Celebrating Women’s History Month: A Q&A with Four Transportation Leaders

A spotlight on Union Pacific employees making their mark on the transportation and logistics industry

MAIN 2023 Women's History Month

Members of Union Pacific's LEAD employee resource group share their experiences as women in the transportation and logistics industry

In the United States, we celebrate Women's History Month each March to recognize and celebrate women’s contributions and achievements over the course of American history.

Women have always played a role in transportation history and continue to do so, as is clear by these four members of A Women's Initiative: Lead. Educate. Achieve. Develop. (LEAD), a Union Pacific employee resource group.

“Thirty-six years ago, our nation celebrated the first Women’s History Month in 1987. Fast forward 36 years from now, and if women experience the current rate of wage increases, they won’t achieve pay parity until 2059,” said Debra Schrampfer, Chief Diversity Officer and AVP Workforce Resources for Union Pacific Railroad. “I am thankful I work for a company that is already there. It’s not to say that we don’t have important things to work on to advance women. It does say that our foundation is in place to attract top female talent and realize the competitive advantages from them serving in critical railroad positions.”

Jungae Sweet, Director of Technology

Jungae Sweet 2023 Women's History Month

Jungae Sweet
Director of Technology

Jungae is Director of Technology in the Frameworks and Geospatial platform areas. Her responsibilities include enabling development, improving team efficiency, and providing tools that allow users to visualize, analyze and make decisions about geographical data. Jungae’s team provides centralized managed frameworks that eliminate the need for teams to each implement their own solutions to common problems.

How have you made a mark on the transportation industry?

“One of my proudest accomplishments was enabling the Centralized Traffic Control capability over the Positive Train Control network. It was very technical in nature but an incredibly strategic project that helps the business’ bottom line year after year.

“I am a very technical person, and I had to push myself to put on a salesperson’s hat. I had to knock on so many doors to gain the buy-ins that I would need to acquire funding for the project, but I was more than willing as I was very passionate about it. During that journey, I built partnerships with Harriman Dispatching, Engineering, Capital Planning, Finance, PTC and other areas of Tech. I even turned an unlikely supporter of the project into its biggest champion. Witnessing him arguing for funding was humbling.

“By working on this project not only was I able to push myself to come out of my shell, but it was also an amazing cross-functional collaborative team effort that led to a successful outcome!”

Which women in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

“This is a difficult question to answer because I am fortunate to work with very strong women in this company, and I admire so many of them. I’ll narrow it down to three women who each left a great impression on me and whom I admire greatly: Katie Sanders, Sarah Campie and Debbie Schrampfer.

“I had a chance to work with Katie Sanders while working on developing the Dispatching system. She leads by example and embodies the concept of ‘connecting the dots’ to create a cohesive team.

“Sarah Campie is a genuinely compassionate leader who empowers you. I feel humbled and driven to be the best version of myself around her.

“Debbie Schrampfer, who champions diversity and implements inclusivity at Union Pacific, leads from her heart and creates an inclusive environment.”

Why Is Women’s History Month important to you?

“Women’s History Month empowers other women and allows us to recognize the important roles women play in our company. Women have paved the way for me to stand as my true self and laid the framework for us to be treated equitably and be recognized for the value we bring to the industry.”

Is there anything you’d like to share about being a part of LEAD or being a woman in the transportation industry?

“When I look around the women in LEAD and this company, I do not just see women in the transportation industry. I am surrounded by incredible women who try to make differences every day through community involvement, recruiting and mentoring other women and girls. I see community leaders that inspire current and future UP employees. I want to emulate these women, and LEAD is the platform for us to do just that.”

Ashley Glover, Director of Track Maintenance

Ashley Glover 2023 Women's History Month

Ashley Glover
Director of Track Maintenance

Ashley leads the Kansas City engineering team responsible for track maintenance on a portion of the Heartland and Mid America service units. Ashley’s team ensures tracks are maintained safely according to Union Pacific, state, and federal requirements.

How have you made a mark on the transportation industry?

“I am most proud of managing a successful team for the last two and a half years. In 2022, our 115-employee team had zero injuries. Our team works tirelessly to help the company keep goods moving, and it shows in our overall productivity.”

Which women in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

“One of the female historical figures I admire most is the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ginsburg fought for women’s rights, workers’ rights, gender equality and countless other human rights that women depend on today. She understood exactly what kind of change she wanted to make, and she did exactly that.”

Why Is Women’s History Month important to you?

“Women’s History Month is important to me because it’s a time that highlights the contributions that women throughout the world have made both in past and present time. It’s also a time that focuses on the achievements that women have accomplished throughout history, which inspires and empowers current and future generations of women.”

Is there anything you’d like to share about being a part of LEAD or being a woman in the transportation industry?

