Transit leaders launch local chapter of national advocacy organization for minorities in transportation

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The Washington state chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials will work to increase diversity and inclusion at all levels of the transportation industry; issues call for regionwide participation

SEATTLE, WA – Working toward the goal of increasing diversity and inclusion at all levels of the transportation industry, leaders in Washington state's transportation industry are calling for regionwide participation in the new local chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO).

"A strong transit workforce is one that draws on the diversity of its members and the communities we serve," said Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff, a longtime supporter of COMTO's efforts nationally and a founding member of the new local chapter. "In order to remain competitive, we need the talent of people from all backgrounds and experiences to keep up with the demands of rapid growth in this area. I believe establishment of a COMTO chapter right here in Washington helps to give more people a seat at the table. It is simply the right thing to do—for Sound Transit and for the region."

"King County Metro is pleased to be a founding sponsor of the Washington state chapter of the Conference of Minority of Transportation Officials," said Metro's General Manager Rob Gannon, also a founding member of the new chapter. "Metro is firmly committed to COMTO's values of diversity and inclusion, which are vital to our core mission of connecting communities. Through this partnership, we can expand the important work we're doing regionally and be a stronger voice in shaping transportation policy at the state and national level."

"The Puget Sound region has grown exponentially over the past 30 years," said Everette Adams, founding member, chapter president and CEO of Systems Consulting. "COMTO Washington State will help achieve the goal of having the people who plan, build and operate our transportation systems reflect those who live here."

Local charter agency members and supporters of COMTO Washington State include Pierce Transit, the Seattle Department of Transportation, Washington State Department of Transportation, Community Transit and the Port of Seattle. Private firm charter members also include Triunity Engineering and Management and WSP USA; sponsors of a member kickoff gathering the evening of Nov. 14 include HNTB, AECOM and CH2M.

In addition to agencies and individuals, membership in COMTO Washington State is open to students; academic institutions; nonprofit organizations; private sector firms; and Historically Underutilized Businesses, including Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs), Airport Concession DBEs, Minority Business Enterprises, Women Business Enterprises and Veteran Business Enterprises and Disabled Veterans Enterprises.

Created in 1971 on the campus of Howard University for senior minority professionals in the transportation industry, today COMTO is a multi-ethnic, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) association advancing the professional, educational and business development of transportation professionals at every level of the industry in a variety of fields and disciplines.

Membership benefits include:

  • Participation in federal legislative and policy activities.
  • Access to an exclusive national network of transportation industry professionals.
  • Mentoring, leadership training and continuing education opportunities.
  • Participation in a pipeline of next-generation transportation leaders through scholarship and mentorship programs.
  • Discounts for COMTO's national conferences and events.

Through its signature Careers in Transportation for Youth (CITY) Program, COMTO sponsors a 10-week paid internship with public agencies and private transportation-related companies. Three students of color from diverse fields completed CITY internships at Sound Transit last summer. With more agencies and companies coming onboard, opportunities for interns to experience careers in transportation will grow in 2018.

Inaugural members and supporters of COMTO Washington State agree.

"Transportation is a top concern as the Central Puget Sound region grows at a record pace. We're excited to celebrate the launch of the new Washington state chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials. Now more than ever we need talented transportation professionals to create a regional culture of innovation and keep our region thriving now and into the future."

– Josh Brown, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Regional Council

"I am so pleased that COMTO will now be part of our Washington State transit community. The importance of this group and the good work it does to ensure minority communities are well-represented in transportation cannot be overstated. I look forward to working with this chapter to enhance our strategic initiatives of inclusion and contribute to the success of COMTO's mission."

– Sue Dreier, CEO, Pierce Transit

"Community Transit is pleased to be an inaugural member of COMTO's Washington state chapter. Our agency values inclusion and opportunity at every level—within our organization, in the communities we serve, and in our contracting with businesses throughout our region. We look forward to the discussion, concerns and opportunities that will arise from having a local COMTO forum."

– Emmett Heath, Chief Executive Officer, Community Transit CEO

"Throughout my career, I have viewed COMTO as a powerhouse for professional development and transformation in transportation. SDOT is pleased to join the Washington state chapter, and we look forward to working together to build and advance transportation innovation and equity across the state."

– Scott Kubly, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation

"It's great news that Washington state will have its own Conference of Minority Transportation Officials chapter. We look forward to working with COMTO in our commitment toward increasing inclusion, creating a more diverse workforce, and fostering an environment of equality in all the work we do."

– Roger Millar, Secretary of Transportation, Washington State Department of Transportation

"By air, sea, and land, the Port of Seattle moves people and goods safely and efficiently through our maritime and airport facilities. As we partner to build road and rail improvements, COMTO will be a valued part of how we engage our region and provide economic benefit across our state."

– Dave Soike, Interim Executive Director, Port of Seattle

To learn more about membership in COMTO Washington State, visit the local chapter website, comtowashington.org.

Members of the media are invited to attend the Washington state chapter's inaugural dinner, "Take Flight," to learn about the organization's vision and interview event speakers, including Peter Rogoff, Sound Transit CEO; Rob Gannon, GM, King County Metro; keynote speaker Noel Massie, president of US Operations for UPS; and A. Bradley Mims, COMTO national president & CEO.

When: Tuesday, Nov. 14, 5:30- 9 p.m.

Where: The Museum of Flight, 9404 East Marginal Way South, Seattle

RSVP: Please RSVP to galen.crawford@soundtransit.org or (206) 903-7526.