airport, where she oversaw Maintenance, Asset Management, Environmental and was Senior Director of Planning and Development.

Somer started her aviation career as a Project Manager within Corporate Facilities at Southwest Airlines, running various construction projects. She worked as a structural engineer before her tenure at Southwest Airlines. Somer is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, with a degree in Architectural Engineering.


March 20, 2019
8:00 am - 11:00 am
Sold Out
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(202) 506-2917


WASHINGTON, DC 20008 United States
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