Women's History Month Profile
Posted on Tuesday, Mar. 26, 2019 at 9:00 am
by Mahanth Joishy, Superintendent
You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the automotive industry writ large is made up predominantly of male employees. That applies locally, nationally, and globally. Walk into any auto garage anywhere and the odds are pretty high on who you might find working inside.
However, the times are changing, and more women are working in the shop trades and emergency services than in the past. City of Madison and Fleet are working to ensure that the team better reflects the community we serve. In February 2019, Fleet acknowledged the women working in our division in honor of Women's History Month. Although Fleet has a long way to go, in recent months we have doubled the count of women in our workforce from two to four, by hiring the most qualified available. Four is the most it’s been but we expect more are on the way soon thanks to these trend-setters.
Robin McAlister-Sims is, to many City staff, the face of the Fleet team in the main shop office. She is responsible for customer service, making work orders, overseeing the preventive maintenance schedule for vehicles and equipment, and ensuring all vehicles are properly registered. City staff may hear from her tracking down overdue inspections or that it’s time to pick up a truck. In September of this year, she will be celebrating 20 years at Fleet and 32 years with the City of Madison. Robin worked with Madison Metro and the Civic Center (now known as the Overture Center) prior to joining Fleet.
Katie Sprecher is the first-ever female Fleet Technician here, and has been interested in automotive maintenance since middle school. She graduated from Madison College in 2004. After spending five years in an independent maintenance shop and five years at a Chrysler dealership, she joined Fleet in 2018. Katie is also a standout roller derby team member.
Marissa Seeley is the first-ever female high school apprentice to work at Fleet Service, and one of 7 high schoolers who have apprenticed for Fleet since 2018. A member of the class of 2020, she plans to enroll in the Auto Tech program at Madison College when she graduates from LaFollette High School. Marissa first became interested in automotive work when her dad taught her how to change oil filters at the age of 10. This sparked an interest that she hopes to turn into a successful career in fleet maintenance.
Rachel Darken is the newest addition to the Fleet team, and appropriately Women’s History Month 2019 is her first month here. She orders fuel for the City fleet, handles interdepartmental fuel billing, processes payroll, manages the division’s personnel functions, administers the pool and out of town fleets, and oversees the youth apprentice program. Rachel joined Fleet after seven years in the nonprofit world, supporting local workforce development programs.
Fleet is also supported by outstanding women in our large vendor network, and by other City of Madison agencies who have made great progress in this area as well.
We have a long way to go and the challenges remain, but we are proud of this promising start.