(Washington, DC - March 13, 2014) Reverend Jesse Jackson brought an audience of nationally prominent transportation industry leaders and Washington, DC, dignitaries to their feet Wednesday, March 12, with his keynote address at the Conference Of Minority Transportation Official’s (COMTO) third annual Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation awards breakfast. The breakfast, held at the J.W. Marriott in the nation’s capital in observance of Women’s History Month, recognizes the contributions of women who are leading and advancing America’s transportation infrastructure.
During his address, Jackson invoked the names of pioneering civil rights activists Harriett Tubman, Rosa Parks and Amelia Boynton as he lamented the fact that, “We have globalized technology, but we have not globalized women’s rights.” And likening the job market in America to a sports field, he demanded that industry, “Let women play!”
Turning his attention to legislative matters of particular importance to the audience of transportation leaders, Jackson also threw his support behind a modern high speed rail system for America. He called such a system, “cost efficient, energy efficient and ripe with opportunities to create jobs.”
Jackson was a last-minute replacement for Dr. Maya Angelou, who had to cancel because of illness. COMTO President and CEO, Julie Cunningham, expressed her eternal gratitude to Jackson and called his address, “an inspiration to every American, not just to women. The COMTO family is so pleased that Reverend Jackson answered our call in time of need and could spend the morning with us. His willingness to become involved is a testament to the important work we’re doing across this country and a recognition that women play an incredibly important role in the ongoing development of this nation’s transportation infrastructure, from highways and transit systems to airports, rail systems and ports. This was a milestone event in the proud history of our organization.”
Honorees include: Barbara K. Gannon, from GannonConsult, recognized for her work in Academia; Shelby Scales, from the Airport Minority Advisory Council, recognized for her work in Advocacy; Andrella Kenner, from CI2 Aviation, recognized for her work in Aviation; Diane Babineaux, from the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, recognized for her work in Labor;The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson, Congresswoman, 30th District, Texas, recognized for her work in Legislation; Jacqueline Hinman, from CH2M HILL, recognized for her work with the Private Sector; Catherine M. Hudgins, from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, recognized for her work in Public Transportation; Karen Rae, Governor Cuomo’s Deputy Secretary for Transportation, recognized for her work with State Government; Susan Kurland, from the U.S. Department of Transportation, recognized for her work with the U.S. Government; and Tracey Bessellieu, from Parsons Brinckerhoff, who will receive the Shirley A. DeLibero Woman Who Moves the Nation Award.
MSNBC network host and political analyst Karen Finney served as Mistress of Ceremonies. A highly regarded political campaign veteran, Finney was the first African American spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee. She served as Deputy Press Secretary to First Lady Hillary Clinton and as Deputy Director of Presidential Scheduling for President Bill Clinton during the Clinton Administration.
Founded in 1971 on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC, the Conference Of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) was created to provide a forum for senior-level minority professionals in the transportation industry. The mission of COMTO is to ensure a level playing field and maximum participation in the transportation industry for minority individuals, businesses and communities of color through advocacy, information sharing, training, education and professional development. The organization membership includes individuals, groups, transportation agencies, non-profits and Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs). From highways and roads to mass transit systems; from subways to rail systems; and from port authorities to airports, COMTO members represent every facet of the transportation industry. They are the presidents and chief executive officers who determine the direction of major transportation systems and the mechanics and operators who ensure the safe passage of millions of transportation riders every day.