Celebrating Women’s History Month

Randi Gates, Director of Transportation

Randi Gates, Director of Transportation, City of Gastonia


A Pivotal Moment that Influenced my Path

The most pivotal moment in my career that significantly influenced my path was a simple question from my then 5-year-old son. “Mommy, are you coming home tonight, or do you have to stay in another hotel?” At the time, I was working for a private firm as a project manager, managing local community projects across the state. I felt that I was having a positive impact in the communities where I was working, but how was I using my skills to leave a positive impact on the City that I called home – – the City that I grew up in and was now raising a family in? Aside from the realization that I was starting to miss some critical events at home with my young family, I felt a strong desire to come back to work in my hometown, to help make Gastonia the best place to live, work and play! I am so very thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given at the City.


Women Who Inspire Me

 I know we are hearing a lot about Molly Grantham lately with her departure from WBTV, but she has truly been an inspiration for me and so many other women. We see her accomplishments in her career, her ability to make a positive impact in her community, and how she is able to navigate the complexities of work-life balance with resilience and determination. I was honored in 2018 by being named one of Gaston County’s “Women who Rock” and guess who was the keynote speaker?? None other than the fabulous Molly Grantham! This was definitely an exciting day for me.


An Achievement I’m Proud of

I am extremely excited about the City’s upcoming transition from fixed-route public transportation to microtransit on July 1, 2024. This is truly a team effort, with multiple staff members working together to ensure the success of the project. This initiative aims to revolutionize the city’s public transportation infrastructure, making it more efficient, flexible, and accessible for residents.

Expanding beyond the boundaries of the current fixed routes, the microtransit model will reach every corner of our city, ensuring that no one is left behind. The micro-transit service will be transportation tailored to individual needs, a solution that respects the uniqueness of each passenger’s journey. Whether it’s a quick trip to the grocery store, a reliable commute to work, or a leisurely exploration of our beautiful city, microtransit will be there to meet those needs.

The transition to microtransit aims to enhance the quality of life for our residents, fostering a vibrant and connected community where mobility is seamless and effortless.

The future of Gastonia’s public transportation system is bright and I am grateful to be along for the ride (pun intended)!


Advice for Women in the Workforce

Historically, the transportation sector has been predominately male. However, efforts to promote diversity and inclusion have led to increasing numbers of women entering and advancing within the transportation sector. As a female and the city’s first Director of Transportation, I offer the following advice to young women who are entering the field:


  • Be Confident: Believe in yourself and your abilities.
  • Pursue Education and Training: Continuous learning will enhance your skills and knowledge.
  • Network: Networking can open doors to new opportunities and foster meaningful relationships with peers and mentors.
  • Be Resilient: Stay resilient in the face of obstacles, learn from experiences, and use them to fuel your growth and development.
  • Advocate for Yourself: Don’t be afraid to advocate for your ideas, opinions, and advancement opportunities. Speak up in meetings, volunteer for leadership roles, and actively pursue career advancement opportunities.
  • Balance Work and Life: Prioritize your well-being and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Take time for self-care, hobbies, and personal interests to recharge and avoid burnout.
  • Be Bold and Ambitious: Dream big and set ambitious goals for yourself!



Last year I had the privilege of becoming a LGFCU Fellow (now Civic Fellow) through UNC’s School of Government. Wow, what an experience!! With the focus of professional development and networking, I learned how to be the best leader that I can be, while also being my “best self”. I highly recommend this program for anyone who is in a leadership role in the public sector.





Staying Motivated in the Face of Obstacles

Unfortunately, no one is immune to facing obstacles or setbacks. Given my personality type (highly Type A), I must consciously exert focused effort to maintain motivation. I offer the following advice:


  • Maintain a Positive Mindset: There is definitely power in positivity. By focusing on opportunities rather than setbacks, you can maintain a positive outlook even during challenging times.
  • Set Clear Goals: Set clear, achievable goals for yourself and your team. This will allow you to stay focused and motivated, even when obstacles arise. Break down larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks to help maintain momentum and provide a sense of accomplishment along the way.
  • Adapt to Change: To be honest, this is really hard for me, but adaptability is key. Try to embrace change as an opportunity for growth rather than a hindrance. If you can be flexible and open-minded, this can help navigate unexpected obstacles.
  • Seek Support: We can’t do everything by ourselves, no matter how much we want to try. It is important to seek support from co-workers, mentors, and supervisors. Lean on others for guidance and encouragement during challenging times. Teamwork is often essential for overcoming obstacles.
  • Learn from Setbacks: View setbacks as valuable learning experiences. Reflect on what went wrong and identify areas for improvement. Every setback is an opportunity for growth and development.
  • Celebrate Successes: It’s important to celebrate achievements, no matter how small!


A Note to My Younger Self at Career Start

If I could speak to my younger self at the start of my career, I would offer the following advice:

Embrace every opportunity, even the ones that seem daunting or uncertain. Don’t be afraid to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone, as these experiences will shape your growth and development. Remember that failure is not a setback but rather a stepping stone to success – learn from it, adapt, and keep moving forward. Cultivate meaningful relationships and seek mentorship from those who inspire you. Prioritize your well-being and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Trust in your abilities, stay resilient, and never underestimate the power of perseverance.


Finding Work/Life Balance as a Woman

I feel that women can have so many responsibilities and play so many roles – wife, mother, daughter, friend, counselor, employee, caregiver, community leader, educator, etc., etc. It can be quite overwhelming at times! Having a work-life balance is so incredibly important. My advice – try to manage your time and prioritize tasks…who doesn’t like a good to-do list? Set clear boundaries and expectations – try not to take work home. Practice self-care – read a book, take a bath, have a date night, have a girls’ night…whatever fills your cup! In all things, strive to be your best self.


Supporting Other Women in my Field

There are so many amazing women within the City of Gastonia as an organization and within Gaston County as a whole. Get involved in a Professional Women’s Association, get involved in a women’s Bible study, share your own story, and lean into others for guidance and support. Build each other up. When women support and encourage each other, they can achieve greatness together.