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Tolling Points

IBTTA Task Force ‘Takes Words to Action’

By: 
Bill Cramer

It’s been less than three months since IBTTA President Samuel Johnson announced the formation of the Task Force on Diversity, Social, and Racial Inclusion. During the association’s Virtual 88th Annual Meeting and Exhibition last week, participants learned that the task force has hit the ground running.

“We took words to action,” Johnson told the closing session September 16, with the 30-member task force moving quickly under the leadership of Joi Dean, CEO of the Richmond Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Ferzan Ahmed, Executive Director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. The members took immediate steps to incorporate Diversity Spotlight content in IBTTA publications to showcase talent within the membership and is creating opportunities for members to share their best diversity practices

Supporting that effort, longstanding IBTTA Foundation Board Member Rosa Rountree, CEO, Egis Projects, Inc. stepped up to raise $10,000 in just a few weeks. That funding will support two new scholarships in 2020 for students who attend the more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the United States.

Johnson stated that “Rosa Rountree has long been a strong contributor to our industry and her efforts to support the Association and Foundation are exemplary. As a woman of color and CEO of Egis Projects, Rosa recognizes the challenges that exist and is making opportunities for everyone to achieve success.”

Diversity moves the nation

And there’s more activity on the horizon. By the end of this year, the task force plans to conclude a partnership agreement with the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), aimed at maximizing IBTTA’s contribution to the industry’s diversity and celebrating a courageous voice in the transportation community that marks its 50th anniversary next year.

“We believe that diversity moves the nation,” COMTO states. “We believe that the leadership of a massive industry that has the responsibility of transporting all people all the time should reflect the complex mosaic of those they serve. We believe that commitment to inclusion across race, gender, age, religion, identity and experience moves us forward every day.”

The preview edition of COMTO’s history book captures the trajectory of an organization that began with a conference on the Howard University campus in Washington, DC in 1971, eventually growing into a national network with a thriving scholarship and internship program and significant influence in national transportation policy.

Aligning words with deeds

IBTTA’s statement on diversity, racial, and social inclusion released on June 29 aligns with COMTO’s mission and purpose.

“We are convinced that this moment calls for each of us to courageously align our words and deeds so that, in all we do, our words and our actions center on human dignity, particularly for those to whom it has been denied,” Johnson and IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Patrick Jones said at the time. “IBTTA stands to denounce systemic practices that exclude basic human dignity and equitable treatment for all.”

In a moment when the nation was reeling from the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey , and the “countless number of human beings whose lives have been taken simply because of the color of their skin,” IBTTA acknowledged “that Black lives matter, and that those lives were lost to beliefs, behaviors and practices founded in ignorance and rooted in systemic racism throughout the United States.”

IBTTA formed the new task force to listen to the voices of those in our association and society who truly understand and recognize the depth of the inequity caused by racial and social injustice. With this knowledge, we will work to implement practices and programs that contribute to racial and social justice in our IBTTA family and society.

Newsletter publish date: 
Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 11:00

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