by Robyn Hartz
If you are not currently a member of Womens Transportation Seminar (WTS), I strongly urge you to join! Now, don’t let the name fool you, it is not just for women. It’s for anyone in any aspect of the Transportation Industry: financing, marketing, construction, planning, engineering, maintenance, state, city, federal, or private sector. This blog is not to try to recruit you, dear reader, but to tell you about my experiences with WTS. First, it is important that you know that I may be biased, since I believe my WTS Chapter, the Central Virginia Chapter, to be the best. Many may say things like this, but I believe it of this chapter. I have been a member in the chapter since 2009, and the Diversity Chair of my chapter since December. This role has given me one of the most rewarding professional experiences I have ever had.
I have moved around a bit, and have been associated with other WTS chapters, but none quite like the CVC chapter. At first, I was skeptical of going to the luncheons. Other WTS luncheons I have attended have been very big and impersonal – like finding a spot to sit in a big high school cafeteria. But after my first luncheon with WTS CVC I was hooked. The luncheons are small, around 30 people or so, and the whole Board is very approachable and easy to talk to. I met with the chapter president, vice-president, membership chair, and plenty of other people involved with the board that were just as excited in their roles with the chapter as I am now. I received follow-up calls and emails from the chapter, checking up on me and seeing if I wanted to join. It is a wonderful thing in this fast-paced society for people to take the time to do such small niceties.
Enthusiasm is contagious. So was the thought that this young chapter, not even 4 years old when I joined, could use my help and I could contribute to shaping something so influential. It didn’t take much convincing that I should take a leadership position and work with the board. The position of Diversity Chair was open, so I snagged it. The appeal was not only that I could get involved, but also that this particular role had not been filled before, so I could help to form it. Although that sentence sounds like it should have ended with evil laughter, it is not so maniacal a sentiment. It is also more challenging not to have a predecessor or predefined role to help me to determine where to take this committee. I admit, I have floundered a bit so far in the role, but I am getting my sea legs, if you will.
One of the current tasks that I have set for myself is to contact other Diversity Chairs in other chapters to see what they are doing with the position. What could be a better way to introduce myself to women in all types of positions throughout the public and private sector than to have common ground like WTS and diversity to start the conversation with? I’m so excited for this opportunity that I’m giddy as a schoolgirl! For anyone reading this that knows me, they won’t be surprised by that.
I will end by saying again that if you are not a member of WTS you should definitely become one! And soon! You don’t want to miss out on your chance to help shape things to your own will. Evil laugher (mwahahaha) is intended there.