This is the first article in a series profiling some of TAC’s volunteers. Learn more about TAC’s volunteer structure, the role of volunteers and the benefits of volunteering.
Introducing Maya Caron; TAC volunteer, transportation policy and planner for the Ministry of Transportation, Ontario and world traveler. We interviewed her about her experience as a TAC volunteer and working in the transportation sector.
MC: I’m a lifelong learner. I have a background in both the environment and transportation, and find that with every role and person that I meet, I learn more. I try to have a business and a pleasure book on the go at all times, and use my commute time in the subway to read.
I have a young family. When my husband and I decided to have children, we decided that it was important that they love to travel as much as we do. Our two boys are three and five, and have travelled already to Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Prague, Switzerland, Hawaii, the US and to western Canada. Before we had children, I was more adventurous, and trekked to Everest Base Camp.
I am passionate about advancing women in the transportation industry and am the current Programs co-chair of the Women in Transportation’s Toronto Area Chapter.
MC: I always had an interest in transportation. While I was at school for Environmental Planning in BC, I was part of a group of students that launched a transportation symposium, with community and municipal leaders, to improve transportation options to our campus, which at the time, only had bus service to 8 PM, and classes often ended at 9 PM. [Campus] was located at the top of a huge hill, in a winter city, so biking was not always the most ideal option.
I spent the first 15 years of my career as an environmental planning specialist, eventually leading a team of environmentalists that specialised in transportation. A few years ago I decided to diversify my transportation expertise, and have been working to develop transportation plans and policy for the provincial government. Its been a great opportunity to spend time thinking about what a long-term vision for Ontario looks like – where will people live, how will they move around, what will influence their decisions? How can all of our levels of government, service providers, and industry work together successfully?
MC: I’m most proud of times when I’ve been able to successfully manage teams through times of change. Whether its been changes in government direction, project scale or scope. I’m proud that I can always be a voice of reason, ready to work to identify a path forward.
MC: I became involved with TAC almost 10 years ago, because I was looking for a platform to grow industry connections, and was interested in Environment Council, since it is composed of people whose goals are to continue to improve environmental considerations in transportation. It was quickly apparent that the best way to form relationships in TAC was to volunteer for committees and projects, and I’ve always been eager to do work that connects professionals from across the country. I’ve cycled through all of the roles on the Environmental Advisory and Legislation Standing Committee, was the Vice Chair of Environment Council, and been a member of the Urban Transportation Council.
MC: Volunteering with TAC has ensured that I keep at the leading edge of the industry, formed professional and personal connections, and helped contribute to the advancement of the industry in Canada.
Environment Council is a close-knit group, and the best part of TAC has been working with EC, and planning for our annual Environment Council Tours of local issues and projects. In the Fall, when Environment Council has its meetings, they always condense the Standing Committee meetings to a half day, and in the afternoon, organize a tour. Usually someone from the host province or city will take the lead, and we’ll visit a location of interest to the Council, and usually have dinner afterwards. It’s a great opportunity to see on the ground innovations, learn more about the local environment, and also better connect as a Council.
MC: My advice to someone new to the industry is to get out there and be active in an organization. It could be TAC (find opportunities to present or join committees!), and it could be by starting with a local transportation organization, like WTS Toronto. Whatever you choose, engage, offer your help in an area that interests you. You’ll find that the connections you form through this work will be life-long, and transcend any career moves that you make.
Want to find out more or become a TAC volunteer? Contact us.