History of the Women In Trucking Association

Although the trucking industry has made great strides to accommodate women, there are still obstacles that might cause some to avoid this career opportunity and others who choose to leave. As carriers advertise automated transmissions, air ride seats, drop and hook freight, and regional runs, the industry becomes more attractive for female drivers as well as their male counterparts.

Outside of the truck, our focus is to bring more women into leadership roles to create a more diverse environment and to tap into unrealized potential. We represent women who design the trucks, own the trucks, sell the trucks, fix the trucks, and drive the trucks.

In our short history, Women In Trucking has accomplished a great deal since the association was formed. At that first meeting held in March of 2007, twelve innovative and influential women formed the first board of directors and established the group’s mission. The organization was recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit 501(c)(6) organization. A logo was designed and the membership drive started. In its first year the group attracted 500 individual and corporate members. > View our Timeline PDF

In 2008, we held our first reception at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. We included a chocolate fountain, which has become our favorite signature feature at events. In December, CEO Ellen Voie attended Tri-C Driver Training Academy in Cleveland and earned her commercial driver’s license (CDL). Her book, “Crushing Cones,” was later published as a guide for attending truck driving school.

In 2009, we held our first annual “Salute to the Women Behind the Wheel.” Anne Ferro, then Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, was our speaker.

Ellen Voie became the President/CEO of the organization and Leigh Foxall moved into the chairwoman’s position. We began our monthly feature on SiriusXM’s Freewheelin’ show with Meredith Ochs and Chris T, along with (then) board member, Marge Bailey.

In 2010, FritoLay became our first Gold Level Partner and Mark Rousseau joined the board as the first male director. The scholarship Foundation was formed as a separate charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with an independent board of directors.

Deborah Hersman, (then) chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board rode in trucks from her office in Washington, DC to the Mid-America Trucking Show where she spoke at the 2nd annual “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel.” Navistar sponsored the first annual “Influential Woman in Trucking” award which recognized Rochelle Bartholomew, head of CalArk Trucking. A tattoo party was held at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas and CEO Voie received her first (and only) tattoo featuring the Women In Trucking logo.

In 2011, the LA Sparks retired Lisa Leslie’s jersey and invited WIT members to honor Leslie’s mother Christine, who had supported her family as a professional driver. Joyce Brenny was recognized as the Influential Woman in Trucking sponsored by Navistar.

In 2012, Women In Trucking Association was recognized by the White House as a “Transportation Innovator Champion of Change!” An “Anti-harassment Employment Guide,” written by J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., was offered as a member benefit to address harassment issues. Our magazine, Redefining the Road, became our official member publication. Voie traveled to Australia to speak to the Transport Women Australia organization. We held our first annual “Women in Transportation” event at the Cleveland Indian’s baseball game and Voie threw out the ceremonial opening pitch to start the game.

In 2013, Voie was invited to attend President Obama’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act. Board member Mark Rousseau attended the signing of the Transportation Bill at the White House. Voie was invited to speak at the Elmia Last Bil truck show in Sweden, sponsored by Volvo. WIT hired an association management firm to handle phone calls, renewals, and office duties. The WIT Facebook page was started and moderated by professional driver volunteers. WIT published a children’s activity book which highlights a girl who accompanies her mom on a trip. A recruiting ad contest, sponsored by Arrow Truck Sales, was held and Republic Services was recognized as the top recruiting ad. WIT CEO Voie participated in a join effort by the Departments of Labor, Education, and Transportation to define skills needed for transportation careers.

In 2014, we developed the curriculum and design for the Girl Scout “Trucks are for girls” Transportation patch and held our first event in Chicago, Illinois. A mentoring board was included on our website to encourage networking and mentoring among our members. We began a monthly webinar series. The “I HEART Trucking” video contest recognized Allie Knight for her video series about her life as a professional driver. WIT CEO Voie was invited to speak at the Motoring Matters magazine’s banquet in Melbourne, Australia. Research on truck cab design and ergonomics by the University of Wisconsin-Stout graduate class under the direction of Dr. Jeanette Kersten was presented by Kersten and Voie at the Women’s Issues in Transportation event in Paris, France, sponsored by Ryder System. The weekly WIT e-News began to appear in members’ inboxes each Wednesday. WIT member Lisa Buhrow gave Wisconsin’s Secretary of Transportation Mark Gottlieb a ride-along. WIT created a list of Certified Women-Owned Businesses (WBE) to fill diversity vendor needs of shippers. WIT started a monthly segment on the Dave Nemo Show the third Monday of each month. WIT CEO Voie participated in a Small Business Administration meeting at the White House to promote a health insurance portal for small businesses.

In 2015, we established the “Distinguished Woman in Logistics” award sponsored by TMW Systems and recognized Kristy Knichel of Knichel Logistics as the first recipient. Mary Aufdemberg of Daimler Trucks North America was elected to the position of chairwoman. Daphne Jefferson, Deputy Administrator of the FMCSA, went for a two day ride-along with WIT members. Congressman Reid Ribble (R-WI), who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, went for a ride-along in Central Wisconsin. WIT CEO Voie was appointed to a two-year term on the U.S. DOT’s Entry Level Driver Advisory Committee, which created training standards for drivers enterig the trucking industry. WIT created an Image Team with five female professional drivers. Voie spoke to the New Zealand Trucking Association at their annual conference, then traveled to Mexico City, Mexico to participate in a Women In Transportation event. Leigh Foxall, Skyway Markting, was added to the team to assist in member recruitment and marketing. Voie participated in a panel discussion at the APEC Women in Transportation event at the White House. Ron Wood, a member of CRASH (Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways) went for a ride-along with Image Team member Carol Nixon. A recruiting guide to attract female professional drivers was released for corporate members. The WIT Index was created and publicized to create a baseline for carriers seeking to attract women as managers and professional drivers.

In September 2015, we held our first conference, “Accelerate! Conference and Expo,” in Dallas, Texas. Over 350 (men and women) attended the event with the goal to increase the percentage of women in their companies as executives and as drivers. They were able to learn about critical transportation issues and trends, along with perspectives of the positive impact women can have on the industry. The board agreed to make the conference an annual event and plans began for 2016.

In December 2015, the WIT holiday auction raised money for the Scholarship Foundation. 

Early in 2016 we released our recruiting guide, “How to attract female drivers” to be another resource for our corporate members. Our Distinguished Woman in Logistics recipient was Shelley Simpson, executive vice president, chief marketing officer and president of Integrated Capacity Solutions and Truckload for J.B. Hunt. 

Due to continued growth, the Women In Trucking Association hired MindShare Strategies team to support the organization to provide support in operations, strategy, and membership growth and retention. The Board spent two days in January working on a strategic plan for the coming years.

The 7th annual “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel” was a huge success where hundreds of female drivers and their families were honored for their role as a pioneer in the trucking industry. The first Canadian “Salute to Women behind the Wheel” was held in Toronto in March. President/CEO, Ellen Voie, was recognized by Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazines “2016 Pros to Know.” Voie was also recognized by Fleet Owner magazine as one of the 12 Outstanding Women in Trucking.

The Image Team was expanded to include more drivers and safety and recruiting professionals. United States Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) went for a ride-along with Julie Matulle, driver for H.O. Wolding. FMCSA Administrator, Scott Darling, went on a ride in December with CFI driver, Stephanie Klang.

Our social media outreach includes:

  • Facebook group - over 11,000
  • Twitter followers - over 19,000
  • LinkedIn group - over 6,800 members
  • Weekly WIT E news – 5,800 recipients

Membership is not limited to women, as our efforts will benefit every one of us who wants to see the industry opened up to more individuals, regardless of gender.