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Our Commitment to Equity

A conference room full of people
The U.S. DOT Volpe Center values a highly diverse workforce of persons who promote a culture of belonging by respecting the personal dignity and worth of each individual and fostering a positive environment where all feel safe and welcome. (Adobe Stock/fizkes)

Equity is an integral part of our mission at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center.

  • We seek to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) into our daily work at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center. Our goal is to integrate DEIA principles upfront, not as an afterthought, so that it’s woven into our culture and all our work products.
  • We aim to increase staff representation from all underrepresented groups in recruitment and hiring as well as advancement and retention. Our goal is to create a vibrant, welcoming culture where all are treated equitably and feel included.

Only with diverse perspectives and diverse talent can we generate greater innovations and offer impactful solutions that translate to more effective transportation systems.

Learn how equity is integrated into how we work with each other and how we work with our sponsors.

Transforming Transportation for All

Our mission at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center is to advance transportation innovation for the public good—which requires work informed by a deep understanding of impacted communities’ needs.

Transportation impacts everyone, so it requires inclusive and innovative solutions to meet the needs for all. Some recent work to advance transportation equity includes:

  • Ensuring the U.S. Transportation System Meets the Needs of All Citizens– advancing transportation equity is pivotal to achieving the strategic goals of the U.S. DOT and is at the heart of our mission at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center to transform transportation for all. Since opening its doors in 1970, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s multidisciplinary team of experts have worked together at the intersection of equity and multimodal transportation. In fact, some of our earliest research work included pioneering demonstration projects to explore equitable transit access. Learn more about our work to advance the U.S. DOT Secretary's priority of transportation equity
  • Transportation Equity Community of Practice– through our vibrant communities of practice, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center regularly brings together staff from across disciplines and teams to share knowledge, experience, and best practices on a variety of topics and skills, including transportation equity. This group shares cross-modal efforts to implement the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government
  • TransportSE: Transportation Equity for All– a team of GIS staff built TransportSE, an interactive, Tableau-based platform that provides an easy, dynamic, flexible way for users to visualize, interact with, understand, and interpret national data from U.S. Census on demographic metrics, multimodal transportation burdens, and social vulnerability

Equity from the Inside Out

In order to best reflect the diverse communities we serve, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center is committed to representing all voices and offering space for diverse populations to feel included. Our Office of Organizational Culture and Work Life and Equal Employment Opportunity Office are partnering to advance our DEIA efforts.

Members of the U.S. DOT Volpe Center staff also sit on the Department of Transportation's cross-modal Equity Community of Practice to engage in meaningful discussion, hear from speakers, share best practices to increase our knowledge and understanding, and increase our individual and group growth and development so that we reflect equity in our policies and programs to meet U.S. DOT’s mission to provide a safe and equitable travel experience for the traveling public.

Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERG) are employee-led, voluntary groups that provide education to the rest of the U.S. DOT Volpe Center on diverse topics, offer opportunities to network internally, and provide a platform for raising ideas and solutions from all employees. ERGs aim to bring together those who share an interest in specific topics or who share identities.

ERGs aim to foster an environment where all employees can thrive and excel. Here is a list of current U.S. DOT Volpe Center ERGs.

  • Adoption Plus (A+)– explores topics that connect and affirm families and people touched by adoption and foster care of children
  • Blacks in Government (BIG)– advocates for equal opportunity and professional development for Black government employees and others dedicated to justice for all
  • Childcare ERG– provides a forum for U.S. DOT Volpe Center employees who care for children to network, identify ways to balance work and childcare responsibilities, and support each other to improve our well-being and the well-being of the children in our care
  • Green Team– looks for opportunities to improve the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s resource use and conservation, enhance indoor environment, and foster community involvement
  • Peace Corps/AmeriCorps ERG– facilitates networking opportunities for returned Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers, advocates for the hiring of returned volunteers, and facilitates service opportunities at U.S. DOT
  • Recreation Association of Volpe Employees (RAVE)– supports social, recreational, charitable, and other activities at the Center
  • Volpe Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) and Allies (Pride!)– promotes a culture of diversity and inclusion through continual learning in LGBTQ+ and related issues

Special Emphasis Programs

While our ERGs are employee-driven, U.S. Congress mandates Special Emphasis Programs (SEP), which the U.S. DOT Volpe Center supports. These programs have thriving staff engagement, active programming, and regularly counsel on efforts to promote equal opportunity for all.

  • Disability Employment Program (DEP)– develops and implements activities related to hiring, placement, and advancement of individuals with disabilities at the U.S. DOT Volpe Center
  • Federal Women’s Program (FWP)– promotes equal opportunity in career advancement for women and the enhancement of the work environment for all employees
  • Hispanic Employment Program (HEP)– focuses on the needs of Hispanic with an aim to eliminate discrimination practices and to ensure Hispanics are represented at all grade levels and occupations throughout the Center workforce

DEIA Strategy Implementation

The U.S. DOT Volpe Center is working to enhance diversity, empower accessibility, advance equity, and support a culture of inclusion in our workforce. Here are some recent steps and current progress.

  • DEIA Recruitment Database– the U.S. DOT Volpe Center’s Office of Human Resources, in cooperation with teams across the U.S. DOT Volpe Center, is developing a database of organizations, including Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), to intentionally broaden our outreach and create a more inclusive hiring process. U.S. DOT Volpe Center team members are also working to create a Volpe Transportation Innovation Consortium with up to four HBCUs to include both students and faculty. The goal is to enhance the pipeline of diverse students applying to our Pathways programs and to diversify our research efforts through collaborations with the HBCU students and faculty
  • DEIA Work Group– a team of staff, representing a variety of offices and divisions across the U.S. DOT Volpe Center, developed a U.S. DOT Volpe Center-wide strategy on DEIA in 2019 and is now implementing this plan across recruitment and hiring, retention and advancement, leadership processes, and external collaboration. A calendar of job fairs is maintained and shared among all staff, and anyone interested in supporting a job fair event is encouraged
  • Inclusive Demographic Data Handbook– a cross-U.S. DOT Volpe Center team of multidisciplinary staff is currently developing a handbook for U.S. DOT Volpe Center staff to use language that is more inclusive for survey questions, which will drive the usage of more inclusive language internally and externally
  • Center Directors' DEIA Task Force- a collaboration with the Office of Human Resources to improve the U.S. DOT Volpe Center's recruiting, hiring, and retention efforts. Team members reviewed local and regional survey data on recruitment to better understand the demographics, identify problem areas, and reduce barriers hindering hiring and retention. In addition, there's now a memorandum of understanding in place with the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico for students to join our Pathways program and work on transportation research

Contact Us

Helen Blackman

Director, Organizational Culture and Work Life
U.S. DOT Volpe Center
55 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02142
Helen.Blackman@dot.gov
Phone: 617-494-3095

Read Helen Blackman’s full bio.

 

Eliot Sutler (she/they)

Officer, Equal Employment Opportunity Office
U.S. DOT Volpe Center
55 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02142
Eliot.Sutler@dot.gov
Phone: 617-945-4950

Read Eliot Sutler’s full bio.