The Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) of Northern California held its 16th Annual Holiday Dinner and Scholarship Awards at the Marriott City Center in downtown Oakland on December 6.
A VIP reception followed by dinner brought together individuals and organizations making outstanding contributions in transportation who seek to advance the careers of young people of color in the industry.
Senior executives from major transportation agencies representing BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency), AC Transit (Alameda-Contra Costa Transit), VTA (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) among others were in attendance. Organizational board members and elected officials also networked and celebrated excellence in the community.
“We are proud to award scholarships to this year’s outstanding students that will be at the forefront of our transforming transportation industry,” said COMTO president, Beverly Greene. “Solutions to the industry’s current challenges and strategies to capitalize on potential opportunities on the horizon are being developed and implemented by this year’s COMTO Industry award winners,” Greene is also the External Affairs, Marketing & Communications representative for AC Transit.
Scholarship recipients included Giovanni Smith, Sacramento State University; Aitran Doan, Stanford University and Miguel Rodriguez, University of Pacific who received the Charter Merit Award. The Sharon Banks Scholarship was presented to Zaid Anwar, Sacramento State University and Yuritzi Zurate, UC Davis, received the Curtis Green Scholarship. The Rosa Parks Scholarship was presented to David Parsons, San Francisco State University.
According to Greene, the organization has awarded over $250,000 to deserving students of color.
“Our awardees have pursued higher education at colleges such as Stanford, Cal Berkeley, Mills College, Morehouse, Howard University, U.C. Davis and others,” said Greene. “The scholarship represents different cultural and socioeconomic experiences that will enrich the transportation industry. A number of past scholarship awardees are now employed as professionals in both public and private sector organizations.”
COMTO Industry honorees included Chief Executive Officer Chris Iglesias of The Unity Council, who was presented the Advocacy Award for his dedication to improving the quality of life for residents in the largest Latino neighborhood in the Bay Area, Oakland’s Fruitvale District through an economic and intergenerational equity agenda.
The Minority Business Enterprise Award was presented to Laura Luster, founder president of L. Luster and Associates, for her management and outreach programs designed to enhance the utilization of minority and women-owned, disadvantaged, disabled veteran, local and small business enterprises.
The Emerging Young Leader Award went to Justin Montgomery, assistant resident engineer of The Allen Group. The North Carolina A&T graduate served as the office engineer on a $143 million design-build project, the Long-Term Parking Garage for the San Francisco International Airport.
The Innovation Award was presented to Sahar Shirazi, a policy, and planning expert with extensive experience working with governments and planning organizations to bring about equitable outcomes for communities through transportation.
The President’s Leadership Award was presented to Dana Lang, owner of Dana Lang & Associates, for her more than 20 year of experience with government and transportation agencies. Lang initiated COMTO’s chapter scholarship program in 2004 and the chapter’s internship program, funded by the FTA (Federal Transit Administration) in 2005.