Wilson To Step Down as Louisiana DOTD Secretary

Dr. Shawn Wilson (above) has announced his plans to retire as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development effective March 4.

[Above photo by AASHTO]

Dr. Wilson served as Louisiana DOTD secretary for more than seven years as part of a 16-year career at the agency. He also served as the 2021-2022 president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; the first African American to serve in that capacity.

“It’s with a heavy heart and passion for public service that I step away from [Louisiana] DOTD,” Dr. Wilson said in a statement.

“It’s been my high honor to serve in this role during such a pivotal time for transportation, as major policy shifts are being made to shape the future of transportation in this country,” he added.

Dr. Shawn Wilson. Photo by AASHTO.

“Ensuring Louisiana’s infrastructure system is safe and reliable has been my goal for the last 16 years of my life and it was an all-consuming effort,” Wilson noted. “Now, I have new adventures and goals ahead and it is time to make a life-changing move.”

“Dr. Wilson has been the most effective [Louisiana] DOTD secretary in state history,” said Governor John Bel Edwards (D) in a separate statement.

“Despite tremendous challenges with state revenue, devastating hurricanes, and the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 on our workforce and supply chain, he tackled important infrastructure projects that were previously only talked and dreamed about for decades,” the governor noted.

Gov. John Bel Edwards at podium. Photo by the Louisiana DOTD.

“His yeoman’s work will continue to bear fruit for years and years to come,” Gov. Edwards added. “He set a great example for future leaders of DOTD and our state by always focusing on what was best for our people and working across partisan, ideological, and regional divides to build consensus.”

“Shawn Wilson served in a groundbreaking role as AASHTO’s president, not only as the first African American to serve in that capacity but for his strong focus on enhancing the ongoing development and integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion or DEI principles in the transportation industry,” noted Jim Tymon, AASHTO’s executive director.

Jim Tymon. Photo by AASHTO.

“Our organization and the state DOT members that we serve benefitted tremendously from his leadership,” he added.

When his one-year tenure as AASHTO president ended in October 2022, Wilson not only reflected on achievements but also called upon state DOTs to use the “synergy of the moment” to continue incorporating DEI principles into their organizations; an effort that was one of Wilson’s major emphasis areas during his time leading AASHTO.

“State DOTs – like many other organizations – have experienced a lot of change over the last few years,” he explained in a speech at the 2022 AASHTO Annual Meeting in Orlando.

“From a global pandemic to the effects of climate change and a more robust and necessary national discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion, state DOTs have responded to these issues in their communities,” he said.

Dr. Shawn Wilson. Photo by AASHTO.

“If our industry commits to creating pathways to equity, we can create a workforce that is truly representative of the people we serve as we deliver a modern transportation system that provides opportunity to all, regardless of race and gender, income or ability,” Wilson pointed out.

He pointed out that states and local agencies must consider how to mitigate the barriers of the past to promote communities that are healthier, more inclusive, fair, and empowering.

“This will enrich our quality of work as we minimize biases, attract new talent to the workforce, generate innovate ideas, and provide new opportunities to collaborate,” Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson has a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Louisiana, a master’s degree in public administration from Southern University, and a doctorate in public policy from Southern University.

He also currently serves as the chair of the executive committee of the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which serves as an independent adviser to the President, Congress, and various federal agencies on scientific and technical questions of national importance.

A native of New Orleans, Dr. Wilson and his wife, Rocki, live in Lafayette, Louisiana. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.

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