Tomorrow’s Transportation Professionals Meet With Today’s Industry Leaders

Future engineers, planners and communicators recently joined Transportation Corridor Agencies’ (TCA) staff for a two-hour Zoom session as a part of the Women’s Transportation Seminar Orange County Chapter’s (WTS-OC) 2021 Transportation Academy.  

The Transportation Academy is a two-week transportation industry immersion program that presents undergraduate and graduate college students with real-world applications in their course of study. TCA has participated in the program since its first class in 2009.  

Valarie McFall, TCA’s Deputy CEO and WTS-OC’s 2020 Woman of the Year, opened the session by sharing about her career in transportation and offered students a fresh perspective on tolling and transportation. Since joining TCA more than 20 years ago, McFall has held several key positions within the Agencies from Senior Environmental Planner to Principal Planner to Chief of Environmental Planning and, now, TCA’s first Deputy CEO.  

“About 20 years ago I landed here at TCA and being here has been the best choice I’ve made in a profession,” McFall said. “It’s a place where I, and many of my colleagues, have been given the opportunity to work with great leaders in our industry, many of them women.”  

A highlight of prior programs was the popular on-road tour of The Toll Roads. With the Transportation Academy held virtually due to challenges presented by COVID-19, in lieu of an in-person tour, TCA staff presented students with an exclusive, in-depth virtual tour of the Tomato Springs Mainline Toll Plaza. Students also learned about TCA’s recent, award-winning projects, like the Oso Parkway Bridge and the cattle grazing pilot program at TCA’s Live Oak Plaza Conservation Area.  

Following a career panel featuring five of TCA’s fiercest female leaders, TCA CEO Samuel Johnson spoke with students about TCA’s bright future, the Agencies’ commitment to diversity and inclusion and the importance of the next generation.  

“Our commitment to a culture of diversity and inclusion influences everything we do. There needs to be committed thought and action to ensure that transportation and mobility solutions work for ALL. It’s important to me that we hear ideas from people of all different backgrounds, ethnicities and identities, so we can create something that benefits the most amount of people,” Johnson concluded.  

Visit to learn more about The Toll Roads current and future projects, environmental commitment and more. 

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