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Vision, Leadership, and Innovation: Our Path Forward in the 21st Century

Lowell Porter is the National Law Enforcement Liaison Program Coordinator for the Governors Highway Safety Association, a non-profit organization which provides leadership and advocacy for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management, and promote best practices.

Lowell Porter is being honored as a Champion of Change for his time and effort developing innovative ways to help grow and expand the transportation industry.  

My entire professional life has been dedicated to public service, and I am honored to be recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House.  It’s moments like this where leaders dedicated to positive change reflect on their journey as a contributor to something larger than themselves.  Moreover, they also envision how to continue this journey and making a difference in the lives of others in the future.

Transportation in the United States impacts every aspect of our lives regardless of the community in which we live. Whether it is a small rural town or a large metropolitan city, the challenges we face in the 21st Century are significant.  To successfully overcome these challenges requires effective leadership with a clear vision of a transportation system that is safer, more efficient, and designed for all who use it.  Having such a vision is the ability to see what the future can be.

Effective leaders share the ability to create a vision of the future that is success, and effectively communicate it to others, who then desire to achieve that success as a committed team, therefore achieving what was once not possible. A clear and unified commitment to achieving the vision creates a powerful lever for change. When properly applied, this lever enables the achievement of goals that ultimately leads to the realization the vision.

However, this cannot occur without a strong commitment to innovation in every aspect of the planning, implementation, and evaluation processes.  Innovation begins with the deliberate application of the imagination and encompasses all processes by which new ideas are generated.  This results in the deriving of greater value from the investment of existing resources.  The process outlined above creates opportunities for experiencing the “Innovation Point.” This is the pivotal moment when talented and committed leaders seek the opportunity to act on their ideas and dreams.

My leadership journey began as a Washington State Patrol (WSP) trooper in 1983, where I saw firsthand the significant loss of life resulting from dangerous and irresponsible driving.  These experiences forged my commitment to change the future and prevent this senseless loss of life. My experience as a member of the WSP, from Trooper to Chief, developed my understanding of the power of Vision, Leadership, and Innovation and how this combination of elements can change people’s lives and the quality of life in their community.

Upon becoming the Director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, I was afforded the opportunity to leverage these skills and experience as a member of a statewide traffic safety leadership team. This committed team of leaders worked collectively to change Washington’s safety culture and resulted in the saving of hundreds of lives. This example demonstrates how effective leaders in public service can positively change the lives of those they serve.

I hope this example and those of the others being honored as Champions of Change, will challenge and inspire others to seek a career in public service. By creating a vision of a future that does not currently exist, developing a team of dedicated leaders who share this vision and can communicate it clearly, and being committed to continuous innovation, your vision can become a reality. Whether it is in safety, transportation, health, or any other aspect of public service, by focusing your passion, investing your time, and leveraging your skills, you can truly make a difference in the lives of others.

Lowell Porter is the National Law Enforcement Liaison Program Coordinator for the Governors Highway Safety Association