Melissa Tooley, senior research engineer and director of external initiatives with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), received the Ethel S. Birchland Award Oct. 1 in New York City at The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) national convention.
Named after Ethel S. Birchland, ARTBA’s executive director in the mid-1920s, ARTBA’s Transportation Development Foundation selects the recipients annually to recognize women who have “demonstrated outstanding leadership and long-term service in the transportation design and construction industry’s public or private sectors. Particular focus is given to the individual’s dedication to the advancement of innovation and other women leaders.”
For Tooley, supporting, mentoring, and advancing women leaders in the transportation industry, while also serving as an educator and thought leader, has resulted in the creation of numerous successful and beneficial transportation education and research programs and initiatives, at both the state and national level, in her 30+-year career.
“I am humbled by this award – there is no greater honor than recognition by one’s peers,” says Tooley. “The ARTBA Women Leaders Council spotlights women’s achievements in transportation, and I am thankful that ARTBA is so supportive of women in transportation construction, design and research.”
Over the last 12 years, Tooley has served in a leadership role at five University Transportation Centers (UTCs) at TTI. The UTC program is a national program funded through the US Department of Transportation. Tooley was the first woman and the youngest person elected as president of the Council of University Transportation Centers, an organization made up of UTC directors from across the country. She is a former recipient of ARTBA’s S. S. Steinberg Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to research and education. She has chaired national conferences for the National Academies, served on several Transportation Research Board committees, and served on the Board of Regents for the Eno Foundation since 2006. For the past 10 years, in addition to her other duties, Tooley has managed the Federal Affairs Program for TTI. She served on the ARTBA Executive Committee as a vice-chairman at large for 5 years, currently serves on ARTBA’s board of directors, and represents ARTBA on the V2I Deployment Coalition. She is a previous chair of ARTBA’s Research and Education Division and was the founding chair of the ARTBA Women Leaders in Transportation Design and Construction Council.