We take off our hard hats in memory — and in honor — of Julie Cunningham, president and chief executive officer of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, who died June 24. Her vision and hard work raised the profile of COMTO, a national organization we support, and her determination brought more people of color to the table to engage in the transportation industry.
Since she was appointed to her position at COMTO in 2001, she has led the trade associtation to unprecedencted growth, moving from a single focus of public transit to multi-modalism, including state departments of transportation, aviation and port authorities.
“Julie often said her mission is for people of color to have a seat at the table,” said Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of the American Public Transportation Association. “Her legacy is the many individuals who have served, and are still serving, in influential roles in transportation, and the many young people she has mentored who will have seats at the table.”
Cunningham also served on then President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team at the U.S. Department of Transportation and has given expert testimony to Congress, including the the Congressional Black Caucus, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Democratic Caucus.
“Under her direction, COMTO has become a recognized resource as a result of the organization’s advocacy relative to workforce diversity and inclusion, and participation by Historically Underutilized Businesses (minority, women and veteran owned businesses) in the transportation industry. COMTO was awarded the 2005 Disadvantaged Business Advocate of the Year by the U.S. Department of Transportation,” the about page on her on COMTO’s website reads.