All Member Forum

Social Justice and Equality

By Mr. Jeffrey Paniati P.E posted 09-01-2020 05:11 PM

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, ITE leadership issued a statement on Social Justice and Equality that said in part:

“Transportation professionals have a profound duty to provide mobility solutions for all members of our society and to ensure that safe and dignified options exist for all. ITE
believes that differences in background and experience enrich the culture and experiences of ITE for our membership as they do for the communities in which we live and work.”

I wanted to share more behind why ITE made this statement, and made it now. As transportation professionals, we can make a significant impact on the communities where we live and work. ITE International President Randy McCourt, P.E., PTOE (F) is fond of encouraging us to “Shape our Communities,” which has even more significance in the current context. Whether we work in the public or private sector, every day we make decisions on behalf of our citizens that significantly impact the quality of their lives. As we interact regularly with the public to plan, design, construct, and operate the transportation system, to the outside world we are often the face of our organization.

As a community of transportation professionals with a mission to “…serve the needs of (our) communities and help shape the future of the profession and transportation in
the societal context”—how could we stay silent on this issue and not make our intentions clear? This is also a statement about ITE, who we want to be as an organization, and the diversity we want within our organization. We should reflect the diversity and richness that exists in our society and profession—today, we are not yet there. 

It was important that our leadership acknowledge the need to support greater diversity in our profession and build a more diverse ITE. The Diversity Scholars program created under the leadership of Past President Ken Voigt, P.E. (H) and carried forward by the ITE Legacy Committee is working to provide opportunities for underrepresented populations with a focus on first generation college students. It is great to have two scholars in the program and see individual members and organizations contribute so more students can benefit from this program. The recent major donation from Transoft Solutions is a great example of the leadership that is needed on this issue.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, led by ITE International Vice President Alyssa Rodriguez, P.E., PTOE (F) and International Director Jeff Riegner, P.E., AICP, PTOE
(F), is actively working to promote greater diversity and inclusion throughout our ranks. The Equity Plenary Panel and Diversity and Inclusion Workshop held at the recent ITE virtual Annual Meeting and Exhibition provided opportunities to continue these conversations.

I was pleased and proud to see our leadership respond quickly and affirmatively regarding our role as transportation professionals and the importance of increasing the diversity in our membership. To me this represented the best of ITE. Now we have the hard work of living up to this statement and these ideals. If you have ideas about how to increase diversity at ITE, you can reach me at or on Twitter: @JPaniatiITE.

For now, I leave you with the words of Congressman John Lewis: “Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?”

This is the director's message from the September 2020 issue of 
ITE Journal.