What attracted you to the transportation industry?
Transportation is an industry that I didn’t think about, however it has a way of finding the right people who have a passion to serve those in their communities. I got my first job in transportation as a Secretary at Santa Fe Trails Transit. What’s interesting is when I applied for the job, I had no idea what transit entailed, but I learned a lot and liked what we were doing.
What has been your greatest professional achievement?
I have been fortunate in my career path starting out in small, urbanized transit system to being able to work at a large transit agency and move up from an ADA Paratransit Administrator to Superintendent of Operations which allowed me to learn how large regional transit agencies operate. My greatest achievement here at Rio Metro was working with other co-workers to apply for and receive grant funding to build an administration and operations building in Los Lunas for our Valencia County bus operations staff. This building is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.
How have women made a difference in the transportation industry?
I feel women make a difference daily in the transportation industry because they tend to have a heartfelt passion to meet the needs of those they are serving. Whether this be in family, everyday work life or transportation in their communities.
What was the biggest influence in your selection of a career in transportation?
I was inspired by a cousin who had a disability, and I chose to stay in transportation because I wanted to improve the quality of life of those individuals who may not have any other means of transportation to and from where they need to go. “While working on my Gurule family genealogy I learned they were farmers from Sabinal, NM south of Belen and began working with the railroad, so I guess I can say transportation is in my DNA.”
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
The favorite part of my job is that every day is different depending on what you are dealing with and knowing that we are making a difference in individuals’ lives by providing transportation services needed in the communities we serve. It’s more than a job, it’s an adventure, and I like that kind of challenge.
What lessons have you been taught from the important women in your life that you have applied to your own life?
I come from a long line of strong women and the biggest lesson I’ve learned from them is that when things are tough or do not go as planned, you keep your head up and continue moving forward. They were very determined women.
How have these lessons helped you succeed as a woman in transportation?
As a single mother of two when I first started my career in transportation, I pushed myself to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees while working to further advance in my career path. I also wanted to be an example for my children by showing them you can achieve anything you want as long as you are willing to put in the hard work to achieve it.
What natural talents do you possess that help in your chosen career?
I have good intuition and am a quick learner, able to multi-task in a fast-paced work environment and I like interacting and helping people.
What part of your career story would you like to share with the world?
I like jobs that challenge me. Throughout my career I have been asked to do things I did not know how or feel comfortable doing and I was always willing to take the risk and learn new things. As a result of that, I was offered other job opportunities or projects that would help me advance in my career path.
How long have you been working for the company/organization? And what positions have to you held prior to your current one?
I have been with Rio Metro for 9 years and 8 months. I was Assistant Transit Director of Bus Operations for 9 years, and in August 2022, I transitioned into my new position as Operations Review & Policy Compliance Manager. At other transit agencies, at LA Metro, I held the position of ADA Paratransit Administrator, Contract Services Manager and Superintendent of Operations.
How does what you do/what the organization does make a positive impact in the community?
Rio Metro provides regional connections to the New Mexico Rail Runner Express and provides local dial-a-ride service in the City of Rio Rancho and Village of Corrales and in Valencia County that allow individuals to get to work, school, doctor appointments, shopping and entertainment.
What do you think is needed to further attract women to the transportation workforce?
There needs to be more awareness in different mediums, such as social media, to help women better understand transportation industry careers and what job opportunities are available. It’s a male dominated industry, but inroads are being made for women in training through female academies, scholarship opportunities, and internship programs.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter this industry?
Be willing to learn new things outside of your comfort zone; join an organization that will provide resources and support to help you advance in your career path; and find a mentor that can provide guidance, feedback, and who challenges you.
Anything else you would like to say?
I am a strong believer in the benefits of joining associations in the industry for networking and education which could lead to leadership opportunities. I continue to learn and grow from females around me and others. It helps me to stay motivated, and I know here at Rio Metro we’re making an impact.
As told to Allyne Clarke, Marketing Manager, Rio Metro Regional Transit District.