Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award

Swanson Award

The Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award honors an individual who has made notable improvements in the management or implementation of a highway safety program or policy, or provided outstanding service to GHSA, federal safety agencies or other national highway safety organizations.

Nominations for the 2021 Swanson Award must be submitted online by April 16, 2021. The award will be presented on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the GHSA 2021 Annual Meeting in Denver.

About Kathryn J.R. Swanson (1954–2008)

Kathryn J.R. Swanson

Kathryn J. R. Swanson was a dedicated public servant whose passionate commitment to highway safety guided her throughout her career. From 1998 to 2007, she served as Director of Minnesota's Office of Traffic Safety in the state's Department of Public Safety. In her role as director, Swanson administered the state and community highway safety grant programs in Minnesota.

During Swanson's tenure, Minnesota achieved record-high seat belt use and record lows in fatalities. Swanson helped launch Minnesota's Toward Zero Deaths program by collaborating with the "four E" agencies to encourage Minnesota to achieve this ambitious goal. Prior to being appointed Director, she spent nearly 25 years in the Office of Traffic Safety, serving a variety of roles. As one of the longest tenured members of the state highway safety community, Swanson was frequently sought after for counsel by other states and organizations around the country.

Swanson's success in Minnesota, her strong commitment to highway safety and the respect and support of her state peers led to her being elected to numerous positions within GHSA, including Chair of the association. Under Swanson's leadership, GHSA developed its positions on the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA- 21) and actively advocated for them before Congress. Swanson also urged Congress to appropriate funds for highway safety programs in a more timely manner.

Past Winners

James M. Graham

Jim Graham is among GHSA’s most committed and longstanding supporters.


Leanna Depue
Leanna Depue has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to highway safety and a personal passion for advancing traffic safety research. Now a consultant, Leanna is the former Director of the Highway Safety Division at the Missouri Department of Transportation.

William L. Hall
Throughout his 40-year career at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, Bill Hall has been at the forefront of culture change.

Trenda McPherson

As the State Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program Manager at the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Traffic Safety Office, Trenda McPherson is responsible for protecting some of the state’s most vulnerable road users.


Betty J. Mercer
Throughout her career, Betty Mercer has made significant contributions to improving highway safety in both her home state of Michigan and nationwide.

Barbara Harsha
Barbara Harsha led the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) headquarters office for 25 years, from 1988 until her retirement in 2013.

Commissioner Joseph Farrow

Throughout Commissioner Joseph A. Farrow’s 35-year career with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), he has dedicated his life to the improvement of highway safety.


Terry Pence
Trust, integrity, excellence, and service are just a few of the words used to describe Terry Pence, Traffic Safety Section Director for the Texas Department of Transportation’s Traffic Operations Division.

Norma Broussard

Serving as Chief of Parish Courts for the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Norma Broussard has been a critical ally to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission (LHSC) and highway safety advocates across the state.


Marlene Klein Markison
The 2011 Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award is presented to Marlene Klein Markison for her commitment to advancing effective highway safety programs across the country.

Tricia Roberts
The 2010 Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award is presented to Tricia "Trish" Roberts.

Kevin E. Quinlan
The 2009 Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award is presented posthumously to Kevin E. Quinlan.

Philip W. Haseltine
The inaugural Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award is presented to Phil Haseltine for his lifetime of service to highway safety.