Alum Receives Award for Humanitarian Leadership

For the second time, an alum of the University of Iowa School of Urban and Regional Planning has been selected by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to receive the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership. The 2018 recipient is William Millar, class of 1972, who is following our alum Carol Abel Lewis, class of 1976, the biennial recipient in 2016. The award “recognizes innovative and successful leadership in people-oriented initiatives in transportation, sustained over an extended period of time.”

The award is in memory of Sharon Banks who chaired the TRB Executive Committee in 1998, the year before she passed away. Banks was the General Manager of AC Transit, Oakland, California, from 1991 to 1999 and was “nationally known for her personal integrity, for nurturing and mentoring young transportation professionals, and for bringing together people of diverse backgrounds and commitments in the pursuit of organizational excellence.” Contributors to the award include TRB, USDOT, the American Public Transportation Association, AC Transit, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, and the California Transit Association.

Mr. Millar has supported the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa in a number of ways, including currently serving on the Advisory Board.

The following excerpt is from the TRB 97th Annual Meeting publication, giving details about his many other contributions and awards.

The 2018 recipient of the Sharon D. Banks Award is Mr. William Millar, former president of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Mr. Millar is recognized for his leadership and mentoring of an entire generation of public transportation leaders. Since the earliest stages of this career, Mr. Millar has exemplified the ideals of Sharon Banks. For example, as the Executive Director of the Port Authority of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Mr. Millar led the way in improving transportation accessibility by working with persons in the disability community to develop practical, usable transportation services and facilities years before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Mr. Millar was both a friend and a mentor to Ms. Banks. Their friendship and collaboration was evident in TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program, which Mr. Millar helped establish, and they both served on the Transit Oversight and Project Selection Committee. In their roles, both emphasized the characteristics of humanitarian leadership through collaboration, cooperation, and most importantly, valuing the insight of others.

As APTA President from 1996-2011, he helped forge partnerships to move public transportation forward, whether it was helping to actualize the special acronym behind the Easter Seals Association’s Project ACTION: “Accessible Community Transportation in Our Nation” or pushing for people-oriented initiatives that brought together individuals of diverse backgrounds in the pursuit of excellence by strengthening relationships with transit worker unions, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, the Women’s Transportation Seminar, and others or pushing public transportation to be better integrated into federal, state, and local transportation policies and plans. Within APTA, he is credited with fostering an environment of camaraderie and empathy, also traits of Sharon Banks, which helped to lay the groundwork for the resurgence of transit in America.

Mr. Millar, a strong supporter of transportation research, received the Founding Father Award for his leadership in establishing the Transit Cooperative Research Program. His Service to TRB began in 1976 when he served as a member of the Standing Technical Committee on Transportation for the Transportation Disadvantaged. His service to TRB has continued, almost uninterrupted, since that point. He was also a member of the TRB Executive Committee for more than two decades, serving as its chair in 1992. In recognition of this contribution, Mr. Millar was named a National Associate of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2001.

Mr. Millar is the recipient of many awards, including APTA’s Jesse Haugh Award as Transit Manager of the Year; TRB’s W. N. Carey, Jr. Distinguished Services Award; the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Director’s Research Champion Award; and the Eno Foundation’s Award for Transportation Excellence. The William W. Millar Award for the best paper dealing with public transportation was instituted by TRB in his honor. Mr. Millar has received lifetime achievement awards from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, and the Council of University Centers. He is a member of APTA’s Hall of Fame and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America Hall of Fame.