May 19, 2022
Inclusion for All: Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Hello COMTO Family,
As we celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders during the month of May, I’m reminded of the importance of COMTO and making sure our industry reflect the communities we serve. That begins by ensuring our own organization reflects all minorities and people of color. As an Asian-American leader within COMTO, I’ve made it my personal mission to recruit more people like me to the organization.
I initially joined COMTO due to colleagues’ recommendations. They were active within the organization, and I was immediately drawn to its mission. It was also the first organization where I saw people who looked like me and where I could make a difference right away. I began attending events and meeting more members, and I knew instantly that this was a group in which I truly believed. COMTO has connected me with professionals who have similar interests, values, and beliefs and, most importantly, individuals who work in the industry who want to leverage COMTO’s resources and serve as advocates for minority individuals in the transportation industry.
COMTO has allowed me to support my own community and network by giving me the opportunity to get local, underserved students involved in the mentorship, scholarship, and internship programs. Personally, I have recruited friends and colleagues and they regularly participate in programs and attend events. COMTO builds my confidence gives me the ability to connect with other professionals and officials in the transportation industry.
One of my first attempts to reach other Asian-American professionals at my agency was to hold a fashion show celebrating all the diverse cultures of Asia – from Indian to Vietnamese to Japanese and Filipino and many more. While the fashion show as a huge hit – getting my fellow Asian professionals to join the organization was and still remains a hard sell. Many of us prefer to build our own organizations rather than link-up with organizations like COMTO. We are getting there slowly, but more can be done.
One of the ways I believe we can bridge the gap and recruit more Asian-American professionals to the organization is to start with the youth. We can do this hosting career shadow days and providing access to internships and scholarships within our local communities. Let’s start as early as middle school and continue to build the pipeline through graduate school. We can also identify Asian-American professional groups and begin building relationships and partnerships. Finally, let’s leverage our existing relationships with some of our current Asian-American transportation leaders such as Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Amit Bose and Chair, DART Board of Directors Chair Michele Wong Krause, a 2022 Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation honoree.
I recently heard public transportation referred to as an “artery” that pumps back into the heart of a city, and I couldn’t agree more. It connects communities, moves resources, nourishes relationships, and brings opportunity. Given the central role of public transportation in the everyday lives of so many, it is imperative that our industry works to support the diverse communities that rely upon it.
Minority communities and groups have different needs and resources, and catering to those needs allows public transportation to become more efficient and effective. By not only celebrating, but insisting on diversity in our industry, we can ensure a safer, more useful, and more supportive public transportation network for all.
COMTO is a catalyst for positive change in the industry. It provides a platform for brainstorming and learning, and it brings together diverse movers and shakers from all over. By supporting COMTO and participating in their events, we support the effectiveness of public transportation, and therefore we support our communities.
Our COMTO family is strong. It is resilient, compassionate, and resourceful. Nevertheless, there are always ways to strengthen, and we strive for continuous improvement. This can come in numerous forms – through open mindedness, solidarity, and a clear mission. Above all, I believe that success is achieved within organizations when both members and leadership are passionate, dynamic, and dedicated to the mission.
President, COMTO Boston
Council of Presidents Representative Alternate and Board of Director
Risk Financing Manager, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MASSDOT)