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  • Writer's pictureWTS Sacramento

Recap - 2021 Annual Award & Scholarships Event

WTS Sacramento welcomed over 200 guests at the Annual Awards and Scholarship cocktail reception on the evening of Thursday, March 24th. We were thrilled to hold this event in-person again, allowing guests to reconnect with their colleagues and meet the 2021 award and scholarship recipients.

WTS Sacramento President, Emily Abrahams, gave a warm welcome to guests, Corporate Partners, generous event sponsors, and volunteers.

We were excited to welcome Congresswoman Doris Matsui as the keynote speaker for the evening and award our newly established needs-based scholarship, the Doris Matsui Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Scholarship, for the first time.

Presented by Scholarship Chair, Thea Fuerstenberg, a total of $22,000 was granted to ten extraordinary young students. And Recognitions Chair, Fran Ruger, presented the awards to six outstanding people and projects that have contributed greatly to transportation in our region.

Congratulations and thank you to all the 2021 award and scholarship recipients for your commitment to the transportation industry. We wish you all the best.

Scholarship Recipients:

Rylie Kosney, Sheldon High School, received the Will Kempton High School Scholarship. Rylie participates in Science Olympiad and Biotech Academy and volunteers with US Kids Golf. She has a senior research project on engineering hydroponic and aeroponic systems for growing lettuce.

Honorary Recipient: Amy Peralta | Sutter Peak Charter Academy.

Zahra Smith, St. Francis High School, is the inaugural recipient of the Doris Matsui Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Scholarship. Zahra participates in Lacrosse, Basketball, Black Student Union and Racial Justice League. Zahra also volunteers at the Arthur F. Turner Community Library and has a passion for STEM.

Kiara Movido, American River College, received the Junior College Scholarship. Kiara tutors STEM subjects and has assisted the Sacramento County DOT with their draft Active Transportation Plan. Kiara plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.

Joselyn Perez, CSU Chico, received the Sharon D. Banks Undergraduate Scholarship. Joselyn interns at the California Engineering Company and is a member of Educational Talent Search and American Society of Civil Engineers. Joselyn is excited to become a licensed Civil Engineer.

Honorary Recipient: Esther Chu | UC Davis

Jasmine Randhawa, University of the Pacific, received the Bimla G. Rhinehart Undergraduate Leadership Scholarship. Jasmine served as Team Captain for the Mid-Pacific Conference Sustainable Solutions Event and is a Student Assistant at Caltrans. She will use her leadership skills in her career as a civil engineer to improve quality of life and safety.

Ericka Mora Campos, UNR, received the Helene M. Overly Graduate Scholarship. Ericka serves as Treasurer for the Institute of Transportation Engineers and enriches her education with research internships, such as the National Lab of Material and Structural Models and the Sustainable Urban Development Program. Ericka hopes to open doors so more students can follow this same path.

Honorary Recipient: Rey Hosseinzade

Sarah Grajdura, UC Davis, received the Paula Hammond Leadership Legacy Scholarship. Sarah is affiliated with the Institute of Transportation Studies and the Feminist Research Institute. Sarah also co-developed a working group on transportation equity and mobility justice for students and faculty. Her goal is to develop intelligent transportation policy, planning and engineering to help ensure a well-functioning society.

Award Recipients:

Kristin Calia, Fehr & Peers, received the Woman of the Year Award.

Kristin leads a design team and serves in several leadership roles. She has worked on projects across the country and holds professional licenses for several states. As one of the founding members of Fehr & Peers’ Diversity and Inclusion Group, Kristin demonstrates her dedication as a company-wide leader who champions the advancement of women and minorities through direct mentorship and collaborative D&I initiatives.

Brian Kelly, CEO of California High-Speed Rail Authority, accepted the Employer of the Year Award.

The Authority provides exceptional opportunities for women in the transportation field and empowers women to take a lead role in shaping the high-speed rail industry in the United States. Women currently have representation in the highest levels of leadership at the Authority and have made a tremendous impact on the progress of the high-speed rail project, especially within the last two years.

Charuni Kurumbalapitiya, Mark Thomas, received the Member of the Year Award.

Charuni leads the WTS Sacramento Chapter Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (D&I) Program. Brand new to WTS and with little guidance on what the role would entail, she eagerly took on the position in 2020 and established a D&I Program Charter and Strategic Plan. In 2021, she hit the ground running and began implementing the goals set out in the Plan, which includes celebrating cultural heritage and establishing the WTS Sacramento D&I Scholarship.

Lisa Hinz, Vice President of Security, Safety, and Customer Satisfaction at Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT), accepted the Innovative Transportation Solutions Award on behalf of the Transit Social Worker Program.

SacRT’s innovative programming identified and set up safe parking sites and provided transit passes to non-profit organizations for distribution. They also established a Social Service Practitioner who connects individuals living along SacRT’s right-of-way and transit facilities with regional services.

Rick Jennings, Sacramento Area Council of Government's (SACOG) Board Chair and Sacramento City Council Member, accepted the Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award for the SACOG Race, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group.

Following the completion of a racial equity audit, SACOG formed the Working Group to examine SACOG’s programs and projects through a racial equity lens. The SACOG Board of Directors adopted the SACOG Racial Equity Statement of Change and Commitment that includes specific actions to rectify racial disparities and set the foundation for the agency’s racial equity work in the years ahead.

Mitch Weiss, Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission, received the Honorable Ray LaHood Award.

Director Weiss has guided the Commission in advancing its commitment to equity and climate objectives through the issuance of a Racial Equity Statement, creation of an Equity Advisory Roundtable, and implementation of the Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure. He actively ensures that women can compete for key positions, including those that were previously only held by men.

The evening closed off with raffle prizes sponsored by AECOM, AIM Consulting, Bennett Engineering Services, Dokken Engineering, UNICO Engineering, and Teichert. Through the raffle, we raised over $1600 for the WTS Foundation.

Thank you to the Drink Sponsors, Mark Thomas, Teichert, and R.E.Y. Engineers.

Thank you all for your attendance and continued support of WTS Sacramento. We hope to see you all again soon! If you would like to share your thoughts about this event please fill out our Event Feedback Survey.

WTS Sacramento wouldn't be able to put on all our programs without the help of our Corporate Partners. If your firm would like to become a 2022 Corporate Partner, please contact Leslie Fung,

If you would like to become more involved in the board, please contact WTS Sacramento President, Emily Abrahams,

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