The country learned Jan. 29 that U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood, is stepping down from his post. Among the many that will miss him and his priorities for the industry are the women of the transportation sector.
“Secretary LaHood epitomizes what WTS set out to accomplish when it was founded 35 years ago. While he’s been leading the charge to keep America’s transportation structure operating, he’s also been working and partnering with organizations like ours with an eye on the future. Workforce development is critical for this country and the world’s future, and bringing young women and other critical populations into the industry is where Secretary LaHood’s passion comes through,” said WTS International’s President and CEO, Marcia Ferranto.
Among the many efforts and achievements Ferranto refers to is the Transportation YOU program that began as a joint effort of WTS and the DOT at the signing of a memorandum of understanding in 2010 to create programs that encourage 13 – 17 year old girls to set out on an academic path that leads to a career in transportation.
“When Secretary LaHood sets out on a mission to effect change, he means it,” added Ferranto. In fact, LaHood has made appearances for WTS events and spoken with their younger constituency on many occasions, even inviting Transportation YOU participants from across the country to the DOT offices in Washington, D.C.
LaHood’s efforts on the workforce development front are not limited to WTS programs. He is known for many partnerships with organizations that support his mission to grow the country’s infrastructure through education, opportunity, and awareness, including a partnership with the US Department of Labor to create job portals for college students and veterans.
LaHood said in an interview with The Associated Press that he previously told Obama that he needed to move on but was still conflicted by his decision because he liked working for Obama and considered it the "best job I've ever had in public service." The Secretary led the DOT during Obama's first term and worked to curb distracted driving, promote high-speed rail and repair roads and bridges, among many other successful efforts.
Obama thanked LaHood in a statement, saying they were "drawn together by a shared belief that those of us in public service owe an allegiance not to party or faction, but to the people we were elected to represent. And Ray has never wavered in that belief."