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FHWA’s South Carolina State Director Receives Trailblazer Award

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Curtis L. Thomas

FHWA’s South Carolina State Director Receives Trailblazer Award

Federal Highway Administration
February 25, 1999

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 25, 1999
Contact: Karen Whitney
Telephone: 202-366-0660
FHWA 12-99

D.C. Mayor Delivers Keynote Address At African-American History Celebration

Celebrating African-American History Month, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today honored as a Trailblazer, Curtis L. Thomas, state director for the Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety in Columbia, S.C. The keynote speaker for the event was District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams.

"President Clinton has challenged us to make our communities safer, more livable and more united," U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said. "Trailblazers like Curtis Thomas and leaders like Mayor Williams, with vision and vigilance, have demonstrated their commitment to improving our communities and are working to make transportation safe and efficient."

Thomas is the first African-American to serve as an FHWA state director. The theme for the African-American History Month celebration is "Legacy of the African-American: Present and Future."

"As we celebrate the rich legacy of African-Americans, it is fitting that we include two modern-day trailblazers," FHWA Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle said. "Curtis Thomas is a veteran public servant committed to safety and to putting people first, especially by furthering diversity in the workplace, and Mayor Williams is moving full speed ahead, charting a course to continue revitalizing the Nation’s Capital."

The Trailblazer Award is given each year by the Garrett A. Morgan Association (GAMA) to a U.S. Department of Transportation employee who actively supports diversity and encourages greater communication and cooperation between minority and non-minority employees through information sharing, networking, mentoring and team building activities.

GAMA President Trudy Williams presented the award to Thomas for his leadership and creativity in promoting diversity and cultural awareness in the workplace and for his commitment to mentoring employees and students. Thomas has been with the federal government for 18 years and, in addition to becoming the first African-American to serve as state director of a federal motor carrier and safety division office, he also was the first African-American to be appointed deputy director of the State Law Enforcement Division of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

As an FHWA state director, Thomas works in partnership with other federal, state and local agencies, academia and industry to administer a comprehensive surface transportation program that ensures the safety and efficiency of South Carolina’s roads and bridges. He is also responsible for the enforcement of federal truck, bus, and hazardous materials safety standards and laws throughout the state.

GAMA, an employee organization of the FHWA, was founded in 1991 by African-American employees. The organization provides an open forum for all agency staff concerning careers, training and personal development to help further diversity within FHWA. Information about GAMA’s mission, goals, and activities can be found on the associations’ website at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/gama.

The association is named after Garrett A. Morgan, an African-American entrepreneur and son of slaves who invented the three-phased automated traffic signal and the safety hood, later known as the gas mask.

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