I had the immense pleasure of speaking at the recent Women’s Transportation Seminar in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was inspiring; meeting and speaking to the diverse group of women in attendance. Below is a recap of the event as put together in the NDOT “Safe and Connected Newsletter.”
Sondra Rosenberg sits at the Women’s Transportation Seminar, newborn in her arms. As a training
exercise requires attendees to fill out a list of their priorities and core values, Rosenberg hands her son
to friend and colleague Susan Martinovich, who retired as NDOT director in 2012.
This extraordinary display of the dual role Rosenberg plays—NDOT Assistant Director of Planning and mother
to an infant—and the natural support her colleagues give her, are normalized here at NDOT, where the latest
WTS mentoring program luncheon was held.
“We are happier and more fulfilled when our work aligns with our values,” said guest speaker Shavon
Lindley, speaking words that are literally being exemplified before our eyes.
Lindley presented on several topics, including the difficulty for women to transcend their own perceived
limitations and to vie with male counterparts for coveted leadership positions.
“When we do break through, amazing things happen,” Lindley said.
Martinovich, who is the past president of the Nevada chapter of WTS, said one of the most encouraging
things to witness is the professional growth of men and women who initially doubt their knowledge and
merits but then progress through the ranks as a result of initiative and dedicated effort.
“You don’t have to know everything from the start,” she explained. “It isn’t just women – it’s also men who
were hired, went home and studied, and worked their way up.”
Lindley mentioned that the most common obstacle she observes is in applying the lessons learned in these
kinds of meetings once attendees return to the office. With emails piling up and potential family obligations
following their work day, how, then, can one work their way up?
“Don’t stop learning,” Martinovich advised. “There’s always a job to be done. Raise your hand in a meeting, ‘I
can do it.’ If you don’t know how, figure it out. You become visible, and being visible brings you more
With a diverse group of women from multiple agencies spanning Carson City and Las Vegas, members of the
Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County were impressed with the lessons imparted.
“Attending the event was a great way to connect with women in leadership positions in Nevada,” said RTC
Public Information Officer Lauren Ball. “Now, more than ever, it’s important for women to support and
empower each other in the workplace. Our state, regional, and local agencies all benefit from events like this
that give women the opportunity to connect with and learn from our peers.”
Martinovich and Rosenberg are continually impressed with the turnout at these meetings from different
agencies that relate to transportation. Meetings are attended by everyone from airport employees to those
in transportation supplies industry jobs and even the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
“WTS is all transportation, and that is the uniqueness that it brings: it’s an opportunity to bring in a lot more
diversity,” Martinovich said.
From peer mentoring groups to confidence-building exercises, the environment is collegial and empowering.
The group’s members eschew competition with one another, instead preferring to share relatable anecdotes
that inspire and encourage each other to pursue positions of influence.
“The bottom line is that employees can see someone like a Denise Inda or Jenica Keller and know that it’s
okay to be a woman and that a woman can have that position,” Martinovich said. “That’s what I tried to do:
Show that it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman. If you’re competent at your job, both men and
women can become a director.”
Find out more about the Advancing Women in Transportation organization by clicking here.