Celebrating Black Voices in Trucking | National Minority Women Association in Transportation

Take Your Seat

Ashley Watson knew it was time for change. She decided “to actually do something for me”: Transportation work ran in her family, so she left behind a career in nursing and government operations to become a long-haul truck driver. “I was petrified and just terrified of the trucks when I first started driving, but I said, ‘You know what? I want to conquer that. I want to see if I can learn how to do that,’”she remembers. She also recalls going to school for her CDL and having just three women in her class.

Ashley Watson Headshot

Fast forward 8 months. Ashley was running a successful logistics company, Cohesive Solutions, when she walked into a transportation industry conference and scanned the room. As usual, she saw no one who looked like her: another woman of color.

“I went to a majority of the meetings, and I sat right in the front,” she says. “I was just excited to be there to experience everything — and to look around and see that we need to be represented in those rooms. There are a lot of decisions getting made. Networking and connections getting made. And we’re not there. We’re not there. Our voice is not in those rooms, and it’s important for our voice to be in those rooms.”

Again, Ashley knew it was time for change. 

On a Mission

At the Truckload Carriers Association Las Vegas conference in September 2021, Ashley Watson and Sharesse Jackson launched the National Minority Women Association in Transportation (NMWAIT), “a membership-based, minority women–owned organization with the mission to increase the visibility, capacity, and business profitability of professional minority women within the transportation sector.”

NMWAIT’s mantra is: “Together we rise.” “If we stick with that, we can change so much,” Ashley says. “There’s enough out there for everyone. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard. Of course, you need to represent and use your voice. ”

NMWAIT’s main goal is to bring more awareness to the issues minorities face in the transportation industry, from sexual harassment to mental health concerns to a lack of networking opportunities to representation and advocacy work. 

“We’ve also got to start preparing for the new generation that’s coming in,” Ashley says. “That’s what NMWAIT is trying to do. We’re trying to not only bring awareness to current issues, but to also educate the generation that’s coming into this, so they won’t have to experience as much of what’s been going on in the industry.”

A Seat at the Table

Ashley first met Sharesse while they were taking dispatcher courses. “We saw what was needed in the industry and what we could do with it, because we’re both dedicated to helping women and men get the exposure that they need and the assistance that they need, because some people get left behind, and they don’t know where to go,” Sharesse says. 

Sharesse Jackson Headshot

With a background in government and compliance, Sharesse is concentrating heavily on NMWAIT’s advocacy work: “Everyone needs to understand laws that are getting passed and what can help them and what doesn’t help them. Some people get it, some people don’t, and they’re like, ‘Yep. I agree. I’m with you 100%,’ but people really need to understand the backside of laws being passed and how they can become involved.

“It’s about having a seat at the right tables with the right people — the ones that pass laws, the different advisory federal boards that can assist across the entire industry. My number one goal on the advocacy side is ensuring that we have a seat at a table.”

“We built the table,” Ashley adds. “Everyone can have a seat at the table, but it’s up to you if you’re going to pull your chair up.”





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