Thursday, March 25, 2021
3:00-4:00pm EST/12:00-1:00pm PST
On March 25, 2021, we gathered to celebrate the achievements of women in transportation and talk role models, what it looks like to get more women in transportation leadership, and what we wish we knew when we started our careers.
Amy Lopez is a senior planner based in our Oakland, California office who brings particular expertise in community engagement and stakeholder coordination around complex transportation issues. Amy pursued transportation after getting an undergraduate degree in architecture and teaching English in disadvantaged communities.
“In architecture school, I remember saying to a trusted professor, ‘Prof. So-and-So’s theory class is interesting. And Prof. So-and-So’s highly conceptual studio is fascinating. But really, when are we going to think about the fact that people need to drop their kids off at school, swing by the bank, and then get to work?'” says Amy. “Looking back, I see that I was most interested in doing work that would ease people’s burdens when they are going about their lives.”
In addition to leading projects with some of Kittelson’s largest clients, Amy is a leader in Kittelson’s onboarding committee and a mentor to and advocate of other working parents across the firm. She is also a runner, preferring half-marathons but making do during the pandemic with treadmill runs during her son’s 30-minute class meetings.
“I am a sister-in-law, sister-cousin, and compassionate friend. I’m the person who will join you for 2 hours of eye contact and listening (often over coffee or wine or on a hike), and who will not tell you what to do, but somehow you meander your way into clarity when we are together,” says Amy. “I’m a solo mom, have been for 5 years, and I give myself top marks in this part of my life. Also, wow! parenting is the most transformative, influential, and relentless work of a lifetime.”
Benazir Portal is a senior engineer based out of Miami who is passionate about transportation safety. While studying civil engineering in college, she fell in love with transportation because of the opportunity to impact communities on a large scale and help trailblaze new technologies and innovations that change how people travel on a daily basis.
“I grew up in Bolivia, a country with the flexibility of having at least 6 modes of transportation at the tip of my fingers. I never hesitated or put in question whether I would be able to travel from point A to point B without a personal vehicle,” says Benazir. “When I moved to the US for college, I had to share a car with my sister and it felt like my freedom was taken by not having the mobility flexibility I grew up with.”
Benazir is currently serving as president of the South Florida chapter of WTS, an international organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women in transportation, through which she connects with and mentors other women and men in the industry. Outside of work, she loves traveling, getting to know other cultures and transportation systems, and watching soccer.
“I am the youngest of three daughters, all three engineers and all three in transportation coincidentally. I like to believe I am the favorite aunt or at least until I stop playing with my niece and nephew. I am the mom of a rescue cat who has three names but only answers to ‘Gato.’”
Erin Ferguson is a principal engineer and regional leader at Kittelson, overseeing project management in our California and Arizona offices. She is passionate about improving safety for everyone through improving walking and biking conditions, access to transit, and our roads and streets.
Erin pursued a career in transportation because she saw the opportunity to identify, plan, design and implement projects that would enhance people’s ability and experience in going about life – to/from work, school, play, and visiting friends and family. She says she gained many skills she applies in her current role from her prior work experience in the restaurant industry.
“I learned a lot about people in that job,” says Erin. “I learned how to work as a team with the other restaurant employees of all ages and backgrounds. I learned how to deliver disappointing news to customers. I learned how to have compassion for people even when their frustration or anger was directed at me. And, I learned how to think a few steps ahead of what needed to happen to be able to keep up during the really busy shifts.”
Outside of work, Erin’s favorite things include playing and laughing with her 4-year old daughter, going for neighborhood walks with her partner, reading novels, staying up way too late catching-up with her best friend, and cuddling with her daughter as her mom reads books over FaceTime.
Amanua Osafo is a transportation analyst in our Orlando office whose interests include operational analysis, transportation planning, and public involvement. Amanua is just over a year into her career at Kittelson after completing a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
“I have always been interested in optimizing complex systems. I think that transportation affects every part of our lives,” says Amanua. “And what better way to make things more efficient than to work in an industry that affects all other industries?”
Amanua is the secretary of the Ghana Transportation Professionals Forum, an organization dedicated to promoting research related to transportation planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of her home country Ghana’s transportation infrastructure, and a member of the Orlando chapter of Young Professionals in Transportation, an organization that helps professional development, fellowship and networking for new professionals in the transportation field.
“I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I like to think of myself as an outdoor person, I love to do anything that involves outdoors!” she says. “When I don’t get to go outside, I enjoy playing trivia and having good conversations.”
Camilla Dartnell is an engineering associate and planner in our Portland office. She is passionate about making it convenient and comfortable for people to walk, bike, and take transit to their destinations.
“I was biking and taking transit to my summer internship in Atlanta, and I became aware that even though biking was better for my health, community, and the environment, our transportation system was set up to encourage driving,” says Camilla. “I saw that our transportation systems also impacted where people chose or were able to live and spend their time. It became very clear to me that without a system that prioritized cars, we could have more vibrant neighborhoods, safer streets, healthier people, and less pollution. Around this same time, the transportation sector surpassed electricity generation as the sector with the most greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. This realization of the role transportation plays in our lives, communities, and world led me to pursue a career in transportation.”
Camilla serves as a leader and mentor not only for fellow staff at Kittelson, but also through WTS, where she serves on the board as luncheon co-chair, and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP), where she is involved with conference planning. She stays busy outside of work with home renovations as a new homeowner, her local community garden, and taking care of a cat she rescued during quarantine.