BART 1st major transit agency in U.S. history to be led by two African American women

BART 1st major transit agency in U.S. history to be led by two African American women

Women assume BART's two top posts & pay tribute to Rosa Parks

On Thursday, December 15th, the BART Board of Directors unanimously elected two African American women to the District's most powerful posts – making BART the first major transit agency in U.S. history to be led by two Black women. (BART Media & Public Affairs has free still photos and video of today's election available for the media)

Coincidentally, the historic elections of BART Director Carole Ward Allen, Ed.D. to the post of BART Board President and BART Director Lynette Sweet to the post of BART Board Vice President come during the same month as BART and the nation celebrate the achievements of another African American woman who made history – Rosa Parks. "It was 50 years ago this month that the civil rights pioneer kicked off the modern day civil rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat to a White man in Montgomery, Alabama," said newly elected Board President Ward Allen. "If it wasn't for Rosa Parks courageous act of civil disobedience, I doubt I would be sitting in my president's chair today."

President Ward Allen and Vice President Sweet assumed their respective posts after the nine member BART Board of Directors cast their votes during today's Board meeting at BART Headquarters in Oakland. The BART Board is made up of three Directors from each of the BART District's three counties; San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa. Every year the Board Members elect their Board President and Vice President. Historically, the Board Member who assumes the President and Vice President posts will be from a different county than the Board Member who previously held each post.

After her election, President Ward Allen delivered a speech in which she thanked outgoing President Joel Keller for his deft navigation of BART through difficult issues, including budget cuts, layoffs and labor union contract negotiations - the latter of which ended with all sides reaching a fair contract without a crippling strike.

With those difficult issues off the table, President Ward Allen said she will use her presidency to lead BART into an era of inclusion. "No matter if you're a board member, a manager, a union member or a customer, I will insist that you have a seat at my table," said President Ward Allen in her speech. "I want all voices heard and respected."

Voters first elected Carole Ward Allen to the BART Board of Directors on November 3, 1998. President Ward Allen represents District Four, which consists of portions of Oakland and the City of Alameda.

President Ward Allen is currently an instructor at Laney College and has served as Assistant Vice Chancellor of the Peralta Colleges. She earned her doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Jose State University. She lives in Oakland. Read more on President Ward Allen's biography.

Voters elected Lynette Sweet to her first full term in November 2004 after the Board appointed her on February 20, 2003 to replace former BART Director Willie B. Kennedy who retired from the Board mid-term.

Vice President Sweet represents District seven, which is the only BART District to bridge the Bay. It includes Albany, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo and portions of Berkeley, Oakland, El Sobrante and San Francisco. Vice President Sweet serves as Chairperson of BART's Security Advocacy Ad Hoc Committee.

Vice President Sweet currently serves as a Board Member and the Executive Director of the African American Interest Free Loan Association. She was formerly a Vice President with Union Bank of California and the former Executive Director of Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She lives in San Francisco. Read more on Vice President Sweet's biography.

At the Board meeting in which she was elected, Vice President Sweet said, "I am extremely proud and humbled to be able to serve BART as Vice President and I look forward to making BART a better place for our workers and our riders."

For more information about the BART Board, visit the Board of Directors section.