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Women of SDOT – Meet Margo Dawes

March is Women’s History Month and we’re celebrating some of the many women at SDOT who inspire us. Read about Angee and Lorelei.

Margo Dawes is the Data and Equity Strategic Adviser on our New Mobility team.

What does that mean? It means Margo uses data to improve programs and continues to push herself and our organization to run a more equitable transportation system.

Margo has degrees in civil engineering and city planning and a heart for transportation equity.

She believes we need a transportation system that works for communities of color, low-income communities, and others who have experienced government disinvestment or have actively been harmed by transportation investments.

In 2018 she saw a posting for a data strategy position on our New Mobility team. Our New Mobility team manages our bike share program and keeps tabs on emerging transportation trends.

She applied for the job, and added her own twist.

She asked if on top of the job she was offered, she could also be the New Mobility team’s liaison to the the Transportation Equity Team.

Margo and the Mobility Solutions team dress up like their manager for his birthday.
Margo and the Mobility Solutions team dress up like their manager for his birthday.

For the data side of her job, Margo brings mobility data in-house for analysis – data like when and where bike share trips start and end, how long they last, and how far they go. This data is used for a bunch of things like making sure vendors comply with their permits, program evaluation, and city transportation planning.

As the team’s liaison to the Transportation Equity Program, Margo establishes metrics to determine how the various new mobility programs are working for communities of color, low-income people, and people with disabilities.

Our Transportation Equity program is housed in our Director’s Office and works with an Intradepartmental Transportation Equity Team that has representatives from across the department.

The Program’s guiding principles are to:

  • Build community trust through engagement and accountability
  • Provide affordable transportation options
  • Create opportunities for communities to thrive in place
SDOT Change Team members
SDOT Change Team members

Margo also co-chairs our Race and Social Justice Change Team with Chisaki Muraki. The Change Team supports SDOT staff in achieving our vision of eliminating institutional racism through guidance, training, and accountability.

Margo with others of in the Women Changing Transportation mentorship program.
Margo with others of in the Women Changing Transportation mentorship program.

Last year, Margo took the opportunity to participate in a national mentorship program called Women Changing Transportation put on by the Transit Center.

The program took 17 aspiring transportation leaders from across the country and paired them up with mentors – all women, all accomplished, and all motivated to change the landscape of America’s transportation systems.

They kicked off the program year all together in Austin where they started building close professional relationships and learning from women who were paving their own paths in the transportation industry.

Margo with Midori (mentor) and Ambar (mentee) in New York
Margo with Midori (mentor) and Ambar (mentee) in New York

Throughout the year, the cohort of 34 women were sent to transportation conferences across the country.

Imagine, 34 women – half women of color – showing up to traditionally male dominated conferences. They turned heads and made waves. They were able to stand up together and feel the collective power of having women like them in the room

As a queer Latina working in transportation, Margo hasn’t always had mentors to look up to who shared her story and career aspirations.

The Women Changing Transportation Mentorship Program gave that to her.

Margo’s mentor, Tiffany-Ann Taylor, reminded Margo and the other mentees that they have star quality–talent and determination that both inspire and threaten. Tiffany told them to watch out for those who would dim their light and to own their star quality and shine brightly.

We are incredibly grateful to have Margo Dawes on our team and know that she will continue shining brightly and pushing our transportation system to be more equitable.