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AASHTO honors MDOT with 2022 President’s Transportation Awards in equity and partnerships
- MDOT recently received two 2022 President’s Transportation Awards from AASHTO for work in equity and building partnerships.
- The MDOT executive team was recognized for creating a chief culture, equity, and inclusion officer and reorganizing various working areas under that role.
- The department also was recognized for partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities through the MDOT Transportation Diversity Recruitment Program.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) presented two 2022 President’s Transportation Awards to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for work in equity and building partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). The awards were announced in October of 2022 at the organization’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
“It is an honor for me and other department employees to be recognized for our commitment to equity and inclusion and the work we are doing with our partners to be sure those values underpin our work,” said MDOT Director Paul C. Ajegba. “I’m also pleased at the spotlight this puts on our Transportation Diversity and Recruitment Program’s (TDRP) vital work providing opportunities for historically under-represented students.”
The President’s Transportation Award for Equity recognizes MDOT’s executive team: Director Paul C. Ajegba, Chief Operations Officer Bradley Wieferich, Chief Administrative Officer Laura Mester, and Chief Culture, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Terri Slaughter.
The murder of George Floyd in May 2020, and the widespread protests that followed, forced many organizations to confront the challenging issues of race, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
At MDOT, senior management saw the crisis as an opportunity to reorganize, creating a new position titled chief culture, equity, and inclusion officer. This deputy director-level position oversees areas within the Bureau of Transportation Planning, the Office of Organizational Development, the Office of Business Development, the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, and the Office of Economic Development. In addition, the chief culture, equity, and inclusion officer will help MDOT make meaningful progress in optimizing its organizational culture, aligning equity and inclusion goals with business outcomes, and determining how MDOT’s long-range plans and investments will impact safety, access, and mobility for all the state’s transportation users.
The President’s Transportation Award for Partnerships honors MDOT’s work with HBCUs through the TDRP, which offers valuable on-the-job training and job shadowing to undergraduate students pursuing degrees in engineering or other transportation-related careers.
The goal of the TDRP is to recruit and introduce underrepresented groups of students to transportation-specific career opportunities. While participating in this program, students will develop professional competence, long-range career goals, integrate work experiences with academic knowledge, establish a professional network, and earn income that can assist with college expenses.
TDRP students will work alongside other MDOT-sponsored on-the-job training program participants, internal staff and external professionals who provide engineering, technical, inspection, and project management services for state road and bridge projects.
AASHTO represents state departments of transportation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving as a catalyst for excellence in transportation.
Photos courtesy of AASHTO:
Equity award (left to right): Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director; Laura Mester, MDOT chief administrative officer; Bradley Wieferich, MDOT chief operations officer; and Dr. Shawn Wilson, past AASHTO president and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development secretary.
Partnerships award (left to right): Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director; James Fults, MDOT Workforce Programs and Recruitment Unit manager; James Jackson, MDOT Transportation Diversity Recruitment strategy coordinator; and Dr. Shawn Wilson, past AASHTO president and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development secretary.