This episode of the Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP Podcast revolves around a conversation with Shawn Wilson, Ph. D., (seen in above photo standing at podium) secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2021-2022 president. He is the first African-American elected to serve as AASHTO’s president in the organization’s 107-year history.
Dr. Wilson plans to use his one-year tenure as AASHTO’s president to “address the issues that matter” in the transportation industry, especially when it comes to promoting equity and encouraging participation in what he calls “non-traditional partnerships.”
One of Dr. Wilson’s his primary emphasis areas – entitled “Pathways to Equity” – is designed to intentionally expand opportunities within the state DOT community by creating a culture that identifies, trains, and empowers individuals in under-represented populations covering age, gender, ethnicity, and race.
“I’m interested in how we sustain that opportunity to achieve equity,” Dr. Wilson said. “How are we, as state DOTs, building a bench of leaders that reflects the population in the communities we serve? How do we diversify, not just with race, but also with gender, with disciplines? How do we change what we do as a department of transportation in a way that opens up the opportunity to recruit and retain a more capable, qualified, and inclusive professional workforce?”
His second emphasis area – “Partnering to Deliver” – is an AASHTO and state DOT initiative designed to create partnerships with non-traditional organizations, both transportation-related and non-transportation specific. The idea is to embrace the richness of differing perspectives represented in the broader transportation community, enhance awareness and strengthen understanding.
Dr. Wilson has a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Louisiana, a master’s degree in public administration from Southern University, and a doctorate in public policy from Southern University. A native of New Orleans, Dr. Wilson and his wife, Rocki, live in Lafayette, Louisiana. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.
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