Volpe Transportation Systems Center names its first female director


Volpe, the USA’s National Transportation Systems Center, has appointed its first female director to lead the organization’s research and technology staff of 490 analysts, economists, engineers, planners, scientists, and system developers.

Anne Aylward (below right), a proven senior leader and results-driven executive with more than 30 years in the transportation field, has been selected as Volpe’s seventh permanent director, and the first woman to hold the position. Aylward’s new role builds on her 20 years of service at Volpe, during which time she has made substantial contributions to USDOT priorities, and has also co-led the center’s efforts on numerous high-visibility priorities, including the USDOT’s ‘Beyond Traffic’ 30-year framework for the future, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) ‘NextGen’ national airspace system, and the USA’s first National Freight Strategic Plan.

Under her guidance, Volpe has hired hundreds of energetic and talented professionals; new hires have increased from 32% female in 2011 to 57% in 2015, and more women have been promoted to leadership roles. Aylward has also strengthened relationships with USDOT and other partners, helping increase the value of Volpe’s research portfolio by nearly 20% over the past five years.

Before joining Volpe, Aylward worked for the Massachusetts Port Authority from 1976 to 1993, including 10 years as director of the Port of Boston. She was also the first woman elected to chair the American Association of Port Authorities. Aylward served two terms as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Marine Board, and as a member of several Transportation Research Board (TRB) freight and intermodal committees. Aylward has been honored with major transportation awards several times throughout her career. Earlier this year, she was honored for her outstanding leadership and powerful advocacy for women in the transportation field by the Boston chapter of WTS International, an organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the global advancement of women.

As new Volpe director, Aylward will continue to develop business opportunities; sustain relationships with key transportation stakeholders within government, industry and academia; and ensure that the Volpe staff delivers innovative solutions to challenging transportation problems. Aylward takes over from acting director David Ishihara, and is now working with senior leadership to frame Volpe priorities for the next five years.

“The strength of Volpe as a leader in national transportation research is the amazing people who work here,” Aylward said. “We support the cutting-edge work of DOT agencies and many others in improving the efficiency and safety of planes, trains, cars, trucks, pipelines, and water vessels across America. But all of our work comes back to our people, and it is an honor for me to have the opportunity to lead them.”

USDOT’s assistant secretary for research and technology, Greg Winfree, commented, “I know that with Anne’s commitment to smart, effective transportation research, and to the next generation of transportation researchers, Volpe will continue to be a world-class organization well into the 21stcentury, as it has been for more than 45 years.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).