“Being a part of LEAD has given me the opportunity to meet new people and establish connections with other women in the industry. “

Akanksha Bode, Lane Superintendent, Texoma Service Unit

Akanksha Bode 2023 Women's History Month

Akanksha Bode
Lane Superintendent, Texoma Service Unit

As a Lane Superintendent, Akanksha oversees train dispatching for the Texoma Service Unit of the Union Pacific rail network. At any given time, Akanksha and her team are responsible for the safe and efficient movement of roughly 60-70 trains, the majority of which run in the state of Texas.

How have you made a mark on the transportation industry?
“I’ve had the opportunity to work in several capacities within the Operating Department, including roles on the Transportation, Train Management, Bulk and Locomotive teams. The industry is big, and the varied experience I have gained has made me a better and more streamlined thinker when it comes to the movement of freight. Through every step of that journey, I have been fortunate enough to have had someone or found someone (sometimes ranked higher, but many times ranked lower) who guided me and helped me succeed.

“The best boss I’ve ever had at Union Pacific taught me that it didn’t matter how far you made it, it matters how far your teams and people from those teams make it. Nothing makes me prouder than seeing someone from one of my teams promoted or given an opportunity in a new area, because I know that eventually their experiences will make them better leaders and make Union Pacific a stronger company.”

Which women in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

“When I started as a Corridor Manager at the Harriman Dispatch Center (HDC) in 2014, I managed a group of train dispatchers even though I had never been one myself. This was an extremely hard transition. I admire the two women who made it easier by taking the time to teach me and always being available to help: Erin Batt and Tiffanie Russell.

“Erin Batt, who is now the AVP of Locomotive Distribution and Network Operations, was my first boss at the HDC. I still remember her teaching me how to balance crews. Over the years our paths have continued to cross, and she’s always taken time to offer support and guidance.

“Tiffanie Russell is the Senior Director of Operations Support for the HDC. Tiffanie does a lot of things but primarily she oversees the training and scheduling of dispatchers. Her tenacity and drive to make improvements on the teams she is a part of is astounding.

“I cannot remember how many times I’ve told both of these women how glad I am that they are in my corner. There are very few women in the Operating Department, and for me to have found two of them that are excellent teachers and honest with me about when I need a course correction is very fortunate.”

Why is Women’s History Month important to you?

“Women’s History Month is important to me because when you work in a male-dominated industry, you very quickly realize your impact. Never far from my thoughts is the fact that what I am doing today will affect the women who come after me.”

Is there anything you’d like to share about being a part of LEAD or being a woman in the transportation industry?

“As a woman in the transportation industry, it is important to be humble and learn, but also stand up and advocate for yourself when needed. As females in this industry we might, unnecessarily, feel the need to prove our worth and go at it alone, but asking for help in whatever capacity is needed does not make us weak. Together, asking and offering help to one another is our greatest strength.”

Lacey Kavan, Senior Director, Operations Support

Lacey Kavan 2023 Women's History Month

Lacey Kavan
Senior Director, Operations Support

Lacey leads the team responsible for the personnel, administrative, safety and facility support functions in the Mechanical Department. Lacey’s team ensures the necessary people and equipment are available to safely repair freight cars and locomotives.

How have you made a mark on the transportation industry?

“Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work on many special projects from system cutovers to process improvements and policy changes. The projects I’m proudest of are those where I directly impact our culture: career counseling, developing leadership courses, and recruiting/hiring future interns and managers.”

Which women in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

“Sally Ride became the first American woman in space during an influential time in my childhood. She was a pioneer in her field yet very relatable to a young girl. She showed that there were truly no limits to what a female could accomplish, and that science was exciting and fun.”

Why is Women’s History Month important to you?

“Women’s History Month is a great reminder of how far we have come as a society and a time to remember the trailblazers that aided in that journey. I reflect on the trials these women faced and am in awe of their strength of character. It reminds me that the respect and sense of belonging that I have today in the workplace was not always the case and makes me appreciative of their accomplishments.”

Is there anything you’d like to share about being a part of LEAD or being a woman in the transportation industry?

“LEAD is about supporting and celebrating the accomplishments of the women in our workforce. Recognition is critical to build confidence in oneself. I have had strong female and male allies that have encouraged me to speak up, drive change and most importantly have confidence in myself. I look to pass on that gift by being a part of the LEAD organization.”

The Importance of Inclusivity

Large | Debra Schrampfer, AVP and Chief Diversity Officer

Debra Schrampfer
Chief Diversity Officer & AVP Workforce Resources


Honoring the contributions of women throughout history helps us appreciate and support the women of today. It can also help us focus on inclusivity moving forward.

“The women highlighted in this article are outstanding in their fields. The challenge we face — as does the rest of the nation — is how to evolve our country’s culture so it acknowledges the extra roles women play outside of work, creating a more holistic version of equity,” Schrampfer said. “By 2030, studies are telling us the United States may be facing a 6 million worker shortage. Women must be an essential part of the solution, so we need to solve for this imbalance.”

Learn More

To learn more about Women’s History Month, visit https://womenshistorymonth.gov/about/. Or visit Union Pacific’s Diversity & Inclusion and Employee Resource Groups pages.

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