Wonder Women

These savvy sisters are facing formidable challenges in male-dominated professions--and winning.

through April 1995.

DeLibero has also been cost-conscious. Fares haven’t increased since she came on board despite budget cuts, largely because creative financing techniques brought money into the department. For example, cross-border leasing, the renting of utilities and vehicles to overseas companies that operate in the U.S., has netted some $51 million for NJ Transit over the past five years. Under her watch, the department also implemented the nation’s first interactive bus simulator to expose trainees to the rigors of operating a transit vehicle in a real-life environment. The system has helped save thousands in training costs and could ultimately generate additional revenue as DeLibero contracts the bus simulator out to other transit agencies. She’s also decreased expenses by $800,000 annually through the installation of energy efficient lighting at major rail and bus terminals.

Her work hasn’t gone unacknowledged by industry insiders. The agency has won a host of honors in the last few years, including an award for best transit authority in 1994 and 1996 from the American Public Transportation Association. The 59-year-old DeLibero recently received the lifetime achievement award from the same organization–the highest professional honor in the industry.

Those close to DeLibero say her work ethic and willingness to delegate are key to her ability to turn around an agency with a $1.5 billion budget and 9,000 employees. “Shirley is a director who relies on her support staff,” says Fran Hooper, assistant executive director of external affairs at NJ Transit. “She doesn’t undercut people. She empowers them to make decisions. But she is a hands-on manager and wants to know exactly what’s going on and why.”

DeLibero says she likes “to manage by wandering around. I don’t think there are too many operators, mechanics or train conductors who don’t know me and aren’t comfortable enough to approach me.” Even adversaries give DeLibero some credit with helping reverse NJ Transit’s ailing fortunes. Vito Forlenza, chairman of the Amalgamated Transit Union, says DeLibero’s biggest contribution has been improving morale at the agency. “Before Shirley, the union never had such a strong relationship with the executive director. She’s taken the time out to get to know the people in the trenches,” he says.
So while the past six years have meant long hours, little vacation and lots of stress, DeLibero sees little reason to complain. “When I walk
out of here, cross the street and a bus driver beeps his horn to say `hello’–that, to me, is success.”

A marked woman. That’s what many felt Beverly Harvard would be when she was appointed the 21st police chief of Atlanta in 1994. As the first African American woman to lead the police department of a major city, Harvard was aware that every decision she made would be subject to scrutiny from the word, “go.”

And it was a trial by fire. In the first two years of her appointment, Harvard rode shotgun as Atlanta hosted the Olympic Games, Paralympics and Freedom Fest (formerly Freaknik). In previous years, Freedom Fest, the annual festival of college students, attracted

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