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  • Writer's pictureWTS Sacramento

Recap - 2020 Annual Awards

On the evening of Thursday, January 28th, 2021, over 90 guests gathered virtually for the WTS Sacramento Annual Awards and Scholarship Dinner. The night began with a virtual networking hour, allowing guests to reconnect with their colleagues.

WTS Sacramento President, Emily Abrahams, kicked off the program with a warm welcome to the guests, Corporate Partners, generous event donors, and volunteers.

We were excited to announce our newly established needs-based scholarship, the Doris Matsui Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship, that will be awarded to a high school student beginning next year. We were honored to receive a video message from Congresswoman Doris Matsui herself. View the message here!

WTS Sacramento Scholarship Chair, Thea Fuerstenberg, presented the 2020 scholarships. And we were very proud to award $20,000 to nine very deserving recipients.

  • The Will Kempton High School Scholarship was awarded to Madison Hause, Natomas Charter School. Madison is a senior who is thrilled with physics and has a passion for engineering.

  • The Sharon D. Banks Scholarship was awarded to Sonia Anthoine, UC Davis. Sonia is pursuing her undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering with a focus on Transportation. She is a mentor with the Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Society and her long-term career goal is to improve the lives of Californians by adopting safe and affordable transportation through the expansion of public transit.

  • The Sharon D. Banks Honorary Scholarship was awarded to Mengqian Huang, CSUS.

  • The Bimla G. Rhinehart Scholarship was awarded to Renata Kovalchuk, CSUS. Renata is a senior, pursuing a degree in civil engineering with a focus on transportation. She plans to use her leadership skills in her pursuit of a career in roadway design, using transportation as a way of giving back to the community.

  • The Bimla G. Rhinehart Honorary Scholarship was awarded to Manroop Narwal, CSUS.

  • The Helene M. Overly Scholarship was awarded to Hayley Rundle, USC. Haley is a graduate student and expects to graduate next year with a Masters in Urban Planning, Concentrating on Mobility and Transportation Planning. She is a student assistant at METRANS Transportation Center and the leader of the Industry Engagement team. Her goal is to work in public transit, holistically planning for all modes of transportation to improve accessibility, mobility, and environmental quality.

  • The Helene M. Overly Honorary Scholarship was awarded to Ericka Mora-Campos, University of Nevada, Reno.

  • The Leadership Legacy Scholarship was awarded to Xinwei Li, UC Davis. Xinwei plans to receive her PhD next year with a concentration on Transportation Technology and Policy. She is a research assistant studying spatial-temporal modeling of electric vehicles charging infrastructure and management for a sustainable energy system. She is devoted to sustainable transportation at the local to global level and has a strong passion to help move transportation to a safer and greener tomorrow.

  • The Leadership Legacy Honorary Scholarship was awarded to Maryam Ostovar, UC Davis.

WTS Recognitions Chair, Fran Ruger, presented the 2020 awards and highlighted the recipients’ accomplishments.

  • Donna Berry, Caltrans Project Management Division Chief, received the Woman of the Year award. Donna is a role model and an example of achievement for both men and women. She has encouraged many people to become empowered to be more involved in their communities to better understand the issues affecting future projects, actively contributing to their engineering success. While pursuing her degree in a decade when very few women were even considering professional careers in the field of engineering, Donna Berry became a leader in the National Society of Black Engineers, organizing events and participating in recruitment efforts of underrepresented groups. Through her contributions, she has touched and enriched the lives of many women and minorities through mentoring, teaching STEM educational courses, and helping to develop staff under her supervision.

  • David Kim, California State Transportation Agency Secretary, received the Man of the Year award. Secretary Kim is responsible for oversight of 40,000 employees across eight departments, boards and commissions. As David built his leadership team to support his work at CalSTA, all of the staff he directly brought on were women. Under Secretary Kim’s tenure, industry and interagency partners have seen that the California State Transportation Agency is supported by multiple women on its senior staff who serve in key advisory and leadership roles. Throughout his life and career, David Kim has directly contributed toward the advancement of women and championed diversity.

  • UNICO Engineering received the Employer of the Year award. UNICO Engineering has a multi-level involvement of women in its business, ranging from the executive, financial and accounting, and project management levels of the company to internships it offers to college students. UNICO Engineering was formed in 2013 and has grown from the initial group of 5 to a total of 57 employees today. UNICO has a written Pathways to Leadership program outlining expectations for career advancement within the company.

  • Lauren Reinking, Jacobs Project Manager and Northern California Highway Group Leader, received the Member of the Year award. Lauren is our WTS Sacramento Immediate Past President. Lauren has served on the Sacramento Board since 2011 and has supported many important chapter programs and initiatives. Lauren led the WTS Sacramento Chapter during the difficult 2020 pandemic year, helping the Board transition to online meetings and programs. Lauren demonstrated flexibility by leading our chapter programs online and communicating effectively with Board members remotely.

  • Jeanie Ward-Waller, Caltrans Deputy Director of Planning and Modal Programs, received the Rosa Parks Diversity Award. In 2018, Jeanie was one of the early supporters of Caltrans’ involvement in the Government Alliance on Race and Equity Capitol Cohort. Jeanie played a lead role in creating the Caltrans Race and Equity Action Plan, which was adopted by the Caltrans Executive Board in 2019. Jeanie is a strong mentor and ally for women in the workplace. She is working to ensure that women and minorities can succeed within Caltrans.

Throughout the night, guests placed bids on the silent auction to win virtual meetings with three transportation industry leaders, Sabrina Drago, Executive Director of Sacramento Transportation Authority, Jim Davis, Caltrans Chief Deputy Director, and Hilary Norton, CTC Chair. This silent auction raised over $1200 for future scholarships! Thank you to Sabrina, Jim, and Hilary for donating their time to this auction.

Throughout the night, we also had an ongoing Donation Thermometer and raised over $350 from seven guests: Charuni Kurumbalapitiya, Annika Ragsdale, Alissa Arbuckle, Josie Campbell, Ariana Castillo, Talina Barajas-Chen, and Sabrina Drago.

We also want to say a huge thank you to our generous event sponsors: Bennett Engineering Services, Mark Thomas, PSOMAS, and WMH Corporation. And thank you to CALCOG for partnering with us and providing us the virtual event platform, Remo.

WTS Sacramento greatly appreciates everyone's support and we all look forward to seeing you at our future events. Congratulations to all our 2020 Award and Scholarship recipients!

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